While looking at the Irish artists who depicted images of the Great War, I also explored the posters used to encourage people to enlist.
Posters from Britain and America are pretty well know – some of them even iconic. England and France were always depicted as the brave, the honourable, defenders of the week. Germany was portrayed as a brute.
I had never seen however posters that might have been displayed in Ireland. I suppose the fact the Ireland and Britain were in conflict at the time could be a reason.
They differed slightly from the British posters. The word “Britain” rarely if ever appeared on the poster; rather the names of the battalion was given and that always had an Irish connotation or connection.
There was also quite a local flavour – a soldier with a Gaelic name “Lynch” or “O’Leary” was shown with a commendation for his particular bravery. Terminology such as “self determination” would also appeal to a community who had little or no control over their everyday lives. The idea of rising to a station of “hero” or “sergeant”, being awarded for valour, being stronger that 10 Germans were all enticements to join up.
Its also interesting to note the different depictions of characters and their dress: the Irish Colleen differs greatly from her British counterparts. The posters were particularly designed to attract the poorer elements of society; the gentry were already affiliated to Britain and would therefore be more guided by “King and Country”.
The assault on Belgium was frequently used as a call to arms for the Irish. The Belgian nation was small like Ireland and needed to be defended.
Really interesting to browse through the annals of history and note the popular art work of the day!