The Military Service Pensions Collection gathers tens of thousands of records containing applications for pensions, gratuities and allowances lodged by those who participated in the events from 1916 to the official end of the Civil War in 1923. The collection occupies a crucial and unique place in the Irish archival landscape. With over 250,000 records, it is a very large collection. It is new, it contains unheard voices and brings the historical narrative down to the personal, the rank-and-file Volunteer as well as the leadership figure. It illuminates the organisations, events and individuals in their particular context.
In these records, the reader will find documentation relating to each of the applicants and to their circumstances. As a high value source for research, the collection is a great reference for the family historian and genealogist, but the files present and highlight wider topics than just the pension administration of the time: for instance, politics, social history, medical and welfare history, women’s history, military structure and operations are all themes that are heavily present throughout the collection. As a whole it offers new perspectives to look at the period 1916-1923 (and beyond) and forces us to constantly re-examine what we thought we knew about the revolutionary period in Ireland.
The MSP Project is an archival and preservation project, but it is also a project about access and it is a very significant identification work. That means that the original files are taken care of according to stringent archival preservation standards while access to the files and their archival description is provided online. Through this exercise we continue to uncover new names and identify new lives all the time and make them available for users in Ireland but also internationally.
“Correct identification of victims is an essential element in affirming the humanity of the dead in any conflict” – Jane Leonard