Document of the Day: Military postcards

By Saoirse Reynolds, Maynooth University Library


A collection of 32 military postcards were acquired by Maynooth University Library in 2015. The postcards date from 1905-1915, and were printed by the English publishers Gale and Polden Ltd. and Raphael Tuck and Sons. This interesting collection of postcards feature images of the Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare, the Athlone Barracks, the Palace Military Barracks, Holywood, Co. Down, a 1906 Royal Irish Military Tournament, the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, the Connaught Rangers, the Dragoon Guards and a variety of World War One images.

‘God be with you till we meet again’

They are a momento of the Great War and were a method of communication at the time which was inexpensive and very popular. The pictures give a window into the lives of those who lived during this time and it is very evident that they were produced for propagandist purposes.

5th Royal Irish Lancers firing over two trained horses

For this blog post I have chosen my favourite ones out of the bunch. The first is the postcard with a picture of two of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers firing over two trained horses. It is a really visually interesting picture and is in black and white. There is also writing on the back but it is too faded to read.


The next I chose is of the Barracks in Athlone. It gives you a good view of how barracks and town would have looked at the time and as I am from close to Athlone I find this especially interesting. It also has writing on the back which is an acknowledgement of a letter received and “best wishes to you and hoping you enjoyed yourself”.

The Barracks Athlone


Another very visually beautiful postcard is the one with a 5th Royal Irish Lancer who is “jumping an obstacle” on a horse. He looks very dignified and the colours are beautiful. On the back of this is a note from a mother her son/daughter. It is saying that she doesn’t need as much meat from the butchers as she doesn’t expect company this weekend and tells them to get “4lbs topside of beef” and signs off “best love xxxx from Mummy”.

5th Royal Irish Lancer jumping an obstacle

The last postcard I have chosen represents a lot of the postcards which really pulled on the heartstrings of the people. This one shows women and children and the priest sitting around the fire with a poem urging them to “keep the home fires burning” until “the boys come home”.

‘Till the boys come home’

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