The mission of the Military Archives is to acquire, preserve and make available to the public the documentary heritage of the Defence Forces and the Department of Defence.

Military Archives is the place of deposit for the archives of the Defence Forces, the Department of Defence and the Army Pensions Board, under the terms of the National Archives Act, 1986. Archives are records with a special significance, records that are deemed to be of enduring value, for a variety of reasons. The term record includes paper documents such as ‘one off’ files, letters and memoranda, as well as pictorial records such as photographs and film. This is unlike the material held in a typical library, which is almost always printed or published material that has been widely disseminated in bound volume (book) format. Archives are therefore absolutely unique and irreplaceable: once lost they can never be recovered. Increasingly, archives today are also acquired in electronic format – whether sound, image or text digital files.

The Military Archives is an official place of deposit since 1990 as defined in the National Archives Act, 1986. From as early as 1924, the National Army recognising the importance of the War of Independence undertook to preserve historical documents from that time. A number of the earliest collections preserved by the Historical Section include the Collins Papers and Captured Documents (Civil War up to 1925), which continue to be made available today.

Staff preparing outsize items for digitisation.
Staff preparing outsize items for digitisation.

Who we are

The Military Archives currently has a staff of three civilian archivists and two military archival assistants working under the direction of the Officer in Charge, Commandant Pádraic Kennedy with Captain Claire Mortimer as Staff Officer. Associated with the Military Archives is the Military Service Pensions Project with a staff of three professional archivists, working under the direction of a project manager/archivist. This project is not currently in the public domain.

The reception area at Military Archives
The reception area at Military Archives

All of the archivists at Military Archives have completed professional postgraduate archivist education at the School of History and Archives, University College Dublin. Military Archives is an institutional member of the Archives and Records Association.

What we do

Apart from serving the evidential, legal and heritage needs of the Defence Forces and the Department of Defence, Military Archives can provide public services to a broad spectrum of interests, from family history queries to academic research, to material for television and radio documentaries.  Some services that may be of interest to your particular needs include:

Defence Forces Training Regulation no. 1 - Close Order Foot Drill, 1939
Defence Forces Training Regulation no. 1 - Close Order Foot Drill, 1939

Family history and genealogy

Staff can assist in tracking down information on former members of the Defence Forces (access conditions apply – see FAQs) with advice offered on sources of information connected to men and women who participated in the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence.

Important Note regarding Irish Regiments of the British Army:

Many researchers confuse the Military Archives as a place of deposit for the records of all Irish people who have served in other armed forces.  In fact, the Military Archives holds only the personnel records of those who served in the military of the Irish Free State from 1922 to the late 1970's, as well as material pertaining to the Irish Volunteers and the Independence movement, 1913-1921. Information about British Army records, including those for the Irish regiments, can be obtained at The National Archives of England at Kew in London.

Please also refer to useful information in the following document.
Information Document on the Irish Regiments of the British Army [PDF 280kb]

You could also consult other archive services in Ireland (e.g. The National Library which holds a number of lists of Irish Personnel in the British Army from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, or Dublin City Library and Archive on Pearse Street, which is the point of contact for the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association) or log on to the National Archives of the UK website at

Recruitment poster c. 1935 by the artist Seán Keating
Recruitment poster c. 1935 by the artist Seán Keating

Facilities for Academic and scholarly research

Our reading room is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10am-4pm by prior appointment only with the Duty Archivist on hand to advise on collections of interest and relevance to research area.  Military Archives is not in a position to carry out private research due to staff and time constraints but can offer advice on Military Archives' collections and other potential sources in Archive and Library services operating nationwide.

The Military Archives can also offer assistance to Leaving Certificate students in selecting a research topic associated with the Leaving Certificate (honours) history syllabus and in consulting relevant primary source material available in the Military Archives.

Recruitment poster - Emergency Period c. 1941 by the artist Jack MacManus
Recruitment poster - Emergency Period c. 1941 by the artist Jack MacManus

Assistance to the Media, cultural institutions, local history groups and academic societies

In the interests of providing widespread access to our collections, the Military Archives, in connection with Defence Forces Public Relations Section, can provide assistance to the media and cultural institutions in the production of documentaries, articles, exhibitions and lecture series. Our media involvement in recent years has included contributions to series such as “Who do you think you are?” (Irish, British and American Series), “Kennedy’s Cadets” (aired on TG4) and “The Story of Ireland” (combined BBC and RTE production).

In 2009 our involvement with academic societies included a joint two-day conference on the War of Independence. This conference was hosted by the Military History Society of Ireland in conjunction with Military Archives and the National Museum of Ireland. In 2010 we had a major involvement in the Defence Forces’ commemoration of Ireland’s first major troop deployment overseas with the United Nations, the 32nd Infantry Battalion to the Congo.

An early recruitment poster, c. 1925
An early recruitment poster, c. 1925


Military Service Pensions Collection 2nd Release

Phase 2 of the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection (MSPC) is being officially launched online through from Thursday 2 October 2014 at 1430 hrs in the Officers’ Mess, Cathal Brugha...[Read more]

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Visit Department of Military Website (EXTERNAL LINK)
Visit Defence Forces Museums Website (EXTERNAL LINK)