I’m over the moon to see the Bureau of Military History statements from the revolutionary period have gone online as PDFs, making them accessible to the general public at the click of a button. You can access them by clicking here. Previously, you had to travel to the National Archives of the Military History Archives to view these priceless documents. They recall the recollections of participants in the revolutionary period, and were collected by the state between 1947 and 1957. As a primary source they are priceless, though it should be noted they are by no means the only such source, with Ernie O’Malley for example interviewing men and women about their involvement in the period too. Focusing on the period 1913-21, the BMH statements stop just short of the civil war in 1922, whereas O’Malley and others who have carried out such research tended to ask about that period of history too.
The statements can be searched for key words, or you can browse alphabetically. In addition to the Witness Statements, the BMH website has uploaded priceless audio interviews with some participants in the revolutionary period, including Maud Gonne McBride, William O’Brien and others. They can be heard here.
The site is also home to some rare images from the period, available to view in great detail. This image below shows a raid on Sinn Féin HQ on Harcourt Street in September 1919.
The hosting of these statements online for the general public, making them accessible to people far and wide, is a great achievement and the BMH deserve credit for their efforts. In the run up to the centenaries of the Lockout, the Easter Rising and the War of Independence, these files are now where they belong at last.