An online version of the Irish Civil War census will make information on pro-Treaty soldiers readily available to the public.
In 1921, a truce was declared between the Irish and British forces which resulted in the signing of the treaty that freed the 26 southern counties of Ireland and left the remaining 6 under British rule. The Treaty divided the ranks of the Irish Republican Army and resulted in the Irish Civil War that took place between the years 1922-1923.
On October 1922, half way through the Irish Civil War, a census was conducted by the National Army in order to find out exactly how many recruits they had at their command. Defence Forces spokesman, Commandant Denis Hanly, said that: “Without accurate information, headquarters staff could not adequately estimate pay, bills, feed, clothe or procure weapons or even determine how many troops they had at their disposal.”
The census recorded the regimental number, rank, corps, name, age, home address, marital status, religion and next of kin of the entire 33,210 soldiers of the National Army. It was conducted under much security and with the constant fear that the information held by the census might fall into enemy hands and be used against them.
Describing the process of the census, Commandant Hanly explained how each form was stamped with an individual number and sent out to each of the General Officers on command, from which point they were distributed once more to each post and outpost. The Compiling Officer would then record the details of every soldier present at his post at midnight from 12-13 of November. Later, these census forms were bound into the 10 separate volumes which we can view online today.
By making the documents available online to the public, Hanly hopes that they will provide information on the people that served during that time and also provide help for those in search of their Irish ancestors. However, although we now have valuable information about the soldiers that were present on the nights that the Census was carried out, Hanly also says that the census returns cannot account for every soldier that served during the Civil War.
Scanned versions of the census forms have been available since November of 2012, TheJournal.ie reports, but the entire census collection will be available at www.census.militaryarchives.ie from 10am on Thursday 28 Feb, marking the 90th anniversary of the 1922 census.