Revolution to be digitised as 10m documents to go online

Files relate to actions of 80,000 during Rising, War of Independence and Civil War

President Michael D Higgins’s  father was denied a military pension for 22 years. Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

President Michael D Higgins’s father was denied a military pension for 22 years. Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

 

The revolution will be digitised following the Department of Defence’s decision to put nearly 10 million documents covering the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War online.

A total of 300,000 files dealing with the actions of 80,000 people during Ireland’s most turbulent years will be gradually digitised, in one of the biggest projects of its type in the world.

The full release follows the decision of Minister for Defence Simon Coveney to fund the digitisation of the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection project until 2023, the end of the Decade of Centenaries.

“The public cannot underestimate the significance of this research which will allow our future generations the opportunity to broaden their understanding of the events of the period,” he said.

The latest tranche of the files, dealing with pension applications by those involved in the conflict, or by those who claimed that they were involved, is released today.

It includes the file of President Michael D Higgins’s father, John, who was denied a military pension for 22 years before he was eventually granted one in 1956.

Speaking to The Irish Times, President Higgins said he had “no hesitation” in believing that his father was denied because he had been on the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War.

“I think you will see, my father sends all the stuff (application forms) and it gets lost. If you were dealt with on the Free State side, you were dealt with quite early,” he said.

The files also reveal the split in the Higgins family. The President’s pro-Treaty uncle got a pension in the 1920s.

Some 2,839 files covering 882 veterans have been released today, including that of the author of My Fight for Irish Freedom, Dan Breen; Gen Seán Mac Eoin; Todd Andrews; Seán Moylan and Neal Blaney.