This World War I-era poster by the Irish Women’s Association calls for the recognition of Irish regiments and their prisoners of war during St. Patrick’s Flag Day (an alternate name for the holiday) on March 17th, 1917. An Irish soldier stands in front of a large shamrock emblem, flanked on each side by the names of the four historical provinces of Ireland: Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connaught.
The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, a major uprising against British rule that took place in various locations throughout Ireland. The event heightened tensions between Britain and Ireland, which would only worsen until the Irish War of Independence erupted just three years later, in January 1919. The poster above was created in the period between the uprising and the beginning of the war.
In the early 20th century, Ireland was governed by home rule, meaning that it was self-governed, but still under the ultimate authority of British rule. The arrangement is clearly demonstrated by RBC’s poster, which was presented by the Irish Women’s Association, an organization based at Kensington Palace in London. This poster represents a short-lived transitional period for Ireland, while also commemorating an important Irish holiday and calling to attention the plight of Irish soldiers.
This poster is part of the Rare Book Collection’s Bowman Gray Collection of World War I and II Graphic Materials, of particular interest as we pass through the centenary of World War I (1914-1918).