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'On an equal footing with all: Ireland at the League of Nations, 1923–1946' exhibition and book to mark the end of the Decade of Centenaries

07 September 2023

From September 2023 onwards the National Archives, in partnership with the Royal Irish Academy and the Department of Foreign Affairs, will present an exhibition, with accompanying book, in Dublin, Laois, Geneva and New York to mark the centenary of Irish membership of the League of Nations 

On 10 September 1923 the Irish Free State joined the League of Nations, the worldwide state-level political organisation created in the aftermath of the First World War. Ireland would remain a member of the League until its dissolution in 1946. To mark the centenary of Ireland’s membership of the League of Nations, the National Archives, in partnership with the Royal Irish Academy and the Department of Foreign Affairs, is presenting an international exhibition drawing upon records from its collections relating to Ireland’s membership of the League. These records, which have never been on public display before, feature official documents, photographs, recollections, letters and ephemera. 

The exhibition, On an Equal Footing with All: Ireland at the League of Nations 1923-1946, has been curated by Dr John Gibney (Assistant Editor, Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, RIA), Dr Michael Kennedy (Executive Editor, Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, RIA), and Zoë Reid (Keeper of Public Services and Collections, National Archives). The exhibition will be presented at the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co. Laois, and the Dublin Festival of History before opening at the United Nations Office at Geneva (formerly the headquarters of the League of Nations) and at United Nations Headquarters in New York later in the year.  

The exhibition is presented as part of the Government of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries’ 2012-2023 National Programme and is accompanied by a book of the same name, published by, and available exclusively from, the RIA, along with two public panel discussions as part of the Dublin Festival of History. Michael Kennedy and Zoë Reid recently appeared on RTÉ Radio One's The History Show to give an overview of the exhibition; listen back to the interview here, and listen back to RTÉ Radio One's Morning Ireland broadcast from Academy House to mark the centenary of Irish membership of the League, featuring Michael Kennedy, Darragh Gannon (TCD) and Prof. Jennifer Redmond (Maynooth) in conversation with Shane McElhatton.

Exhibition dates:

National Ploughing Championships, Ratheniska, Co. Laois, 19–21 September 2023

United Nations Building, Palais De Nation, 10 Geneva Dr 12533, Geneva, 25 September–6 October 2023

Dublin Festival of History, Print Works, Dublin Castle, 29 September–1 October 2023

United Nations Headquarters, 405, Lexington Avenue, New York, 10174, 20 November–1 December 2023

Dublin exhibition preview:

National Archives, Bishop St, Dublin 8, Culture Night, 22 September 2023

Panel discussions:

An international gift that was never presented: the Geneva Window.

Saturday 30 September, 13:00
Printworks, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2

In 1927 the government of W.T. Cosgrave officially asked the renowned stained glass artist Harry Clarke to design a window as Ireland's present to the International Labour Office building in Geneva. The window was finished before Clarke passed away in January 1931, but it was never displayed. Join Dr. John Gibney and Dr. Roisin Kennedy in discussion with Aoife Bhreathach to find out why, and to learn about the work of Harry Clarke, the commissioning of the window and how the censorship of literature impacted on the visual content of the window, and the attitudes of the people who commissioned the windows creation. Click here to book.

Ireland at the League of Nations, 1923–1946

Tuesday 3 October, 19:00
Royal Irish Academy, Dublin 2

What was the League of Nations? Who was involved in it? How did Ireland’s membership impact the League? Join the co-curators Dr John Gibney, Dr Michael Kennedy and Zoë Reid in conversation with Rory Montgomery to explore how an exhibition and accompanying publication marking one small state’s involvement in the first global experiment in international organisation has been developed. On an equal footing: Ireland at the League of Nations 1923-1946 will be available to purchase on the night. Click here to book.

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