There is a quiet corner on the eastern-most reaches of Dublin's Glasnevin cemetery. Few of the graves here are tended. The remains of men, women and children of all lie here. Some from the same family, most of them forgotten victims of a largely forgotten chapter in Ireland's history.

The Spanish Flu pandemic hit Ireland during one of the most tumultuous periods in modern history. The First World War was still being fought, and it was the period between the end of the Easter Rising and the beginning of the War of Independence.

Though there are no plaques or monuments to mark it, the Spanish Flu provided one of the largest single events in the cemetery's history. People were dying so quickly and in such numbers that the grave diggers simply couldn't keep up, working overtime as the coffins piled up in the vaults.

Globally, 50 million lives were claimed by the Spanish Flu, at least 20,000 of them here in Ireland, where 800,000 were infected.

It should be pointed out that "Spanish Flu" is a misnomer, an erroneous label that has lingered this past century. The virus did not come from Spain. It is most likely to have its origins in army camps in the United States. Wartime censorship in countries still involved in the fighting prevented the press from reporting outbreaks, particularly among troops.

As Spain was a neutral country, its press was under no such constraint and reported freely on the impact of the virus. The effect was the misconception that the flu had originated in Spain.

Some 100 years later, does the 1918 Flu hold any lessons for us during the current pandemic, particularly around how it ended and what the future might hold?

Grave diggers at Glasnevin Cemetery simply couldn't keep up during the 1918 Flu

The world was not as connected then as it is in 2022, but people were nevertheless on the move in 1918.

Ireland's rail network was at its most extensive and proved very efficient at distributing the flu virus around the country. Infected passengers came in through the ports – soldiers returning from war and civilians alike – and from there onto the trains.

In Rathvilly, Co Carlow, what used to be a ticket office for the train station is now a private home. The station has been closed for 60 years.

In towns like Rathvilly all across Ireland, the 1918 Flu forced people into effective lockdown.

"Whole communities would go quiet," Dr Ida Milne, a historian who has done extensive research on the 1918 Flu, told Prime Time.

"People would stay in their homes perhaps because their families had caught the flu or perhaps because they were afraid of catching it."

Sporting events were cancelled, the local school in Rathvilly shut its doors and the locals were fed with milk churns of soup being brought down from the nearby big house, she said.

Newspaper cuttings from the time reflect familiar themes from the last two years: debates over school closures, a health service under extreme pressure, not to mention extraordinary claims being made about products and their usefulness in treating or preventing infection.

The 1918 Flu pandemic had three distinct waves in Ireland

After three distinct waves over the course of a year, the pandemic drew to an end, though not with a full stop.

"Pandemics don't end with a bang – they end with a fizzle", Dr Milne, the author of Stacking The Coffins: Influenza, War and Revolution in Ireland 1918-1919, said.

This was certainly the case with the 1918 Flu. The flu came and went sporadically, taking lives with it each time.

"You'd often see small crops of it around the country or in different parts of the world. Some parts of the Nordic countries experienced a fourth wave in 1920 - and the same thing in South America."

The result, she said, was that people were left very much on edge about the prospect of another outbreak.

The societal changes of the 1920s were driven in part by the experience of the 1918 Flu, especially in the area of health.

There was a shift in how we treated illness and disease as Western societies in particular moved towards a centralised system of healthcare, one of the factors that pulled people from rural areas to move towards cities.

But will the lessons learned during the Covid pandemic also lead us towards positive changes?

Cathal Friel, executive chairman of Open Orphan, believes so.

The pandemic saw the dawn of mRNA vaccines

Having had a ringside seat for his company's work in the testing and development of vaccines, he says that developments made in response to Covid will benefit us for many years, particularly the dawn of mRNA vaccines.

"I think we've a very, very exciting couple of decades coming up. People are going to be much healthier as we go forward," Mr Friel said.

He also believes that the pandemic will provide the opportunity for people to step back from cities.

"Post pandemic, I think you'll see people flourishing, moving back to remote work in country villages."

Mr Friel is confident that the Omicron wave signals the pandemic coming to its conclusion, saying that it will end in a similar fashion to the 1918 flu, with deaths coming to an end and those infected experiencing far less severe symptoms to earlier variants.

"They don't go away, but people get immunity, people stop getting sick and people learn to live with it. We are in this end game and I'm extremely optimistic."

Professor Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School Tropical Medicine at Baylor School of Medicine in Texas, is less optimistic.

While he understands that everyone is exhausted, he said it is premature to call this the end.

1918 Flu survivors suffered with poor physical health for many years after infection

"I think we are not going to see much in the way of durable or long-lasting immunity," Prof Hotez told Prime Time.

"I think it'll look like other upper respiratory coronaviruses and produce protection of short term duration and we'll be just as vulnerable to the next variant that might come along out of the African continent, Asia, Latin America, just like the last two variants."

One theory in virology and epidemiology circles is that viruses don’t want to kill us – that they mutate and adapt to give themselves the best chance of survival and being passed on to another host.

But, while that is the case with omicron – a more transmissible but less pathogenic variant, it would be foolish to make predictions about what Covid-19 does next, said Dr Rodney E Rohde, the Chair of the Clinical Laboratory Sciences Programme at Texas State University.

"People say they can predict the behaviour of a virus. My comment is that it makes us all look very silly."

"I absolutely don't trust [viruses] at all because of their nature of being able to adapt quicker than human beings and other animals and things. I think we're getting close but I would not be surprised if we had a very big surprise come next winter."

The current pandemic will end, as all pandemics do. With the 1918 Flu, its effects lived on for some time. Dr Milne told Prime Time that survivors suffered with poor physical health for many years after infection.

The 1918 Flu was deeply traumatising for families

Some studies have suggested a link between the flu and the onset in later years of other medical conditions.

Families were devastated by the loss of parents and children, sometimes both. Not only that, but the upheaval and trauma caused by the pandemic appears to have left a lasting anxiety on those who lived through it.

Once over, the flu was seldom discussed. Dr Milne said that interviews she carried out suggest that people were simply afraid of it returning.

"It’s very interesting that something like the 1918 Flu isn't spoken about and my interviews have suggested that the reason it isn't spoken about was because it was so deeply traumatising to their families, even though it affected them very, very badly."

A century on, the parallels with Covid-19 are clear, but it will be some time before the full impact on the physical health of those who survived Covid and on the mental well-being of the population at large will be truly known.

Even then, Prof Peter Hotez believes it will be profound.

The upheaval of Covid-19 could give people lasting psychological damage

"There's a little doubt that this Covid-19 pandemic will leave indelible impressions on us and will haunt us for many years."

"We're still at the beginning of understanding what long Covid does in terms of long-term neurologic damage, as well as cardiopulmonary effects as well," he said.

"But it goes beyond that. I think there's the psychological damage to populations, due to all of the upheavals and the social disruptions that happen because of Covid."

Of course, in both pandemics, the greatest impact was on those whose lives were lost and the families they left behind. Glasnevin Cemetery now provides a final resting place for victims of both pandemics, divided by a century in time - but only a short physical distance.

In 2022, the world is a very different place to what it was when the 1918 flu claimed 50 million lives. Vaccines came too late then, but may have turned the tide now for Covid-19. Medicines and hospital treatments have advanced hugely. Covid-19 will leave behind it a changed population in a changed world.

The current pandemic will end, the immediate threat from the virus will diminish, but its aftermath could yet be with us for many years to come.