Real History Matters: 100 Years Ago Today the Irish Civil War Began

 

A century ago Tuesday, the Irish Civil War began on the streets of Dublin city. The war was fought between two different branches of the Irish Republican Army which had waged a guerilla war against the occupation forces of the United Kingdom in Ireland for the previous two years. This new war, which was to last over a year, was a war of the brothers.

Some background first. At the end of the Irish war of independence with Britain, a treaty was signed in December 1921 between politicians of Sinn Fein representing Ireland and the Liberal Tory coalition representing the UK — the Anglo-Irish Treaty. This created the Irish Free State, a self-governing dominion nation with limited independence from the UK for the 26 counties of southern Ireland, and recognised the already living state of Northern Ireland which contained the other six counties of Ireland.

The Dail (Ireland’s Parliament), four of Ireland’s seven governing Cabinet members, the newspapers, the church, and most importantly, most of the population of the new state accepted it. Each had its reasons but one of the principal ones was the belief of one of the heroes of Irish, independence Michael Collins (a leader of the IRA, Cabinet Member, and Chairman of the new Provisional Government), that whilst it did not give full independence to Ireland, it would give the freedom to achieve it peacefully over time (on which he was proved right).

However, not everyone did. Many members of the Dail Eireann rejected the Treaty and would not abide it. The leader of the Dail President Eamon De Valera refused to accept the Dail vote for the Treaty. He led his supporters out of the Dail in protest, splitting the Sinn Fein party and damaging democracy in the newborn state. However, he and they were not the true danger. The majority of another more powerful group did not accept the new situation — the IRA.

The IRA was split on the Treaty — the moderate or more realistic members supported it. The diehards and the idealists were appalled by it. Many of these people had fought a sustained campaign against British rule for several years and were in no mood to compromise, they saw only total victory as legitimate — a 32-county independent republic for Ireland. This, of course, was something beyond what Britain would be willing to grant, a fact that Collins who led the negotiating team and De Valera who chose it knew.

Essentially, the factions represented two different themes of Irish nationalism, the moderate pragmatists and the idealistic die-hards; as the year of 1922 took shape, each side began flexing its muscles. It soon became apparent to many in Ireland that war was coming again. The Anti Treaty IRA in April rejected the authority of Dail Eireann and began flouting laws it made from early that year. Several members carried out robberies, revenge killings, and shot at retreating British soldiers departing Ireland. Some also began to occupy as many garrisons as they could. In March, they occupied the Four Courts (building seen above) and made it their new base, miles from the Provisional Governments headquarters.

Collins and the Provisional government could only watch in horror at what was going on, but they needed time to build up forces to resist the anti Treaty IRA. They were recruiting, training, and building a new army, but most of the talented and best soldiers had rejected the Treaty; the Pro Treaty were outnumbered. Collins also wanted to see what way the Irish people were voting before he took strong action. In June of that year, elections to the new Dail (in short, a referendum on the Treaty) was called.

Nevertheless, Britain began calling on Collins and the new government to act, as they were appalled by the situation in Ireland. They feared a new republican government taking shape in Ireland which they did not want. They also feared for Northern Ireland. When senior British soldier Sir Henry Wilson was killed by members of the IRA in London, acting on orders from someone in Ireland, the British sent an ultimatum to Ireland’s new government — take action against the Anti Treaty IRA or we will.

The Anti Treaty IRA gave Collins the perfect excuse by kidnapping a Free State general days before. The government gave the Anti Treaty IRA a timeline — surrender or be destroyed. After gaining a mandate of voters (Pro Treaty parties got 70% plus of the vote), the words of the UK ministers, and the much more hardline members of the Provisional government arguing for it, Collins realised time was up. Either the Anti Treaty goes or he and his government do. As such, on 28th June 1922, the orders were given and the Four Courts was shelled.

The Battle of Dublin began and, with it, the Irish civil war. A war that was to claim the lives of some of Ireland’s bravest patriots (including Collins and Griffith and many IRA heroes of both sides) and leave the country devastated morally physically and spiritually for decades.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 37 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Can there be heroes on both sides of a civil war? I have been told in no uncertain terms that is not the case. 

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Can there be heroes on both sides of a civil war? I have been told in no uncertain terms that is not the case.

    The people telling you that don’t know any history. It is important to note that their ignorance will not prevent them from repeating it.

    • #2
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Percival (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Can there be heroes on both sides of a civil war? I have been told in no uncertain terms that is not the case.

    The people telling you that don’t know any history. It is important to note that their ignorance will not prevent them from repeating it.

    Those people want to tell me that I have ancestors who died on the battlefield and were evil for it. 

    I don’t agree with it, mind you, but the assertion that their are heroes on both sides is not the majority, I don’t think. 

    • #3
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    70% of the people wanted peace, and despite that, there was how many years of ongoing bloodshed?

     

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Can there be heroes on both sides of a civil war? I have been told in no uncertain terms that is not the case.

    The people telling you that don’t know any history. It is important to note that their ignorance will not prevent them from repeating it.

    Those people want to tell me that I have ancestors who died on the battlefield and were evil for it.

    I don’t agree with it, mind you, but the assertion that their are heroes on both sides is not the majority, I don’t think.

    Some people cannot conceive of honorable enemies. That is an indication that they have no honor themselves.

    • #5
  6. Paddy S Member
    Paddy S
    @PaddySiochain

    It ended in 1923. The defeated Anti Treaty IRA dumped arms and De Valera realised best way to achieve a republic was through the ballot box and take over the Irish Free State which he did in 1932. He then used the freedoms Collins and his successor WT Cosgrave got from the UK to literally turn the country into a republic completed in 1949. 

    There has been since 1923 no real heavy amounts of violence in the 26 counties of the south apart from isolated incidents. Only in the north has there been and that was between 1969-1998.

    • #6
  7. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Paddy S (View Comment):

     

    There has been since 1923 no real heavy amounts of violence in the 26 counties of the south apart from isolated incidents. Only in the north has there been and that was between 1969-1998.

    I remember when it was dangerous on the London tubes. So it wasn’t confined to Ireland. 

    • #7
  8. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    I need to do a lot more reading on this subject. My G-G-grandad came to America from Limerick in the 1840s, so I should really know a lot more about all of it. 

    Any suggestions?

    • #8
  9. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    The Free State and the Six Counties in the North of Ireland have never been totally reconciled to this day. There has been a pause but there is a lot of blame on both sides. From an IRA that looked to Marxism in the latter years and the Ulster Constabulary in the North there is plenty of blame on both sides. One can hate a man for the color of his skin or can hate him for his religion.

    May Oliver Cromwell, King William of Orange, and Ian Paisly rot in Hell. May the hedgerow priests be remembered in their martyrdom. 

    • #9
  10. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Paddy S (View Comment):

    It ended in 1923. The defeated Anti Treaty IRA dumped arms and De Valera realised best way to achieve a republic was through the ballot box and take over the Irish Free State which he did in 1932. He then used the freedoms Collins and his successor WT Cosgrave got from the UK to literally turn the country into a republic completed in 1949.

    There has been since 1923 no real heavy amounts of violence in the 26 counties of the south apart from isolated incidents. Only in the north has there been and that was between 1969-1998.

    It’s also worth pointing out how De Valera has become a symbol of patriarchal and Church oppression in the last couple of decades for the mainstream commentariat.

    • #10
  11. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Can there be heroes on both sides of a civil war? I have been told in no uncertain terms that is not the case.

    People can fight heroically for a bad cause.  We aren’t one dimensional.

    • #11
  12. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Can there be heroes on both sides of a civil war? I have been told in no uncertain terms that is not the case.

    People can fight heroically for a bad cause. We aren’t one dimensional.

    Nazi Germany vs. the USSR. There doesn’t have to be a good guy.

    • #12
  13. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Thank you Paddy. To an outsider Irish history appears very confusing. One imagines homogeneous sides. It never occurred to me that the pro-freedom side was split at some point. 

    • #13
  14. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Manny (View Comment):

    Thank you Paddy. To an outsider Irish history appears very confusing. One imagines homogeneous sides. It never occurred to me that the pro-freedom side was split at some point.

    Good point.

    • #14
  15. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Paddy S (View Comment):

     

    There has been since 1923 no real heavy amounts of violence in the 26 counties of the south apart from isolated incidents. Only in the north has there been and that was between 1969-1998.

    I remember when it was dangerous on the London tubes. So it wasn’t confined to Ireland.

    And any other public place.

    • #15
  16. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    Paddy S: The diehards and the idealists…

    i.e. The folk with too much blood on their hands to get cushy government jobs under the new regime?

    I dunno. I’m just guessing.

    • #16
  17. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Can there be heroes on both sides of a civil war? I have been told in no uncertain terms that is not the case.

    People can fight heroically for a bad cause. We aren’t one dimensional.

    Nazi Germany vs. the USSR. There doesn’t have to be a good guy.

    The Russian people’s defense of their homeland against Nazi invasion was inarguably heroic.

    The USSR’s concurrent aggression against other sovereign nations that had not invaded Russia was not.

    Really, these should be considered two different wars that just happened to occur at the same time.

    IMHO, of course.

    (Also, upon reflection, totally off-topic, so my apologies for hijacking the thread.)

    • #17
  18. Paddy S Member
    Paddy S
    @PaddySiochain

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    Paddy S: The diehards and the idealists…

    i.e. The folk with too much blood on their hands to get cushy government jobs under the new regime?

    I dunno. I’m just guessing.

    The nature of the independence the Treaty gave.

    It wasn’t a full republic but a dominion in the British empire. 

    Also tds our version of congressmen would have to swear an oath of allegiance to the British king

    • #18
  19. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Can there be heroes on both sides of a civil war? I have been told in no uncertain terms that is not the case.

    People can fight heroically for a bad cause. We aren’t one dimensional.

    Nazi Germany vs. the USSR. There doesn’t have to be a good guy.

    The Russian people’s defense of their homeland against Nazi invasion was inarguably heroic.

    The USSR’s concurrent aggression against other sovereign nations that had not invaded Russia was not.

    Really, these should be considered two different wars that just happened to occur at the same time.

    IMHO, of course.

    (Also, upon reflection, totally off-topic, so my apologies for hijacking the thread.)

    Sadly, the brave defenders of Stalingrad, in order to protect their homes and families, wound up protecting their oppressors in the bargain.

    • #19
  20. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark
    @CharlesMark

    Now we face the high likelihood of Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA and apologists for the most appalling crimes and the most gruesome killers, winning the next election, based on a stream of populist but entirely implausible promises to the citizenry, and making us the only thugocracy  in Europe. This will not work out well.  

    • #20
  21. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Charles Mark (View Comment):

    Now we face the high likelihood of Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA and apologists for the most appalling crimes and the most gruesome killers, winning the next election, based on a stream of populist but entirely implausible promises to the citizenry, and making us the only thugocracy in Europe. This will not work out well.

    It feels inevitable. But then I think, after a week where the leader of the Seanad declares there’s 9 genders and the Taoiseach trash talks the SCOTUS ruling on Roe V Wade, does it matter anymore who’s going to drive the country over a cliff since that’s where we’re going anyway?

    • #21
  22. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Suggestion.  Last year, @MarjorieReynolds, @susanquinn, and I had a Zoom conversation, and it was great fun.  Can we maybe schedule another one, and have everyone from Ireland participate?  We in the US would get first-hand information, and meet more of our overseas Ricochet Family members.  We scheduled our meeting on a Saturday, morning our time, evening theirs.  It’s so easy, absolutely free, and valuable for those of us who can’t travel for various reasons.  Let’s give it some thought!

    • #22
  23. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Charles Mark (View Comment):

    Now we face the high likelihood of Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA and apologists for the most appalling crimes and the most gruesome killers, winning the next election, based on a stream of populist but entirely implausible promises to the citizenry, and making us the only thugocracy in Europe. This will not work out well.

    It feels inevitable. But then I think, after a week where the leader of the Seanad declares there’s 9 genders and the Taoiseach trash talks the SCOTUS ruling on Roe V Wade, does it matter anymore who’s going to drive the country over a cliff since that’s where we’re going anyway?

    Am I correct to say when Ireland was a poor country, it was a blessed country?  And when Ireland became a rich country it became an evil place?

    • #23
  24. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Suggestion. Last year, @ MarjorieReynolds, @ susanquinn, and I had a Zoom conversation, and it was great fun. Can we maybe schedule another one, and have everyone from Ireland participate? We in the US would get first-hand information, and meet more of our overseas Ricochet Family members. We scheduled our meeting on a Saturday, morning our time, evening theirs. It’s so easy, absolutely free, and valuable for those of us who can’t travel for various reasons. Let’s give it some thought!

    Yes.  I missed that one.  Count me in.

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Suggestion. Last year, @ MarjorieReynolds, @ susanquinn, and I had a Zoom conversation, and it was great fun. Can we maybe schedule another one, and have everyone from Ireland participate? We in the US would get first-hand information, and meet more of our overseas Ricochet Family members. We scheduled our meeting on a Saturday, morning our time, evening theirs. It’s so easy, absolutely free, and valuable for those of us who can’t travel for various reasons. Let’s give it some thought!

    Sorry to be picky, but I’m offline for the Sabbath at that time. But I’d love to do it at a different time!

    • #25
  26. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Suggestion. Last year, @ MarjorieReynolds, @ susanquinn, and I had a Zoom conversation, and it was great fun. Can we maybe schedule another one, and have everyone from Ireland participate? We in the US would get first-hand information, and meet more of our overseas Ricochet Family members. We scheduled our meeting on a Saturday, morning our time, evening theirs. It’s so easy, absolutely free, and valuable for those of us who can’t travel for various reasons. Let’s give it some thought!

    Sorry to be picky, but I’m offline for the Sabbath at that time. But I’d love to do it at a different time!

    I have laryngitis at the moment so I sound like Rod Stewart some of the time and the rest of the time like a cat after someone’s stepped on its tail but I’m hoping by next week I’ll be ok. I think we did it on Sunday last time?

    • #26
  27. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Manny (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Charles Mark (View Comment):

    Now we face the high likelihood of Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA and apologists for the most appalling crimes and the most gruesome killers, winning the next election, based on a stream of populist but entirely implausible promises to the citizenry, and making us the only thugocracy in Europe. This will not work out well.

    It feels inevitable. But then I think, after a week where the leader of the Seanad declares there’s 9 genders and the Taoiseach trash talks the SCOTUS ruling on Roe V Wade, does it matter anymore who’s going to drive the country over a cliff since that’s where we’re going anyway?

    Am I correct to say when Ireland was a poor country, it was a blessed country? And when Ireland became a rich country it became an evil place?

    Well unfortunately no. There was an obsession with respectability that led to some very unchristian behaviour particularly towards unmarried mothers orphans and the mentally ill. 
    There’a a journalist here called David Quinn who has written somewhere that the real religion in Ireland was and is the consensus. Whatever’s handiest. There’s very little soul searching as a nation about how our own families might have mistreated people, it’s much easier to blame the church for everything.

    • #27
  28. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark
    @CharlesMark

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Charles Mark (View Comment):

    Now we face the high likelihood of Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA and apologists for the most appalling crimes and the most gruesome killers, winning the next election, based on a stream of populist but entirely implausible promises to the citizenry, and making us the only thugocracy in Europe. This will not work out well.

    It feels inevitable. But then I think, after a week where the leader of the Seanad declares there’s 9 genders and the Taoiseach trash talks the SCOTUS ruling on Roe V Wade, does it matter anymore who’s going to drive the country over a cliff since that’s where we’re going anyway?

    I get your point entirely Marjorie. The Government Parties are insufferable. I voted for one of them for nearly 40 years, but not in the last election, when I gave my number one to a left-leaning Independent who lives near me. The lack of even a centrist option, not to mention right-of-centre, has left a huge numbers without a natural political home- including the 33% who voted pro-life in the Referendum. 

    But bad as they are, the Government Parties are not full of violent criminals and their friends,  who see Venezuela as a desirable economic model and who won’t disclose the whereabouts of the bones of the many victims- including women- killed by their armed wing. 

    • #28
  29. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark
    @CharlesMark

    Manny (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Suggestion. Last year, @ MarjorieReynolds, @ susanquinn, and I had a Zoom conversation, and it was great fun. Can we maybe schedule another one, and have everyone from Ireland participate? We in the US would get first-hand information, and meet more of our overseas Ricochet Family members. We scheduled our meeting on a Saturday, morning our time, evening theirs. It’s so easy, absolutely free, and valuable for those of us who can’t travel for various reasons. Let’s give it some thought!

    Yes. I missed that one. Count me in.

    Ireland lost about a quarter of its population in the 1840s and to this day is- as far as I understand- is the only European country with a smaller population than it had in the mid – 19th Century. I know of one town which had a pre-Famine population of 5,000 but has never topped 2,000 since. 

    It was reported last week that the population of the Republic has gone above 5 million for the first time since those awful days. This includes an increase of over 300,000 since 2016. We keep hearing that we have a housing crisis and that is likely to be the defining issue in the next general election. But nobody wants to join the dots between increase in demand and lack of supply for fear of being labelled anti-immigrant. 

    Anyway, we will have plenty of supply in a couple of decades as average family-size inevitably plummets. 

    • #29
  30. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark
    @CharlesMark

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Suggestion. Last year, @ MarjorieReynolds, @ susanquinn, and I had a Zoom conversation, and it was great fun. Can we maybe schedule another one, and have everyone from Ireland participate? We in the US would get first-hand information, and meet more of our overseas Ricochet Family members. We scheduled our meeting on a Saturday, morning our time, evening theirs. It’s so easy, absolutely free, and valuable for those of us who can’t travel for various reasons. Let’s give it some thought!

    Count me in. Sorry I missed the last one. 

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.