MUSSI Fellowship Talk series: Forgotten Fatalities of the Great War: Irish Asylums during the First World War, 1914-1918

Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - 16:00 to 18:00
Mussi Seminar Room

This paper will analyse the extent to which Ireland’s involvement in the First World War impacted upon the nation’s mental health, provisions of institutional care and the experiences of the mentally ill population. In particular, it demonstrates that the First World War had an overlapping and ultimately critical impact on Ireland’s mentally ill population and the institutional medical care they experienced. Despite the recent surge in research and public interest into Ireland’s involvement in the First World War, an all-Ireland study of Ireland’s mentally-ill population during the First World War remains outstanding. By contrast, J. L. Crammer’s research into British asylums describes British fatalities as ‘casualties without any war memorial’. The First World War and the subsequent Irish revolutionary period did not just shape the political dynamic in Ireland nor solely affect combatants. The vulnerable, unwell, disabled and the institutionalised were also detrimentally affected by Ireland’s involvement in global and domestic conflicts. This approach sheds important and hitherto overlooked insight into the impact the experience of war can have on disabled and vulnerable populations.
Dr Michael Robinson attained his PhD at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies in 2016. The subject of his talk appears in a forthcoming manuscript published by Manchester University University’s Disability History series entitled: ‘Shell-shocked British Army veterans in Ireland, 1918-39: A difficult homecoming’. A related essay was also the winner bi-annual Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland (CHOMI) essay prize in 2018. He is currently a Leverhulme Trust-funded post-doctoral research working on the post-war treatment of disabled First World War veterans as they entered middle and old age.