Dublin, Geneva, and the UN in New York are set to host an exhibition and publication to honour the centenary of Ireland’s membership in the League of Nations. This event marks 100 years since Ireland joined the League, underscoring its ascent onto the global stage.
The League of Nations, an international political organisation, emerged in the aftermath of World War I. On September 10, 1923, Ireland joined this league as an assertion of its sovereignty and autonomy on the world stage, marking a crucial stride in its international engagement.
To commemorate this milestone, the National Archives, in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Irish Academy, has curated an exhibition featuring never-before-seen records from its collections concerning Ireland’s League membership. These records comprise official documents, photographs, personal recollections, letters, and ephemera, providing an account of Ireland’s initial forays into the global arena.
From its early involvement in the League of Nations, Ireland championed a peaceful world order and the resolution of international disputes through peaceful means—cornerstones of the League’s objectives. Recognising its position as a small state with limited military and economic might, Ireland understood that membership in a coalition of like-minded nations, such as the nascent League of Nations, offered its best chance of not only surviving but also thriving on the world stage.
Titled “On an Equal Footing with All, Ireland at the League of Nations 1923-1946,” the exhibition will debut at both the Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska and the Dublin Festival of History before embarking on a global journey to the UN in Geneva and New York.
This exhibition forms part of the Government of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries’ 2012-2023 National Programme, a joint effort by the National Archives, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Royal Irish Academy to commemorate significant historical events and their enduring impact on the nation.
The exhibition launch will coincide with the release of the book, “On an Equal Footing with All, Ireland at the League of Nations 1923-1946,” accompanied by a series of panel discussions and curated talks aimed at fostering historical inquiry and a deeper understanding of the events that have shaped Ireland.
United Nations Building, Geneva: September 26 – October 6, 2023
Ploughing Championships, Ratheniska, Co. Laois: September 19 – 21, 2023
Culture Night, National Archives Foyer: November 22, 2023
Dublin Festival of History, Print Works, Dublin Castle: September 29 – October 1, 2023
United Nations Headquarters, New York: November 20 – December 1, 2023
Admission to the exhibition is free, and it will also feature engaging panel discussions. Notable among them is “An International Gift That Was Never Presented – The Geneva Window,” scheduled for Saturday, September 30, at 1 pm during the Dublin Festival of History. This discussion will explore the story of the commissioned stained glass window by renowned artist Harry Clarke for the International Labour Office building in Geneva in 1927, which, despite its completion, was never displayed. Book here.
Additionally, on Tuesday, October 3, at 7 pm, the Royal Irish Academy will host a panel discussion titled “On an Equal Footing with All, Ireland at the League of Nations 1923-1946.” Chaired by Rory Montgomery, a former diplomat, the discussion will feature historians Dr. Michael Kennedy and Dr. John Gibney, offering insights into Ireland’s League of Nations journey from its inception to its conclusion in 1946.
- Photo by Jordan McDonald: instant images