Witness to War: the War of Independence and Civil War through the Lens of WD Hogan

National Photographic Archive

16 January 2010 to 31 May 2010

The photographer WD Hogan had unique access to the events of the War of Independence and Civil War in Ireland between 1920 and 1923. Hogan who had the official sanction of Sinn Féin during the War of Independence, and the official sanction of the national army during the Civil War, had a ringside seat at many historically significant events during these years. While many critics argue that his photographs of this key period in Irish history are one-sided, they provide an undeniably powerful record nonetheless.

Witness to WarWitness to War

The 167 photographs featuring in the exhibition were compiled by Captain Rev Denis J Wilson, Chaplain to the Free State army during the 1920s. The photographs in the exhibition include actions shots of military activity; photographs of the Black and Tans; images of both Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins addressing meetings attended by huge crowds; the destruction of the Four Courts and of the Customs House. While images of military activity by the Black and Tans in the area in and around Cork city predominate, inevitably images of two of the major personalities involved in the pro-Treaty side conflict – Collins and Griffith – feature strongly. Also on view are copies of original letters exchanged between the photographer and the Censor’s Office in Dublin; a selection of handbills and posters relating to the Anglo-Irish Treaty; photographs of the handover of Athlone Barracks by the British army to General McKeon in February 1922; the burning of Balbriggan by the Black and Tans in September 1920; the burning of the Customs House in Dublin in May 1921; the burning of the Four Courts in Dublin in July 1922; Free State army troops landing by ship at Passage West, Co Cork; Irish army troops entering Cork in August 1922 after the defeat of the Republicans/Anti-Treaty forces.

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