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Monday, 11 November 2013

11 November 1918: At precisely 11 O'clock in the morning the First World War came to an end on the Western Front in France and Belgium. This was as a result of the activation of the Armistice between Germany and the Allied Powers agreed just days beforehand. In Ireland the end of the War was greeted with relief rather than jubilation.

Many tens of thousands of Irishmen had been killed and wounded in the fighting and to the Nationalists at least their sacrifice was problematical. The set of circumstances that had led John Redmond to advocate Nationalist Ireland’s participation in the War four years beforehand had changed utterly. The men from Nationalist backgrounds who had been publicly cheered to the Fronts in 1914 and 1915 could expect only a muted response when they now came home.
The Unionists, esp. in the north east, had more cause for feeling their men's sacrifice had not been in vain but it had been a bloody and costly effort nonetheless. It was clear to everybody that the end of the War meant that new opportunities and new dangers awaited as the troops returned and post war elections beckoned that would prove to be a watershed in Irish Politics.