A new blog post for the month of July is now available to view online thanks to PRONI, charting the personal stories and experiences of men and women from 100 years ago. 

PRONI hold a wide range of records including letters, diaries and memoirs relating to the First World War and to contemporary events in Ireland, providing first-hand accounts of all aspects of war as well as the impact it had on life at home.

The July blog looks at the period following the Gallipoli landings and the continued fighting on the Western Front. At the same time the British command began to look at the 'New Armies', who were under training at the time, in order to tip the balance in their favour. 

Buncrana man James Harkin worked at a steel mill in Scotland before enlisting with the Irish Guards in 1914. He wrote a number of letters to family before he was killed in August 1915. In his final letter he opens up about his experiences of life on the front lines. 

'Life in the trenches is not quite so bad as is thought. Often there is a lull in the fight and for hours a man may not fire a shot. 

'On a hot day like this it is delightful to lie on the cool, damp soil in the shade of a deep trench and watch the aeroplanes soaring up into the sky till they look no bigger than larks. We amuse ourselves laughing at the attempts of the German artillery to shell our flying craft.'

He concludes his letter with a hope of returning home: 'I hope I will have the pleasure of meeting Molly at the station some day. It is hard to tell for there is more little wooden crosses than Victoria Crosses out here.'

Each month, PRONI will continue to publish transcripts from the personal papers and diaries of a range of individuals who lived throughout the period. 

Click here to read and download the July blog.