Exhibition tells story of WW1 from perspective of Irish family

Letters between Captain Armstrong and relatives give glimpse into emotions of conflict

A fascinating real-time window into the past has been unveiled in a unique exhibition that tells the entire story of the first World War from the perspective of one Irish family.

It’s a Long Way to Tipperary – An Irish Story of the Great War is an online archive that follows the lives of the Armstrong family of Moyaliffe Castle, Co Tipperary, who experienced the war 100 years ago.

The diaries, correspondence, photographs and memorabilia of Captain Pat Armstrong and his relatives at home provide a fascinating insight into the social, physical and emotional impact of the conflict on individuals, families and society.

Speaking at the launch of the exhibition at the Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick, Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys said the exhibition shows the real human dimension to war.


“We often hear about the military manoeuvres of war and how it impacted on countries. What’s important about this exhibition is that it gives us an insight into how it affected the mothers, the wives and the children.”

“The human dimension is really what I think is very important in all our commemorations regardless of what we are commemorating, it’s about people.”

This virtual First World War Exhibition (longwaytotipperary.ul.ie) will runs in real time until November 2018, with a new exhibition uploaded every week, allowing visitors and subscribers to the site to relive the events of the war as they unfolded exactly 100 years ago.

"Essentially this is a digital exhibition of the Great War which we are going to run in real time for four years, so each week we are going to post up information in the form of letters, photographs, and diary entries all about the Armstrong family who experienced the Great War one hundred years ago," explained Glucksman Library special collections librarian Ken Bergin.

The exhibition is based on the Armstrong Family archive held at the Special Collections and Archives Department of the Glucksman Library. The archive contains a collection of papers comprising over 100,000 items dating from 1662 to 1999.

“It took some years to list the papers as there are hundreds of thousands of documents but when we were listing the archive we realised we had the entire story of the first World War from one family’s perspective,” said Mr Bergin.

“One of the family members is in the army and goes to France in August 1914, and for the next four years we have his story and his family’s experience back home and that’s what is very important to us is the social history,” added Mr Bergin.

The weekly exhibitions comprise updates of the current stage of the war, photographs taken by Captain Pat Armstrong, press cuttings, and extracts from diaries and correspondence to give both the soldier’s and the civilian’s experience of the war.

The exhibition is supported by social media, including Facebook and Twitter, with weekly tweets to subscribers using Jess Armstrong (Pat Armstrong's sister) as the narrator.