Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ireland 2015
World War I (1914 - 1918)

ISSUE DATE: 24 July 2014
NOMINAL VALUE: 0.68 € / 1.00 
CIRCULATION: 136 000 / 116 000
STAMP SIZE: 25.73mm x 39.56mm
COLOUR: Multicolour with phosphor tagging
LAYOUT: Sheetlets of 16
PRINTER: Irish Security Stamp Printing Ltd.

On June 24, 2014, An Post issued two new commemorative stamps in honour of World War I (1914 – 1918) “Recruiting Irish Soldiers for the Great War”.
World War I was one of the largest conflicts in history, approximately 15 million people were killed, of which 9 million were soldiers. When it came to recruitment, there was no conscription for Irish citizens from the south but about 140,000 volunteered for a variety of reasons. Some joined up because they saw it as a fight against oppression. But Ireland in 1914 was deeply divided between nationalist and unionist political groups and naturally local considerations played an important part for many of them.

The first Irish Division to see action was the 10th Division, which landed at Suvla Bay in Gallipoli in August 1915. One battalion, the 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, nicknamed 'The Footballers' included many rugby-playing professional men, as well as a professor of law from Dublin University while another contained Dublin Dockers.

The 36th (Ulster) Division went over the top on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, with 5,500 killed, wounded or missing out of a total of about 15,000. The 16th (Irish) Division was also involved in the Somme campaign. Eight months later, both Divisions fought alongside each other, causing some to hope that the common experience might help political reconciliation back home.

The stamp itself was designed by Ger Garland and it is estimated that 210,000 Irishmen North and South served in the British forces during World War I (1914 – 1918). Of these, 35,000 were killed. Naturally, there was a drive to recruit as many soldiers as possible and this is where propaganda came into play. You would expect to see that in Britain and other countries directly involved but propaganda posters like those featured on this issue of stamps were specifically aimed at Irish men and women and that makes them very unusual.