History of the Spanish Flu

In July 1917 the Spanish flu epidemic spread across the world, and over the next 20 months it claimed an estimated 18 million lives, most of whom were people under 40 years old. George Sweeney from Moyvoughly, Moate, Co. Westmeath, aged 83 years, and his son Patrick aged 28 years, both contracted the disease in November 1918, and both died within 5 days of each other, Patrick on the 25th November and George on the 1st December. Both father and son were waked together in the family home before burial in Ballymore Cemetery on 3rd December 1918. Out of the seventeen children born to George and both his wives (his first wife, Ann, died in childbirth), three of his sons fought in WW1 with the British Army.

History of the Spanish Flu

Comments about this page

  • Hi Sean,

    Thank you for your comment.

    23,000 deaths is the estimate of Dr Ida Milne, whose research on the Spanish Influenza in Ireland can be found in her book ‘Stacking the Coffins: Influenza, war and revolution in Ireland, 1918–19’ (2018). You can find out more about the publication here:

    Best wishes
    Lorna (Editor)

    By Lorna Elms (23/03/2020)
  • I can’t believe just 23,000 people died from the Spanish Flu when it is estimated that more than 50 million died worldwide.

    By Sean Cusack (22/03/2020)

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