Soldiers of the Short Grass: A History of the Curragh Camp


Lt. Col. Dan Harvey

March 2016

Soldiers of the Short Grass: A History of the Curragh Camp is the first complete history of this national landmark from 1855 to the present day, taking into account every facet of its development. The Curragh Camp had enormous implications for the outcome of Easter Week 1916 and the War of Independence. The story of the Curragh Camp is inextricably linked to the development of the Irish Defence Forces, which in turn is crucial to the history of Ireland.

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This is the first complete history of the Curragh Camp, from its foundation in 1855 to the present day, under both British and Irish occupation. Dan Harvey, a military historian and an experienced senior officer, presents a compelling and fascinating narrative of the camp’s many evocative eras and episodes. This unique establishment has been key in shaping Irish history while being shaped in turn by the great national and international conflicts that it was founded to respond to: the Crimean War, the Boer War, the Great War, the Easter Rising and War of Independence are all accounted for under the banner of the British Army. The first tricolour hoisted overhead of the camp signalled no change to its level of service as the Curragh’s forces were quickly embroiled in the Irish Civil War, later oversaw the years of the modern Troubles, and forged an international role with the Irish Defence Forces.

These grand narratives are interlaced with smaller yet significant tales that personalise the institution and lend vitality to the many facets that keep service, work, and a livelihood in check on world-renowned plains once covered by ‘St. Brigid’s cloak’. Prince Edward’s royal visit and training, and the ‘Wrens’ less welcome visits to the soldiers after dark – everyday and extraordinary matters are described to give the most authoritative history, compelling and meticulously written, of a camp inextricable to Ireland for over one hundred and fifty years.

Table of Contents

PART I The British
Chapter 1 Construction and Consolidation of the Curragh Camp
Chapter 2 Royalty, Rebels and Reform
Chapter 3 By the Turn of the Century
Chapter 4 The War Years
Chapter 5 The Easter Rising, 1916
Chapter 6 The War of Independence

PART II The Irish
Chapter 7 The Civil War
Chapter 8 From a Revolutionary to a Regular Army
Chapter 9 A State of Emergency
Chapter 10 Calm before a Storm
Chapter 11 A Global Outlook
Chapter 12 The Task of Modernization

Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3
Select Bibliography

About the Author

Lieutenant Colonel Dan Harvey holds two masters degrees and has served on operations at home and abroad for over thirty five years. A previously published author he has written several noteworthy titles concerning major incidents involving Irish Defence Force members on active overseas peacekeeping service.