Hope and experience
Nurses from Belfast hospitals in the First World War
in Medicine, health and Irish experiences of conflict 1914–45
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Irish women provided significant support to the Allied forces during the First World War. 4,500 Irish nurses offered medical care and support to British and Allied troops, serving in war hospitals on foreign battlefields and across Britain and Ireland. This chapter investigates the role of Belfast’s three major hospitals in caring for war casualties. It focuses on the nurses engaged in providing care and the broader impact of nursing shortages on hospital work, significantly advancing understandings of twentieth-century Irish nursing. Drawing upon a diverse range of primary sources, the chapter traces the nurses’ social origins, religious backgrounds, motivations for enlisting, experiences of providing care and post-conflict careers. Uniquely, the chapter also offers a detailed account of the defining characteristics of the hospitals that provided care for war causalities, how their new wartime functions impacted on their administrative and practical running and also how war work shaped the future careers of the staff employed there.

Editors: David Durnin and Ian Miller

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