What if the US invaded Ireland?

Why wasn't the Republic of Ireland attacked (from both sides) during World War II?

Neither the Germans nor the British were even remotely interested in what Ireland had to offer at the time. It was a neutral country in northwestern Europe. The military was by no means particularly strong, although the Irish Republican Party and Eamon de Valera had gained independence from the British in the 1920s, largely through military force.

More precisely, the Germans were not interested in Ireland because:

  1. The young country was not a threat, militarily, politically or otherwise.

  2. Nazi ideology was not particularly against the Irish people, many of whom were considered "Aryans".

  3. The invasion and occupation would require a lot of marine / manpower to make a negligible profit.

  4. The British would likely have contributed to the defense as they had the potential to stage a second offensive front against Britain.

Although Ireland was completely independent from Britain until 1939, strong ties between the countries still existed and, in fact, many Irish soldiers were hired as mercenaries to fight for the British Empire - on a voluntary basis. In that sense, they were Britain's unofficial allies. The hostility of the Irish independence movement had certainly calmed down by then.

All in all, you can think of this as a business decision if you will. The potential gain was very small while the initial cost was very high. Britain couldn't care less about Ireland unless it defended it, and Germany was much more focused on defeating the superpowers of the time: Britain, Russia, and later the United States.

Owen Blacker

More on the close ties: During "The Emergency", German airmen in the Republic would land in Curragh, while Allied airmen would find their way across the border into Northern Ireland. In fact, the D-Day landings were decided by a weather report from Blacksod Bay, Co Mayo. See Irish Neutrality During World War II on Wikipedia and JP Duggan, Mr. Hempel at the German legation in Dublin 1937–1945 , ISBN 0716527464 for more information.


The Irish troops were no more mercenaries than the Free French or Polish troops allied with the British army. These volunteers were later mistreated by the Irish government at bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16287211


@Noldorin - I think mercenaries imply that they fought for each side that paid more and didn't bother about the issues. They left the Irish Army because Ireland refused to fight Hitler. Calling them mercenaries is like calling Americans "terrorists" who went to Britain to fight off Pearl Harbor. (A British politician had to apologize to Polish WWII veterinarians after saying that foreign fighters in wars - that is, Afghanistan - were all terrorists.)


@FelixGoldberg: Fair enough. We will then just agree not to agree. I will accept that it is a somewhat subjective term and it is not always clear who is and is not a mercenary! :) :)

Felix Goldberg

@Noldorin: I agree :)