"The drb sustains a level of commentary on Irish and international matters that no other journal in Ireland and few elsewhere can reach. It deserves all the support that can be given it." X
Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

The Great War and Memory in Irish Culture

Jason R Myers


 Women in Dublin were often spotted wearing more than one poppy signifying the loss of multiple loved ones in the war. Second, the money collected from the sale of poppies went toward alleviating the poor conditions faced by many ex-servicemen. So while commemorative Remembrance Day ceremonies were intended as a contemplative and largely observed spectacle, and were, for the most part, passive activities for spectators, the same was not true for the Poppy Appeal. The transaction necessary to acquire a poppy forced those remembering the war and its soldiers to be proactive in their support for the men and the maintenance of their memory. In the Free State, it took a few years for the Poppy Appeal to gain traction, and even at its height it did not rival the returns seen in Britain, but given the difference in overall population and other socioeconomic and political considerations, the Irish Appeal fared well. Several types of poppies were available for purchase through the Appeal and depending on the type of poppy purchased the flowers were sold for 2s 6d, Is, 6d, and 3d, which made it possible for people across the economic spectrum to contribute.55 By the mid-1920s poppy sellers in the Free State did brisk business on Poppy Day.

Selling poppies in large Irish cities such as Dublin and Cork was not done without significant organization and planning. In fact, ensuring a successful appeal required multiple areas of coordination. The number and location of poppy depots needed to be established, volunteers needed to be recruited to sell and resupply poppies, transportation had to be procured, and measures had to be taken to securely collect, count, and deposit the monies received. Furthermore, the British Legion had to apply to the Free State government for permission to sell poppies. Initial government response toward the Poppy Appeal consisted mostly of laissez-faire indifference. The government was content to let the Legion conduct their business as long as the government did not have to play a role, and politicians were careful not to make any official statements in favor of the practice.