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Legacies of a Broken United Kingdom: British Military Charities, the State and the Courts in Ireland, 1923–29

2018-12-01, Huddie, Paul

Over the past forty years the historiography of the British Army ex-serviceman in Ireland has undergone a veritable ‘historical revolution’. Like its British and international counterparts, the historiography on Ireland has focussed on the lives and care of these men after the war within the Irish Free State, Irish government policy towards them, and ex-servicemen’s relationships with the Irish and British governments, British agencies and their own often hostile communities. Researchers continue to document the existence, organisation and activities of two British government agencies: the Land Trust and Ministry of Pensions, with brief analyses being undertaken on the British Legion and more especially the Southern Irish Loyalists Relief Association’s vital role in relieving impoverished ex-servicemen and their families. Yet far more can still be said about ‘British’ military charity in Ireland after 1922. The purpose of this article is two-fold. First, to discuss two court cases that were fought by the Irish, British and Northern Irish governments and several other Irish interests between 1923 and 1929 over the legacies of two then redundant pre-war Irish military charities. Second, to analyse the place of two court cases within the broader contexts of Irish post-war state-building and the history of the British ex-serviceman, but more especially his family in Ireland. What would their fate be in an independent Ireland?