The assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in June 1914 was a seismic event which sent shock waves across Europe, similar in many ways to the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.
Since 1918 in the world there have been many ‘aftershocks’ such as the adoption of genocide as a weapon of war, the rise of communism and nationalism, new boundaries across the world, the decline of the British Empire and the rise of the United States as a world power.
What is to be learned from a study of events 1914-1918 Countries and politicians should be aware that international warfare has no predictable outcome. Conflict between nations can be a spawning ground for civil war which may have no limits. Also, the technology of warfare often expands more rapidly than politicians can control.
Nearer to home the general election of 1918 paved the way for eventual Home Rule and the partition of Ireland. Events planned in County Tipperary in December 1918 and carried out in January 1919 near an isolated quarry in that county were the match that set Ireland alight. In this decade of centenaries, 21st January 1919 was Ireland’s equivalent to the events in Sarajevo in August 1914. After Solheadbeg for perhaps almost one hundred years Ireland and the rest of the British Isles were to be sadly dominated by violence with ambushes, assassinations, curfews, executions, fear, martial law and reprisals. Prisons and graveyards were to be filled and in many homes across the religious and political divide and far too many empty chairs beside the fireside.