People in History: A person living in Southern or Northern Ireland during the war years, 1939-45

Ration books from the war years.
Main Page: De Valera and Fianna Fáil

This unusual question appeared on the 2009 Higher Level paper, and could appear again in either paper in the future. The first thing to keep in mind about it is it's asking you to pick Northern or Southern Ireland. We'll go with Southern Ireland (the Irish Free State in other words) because there's a little more to write about there.

  • As usual, introduce yourself (this will be first person) and briefly give some background: that war broke out, that the government enacted the Emergency Powers Act (explain what that is) and why Ireland stayed neutral. Say that it is 1945 and the war has just ended. That will mean you've had a lot of experience of life like this already.
  • Next talk about the shortages you have experienced. Don't forget to mention your family and community as well, everyone stayed very close during this time. Talk about rationing: what was Lemass' job? What were the rationing books for? What did glimmer men do? What kind of people used the black market?
  • Next, mention censorship. What did the government censor? Why?
  • Now talk about being neutral during those years. Were the IRA around? What did de Valera do to them? You must be glad Britain gave back the Treaty ports. What would have happened if they hadn't? Do you live in Dublin or know anyone there? Heard about the North Strand?
  • Next, talk about work. Maybe you or someone in your family are in the Irish army. What are they doing? Do you know anyone who's emigrated for work? Anyone who's joined the British army?
  • Finally, finish up with Churchill and de Valera's speeches. What do you think of them? How does the future look? Will rationing end?

So, in short...

  1. Introduction and Background (neutrality etc.)
  2. Shortages and rationing: ration books, Lemass, glimmer men, the black market.
  3. Censorship: What and why?
  4. Being neutral: The IRA, The Treaty Ports, North Strand.
  5. Work: The Irish army, emigration, the British army.
  6. Speeches: How people reacted.
Don't...
  • write about Northern Ireland if you pick Souther Ireland, and vice versa.
  • include anything irrelevant (unimportant).
  • spend too long on one topic.

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