On Wednesday 18 April 2018 Maynooth University, Co. Kildare, hosted the launch of a new exhibition entitled ‘”On active service”‘: Maynooth College, chaplains and the anti-conscription crisis’. Ireland’s national Roman Catholic seminary at Maynooth experienced a profound transformative period from the summer of 1916 until the winter of 1918. In 1917 the College publically supported the recruitment of Irish Catholic priests as army chaplains by conducting early ordinations to meet the demand for priests, but by 1918 staff and students were mobilised against the prospect of conscription, with many signing a petition that denied the right of the British Government to enforce compulsory military service in Ireland. This stemmed from a landmark meeting held at Maynooth College in April 1918 at which leaders of all shades of nationalist opinion and members of the Irish Catholic Hierarchy united in denouncing conscription in Ireland.

Maynooth University is hosting an exhibition at the Russell Library to commemorate the centenary of the meeting. The exhibition will feature a number of documents and artefacts including a petition signed by over 250 staff and students at Maynooth College resisting the right of the British Government to enforce military service by the most effective means at their disposal. A selection of original photographs and postcards from a Maynooth alumnus serving as an army chaplain in Mesopotamia during the First World War will also be on display for the first time in the Russell Library.

The exhibition was curated by Professor Marian Lyons (Department of History) and Barbara McCormack (Special Collections Librarian) with support from Maynooth University’s Commemoration Committee.The exhibition is part of Maynooth University’s programme to commemorate key events during the Irish revolutionary period. ‘”On active service”‘: Maynooth College, chaplains and the anti-conscription crisis’ will be on display in the Russell Library until 31 May 2018.

The exhibition launch took place at 1pm on Tuesday 18 April in the Russell Library.

From Century Ireland: Catholic Church adds its support to anti-conscription crusade and William Murphy on how Ireland was lost in the 1918 conscription crisis.

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