Padraic Stack, Digital Humanities Support Officer
Albert Woodman was born into a prosperous Protestant family with a military heritage in Glasnevin in 1891. He worked for a time in the telegraphic section of the Dublin General Post Office and after the outbreak of World War One he enlisted with the Signal Corps of the Royal Engineers.
Sent to France in 1915 he returned to Dublin and married his fiancé whilst on leave in 1917. Subsequently he began to keep this diary for his wife. Each volume of the diary included his address and instructions on how to send it to his wife if any ill befell him.
The diaries, written from January to November 1918, provide details of day-to-day life in Dunkirk, behind Allied lines but not out of the reach of Naval shells nor bombs from the German airforce.
They detail the passage of news and wartime rumour through the Army. Entries such as these are complimented by newspaper clippings, especially maps showing the relative position of different fronts and armies. Handwritten annotations and alterations contain Woodman’s updates and supplementary notes which add to the published record.
While the diary mostly concerns the conduct of the war and Woodman’s life during it references and clippings also deal with the political situation in Ireland.
The diary was given to Professor Susan Schriebman and An Foras Feasathe research institute for the humanities at Maynooth University, for the creation of an online edition by students. The online edition can be viewed here: http://dhprojects.maynoothuniversity.ie/woodman/
After this project concluded the diaries were donated to Special Collections and Archives, Maynooth Library for long term preservation and storage.
For more details of Albert’s life see http://dhprojects.maynoothuniversity.ie/woodman/woodman-family/