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Irish War of Independence

Irish War of Independence

Overview
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 (IRA) against the British government
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 and its forces in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

's declaration of independence
Declaration of Independence (Ireland)
The Declaration of Independence was a document adopted by Dáil Éireann, the revolutionary parliament of the Irish Republic, at its first meeting in the Mansion House, Dublin, on 21 January 1919. It followed from the Sinn Féin election manifesto of December 1918...

. Both sides agreed to a ceasefire
Ceasefire
A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. Ceasefires may be declared as part of a formal treaty, but they have also been called as part of an informal understanding between opposing forces...

 (or "truce") in July 1921. The post-ceasefire talks led to the December 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

. This treaty ended British rule in most of Ireland and, after a ten-month transitional period overseen by a provisional government, the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 was established.
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Encyclopedia
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 (IRA) against the British government
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 and its forces in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

's declaration of independence
Declaration of Independence (Ireland)
The Declaration of Independence was a document adopted by Dáil Éireann, the revolutionary parliament of the Irish Republic, at its first meeting in the Mansion House, Dublin, on 21 January 1919. It followed from the Sinn Féin election manifesto of December 1918...

. Both sides agreed to a ceasefire
Ceasefire
A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. Ceasefires may be declared as part of a formal treaty, but they have also been called as part of an informal understanding between opposing forces...

 (or "truce") in July 1921. The post-ceasefire talks led to the December 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

. This treaty ended British rule in most of Ireland and, after a ten-month transitional period overseen by a provisional government, the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 was established. However, six northern counties remained within the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 as Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, with its own devolved
Devolution in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, devolution refers to the statutory granting of powers from the Parliament of the United Kingdom to the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly and to their associated executive bodies the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government...

 parliament
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

. After the ceasefire, political and sectarian violence (between republicans
Irish Republicanism
Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.In 1801, under the Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 and loyalists
Ulster loyalism
Ulster loyalism is an ideology that is opposed to a united Ireland. It can mean either support for upholding Northern Ireland's status as a constituent part of the United Kingdom , support for Northern Ireland independence, or support for loyalist paramilitaries...

, and between Irish Catholic
Irish Catholic
Irish Catholic is a term used to describe people who are both Roman Catholic and Irish .Note: the term is not used to describe a variant of Catholicism. More particularly, it is not a separate creed or sect in the sense that "Anglo-Catholic", "Old Catholic", "Eastern Orthodox Catholic" might be...

s and Protestants
Protestantism in Ireland
Protestantism in Ireland- 20th Century decline and other developments:In 1991, the population of the Republic of Ireland was approximately 3% Protestant, but the figure was over 10% in 1891, indicating a fall of 70% in the relative Protestant population over the past century.The effect of...

) continued in Northern Ireland for many months.

The IRA that fought in this conflict is often called the Old IRA to distinguish it from later groups that also used the name.

The Home Rule Crisis



Since the 1880s, Irish nationalists in the Irish Parliamentary Party
Irish Parliamentary Party
The Irish Parliamentary Party was formed in 1882 by Charles Stewart Parnell, the leader of the Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule League, as official parliamentary party for Irish nationalist Members of Parliament elected to the House of Commons at...

 (IPP) had been demanding Home Rule
Home rule
Home rule is the power of a constituent part of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been devolved to it by the central government....

, or self-government, from Britain. Fringe organisations, such as Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

's Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 instead argued for some form of Irish independence, but they were in a small minority at this time.

The demand for Home Rule was eventually granted by the British Government in 1912, immediately prompting a prolonged crisis within the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 as Ulster Unionists formed an armed organisation—the Ulster Volunteers -- to resist this measure of devolution
Devolution
Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. Devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government...

. In turn, Nationalists formed their own military organisation, the Irish Volunteers
Irish Volunteers
The Irish Volunteers was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912, and its declared primary aim was "to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland"...

.

The British Parliament passed the Third Home Rule Act with an amending Bill for the partition of Ireland
Partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland was the division of the island of Ireland into two distinct territories, now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Partition occurred when the British Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920...

 introduced by Ulster Unionists, but the Act's implementation was postponed by the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. The majority of Nationalists followed their IPP leaders and John Redmond
John Redmond
John Edward Redmond was an Irish nationalist politician, barrister, MP in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1900 to 1918...

's call to support Britain and the Allied
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

 war effort in Irish regiments of the New British Army
Kitchener's Army
The New Army, often referred to as Kitchener's Army or, disparagingly, Kitchener's Mob, was an all-volunteer army formed in the United Kingdom following the outbreak of hostilities in the First World War...

, the intention being to ensure the commencement of Home Rule after the war. But a significant minority of the Irish Volunteers opposed Ireland's involvement in the war. The Volunteer movement split, a majority leaving to form the National Volunteers
National Volunteers
The National Volunteers was the name taken by the majority of the Irish Volunteers that sided with Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond after the movement split over the question of the Volunteers' role in World War I.-Origins:...

 under John Redmond. The remaining Irish Volunteers, under Eoin MacNeill
Eoin MacNeill
Eoin MacNeill was an Irish scholar, nationalist, revolutionary and politician. MacNeill is regarded as the father of the modern study of early Irish medieval history. He was a co-founder of the Gaelic League, to preserve Irish language and culture, going on to establish the Irish Volunteers...

, held that they would maintain their organisation until Home Rule had been granted. Within this Volunteer movement, another faction, led by the separatist Irish Republican Brotherhood
Irish Republican Brotherhood
The Irish Republican Brotherhood was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland during the second half of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century...

, began to prepare for a revolt against British rule in Ireland
Dublin Castle administration in Ireland
The Dublin Castle administration in Ireland was the government of Ireland under English and later British rule, from the twelfth century until 1922, based at Dublin Castle.-Head:...

.

The Easter Rising


The plan for revolt was realised in the Easter Rising
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

 of 1916, in which the Volunteers, now explicitly declaring a republic, launched an insurrection whose aim was to end British rule and to found an Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

. The rising, in which over four hundred people died, was almost exclusively confined to Dublin and was put down within a week, but the British response, executing the leaders of the insurrection and arresting thousands of nationalist activists, galvanized support for the separatist Sinn Féin — the party which the republicans first adopted and then took over. By now, support for the British war effort was on the wane, and Irish public opinion was shocked and outraged by some of the actions committed by British troops, particularly the murder of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington
Francis Sheehy-Skeffington
Francis Skeffington from Bailieborough, County Cavan, was an Irish suffragist, pacifist and writer. He was a friend and schoolmate of James Joyce, Oliver St John Gogarty, Tom Kettle, and Conor Cruise O'Brien's father, Frank O'Brien...

 and the imposition of wartime martial law.

Secondly, the British, in the face of the crisis caused by the German Spring Offensive
Spring Offensive
The 1918 Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht , also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during World War I, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914...

 in April 1918, attempted to introduce conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 into Ireland combined with Home Rule outlined at the Irish Convention
Irish Convention
The Irish Convention was an assembly which sat in Dublin, Ireland from July 1917 until March 1918 to address the Irish Question and other constitutional problems relating to an early enactment of self-government for Ireland, to debate its wider future, discuss and come to an understanding on...

. This further alienated the Irish electorate and produced mass demonstrations during the Conscription Crisis of 1918. By the time of the November 1918 election, alienation from British rule was widespread.

To Irish Republicans, the Irish War of Independence had begun with the Proclamation of the Irish Republic during the Easter Rising of 1916. Republicans argued that the conflict of 1919-21 (and indeed the subsequent Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

) was the defence of this Republic against attempts to destroy it.

The First Dáil


In the 1918 general election
Irish (UK) general election, 1918
The Irish general election of 1918 was that part of the 1918 United Kingdom general election that took place in Ireland. It is seen as a key moment in modern Irish history...

 Irish voters showed their disapproval of British policy by giving Sinn Féin 70% (73 seats out of 105) of Irish seats, 25 of these unopposed. Sinn Féin won 91% of the seats outside of Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 on 46.9% of votes cast, but was in a minority in Ulster, where Unionists were in a majority. Sinn Féin pledged not to sit in the UK Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 at Westminster
Westminster
Westminster is an area of central London, within the City of Westminster, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames, southwest of the City of London and southwest of Charing Cross...

, but rather to set up an Irish Parliament. This parliament, known as the First Dáil
First Dáil
The First Dáil was Dáil Éireann as it convened from 1919–1921. In 1919 candidates who had been elected in the Westminster elections of 1918 refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and instead assembled as a unicameral, revolutionary parliament called "Dáil Éireann"...

, and its ministry, called the Aireacht
Aireacht
The Aireacht or Ministry was the cabinet of the 1919–1922 Irish Republic. The Ministry was originally established by the Dáil Constitution adopted by the First Dáil in 1919, after it issued the Irish Declaration of Independence...

, consisting only of Sinn Féin members, met at the Mansion House
Mansion House, Dublin
The Mansion House on Dawson Street, Dublin, is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin since 1715.-Features:The Mansion House's most famous features include the "Round Room", where the First Dáil assembled on 21 January 1919 to proclaim the Irish Declaration of Independence...

 on 21 January 1919. The Dáil reaffirmed the 1916 declaration with the Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence (Ireland)
The Declaration of Independence was a document adopted by Dáil Éireann, the revolutionary parliament of the Irish Republic, at its first meeting in the Mansion House, Dublin, on 21 January 1919. It followed from the Sinn Féin election manifesto of December 1918...

, and issued a Message to the Free Nations of the World
Message to the Free Nations of the World
In 1919 the First Dáil of the Irish Republic issued a Message to the Free Nations of the World . The message was approved by Dáil Éireann on 21 January 1919. It asked nations to recognise Ireland as a separate nation, free from British rule. It was adopted in three languages: Irish, English and...

, which stated that there was an "existing state of war, between Ireland and England". The Irish Volunteers were reconstituted as the 'Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

' or IRA. The IRA was perceived by some members of Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 to have a mandate to wage war on the British administration based at Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle off Dame Street, Dublin, Ireland, was until 1922 the fortified seat of British rule in Ireland, and is now a major Irish government complex. Most of it dates from the 18th century, though a castle has stood on the site since the days of King John, the first Lord of Ireland...

.

Pre-War violence


The years between the Easter Rising of 1916 and the beginning of the War of Independence in 1919 were not bloodless. Thomas Ashe
Thomas Ashe
Thomas Patrick Ashe born in Lispole, County Kerry, Ireland, was a member of the Gaelic League, the Irish Republican Brotherhood and a founding member of the Irish Volunteers...

, one of the Volunteer leaders imprisoned for his role in the 1916 rebellion died on hunger strike, after attempted force-feeding in 1917. In 1918, during disturbances arising out of the anti-conscription campaign, six civilians died in confrontations with the police and British Army and over 1,000 were arrested. Armistice Day
Armistice Day
Armistice Day is on 11 November and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day...

 was marked by severe rioting in Dublin, which left over 100 British soldiers injured. There were also raids for arms by the Volunteers, at least one shooting of a Royal Irish Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary
The armed Royal Irish Constabulary was Ireland's major police force for most of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police controlled the capital, and the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police...

 (RIC) policeman and the burning of an RIC barracks in Kerry. In Co. Cork, four rifles were seized from the Eyeries
Eyeries
Eyeries is a village and townland on the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, Ireland overlooking Coulagh Bay and the mouth of the Kenmare River in the south-west. It lies at the base of Maulin, which, at , is the highest peak in the Slieve Miskish mountain range that forms part of the backbone of the...

 barracks in March 1918 and men from the barracks were beaten that August. In early July 1918, Volunteers ambushed two RIC men who had been stationed to stop a feis
Féis
A Feis or Fèis is a traditional Gaelic arts and culture festival. The plural forms are feiseanna and fèisean .-History:In Ancient Ireland communities placed great importance on local festivals, where Gaels could come together in song, dance, music, theatre and sport...

 being held on the road between Ballingeary
Ballingeary
Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh is a village in the Shehy Mountains in County Cork, Ireland.The village is within the Gaeltacht and has an active Irish-language summer school, Coláiste na Mumhan...

 and Ballyvourney
Ballyvourney
Baile Bhuirne , anglicised as Ballyvourney is a Gaeltacht village in south-west County Cork, Ireland. It is a civil parish in the barony of Muskerry West and is also one half of the Ecclesiastical parish of Baile Bhuirne agus Cúil Aodha in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cloyne-Location and...

 in the first armed attack on the RIC since the Easter Rising - one was shot in the neck, the other beaten, and police carbines and ammunition were seized. Patrols in Bantry
Bantry
Bantry is a town on the coast of County Cork, Ireland. It lies on the N71 national secondary road at the head of Bantry Bay, a deep-water gulf extending for 30 km to the west...

 and Ballyvourney were badly beaten in September and October. The attacks brought a British military presence from the summer of 1918, which only briefly quelled the violence, and an increase in police raids. However, there was as yet no co-ordinated armed campaign against the British presence in Ireland.

Initial hostilities



While it was not clear in the beginning of 1919 that the Dáil ever intended to gain independence by military means, and war was not explicitly threatened in Sinn Féin's 1918 manifesto
Sinn Féin Manifesto 1918
Sinn Féin Manifesto for the December 1918 electionFollowing its reform in 1917, the Sinn Féin party campaigned against conscription in Ireland...

, an incident occurred on 21 January 1919, the same day as the First Dáil convened. Several IRA members acting independently at Soloheadbeg
Soloheadbeg
Soloheadbeg is a small townland, some two miles outside Tipperary Town, near Limerick Junction railway station.The place is steeped in Irish history, for it was here that King Mahon of Thomond and his brother Brian Ború defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Solohead in 968...

, in County Tipperary, led by Seán Treacy
Seán Treacy (Irish Republican)
Seán Treacy was one of the leaders of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence. He helped to start the conflict in 1919 and was killed in a shootout with British troops in Talbot Street, Dublin during an aborted British Secret Service...

, Seamus Robinson, Sean Hogan and Dan Breen
Dan Breen
Daniel "Dan" Breen was a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. In later years, he was a Fianna Fáil politician.-Background:...

, attacked and shot two Royal Irish Constabulary officers, Constables James McDonnell and Patrick O'Connell, who were escorting explosives. Breen later recalled:
...we took the action deliberately, having thought over the matter and talked it over between us. Treacy had stated to me that the only way of starting a war was to kill someone, and we wanted to start a war, so we intended to kill some of the police whom we looked upon as the foremost and most important branch of the enemy forces. The only regret that we had following the ambush was that there were only two policemen in it, instead of the six we had expected.


This is widely regarded as the beginning of the War of Independence, and the men acted on their own initiative to try to start a war. The British government declared South Tipperary a Special Military Area under the Defence of the Realm Act two days later. The war was not formally declared by the Dáil until well into the conflict, however. On 10 April 1919 the Dáil was told:
As regards the Republican prisoners, we must always remember that this country is at war with England and so we must in a sense regard them as necessary casualties in the great fight.
In January 1921, two years after the war had started, the Dáil debated "whether it was feasible to accept formally a state of war that was being thrust on them, or not", and decided not to declare war. Then on 11 March, Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 President Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 formally 'accepted' the existence of a "state of war with England". The delay allowed a balancing of the military and political realities.

Violence spreads



Volunteers began to attack British government property, carried out raids for arms and funds and targeted and killed prominent members of the British administration. The first was Resident Magistrate John C. Milling, who was shot dead in Westport, County Mayo
Westport, County Mayo
Westport is a town in County Mayo, Ireland. It is situated on the west coast at the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean....

, for having sent Volunteers to prison for unlawful assembly and drilling. They mimicked the successful tactics of the Boers, fast violent raids without uniform. Although some republican leaders, notably Éamon de Valera, favoured classic conventional warfare
Conventional warfare
Conventional warfare is a form of warfare conducted byusing conventional military weapons and battlefield tactics between two or more states in open confrontation. The forces on each side are well-defined, and fight using weapons that primarily target the opposing army...

 in order to legitimise the new republic in the eyes of the world, the more practically experienced Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

 and the broader IRA leadership opposed these tactics as they had led to the military débacle of 1916. Others, notably Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

, preferred a campaign of civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

 rather than armed struggle. The violence used was at first deeply unpopular with the Irish people and it took the heavy-handed British response to popularise it among much of the population.

During the early part of the conflict, roughly from 1919 to the middle of 1920, there was a relatively limited amount of violence. Much of the nationalist campaign involved popular mobilisation and the creation of a republican "state within a state" in opposition to British rule. British journalist Robert Lynd
Robert Lynd
Robert Lynd may refer to:*Robert Staughton Lynd , American sociologist*Robert Wilson Lynd , Irish writer...

 wrote in the Daily News in July 1920 that:
So far as the mass of people are concerned, the policy of the day is not active but a passive policy. Their policy is not so much to attack the Government as to ignore it and to build up a new government by its side.

Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) as special target


The IRA's main target throughout the conflict was the mainly Irish Catholic Royal Irish Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary
The armed Royal Irish Constabulary was Ireland's major police force for most of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police controlled the capital, and the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police...

 (RIC), which were the British government's police in Ireland. Its members and barracks (especially the more isolated ones) were vulnerable, and they were a source of much-needed arms. The RIC numbered 9,700 men stationed in 1,500 barracks throughout Ireland.

A policy of ostracism of RIC men was announced by the Dáil on 11 April 1919. This proved successful in demoralising the force as the war went on, as people turned their faces from a force increasingly compromised by association with British government repression. The rate of resignation went up, and recruitment in Ireland dropped off dramatically. Often the RIC were reduced to buying food at gunpoint as shops and other businesses refused to deal with them. Some RIC men cooperated with the IRA through fear or sympathy, supplying the organisation with valuable information. By contrast with the effectiveness of the widespread public boycott of the police, the military actions carried out by the IRA against the RIC at this time were relatively limited. In 1919, 11 RIC men and 4 Dublin Metropolitan Police
Dublin Metropolitan Police
The Dublin Metropolitan Police was the police force of Dublin, Ireland, from 1836 to 1925, when it amalgamated into the new Garda Síochána.-19th century:...

 were killed and another 20 RIC wounded.

Other aspects of mass participation in the conflict included strikes
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 by organised workers in opposition to the British presence in Ireland. In Limerick
Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

 in April 1919, a general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 was called by the Limerick Trades and Labour Council, as a protest against the declaration of a "Special Military Area" under the Defence of the Realm Act which covered most of Limerick city and a part of the county. Special permits, to be issued by the RIC, would now be required to enter the city. The Trades Council's special Strike Committee controlled the city for fourteen days in an episode that was nicknamed the Limerick Soviet
Limerick Soviet
The Limerick Soviet was a self-declared soviet that existed from 15 to 27 April 1919. At the beginning of the Irish War of Independence, a general strike was organised by the Limerick Trades and Labour Council, as a protest against the British army's declaration of a "Special Military Area" under...

.

Similarly, in May 1920, Dublin dockers refused to handle any war matériel
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

, and were soon joined by the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union
Irish Transport and General Workers' Union
The Irish Transport and General Workers Union, an Irish trade union, was founded by James Larkin in 1908 as a general union. Initially drawing its membership from branches of the Liverpool-based National Union of Dock Labourers, from which Larkin had been expelled, it grew to include workers in a...

, who banned railway drivers from carrying British forces. Blackleg
Strikebreaker
A strikebreaker is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Strikebreakers are usually individuals who are not employed by the company prior to the trade union dispute, but rather hired prior to or during the strike to keep the organisation running...

 train drivers were brought over from England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 after drivers refused to carry British troops. The strike badly hampered British troop movements until December 1920 when it was called off. The British government managed to bring the situation to an end when they threatened to withhold grants from the railway companies, which would have meant that workers would no longer have been paid.

Violent attacks by the IRA also steadily increased, however. By early 1920, they were attacking isolated RIC stations in rural areas, causing them to be abandoned as the police retreated to the larger towns.

Collapse of the British administration


In early April 1920, 400 abandoned RIC barracks were burned to the ground to prevent them being used again, along with almost one hundred income tax offices. This had two effects. Firstly the RIC withdrew from much of the countryside, leaving it in the hands of IRA. In June–July 1920, assizes failed all across the south and west of Ireland. Trials by jury could not be held because jurors would not attend. The collapse of the court system demoralised the RIC, and many police resigned or retired. The Irish Republican Police
Irish Republican Police
The Irish Republican Police was the police force of the 1919-1922 Irish Republic and was administered by the Department for Home Affairs of that government.-Foundation:...

 (IRP) was founded between April and June 1920 under the authority of Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann (1919-1922)
Dáil Éireann was the revolutionary, unicameral parliament of the unilaterally declared Irish Republic from 1919–1922. The Dáil was first formed by 73 Sinn Féin MPs elected in the 1918 United Kingdom general election. Their manifesto refused to recognise the British parliament at Westminster and...

 and the former IRA Chief of Staff Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha was an Irish revolutionary and politician, active in the Easter Rising, Irish War of Independence, and the Irish Civil War and was the first Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann.-Background:...

 to replace the RIC and to enforce the ruling of the Dáil Courts
Dáil Courts
During the Irish War of Independence, the Dáil Courts were the judicial branch of government of the short-lived Irish Republic. They were formally established by a decree of the First Dáil Éireann on 29 June 1920, replacing more limited Arbitration Courts that had been authorised a year earlier...

, set up under the Irish Republic. By 1920, the IRP had a presence in 21 of Ireland’s 32 counties
Counties of Ireland
The counties of Ireland are sub-national divisions used for the purposes of geographic demarcation and local government. Closely related to the county is the County corporate which covered towns or cities which were deemed to be important enough to be independent from their counties. A county...

. The Dáil Courts were generally socially conservative, despite their revolutionary origins, and halted the attempts of some landless farmers at redistribution of land from wealthier landowners to poorer farmers.

Secondly, the Inland Revenue
Inland Revenue
The Inland Revenue was, until April 2005, a department of the British Government responsible for the collection of direct taxation, including income tax, national insurance contributions, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, corporation tax, petroleum revenue tax and stamp duty...

 ceased to operate in most of Ireland. People were instead encouraged to subscribe to Collins' "National Loan", set up to raise funds for the young government and its army. By the end of the year the loan had reached £358,000. It eventually reached £380,000. An even larger amount, totalling over $5 million, was raised in the United States by Irish Americans and sent to Ireland to finance the Republic. Rates
Rates (tax)
Rates are a type of property tax system in the United Kingdom, and in places with systems deriving from the British one, the proceeds of which are used to fund local government...

 were still paid to local councils, but nine out of eleven of these were controlled by Sinn Féin, who naturally refused to pass them on to the British government. Thus, by mid 1920, the Irish Republic was a reality in the lives of many people, enforcing its own law, maintaining its own armed forces and collecting its own taxes. The British Liberal journal, The Nation
The Nation and Atheneum
The Nation and Atheneum or simply The Nation was a United Kingdom political weekly newspaper with a Liberal / Labour viewpoint. It was formed in 1921 from the merger of the Athenaeum, a literary magazine published in London since 1828 and the smaller and newer Nation.The enterprise was purchased...

, wrote in August 1920 that "the central fact of the present situation in Ireland is that the Irish Republic exists".

The British forces, in trying to re-assert their control over the country, often resorted to arbitrary reprisals against republican activists and the civilian population. An unofficial government policy of reprisals began in September 1919 in Fermoy
Fermoy
Fermoy is a town in County Cork, Ireland. It is situated on the River Blackwater in the south of Ireland. Its population is some 5,800 inhabitants, environs included ....

, County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

, when 200 British soldiers looted and burned the main businesses of the town, after one of their number had been killed in an arms raid by the local IRA.

Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

 estimated that in the first 18 months of the conflict, British forces carried out 38,720 raids on private homes, arrested 4,982 suspects, committed 1,604 armed assaults, carried out 102 indiscriminate shootings and burning in towns and villages, and killed 77 people including women and children.

In March 1920, Tomás Mac Curtain
Tomás Mac Curtain
Tomás Mac Curtain was a Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland. He was elected in January 1920.He was born at Ballyknockane in the Parish of Mourne Abbey in March 1884. He attended Burnfort National School. In 1897 the family moved to Blackpool on the northside of Cork where he attended The North...

, the Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 Lord Mayor of Cork
Lord Mayor of Cork
The Lord Mayor of Cork is the honorific title of the Chairman of Cork City Council which is the local government body for the city of Cork in Ireland. The incumbent is Terry Shannon of Fianna Fáil. The office holder is elected annually by the members of the Council.-History of office:In 1199 there...

, was shot dead, in front of his wife at his home, by men with blackened faces who were later seen returning to the local police barracks. The jury at the inquest
Inquest
Inquests in England and Wales are held into sudden and unexplained deaths and also into the circumstances of discovery of a certain class of valuable artefacts known as "treasure trove"...

 into his death returned a verdict of wilful murder against David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 (the British Prime Minister) and District Inspector Swanzy, among others. Swanzy was later tracked down and killed in Lisburn
Lisburn
DemographicsLisburn Urban Area is within Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area and is classified as a Large Town by the . On census day there were 71,465 people living in Lisburn...

, in County Antrim
County Antrim
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

. This pattern of killings and reprisals escalated in the second half of 1920 and in 1921.

IRA organisation and operations



Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

 was the main driving force behind the independence movement. Nominally the Minister of Finance in the republic's government, and IRA Director of Intelligence, he was actively involved in providing funds and arms to the IRA units that needed them, and in the selection of officers. Collins' natural intelligence, organisational capability and sheer drive galvanised many who came in contact with him. He established what proved an effective network of spies among sympathetic members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police
Dublin Metropolitan Police
The Dublin Metropolitan Police was the police force of Dublin, Ireland, from 1836 to 1925, when it amalgamated into the new Garda Síochána.-19th century:...

's (DMP) "G division" and other important branches of the British administration. The G division men were a relatively small political division active in subverting the republican movement, and were detested by the IRA as often they were used to identify volunteers who would have been unknown to British soldiers
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 or the later Black and Tans
Black and Tans
The Black and Tans was one of two newly recruited bodies, composed largely of British World War I veterans, employed by the Royal Irish Constabulary as Temporary Constables from 1920 to 1921 to suppress revolution in Ireland...

. Collins set up the "Squad", a group of men whose sole duty was to seek out and kill "G-men" and other British spies and agents. Collins' Squad began killing RIC intelligence officers from July 1919 onwards. Many G-men were offered a chance to resign or leave Ireland by the IRA, and some chose to leave Ireland.

The Chief of Staff of the IRA was Richard Mulcahy
Richard Mulcahy
Richard James Mulcahy was an Irish politician, army general and commander in chief, leader of Fine Gael and Cabinet Minister...

, who was responsible for organising and directing IRA units around the country. In theory, both Collins and Mulcahy were responsible to Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha was an Irish revolutionary and politician, active in the Easter Rising, Irish War of Independence, and the Irish Civil War and was the first Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann.-Background:...

, the Dáil's Minister of Defence. However, in practice, Brugha had only a supervisory role, recommending or objecting to specific actions. A great deal also depended on IRA leaders in local areas (such as Liam Lynch, Tom Barry
Tom Barry
Thomas Barry was one of the most prominent guerrilla leaders in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence.-Early life:...

, Seán Moylan
Seán Moylan
Seán Moylan was a Commandant of the Irish Republican Army and later a Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil politician...

, Seán Mac Eoin
Seán Mac Eoin
Seán Mac Eoin was an Irish Fine Gael politician and soldier. He was commonly referred to as the "Blacksmith of Ballinalee".-Early life:...

 and Ernie O'Malley
Ernie O'Malley
Ernie O'Malley was an Irish Republican Army officer during the Irish War of Independence and a commander of the anti-treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War. O'Malley wrote three books, On Another Man's Wound, The Singing Flame, and Raids and Rallies. The first describes his early life and role in...

) who organised guerrilla activity, largely on their own initiative. For most of the conflict, IRA activity was concentrated in Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

 and Dublin, with only isolated active IRA units elsewhere, such as in County Roscommon
County Roscommon
County Roscommon is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the town of Roscommon. Roscommon County Council is the local authority for the county...

, north County Longford
County Longford
County Longford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Longford.Longford County Council is the local authority for the county...

 and western County Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

.

While the paper membership of the IRA, carried over from the Irish Volunteers
Irish Volunteers
The Irish Volunteers was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912, and its declared primary aim was "to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland"...

, was over 100,000 men, Michael Collins estimated that only 15,000 men actively served in the IRA during the course of the war, with about 3,000 on active service at any time. There were also support organisations Cumann na mBan
Cumann na mBan
Cumann na mBan is an Irish republican women's paramilitary organisation formed in Dublin on 2 April 1914 as an auxiliary of the Irish Volunteers...

 (the IRA women's group) and Fianna Éireann
Fianna Éireann
The name Fianna Éireann , also written Fianna na hÉireann and Na Fianna Éireann , has been used by various Irish republican youth movements throughout the 20th and 21st centuries...

 (youth movement), who carried weapons and intelligence for IRA men and secured food and lodgings for them.

The IRA benefited from the widespread help given to them by the general Irish population, who generally refused to pass information to the RIC and the British military and who often provided "safe house
Safe house
In the jargon of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, a safe house is a secure location, suitable for hiding witnesses, agents or other persons perceived as being in danger...

s" and provisions to IRA units "on the run". Much of the IRA's popularity arose from the excessive reaction of the British forces to IRA activity.

When Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 returned from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, he demanded in the Dáil that the IRA desist from the ambushes and assassinations that were allowing the British to successfully portray it as a terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 group, and to take on the British forces with conventional military methods. The proposal was immediately dismissed.

Martial law


The British responded to the escalating violence in Ireland with increasing use of force. Reluctant to deploy the regular British Army into the country in greater numbers, they set up two paramilitary police units to aid the RIC. The "Black and Tans
Black and Tans
The Black and Tans was one of two newly recruited bodies, composed largely of British World War I veterans, employed by the Royal Irish Constabulary as Temporary Constables from 1920 to 1921 to suppress revolution in Ireland...

" were set up to bolster the flagging RIC. Seven thousand strong, they were mainly ex-British soldiers demobilised after World War I. First deployed to Ireland in March 1920, most came from English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 cities. While officially they were part of the RIC, in reality they were a paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 force. After their deployment in March 1920, they rapidly gained a reputation for drunkenness and ill discipline that did more harm to the British government's moral authority in Ireland than any other group. In response to IRA actions, in the summer of 1920, the "Tans" burned and sacked numerous small towns throughout Ireland, including Balbriggan
Balbriggan
Balbriggan is a town in the northern part of the administrative county of Fingal, within County Dublin, Ireland. The 2006 census population was 15,559 for Balbriggan and its environs.- Name :...

, Trim
Trim, County Meath
Trim is the traditional county town of County Meath in Ireland, although the county town is now Navan. The town was recorded in the 2006 census to have a population of 6,870....

, Templemore
Templemore
Templemore is a town in North Tipperary, Ireland. It is a civil parish in the historical barony of Eliogarty. It is part of the Roman Catholic parish of Templemore, Clonmore and Killea....

 and others.

In July 1920, another quasi-military police body, the Auxiliaries
Auxiliary Division
The Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary , generally known as the Auxiliaries or Auxies, was a paramilitary organization within the Royal Irish Constabulary during the Irish War of Independence....

, consisting of 2,215 former British army officers, arrived in Ireland. The Auxiliary Division
Auxiliary Division
The Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary , generally known as the Auxiliaries or Auxies, was a paramilitary organization within the Royal Irish Constabulary during the Irish War of Independence....

 had a reputation just as bad as the Tans for their mistreatment of the civilian population but tended to be more effective and more willing to take on the IRA. The policy of reprisals, which involved public denunciation or denial and private approval, was famously satirised by Lord Hugh Cecil
Hugh Cecil, 1st Baron Quickswood
Hugh Richard Heathcote Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Baron Quickswood PC , styled Lord Hugh Cecil until 1941, was a British Conservative Party politician.-Background and education:...

 when he said: "It seems to be agreed that there is no such thing as reprisals, but they are having a good effect."

On 9 August 1920, the British Parliament passed the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act, which suspended all coroners' courts, because of the large number of warrants served on members of the British forces. They were replaced with "military courts of enquiry". In addition, the powers of military courts martial were extended to cover the whole population and were empowered to use the death penalty and internment
Internment
Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning as: "The action of 'interning'; confinement within the limits of a country or place." Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction...

 without trial. Finally, government payments to local governments in Sinn Féin hands were suspended. This act has been interpreted by historians as a choice by Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 to put down the rebellion in Ireland rather than negotiate with the Republican leadership. As a result, violence escalated steadily from that summer, and sharply after November 1920 until July 1921.

It was in this period that a large-scale mutiny
Mutiny
Mutiny is a conspiracy among members of a group of similarly situated individuals to openly oppose, change or overthrow an authority to which they are subject...

 broke out among the Irish Connaught Rangers, stationed in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Two were killed whilst trying to storm an armoury and one was later executed.

Escalation, October–December 1920


A number of events dramatically escalated the conflict in late 1920. First the Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney
Terence MacSwiney
Terence Joseph MacSwiney was an Irish playwright, author and politician. He was elected as Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork during the Irish War of Independence in 1920. He was arrested by the British on charges of sedition and imprisoned in Brixton prison in England...

, died on hunger strike
Hunger strike
A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids but not...

 in Brixton Prison in London in October, while two other IRA prisoners on hunger strike, Joe Murphy
Joe Murphy (Irish Republican)
Joseph Murphy...

 and Michael Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald (Irish Republican)
Michael Fitzgerald was a member of the Irish Republican Army who died on Hunger strike at Cork Jail in October 1920.A native of Ballyoran, Fermoy, County Cork, Fitzgerald was educated at the Christian Brothers School in the town and subsequently found work as a mill worker in the locality...

, died in Cork Jail.

Then, on 21 November 1920, there was a day of dramatic bloodshed in Dublin. In the early morning, Collins' IRA "Squad" attempted to wipe out the British Intelligence operatives in the capital. The Squad shot 19 people, killing 14 and wounding 5. They consisted of British Army officers, police officers and civilians. The dead included members of the so-called "Cairo Gang
Cairo Gang
The Cairo Gang was a group of British Intelligence agents who were sent to Dublin during the Anglo-Irish War to conduct intelligence operations against prominent members of the Irish Republican Army...

" and a Courts-martial officer at different places around Dublin.

In response, Auxiliaries drove in trucks into Croke Park
Croke Park
Croke Park in Dublin is the principal stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association , Ireland's biggest sporting organisation...

 (Dublin's GAA
Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

 football and hurling ground) during a football match, shooting into the crowd. Fourteen civilians were killed, including one of the players, Michael Hogan
Michael Hogan (sportsman)
Michael Hogan was a Gaelic footballer, and one-time Captain of the Tipperary GAA team. He was a member of the Irish Volunteers and was born in the Grangemockler area of Co. Tipperary.- Bloody Sunday :...

 and a further 65 people were wounded. Later that day two republican prisoners, Dick McKee
Dick McKee
Richard “Dick” McKee was a prominent member of the Irish Republican Army . He was also friend to some senior members in the republican movement, including Éamon de Valera, Austin Stack and Michael Collins...

, Peadar Clancy
Peadar Clancy
Peadar Clancy was a member of the Irish Republican Army who served in the Four Courts garrison during the 1916 Easter Rising and was second-in-command of the Dublin Brigade, IRA during the War of Independence...

 and an unassociated friend, Conor Clune
Conor Clune
Conor Clune was one of three men along with Dick McKee and Peadar Clancy killed in controversial circumstances in Dublin Castle on Bloody Sunday, 1920, a day that also saw the killing of a network of British spies by the "Squad" unit of the Irish Republican Army and the killing of 14 people in...

 who had been arrested with them, were killed in Dublin Castle. The official account was that the three men were shot "while trying to escape", which was rejected by Irish nationalists who were certain the men had been tortured then murdered. This day became known as Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday (1920)
Bloody Sunday was a day of violence in Dublin on 21 November 1920, during the Irish War of Independence. In total, 31 people were killed – fourteen British, fourteen Irish civilians and three republican prisoners....

.

On 28 November 1920, only a week after Bloody Sunday in Dublin, the west Cork unit of the IRA, under Tom Barry
Tom Barry
Thomas Barry was one of the most prominent guerrilla leaders in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence.-Early life:...

, ambushed a patrol of Auxiliaries at Kilmichael
Kilmichael Ambush
The Kilmichael Ambush was an ambush near the village of Kilmichael in County Cork on 28 November 1920 carried out by the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence. Thirty-six local IRA volunteers commanded by Tom Barry killed seventeen members of the RIC Auxiliary Division...

 in County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

, killing all but one of the 18-man patrol.

These actions marked a significant escalation of the conflict. In response, counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary—all in the province of Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

— were put under martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 on 10 December. Shortly afterwards, in January 1921, "official reprisals" were sanctioned by the British and they began with the burning of seven houses in Midleton
Midleton
Midleton, historically Middleton , is a town in south-eastern County Cork, Ireland. It lies some 22 km east of Cork City on the Owenacurra River and the N25 road, which connects Cork to the port of Rosslare...

 in Cork.
On December 11, the centre of Cork City was burnt out by the Black and Tans, who then shot at firefighters trying to tackle the blaze, in reprisal for an IRA ambush in the city on 11 December 1920 which killed one Auxiliary and wounded eleven.

Peak of violence, December 1920-July 1921


During the following eight months until the Truce of July 1921, there was a spiralling of the death toll in the conflict, with 1,000 people including the RIC police, British military, IRA volunteers and civilians, being killed in the months between January and July 1921 alone. This represents about 70% of the total casualties for the entire three-year conflict. In addition, 4,500 IRA personnel (or suspected sympathisers) were interned
Internment
Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning as: "The action of 'interning'; confinement within the limits of a country or place." Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction...

 in this time. In the middle of this violence, the Dáil formally declared war on Britain in March 1921.

Between 1 November 1920 and 7 June 1921 twenty four men were executed by the British. The first IRA volunteer to be executed was Kevin Barry
Kevin Barry
Kevin Gerard Barry was the first Irish republican to be executed by the British since the leaders of the Easter Rising. Barry was sentenced to death for his part in an IRA operation which resulted in the deaths of three British soldiers.Barry's death is considered a watershed moment in the Irish...

, one of The Forgotten Ten
The Forgotten Ten
The Forgotten Ten is the term applied to ten members of the Irish Republican Army who were executed in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin by British forces following courts martial from 1920-1921 during the Irish War of Independence. Based upon military law at the time, they were buried within the prison...

 who were buried in unmarked graves in unconsecrated ground
Consecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups...

 inside Mountjoy Prison
Mountjoy Prison
Mountjoy Prison , founded as Mountjoy Gaol, nicknamed The Joy, is a medium security prison located in Phibsboro in the centre of Dublin, Ireland. It has the largest prison population in Ireland.The current prison governor is Mr...

 until 2001. On 1 February, the first execution under martial law of an IRA man took place. Cornelius Murphy of Millstreet
Millstreet
Millstreet is a town in north County Cork, Ireland with a population of approximately 1,500. It is located at the foot of Clara Mountain. The town's Catholic church is dedicated to St. Patrick. Since October 1985, the town has been twinned with Pommerit-le-Vicomte in Brittany, France...

, Cork was shot in Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

 city. On 28 February, six more were executed, again in Cork.

On 19 March 1921, Tom Barry's 100-strong West Cork IRA unit fought a large-scale action against 1,200 British troops - the Crossbarry Ambush
Crossbarry Ambush
The Crossbarry Ambush occurred on 19 March 1921 and was one of the largest engagements of the Irish War of Independence. It took place at the rural crossroads of Crossbarry, County Cork, around 20 km south west of Cork city. About a hundred Irish Republican Army volunteers escaped an attempt...

. Barry's men narrowly avoided being trapped by converging British columns and inflicted between ten and thirty killed on the British side. Just two days later, on 21 March, the Kerry IRA attacked a train
Headford Ambush
The Headford Ambush took place on 21 March 1921, during the Irish War of Independence.The Second Kerry Brigade of the Irish Republican Army ambushed a train carrying British troops at Headford Junction railway station...

 at the Headford junction near Killarney
Killarney
Killarney is a town in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland. The town is located north of the MacGillicuddy Reeks, on the northeastern shore of the Lough Lein/Leane which are part of Killarney National Park. The town and its surrounding region are home to St...

. Twenty British soldiers were killed or injured, as well as two IRA men and three civilians. Most of the actions in the war were on a smaller scale than this, but the IRA did have other significant victories in ambushes, for example at Millstreet
Millstreet
Millstreet is a town in north County Cork, Ireland with a population of approximately 1,500. It is located at the foot of Clara Mountain. The town's Catholic church is dedicated to St. Patrick. Since October 1985, the town has been twinned with Pommerit-le-Vicomte in Brittany, France...

 in Cork and at Scramogue
Scramogue Ambush
The Scramogue Ambush was an ambush carried out by the Irish Republican Army on 23 March 1921, during the Irish War of Independence. It took place in the townland of Scramogue, County Roscommon.-Background:...

 in Roscommon, also in March 1921 and at Tourmakeady
Tourmakeady
Tuar Mhic Éadaigh is a small village in County Mayo, Ireland. It has a population of about 1000 people. It is located on the shores of Lough Mask. Part of Tourmakeady was originally in neighbouring County Galway, but was placed under the administration of County Mayo in 1898...

 and Carowkennedy
Carrowkennedy ambush
The Carrowkennedy Ambush was an ambush carried out by the Irish Republican Army on 2 June 1921, during the Irish War of Independence. It took place in Carrowkennedy, County Mayo....

 in Mayo in May and June. Equally common, however, were failed ambushes, the worst of which, for example at Upton
Upton Train Ambush
The Upton Train Ambush took place on 15 February 1921, during the Irish War of Independence. The Irish Republican Army mounted an attack on a train carrying British soldiers at Upton, County Cork. The action was a disaster for the IRA; three of its volunteers were killed and two wounded. Six...

 and Clonmult
Clonmult Ambush
The Clonmult Ambush took place on 20 February 1921, during the Irish War of Independence.Irish Republican Army volunteers occupying a farmhouse in Clonmult, County Cork were surrounded by a force of British Army, RIC and Auxiliaries. In the action that followed, twelve IRA volunteers were killed,...

 in Cork in February 1921, saw three and twelve IRA men killed respectively and more captured. The IRA in Mayo suffered a comparable reverse at Kilmeena
Kilmeena ambush
The Kilmeena ambush was an action during the Irish War of Independence that took place at Kilmeena, County Mayo on 19 May 1921. The ambush ended in defeat for the local West Mayo Irish Republican Army , with six IRA men killed and seven wounded...

. Fears of informers after such failed ambushes often led to a spate of IRA shootings of informers, real and imagined.

The biggest single loss for the IRA, however, came in Dublin. On 25 May 1921, several hundred IRA men from the Dublin Brigade occupied and burned the Custom House
The Custom House
The Custom House is a neoclassical 18th century building in Dublin, Ireland which houses the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government...

 (the centre of local government in Ireland) in Dublin city centre. Symbolically, this was intended to show that British rule in Ireland was untenable. However, from a military point of view, it was a catastrophe
Disaster
A disaster is a natural or man-made hazard that has come to fruition, resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment...

 in which five IRA men were killed and over eighty were captured. This showed the IRA was not well enough equipped or trained to take on British forces in a conventional manner. However, it did not, as is sometimes claimed, cripple the IRA in Dublin. The Dublin Brigade carried out 107 attacks in the city in May and 93 in June, showing a falloff in activity, but not a dramatic one. However, by July 1921, most IRA units were chronically short of both weapons and ammunition. Also, for all their effectiveness at guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

, they had, as Richard Mulcahy
Richard Mulcahy
Richard James Mulcahy was an Irish politician, army general and commander in chief, leader of Fine Gael and Cabinet Minister...

 recalled, "as yet not been able to drive the enemy [the British] out of anything but a fairly good sized police barracks".

Still, many military historians have concluded that the IRA fought a largely successful and lethal guerrilla war, which forced the British government to conclude that the IRA could not be defeated militarily. The failure of the British efforts to put down the guerrillas was illustrated by the events of "Black Whitsun" on 13–15 May 1921. A general election for the Parliament of Southern Ireland
Parliament of Southern Ireland
The Parliament of Southern Ireland was a home rule legislature set up by the British Government during the Irish War of Independence under the Fourth Home Rule Bill...

 was held on 13 May. Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 won 124 of the new parliament's 128 seats unopposed, but its elected members refused to take their seats. Under the terms of the Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned Ireland. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or as the Fourth Home Rule Act.The Act was intended...

, the Parliament of Southern Ireland was therefore dissolved, and executive and legislative authority over Southern Ireland
Southern Ireland
Southern Ireland was a short-lived autonomous region of the United Kingdom established on 3 May 1921 and dissolved on 6 December 1922.Southern Ireland was established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 together with its sister region, Northern Ireland...

 was effectively transferred to the Lord Lieutenant
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the British King's representative and head of the Irish executive during the Lordship of Ireland , the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 (assisted by Crown appointees). Over the next two days (14–15 May), the IRA killed fifteen policemen. These events marked the complete failure of the British Coalition Government's Irish policy—both the failure to enforce a settlement without negotiating with Sinn Féin and a failure to defeat the IRA.

By the time of the truce, however, many Republican leaders, including Michael Collins, were convinced that if the war went on for much longer, there was a chance that the IRA campaign as it was then organised could be brought to a standstill. Because of this, plans were drawn up to "bring the war to England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

". The IRA did take the campaign to the streets of Glasgow. It was decided that key economic targets, such as the Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 docks, would be bombed. Nineteen warehouses there had been burned to the ground by the IRA the previous November. The units charged with these missions would more easily evade capture because England was not under, and British public opinion was unlikely to accept, martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

. These plans were abandoned because of the truce.

The north-east


In the Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned Ireland. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or as the Fourth Home Rule Act.The Act was intended...

 (enacted in December 1920), the British government attempted to solve the conflict by creating two Home Rule
Home rule
Home rule is the power of a constituent part of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been devolved to it by the central government....

 parliaments in Ireland, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 and Southern Ireland
Southern Ireland
Southern Ireland was a short-lived autonomous region of the United Kingdom established on 3 May 1921 and dissolved on 6 December 1922.Southern Ireland was established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 together with its sister region, Northern Ireland...

. While Dáil Éireann ignored this, deeming the Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

 to be already in existence, Unionists in the north-east accepted it and prepared to form their own government. In this part of Ireland, which was predominantly Protestant and Unionist, there was, as a result, a very different pattern of violence from the rest of the country. Whereas in the south and west, the conflict was between the IRA and British forces, in the north-east and particularly in Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

, it often developed into a cycle of sectarian killings between Catholics, who were largely Nationalist, and Protestants, who were mostly Unionist.

Summer 1920


While IRA attacks were less common in the north-east than elsewhere, the unionist community saw itself as being besieged by armed Catholic nationalists who seemed to have taken over the rest of Ireland. As a result, they retaliated against the northern Catholic community as a whole. Such action was largely condoned by the unionist leadership and abetted by state forces. James Craig
James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon
James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon, PC, PC , was a prominent Irish unionist politician, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland...

, for instance, wrote in 1920:
The Loyalist
Ulster loyalism
Ulster loyalism is an ideology that is opposed to a united Ireland. It can mean either support for upholding Northern Ireland's status as a constituent part of the United Kingdom , support for Northern Ireland independence, or support for loyalist paramilitaries...

 rank and file have determined to take action... they now feel the situation is so desperate that unless the Government will take immediate action, it may be advisable for them to see what steps can be taken towards a system of 'organised' reprisals against the rebels.


The first cycle of attacks and reprisals broke out in the summer of 1920. On 19 June a week of inter-sectarian rioting and sniping started in Derry
Derry
Derry or Londonderry is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-biggest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Irish name Doire or Doire Cholmcille meaning "oak-wood of Colmcille"...

, resulting in 18 deaths. On 17 July 1920, a British Colonel Gerald Smyth was assassinated by the IRA in the County Club in Cork city in response to a speech that was made to police officers of Listowel who had refused orders to move into the more urban areas, in which he stated "you may make mistakes occasionally, and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped. No policeman will get in trouble for shooting any man". Smyth came from Banbridge
Banbridge
Banbridge is a town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies on the River Bann and the A1 road. It was named after a bridge built over the Bann in 1712. The town grew as a coaching stop on the road from Belfast to Dublin and thrived from Irish linen manufacturing...

, County Down
County Down
-Cities:*Belfast *Newry -Large towns:*Dundonald*Newtownards*Bangor-Medium towns:...

 in the north-east and his killing provoked retaliation there against Catholics in Banbridge and Dromore
Dromore
- Places :* Dromore, Ontario, Canada* Dromore , a crater in the Lunae Palus quadrangle of Mars- Other :* Bishop of Dromore, named for the town in County Down; the pre-Reformation antecedent of:** Roman Catholic Diocese of Dromore...

. On 21 July 1920, partly in response to the killing of Smyth and partly because of competition over jobs due to the high unemployment rate, loyalists
Ulster loyalism
Ulster loyalism is an ideology that is opposed to a united Ireland. It can mean either support for upholding Northern Ireland's status as a constituent part of the United Kingdom , support for Northern Ireland independence, or support for loyalist paramilitaries...

 marched on the Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries is a Northern Irish heavy industrial company, specialising in shipbuilding and offshore construction, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland....

 shipyards in Belfast and forced over 7,000 Catholic and left-wing Protestant workers from their jobs. Sectarian rioting broke out in response in Belfast and Derry
Derry
Derry or Londonderry is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-biggest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Irish name Doire or Doire Cholmcille meaning "oak-wood of Colmcille"...

, resulting in about 40 deaths and many Catholics and Protestants being expelled from their homes. On 22 August 1920, RIC Detective Swanzy was shot dead by Cork IRA men while leaving church in Lisburn
Lisburn
DemographicsLisburn Urban Area is within Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area and is classified as a Large Town by the . On census day there were 71,465 people living in Lisburn...

, County Antrim
County Antrim
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

. Swanzy had been blamed by an inquest jury for the killing of Cork Mayor Tomás Mac Curtain
Tomás Mac Curtain
Tomás Mac Curtain was a Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland. He was elected in January 1920.He was born at Ballyknockane in the Parish of Mourne Abbey in March 1884. He attended Burnfort National School. In 1897 the family moved to Blackpool on the northside of Cork where he attended The North...

. In revenge, local Loyalists burned Catholic residential areas of Lisburn - destroying over 300 homes. While several people were later prosecuted for the burnings, no attempt seems to have been made to halt the attacks at the time. Michael Collins, acting on a suggestion by Seán MacEntee
Seán MacEntee
Seán MacEntee was an Irish politician. In a career that spanned over forty years as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála, MacEntee was one of the most important figures in post-independence Ireland. He served in the governments of Éamon de Valera and Seán Lemass in a range of ministerial positions,...

, organised a boycott of Belfast goods in response to the attacks on the Catholic community. The Dáil approved a partial boycott on 6 August and a more complete one was implemented by the end of 1920.

Spring 1921


After a lull in violence in the north over the new year, killings there intensified again in the spring of 1921. The northern IRA units came under pressure from the leadership in Dublin to step up attacks in line with the rest of the country. Predictably, this unleashed loyalist reprisals against Catholics. For example, in April 1921, the IRA in Belfast shot dead two Auxiliaries in Donegal Place in Belfast city centre. The same night, two Catholics were killed on the Falls Road. On 10 July 1921 the IRA ambushed British forces in Raglan street in Belfast. In the following week, sixteen Catholics were killed and 216 Catholic homes burned in reprisal - events known as Belfast's Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday (1921)
Bloody Sunday or Belfast's Bloody Sunday was a day of violence in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 10 July 1921, during the Irish War of Independence. Over a four day period, 22 people were killed, 16 of them on 10 July itself...

.

Killings on the loyalist side were largely carried by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), allegedly with the aid of the RIC police and especially the auxiliary police force, the Ulster Special Constabulary
Ulster Special Constabulary
The Ulster Special Constabulary was a reserve police force in Northern Ireland. It was set up in October 1920, shortly before the founding of Northern Ireland. It was an armed corps, organised partially on military lines and called out in times of emergency, such as war or insurgency...

 or "B-Specials". The Special Constabulary (set up in September 1920), was largely recruited from Ulster Volunteer Force and Orange Lodges
Orange Institution
The Orange Institution is a Protestant fraternal organisation based mainly in Northern Ireland and Scotland, though it has lodges throughout the Commonwealth and United States. The Institution was founded in 1796 near the village of Loughgall in County Armagh, Ireland...

 and, in the words of historian Michael Hopkinson, "amounted to an officially approved UVF". In May James Craig
James Craig
-Public officials:*James Henry Craig , British soldier and colonial administrator*James Craig , British politician*James Craig , Canadian politician...

 came to Dublin to meet the British Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the British King's representative and head of the Irish executive during the Lordship of Ireland , the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

, Lord Fitzalan, and was smuggled by the IRA through Dublin to meet Eamon de Valera. The two leaders discussed the possibility of a truce in Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 and an amnesty for prisoners. Craig proposed a compromise settlement based on the Government of Ireland Act, with limited independence for the South and autonomy for the North within a Home Rule
Home rule
Home rule is the power of a constituent part of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been devolved to it by the central government....

 context. However, the talks came to nothing and violence in the north continued.

The propaganda war, Summer 1921




Another feature of the war was the use of propaganda by both sides. The British tried to portray the IRA as anti-Protestant in order to encourage loyalism in Irish Protestants and win sympathy for their harsh tactics in Britain. For example, in their communiqués they would always mention the religion of spies or collaborators the IRA had killed if the victim was Protestant, but not if they were Catholic (which was more often), trying to give the impression, in Ireland and abroad, that the IRA were slaughtering Protestants. They encouraged newspaper editors, often forcefully, to do the same. In the summer of 1921, a series of articles appeared in a London magazine, entitled "Ireland under the New Terror, Living Under Martial Law". While purporting to be an impartial account of the situation in Ireland, it portrayed the IRA in a very unfavourable light when compared with the British forces. In reality the author, Ernest Dowdall, was an Auxiliary and the series was one of many articles planted by the Dublin Castle Propaganda Department (established in August 1920) to influence public opinion in a Britain increasingly dismayed at the behaviour of its security forces in Ireland.

The British government also collected material on the liaison between Sinn Féin and Soviet Russia
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

, in an unsuccessful attempt to portray Sinn Féin as a crypto-communist movement.

The Catholic Church hierarchy was critical of the violence of both sides, but especially that of the IRA, continuing a long tradition of condemning militant republicanism. The Bishop of Kilmore, Dr. Finnegan, said: "Any war... to be just and lawful must be backed by a well grounded hope of success. What hope of success have you against the mighty forces of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

? None... none whatever and if it unlawful as it is, every life taken in pursuance of it is murder." Thomas Gilmartin
Thomas Gilmartin
The Most Reverend Thomas Gilmartin was an Irish clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Clonfert from 1909 to 1918 and Archbishop of Tuam from 1918 to 1939....

, the Archbishop of Tuam, issued a letter saying that IRA men who took part in ambushes "have broken the truce of God, they have incurred the guilt of murder." However in May 1921, Pope Benedict XV
Pope Benedict XV
Pope Benedict XV , born Giacomo Paolo Giovanni Battista della Chiesa, reigned as Pope from 3 September 1914 to 22 January 1922...

 dismayed the British government when he issued a letter that exhorted the "English as well as Irish to calmly consider . . . some means of mutual agreement", as they had been pushing for a condemnation of the rebellion. They declared that his comments "put HMG (His Majesty's Government) and the Irish murder gang on a footing of equality".

Desmond FitzGerald
Desmond FitzGerald (politician)
Desmond FitzGerald was an Irish revolutionary, poet, publicist and Cumann na nGaedheal politician.-Early life:...

 and Erskine Childers
Robert Erskine Childers
Robert Erskine Childers DSC , universally known as Erskine Childers, was the author of the influential novel Riddle of the Sands and an Irish nationalist who smuggled guns to Ireland in his sailing yacht Asgard. He was executed by the authorities of the nascent Irish Free State during the Irish...

 were active in producing the Irish Bulletin
Irish Bulletin
The Irish Bulletin was the official gazette of the government of the Irish Republic. It was produced by the Department of Propaganda during the Irish War of Independence. and its offices were originally located at No. 6 Harcourt Street, Dublin. The paper's first editor was Desmond FitzGerald,...

, which detailed government atrocities which Irish and British newspapers were unwilling or unable to cover. It was printed secretly and distributed throughout Ireland, and to international press agencies and US, European and sympathetic British politicians.

While the military war made most of Ireland ungovernable from early 1920, it did not actually remove British forces from any part. But the success of Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

's propaganda campaign did remove the option from the British administration to deepen the conflict. The British cabinet had not sought the war that had developed since 1919. By 1921 one of its members, Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, reflected:
What was the alternative? It was to plunge one small corner of the empire into an iron repression, which could not be carried out without an admixture of murder and counter-murder.... Only national self-preservation could have excused such a policy, and no reasonable man could allege that self-preservation was involved.



Truce, July 1921 – December 1921



The war of independence in Ireland ended with a truce on 11 July 1921. The conflict had reached a stalemate. Talks that had looked promising the previous year had petered out in December when David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 insisted that the IRA first surrender their arms. Fresh talks, after the Prime Minister had come under pressure from Herbert Henry Asquith and the Liberal
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 opposition, the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 and the Trades Union Congress
Trades Union Congress
The Trades Union Congress is a national trade union centre, a federation of trade unions in the United Kingdom, representing the majority of trade unions...

, resumed in the spring and resulted in the Truce. From the point of view of the British government, it appeared as if the IRA's guerrilla campaign would continue indefinitely, with spiralling costs in British
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 casualties and in money. More importantly, the British government was facing severe criticism at home and abroad for the actions of British forces in Ireland. On 6 June 1921, the British made their first conciliatory gesture, calling off the policy of house burnings as reprisals. On the other side, IRA leaders and in particular Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

, felt that the IRA as it was then organised could not continue indefinitely. It had been hard pressed by the deployment of more regular British soldiers to Ireland and by the lack of arms and ammunition.

The initial breakthrough that led to the truce was credited to three people: King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

, General Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS, PC was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948...

 of South Africa and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. The King, who had made his unhappiness at the behaviour of the Black and Tans in Ireland well known to his government, was dissatisfied with the official speech prepared for him for the opening of the new Parliament of Northern Ireland
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

, created as a result of the partition of Ireland. Smuts, a close friend of the King, suggested to him that the opportunity should be used to make an appeal for conciliation in Ireland. The King asked him to draft his ideas on paper. Smuts prepared this draft and gave copies to the King and to Lloyd George. Lloyd George then invited Smuts to attend a British cabinet meeting consultations on the "interesting" proposals Lloyd George had received, without either man informing the Cabinet that Smuts had been their author. Faced with the endorsement of them by Smuts, the King and the Prime Minister, ministers reluctantly agreed to the King's planned 'reconciliation in Ireland' speech.

The speech, when delivered in Belfast on 22 June, was universally well received. It called on "all Irishmen to pause, to stretch out the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and to forget, and to join in making for the land they love a new era of peace, contentment, and good will."

On 24 June 1921, the British Coalition Government's Cabinet decided to propose talks with the leader of Sinn Féin. Coalition Liberals and Unionists agreed that an offer to negotiate would strengthen the Government's position if Sinn Féin refused. Austen Chamberlain
Austen Chamberlain
Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, KG was a British statesman, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and half-brother of Neville Chamberlain.- Early life and career :...

, the new leader of the Unionist Party, said that "the King's Speech ought to be followed up as a last attempt at peace before we go the full lengths of martial law". Seizing the momentum, Lloyd George wrote to Éamon de Valera as "the chosen leader of the great majority in Southern Ireland" on 24 June, suggesting a conference. The Irish responded by agreeing to talks. De Valera and Lloyd George ultimately agreed to a truce that was intended to end the fighting and lay the ground for detailed negotiations. Its terms were signed on 9 July and came into effect on 11 July. Negotiations on a settlement, however, were delayed for some months as the British government insisted that the IRA first decommission its weapons, but this demand was eventually dropped. It was agreed that British troops would remain confined to their barracks.

Most IRA officers on the ground interpreted the Truce merely as a temporary respite and continued recruiting and training volunteers. Nor did attacks on the RIC or British Army cease altogether. Between December 1921 and February of the next year, there were 80 recorded attacks by the IRA on the soon to be disbanded RIC, leaving 12 dead. On 18 February 1922, Ernie O'Malley's
Ernie O'Malley
Ernie O'Malley was an Irish Republican Army officer during the Irish War of Independence and a commander of the anti-treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War. O'Malley wrote three books, On Another Man's Wound, The Singing Flame, and Raids and Rallies. The first describes his early life and role in...

 IRA unit raided the RIC barracks at Clonmel
Clonmel
Clonmel is the county town of South Tipperary in Ireland. It is the largest town in the county. While the borough had a population of 15,482 in 2006, another 17,008 people were in the rural hinterland. The town is noted in Irish history for its resistance to the Cromwellian army which sacked both...

, taking 40 policemen prisoner and seizing over 600 weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. In April 1922, in the Dunmanway killings, an IRA party in Cork killed 10 local suspected Protestant informers in retaliation for the shooting of one of their men. Those killed were named in captured British files as informers before the Truce signed the previous July. Over 100 Protestant families fled the area after the killings.

The continuing resistance of many IRA leaders was one of the main factors in the outbreak of the Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

 as they refused to accept the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

 that Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith had negotiated with the British.

Treaty, December 1921 – March 1922


Ultimately, the peace talks led to the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

 (6 December 1921), which was then ratified in triplicate: by Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 on 7 January 1922 (so giving it legal legitimacy under the governmental system of the Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

), by the House of Commons of Southern Ireland in January 1922 (so giving it constitutional legitimacy according to British theory of who was the legal government in Ireland), and by both Houses of the British parliament.

The treaty allowed Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, which had been created by the Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned Ireland. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or as the Fourth Home Rule Act.The Act was intended...

, to opt out of the Free State if it wished, which it duly did on 8 December 1921 under the procedures laid down. As agreed, an Irish Boundary Commission was then created to decide on the precise location of the border of the Free State and Northern Ireland. The republican negotiators understood that the Commission would redraw the border according to local nationalist or unionist majorities. Since the 1920 local elections in Ireland had resulted in outright nationalist majorities in County Fermanagh
County Fermanagh
Fermanagh District Council is the only one of the 26 district councils in Northern Ireland that contains all of the county it is named after. The district council also contains a small section of County Tyrone in the Dromore and Kilskeery road areas....

, County Tyrone
County Tyrone
Historically Tyrone stretched as far north as Lough Foyle, and comprised part of modern day County Londonderry east of the River Foyle. The majority of County Londonderry was carved out of Tyrone between 1610-1620 when that land went to the Guilds of London to set up profit making schemes based on...

, the City of Derry
Derry
Derry or Londonderry is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-biggest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Irish name Doire or Doire Cholmcille meaning "oak-wood of Colmcille"...

 and in many District Electoral Divisions of County Armagh
County Armagh
-History:Ancient Armagh was the territory of the Ulaid before the fourth century AD. It was ruled by the Red Branch, whose capital was Emain Macha near Armagh. The site, and subsequently the city, were named after the goddess Macha...

 and County Londonderry
County Londonderry
The place name Derry is an anglicisation of the old Irish Daire meaning oak-grove or oak-wood. As with the city, its name is subject to the Derry/Londonderry name dispute, with the form Derry preferred by nationalists and Londonderry preferred by unionists...

 (all north and west of the "interim" border), this might well have left Northern Ireland unviable. However, the Commission chose to leave the border unchanged; as a trade-off, the money owed to Britain by the Free State under the Treaty was not demanded.

A new system of government was created for the new Irish Free State, though for the first year two governments co-existed; an Aireacht answerable to the Dáil and headed by President Griffith, and a Provisional Government nominally answerable to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland and appointed by the Lord Lieutenant. (The complexity of this was even shown in the manner by which Lord FitzAlan
Edmund FitzAlan-Howard, 1st Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent
Edmund Bernard FitzAlan-Howard, 1st Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent KG, PC , known as Lord Edmund Talbot between 1876 and 1921, was a British Conservative politician and the last Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.-Background:...

 appointed Collins as head of the Provisional Government. In British theory, they met to allow Collins to "Kiss Hands
Kiss Hands
To kiss hands is a constitutional term used in the United Kingdom to refer to the formal installation of Crown-appointed British government ministers to their office....

". In republican theory, they met to allow Collins to take the surrender of Dublin Castle.)

Most of the Irish independence movement's leaders were willing to accept this compromise, at least for the time being, though many militant Republicans were not. A majority of the pre-Truce IRA who had fought in the War of Independence, led by Liam Lynch
Liam Lynch (general)
Liam Lynch was an officer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the commanding general of the anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army during the Irish Civil War.-Early life:...

, refused to accept the Treaty and in March 1922 repudiated the authority of the Dáil and the new Free State government, which it accused of betraying the ideal of the Irish Republic. It also broke the Oath of Allegiance
Oath of allegiance
An oath of allegiance is an oath whereby a subject or citizen acknowledges a duty of allegiance and swears loyalty to monarch or country. In republics, modern oaths specify allegiance to the country's constitution. For example, officials in the United States, a republic, take an oath of office that...

 to the Irish Republic which the Dáil had instated on 20 August 1919. The anti-treaty IRA were supported by the former president of the Republic, Eamon de Valera, and ministers Cathal Brugha and Austin Stack.

July 1921 – July 1922


While the fighting in the south was largely ended by the Truce on 11 July 1921, in the north killings continued and actually escalated until the summer of 1922. In Belfast, 16 people were killed in the two days after the truce alone. The violence in the city took place in bursts, as attacks on both Catholics and Protestants were rapidly followed by reprisals on the other community. In this way, 20 people died in street fighting and assassinations in north and west Belfast over 29 August to 1 September 1921 and another 30 from 21–25 November. Loyalists had by this time taken to firing and throwing bombs randomly into Catholic areas and the IRA responded by bombing trams which took Protestant workers to their places of employment.

Moreover, despite the Dáil's acceptance of the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

 in January 1922, which confirmed the future existence of Northern Ireland, there were clashes between the IRA and British forces along the new border from early 1922. In part, this reflected Michael Collins' view that the Treaty was a tactical move, or "stepping stone", rather than a final settlement. A number of IRA men were arrested in Derry
Derry
Derry or Londonderry is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-biggest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Irish name Doire or Doire Cholmcille meaning "oak-wood of Colmcille"...

 when they travelled there as part of the Monaghan
Monaghan GAA
The Monaghan County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association or Monaghan GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Monaghan and the Monaghan inter-county football and hurling teams. Separate county boards are responsible for the...

 Gaelic football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

 team. In retaliation, Michael Collins had forty-two loyalists taken hostage in Fermanagh and Tyrone. Right after this incident, a group of B-Specials were confronted by an IRA unit at Clones
Clones
Clones is a small town in western County Monaghan, in the 'border area' of the Republic of Ireland. The area is part of the Border Region, earmarked for economic development by the Irish Government due to its currently below-average economic situation...

 in Southern territory, who demanded that they surrender. The IRA unit's leader was shot dead and a gun battle broke out, in which four Special Constables were killed. The withdrawal of British troops from Ireland was temporarily suspended as a result of this event. Despite the setting up of a Border Commission to mediate between the two sides in late February, the IRA raided three British barracks along the border in March. All of these actions provoked retaliatory killings in Belfast. In the two days after the Fermanagh kidnappings, 30 people lost their lives in the city, including four Catholic children and two women who were killed by a Loyalist bomb on Weaver Street. In March, 60 died in Belfast, including six members of the Catholic McMahon family, who were targeted for assassination by members of the Special Constabulary in revenge for the IRA killing of two policemen (See McMahon Murders
McMahon Murders
The McMahon murders occurred on 24 March 1922 in Belfast, Northern Ireland when six Catholic civilians were shot dead and two injured by members of the Ulster Special Constabulary or Royal Irish Constabulary . The dead were aged between 15 and 50 and all but one were members of the McMahon family....

). In April, another 30 people died in the Northern capital, including another so called 'uniform attack', the Arnon Street Massacre
Arnon Street Massacre
The Arnon Street killings, also referred to as the Arnon Street murders or Arnon Street massacre, took place on 1 April 1922 in Belfast, Northern Ireland...

, when six Catholics were killed by uniformed policemen.

Winston Churchill arranged a meeting between Collins and James Craig
James Craig
-Public officials:*James Henry Craig , British soldier and colonial administrator*James Craig , British politician*James Craig , Canadian politician...

 on 21 January 1922 and the southern boycott of Belfast goods was lifted but then re-imposed after several weeks. The two leaders had several further meetings, but despite a joint declaration that "Peace is declared" on 30 March, the violence continued.

Failed IRA offensive


From April to June 1922, Collins launched a guerilla IRA offensive against Northern Ireland. By this time, the IRA was split over the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

, but both pro and anti-treaty units were involved in the operation. Some of the arms sent by the British to arm the new Irish Army
Irish Army
The Irish Army, officially named simply the Army is the main branch of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army, divided into three infantry Brigades...

 were in fact given to IRA units and their weapons sent to the North. However, the offensive, launched with a series of IRA attacks in the North on 17–19 May, ultimately proved a failure. An IRA Belfast Brigade report in late May concluded that continuing the offensive was "futile and foolish...the only result of the attack was to place the Catholic population at the mercy of the Specials".

On 22 May, after the assassination of West Belfast Unionist MP William Twaddell
William Twaddell
William John Twaddell was a Unionist politician from Belfast.Twaddell was a draper from Belfast who was educated at a Belfast primary school....

, 350 IRA men were arrested in Belfast, crippling its organisation there. The largest single clash came in June, when British troops used artillery to dislodge an IRA unit from the village of Pettigo
Pettigo
Pettigo is a small village on the border of County Donegal, Republic of Ireland and County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is bisected by the Termon River which is part of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland...

, killing seven, wounding six and taking four prisoners. This was the last major confrontation between the IRA and British forces in the period 1919–1922. The cycle of sectarian atrocities against civilians however continued into June 1922. May saw 75 people killed in Belfast and another 30 died there in June. Several thousand Catholics fled the violence and sought refuge in Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

 and Dublin. On 17 June, in revenge for the killing of two Catholics by the B-Specials, Frank Aiken
Frank Aiken
Frank Aiken was a commander of the Irish Republican Army and later an Irish politician. A founding-member of Fianna Fáil, Aiken was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1923 and at each subsequent election until 1973...

's IRA unit shot ten Protestant civilians, killing six in and around Altnaveigh, south Armagh. Three Special Constables were also killed in the shootings.

Michael Collins held the British general Sir Henry Wilson (by then MP for North Down) responsible for the attacks on Catholics in the north and may have been behind his assassination in June 1922, though who ordered the shooting is unproven. The event helped to trigger the Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

. Winston Churchill insisted after the killing that Collins take action against the Anti-Treaty IRA, whom he assumed to be responsible. The outbreak of the civil war in the South ended the violence in the North, as the war demoralised the IRA in the north east and distracted the attention of the rest of the organisation from the question of partition. After Collins' death in August 1922, the new Irish Free State quietly ended its overt violent aggression towards Northern Ireland.

The violence in the north fizzled out by late 1922, the last reported killing of the conflict in what was now Northern Ireland took place on 5 October.

Casualties



The total number killed in the guerrilla war of 1919-21 between Republicans and British forces in what became the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 came to over 1,400. Of these, 363 were police personnel, 261 were from the regular British Army, about 550 were IRA volunteers (including 24 official executions), and about 200 were civilians. Some other sources give higher figures.

On 21 November 1921 the British army held a memorial service for its dead, of all ranks, of which it counted 162 up to the 1921 Truce and 18 killed afterwards. A number of these are buried in the Grangegorman Military Cemetery
Grangegorman Military Cemetery
Grangegorman Military Cemetery is a British military cemetery in Dublin, Ireland.It is located on Blackhorse Avenue, off the Navan Road and beside the Phoenix Park.-History and Background:...

.

557 people died in political violence in what would become Northern Ireland between July 1920 and July 1922. This death toll is usually counted separately from the southern casualties, as many of these deaths took place after 11 July truce that ended fighting in the rest of Ireland. Of these deaths, between 303 and 340 were Catholic civilians, 35 were IRA men, between 172 and 196 were Protestant civilians and 82 were British forces personnel (38 were RIC and 44 were Ulster Special Constables). The majority of the violence took place in Belfast: 452 people were killed there - 267 Catholics and 185 Protestants.

Irish nationalists have argued that this northern violence represented a pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

 against their community as 58% of the victims were Catholics, even though Catholics were only around 35% of the population. Historian of the period Alan Parkinson has suggested that the term 'pogrom' is 'unhelpful and misleading in explaining the events of the period' as the violence was not state directed or one sided.

Similarly in recent decades, attention has been drawn to the IRA's shooting of civilian informers in the south. Several historians, notably Peter Hart
Peter Hart
Peter Hart was a Canadian historian, specialising in modern Irish history.-Life:Hart was born and raised in St. John's, Newfoundland. He studied for one year at the Memorial University of Newfoundland before moving to study at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He graduated from there with...

 have alleged that those killed in this manner were often simply considered "enemies" rather than being proven informers. Especially vulnerable, it is argued, were Protestants, ex-soldiers and tramps. "It was not merely (or even mainly) a matter of espionage, spies and spy hunters, it was a civil war between and within communities". Particularly controversial in this regard has been the Dunmanway killings of April 1922, when ten Protestants were killed and three "disappeared" over two nights.

In 2010, Gerard Murphy contended that IRA Cork No. 1 Brigade, especially Sean Hegarty, Florrie O'Donoghue, Martin Corry and Connie Neenan, were responsible for the abduction, torture and killing of eighty five civilians, including seventy-three Protestants, in and around Cork city, in 1921-22, on charges of informing.

Evacuation of British forces 1922


By October 1921 the British army in Ireland numbered 57,000 men, along with 14,200 RIC police and some 2,600 auxiliaries and Black and Tans. The long-planned evacuation from dozens of barracks in what the army called "Southern Ireland" started on 12 January 1922, following the ratification of the Treaty and took nearly a year, organised by General Macready
Nevil Macready
General Sir Cecil Frederick Nevil Macready, 1st Baronet, GCMG, KCB, PC , known as Sir Nevil Macready and affectionately as Make-Ready , was a British Army officer...

. It was a huge logistical operation, but within the month Dublin Castle and Beggar's Bush barracks were transferred to the Provisional Government. The RIC last paraded on 4 April and was formally disbanded on 31 August. By the end of May the remaining forces were concentrated on Dublin, Cork and Kildare. Tensions that led to the Irish Civil War were evident by then and evacuation was suspended. By November about 6,600 soldiers remained in Dublin at 17 locations. Finally on 17 December 1922 the Royal Barracks (now the National Museum of Ireland
National Museum of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland is the national museum in Ireland. It has three branches in Dublin and one in County Mayo, with a strong emphasis on Irish art, culture and natural history.-Archaeology:...

) was transferred to General Richard Mulcahy
Richard Mulcahy
Richard James Mulcahy was an Irish politician, army general and commander in chief, leader of Fine Gael and Cabinet Minister...

 and the garrison embarked at Dublin Port that evening.

Independence and the Irish Civil War



While the violence in the North was still raging, the South of Ireland was pre-occupied with the split in the Dáil and in the IRA over the treaty. In April 1922, an executive of IRA officers repudiated the treaty and the authority of the Provisional Government which had been set up to administer it. These Republicans held that the Dáil did not have the right to dis-establish the Irish Republic. A hardline group of Anti-Treaty IRA men occupied several public buildings in Dublin in an effort to bring down the treaty and re-start the war with the British. There were a number of armed confrontations between pro and anti-treaty troops before matters came to a head in late June 1922. Desperate to get the new Irish Free State off the ground and under British pressure, Michael Collins attacked the anti-treaty militants in Dublin, causing fighting to break out around the country.

The subsequent Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

 lasted until mid-1923 and cost the lives of many of the leaders of the independence movement, notably the head of the Provisional Government Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

, ex minister Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha was an Irish revolutionary and politician, active in the Easter Rising, Irish War of Independence, and the Irish Civil War and was the first Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann.-Background:...

, and anti-treaty Republicans Harry Boland
Harry Boland
Harry Boland was an Irish Republican politician and member of the First Dáil.-Early life:Boland was born in Phibsboro, Dublin on 27 April 1887. He was active in GAA circles in early life, and ultimately joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood...

, Rory O'Connor
Rory O'Connor (Irish republican)
Rory O'Connor was an Irish republican activist. He is best remembered for his role in the Irish Civil War 1922-1923, which led to his execution.-Background:...

, Liam Mellows
Liam Mellows
Liam Mellows was an Irish Republican and Sinn Féin politician. Born in England, Mellows grew up in County Wexford in Ireland. He was active with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and Irish Volunteers, and participated in the Easter Rising in County Galway, and the War of Independence...

, Liam Lynch
Liam Lynch (general)
Liam Lynch was an officer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the commanding general of the anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army during the Irish Civil War.-Early life:...

 and many others
Executions during the Irish Civil War
The executions during the Irish Civil War took place during the guerrilla phase of the Irish Civil War . This phase of the war was bitter, and both sides, the government forces of the Irish Free State and the anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army insurgents, used executions and terror in what...

: total casualties have never been determined but were perhaps higher than those in the earlier fighting against the British. President Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

 also died of a stroke during the conflict.

Following the deaths of Griffith and Collins, W. T. Cosgrave became head of government. On 6 December 1922, following the coming into legal existence of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

, W. T. Cosgrave became President of the Executive Council
President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State
The President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State was the head of government or prime minister of the Irish Free State which existed from 1922 to 1937...

, the first internationally recognised head of an independent Irish government.

The civil war ended in mid-1923 in defeat for the anti-treaty side.

Compensation


The Irish Free State government subsequently passed a 1923 Compensation Act, to cover losses including:
...any injury whether to property or person committed in Ireland during the period between the twenty-first day of January, nineteen hundred and nineteen, and the eleventh day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty-one, both inclusive.
This was amplified in December 1925 to include some British costs:
The Irish Free State hereby assumes all liability undertaken by the British Government in respect of malicious damage done since the twenty-first day of January, nineteen hundred and nineteen, to property in the area now under the jurisdiction of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State, and the Government of the Irish Free State shall repay to the British Government, at such time or times and in such manner as may be agreed upon, moneys already paid by the British Government in respect of such damage, or liable to be so paid under obligations already incurred.

Memorial


A memorial called the Garden of Remembrance
Garden of Remembrance (Dublin)
The Garden of Remembrance is a memorial garden in Dublin dedicated to the memory of "all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom"...

 was erected in Dublin in 1966, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

. The date of signing of the truce is commemorated by the National Day of Commemoration
National Day of Commemoration
In the Republic of Ireland, the National Day of Commemoration commemorates all Irish men and women who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations. It occurs on the Sunday nearest July 11 , the anniversary of the date in 1921 that a truce was signed ending the Irish War of Independence...

, when all those Irish men and women who fought in wars in specific armies (e.g., the Irish unit(s) fighting in the British Army in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme) are commemorated.

Last survivor


The last survivor of the conflict, Dan Keating
Dan Keating
Daniel "Dan" Keating was a life-long Irish republican and patron of Republican Sinn Féin. At the time of death he was Ireland's oldest man and the last surviving veteran of the Irish War of Independence.-Early life:...

 (of the IRA), died in October 2007 at the age of 105.

Films, Music and television

  • 1959 - Shake Hands with the Devil
    Shake Hands with the Devil (1959 film)
    Shake Hands with the Devil is a 1959 film directed by the English director Michael Anderson.It is set in 1921 Dublin, where the Irish Republican Army battles the "Black and Tans," the ex-British soldiers sent to suppress the IRA with excessively harsh measures.The film stars James Cagney as Sean...

  • 1991 - The Treaty
    The Treaty
    The Treaty is a 1991 Irish historical television film directed by Jonathan Lewis.The film is about the Anglo-Irish Treaty that Michael Collins bargained for with the British government in 1921. It is almost all factually accurate, and it shows how negotiations actually worked...

  • 1996 – Michael Collins
    Michael Collins (film)
    Michael Collins is a 1996 historical biopic written and directed by Neil Jordan and starring Liam Neeson as General Michael Collins, the Irish patriot and revolutionary who died in the Irish Civil War. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival....

  • 2001 – Rebel Heart
    Rebel Heart (film)
    Rebel Heart is a 2001 British television drama miniseries starring James D'Arcy as the fictional Ernie Coyne, an Irish nationalist. It is in four parts, and set during the Irish War of Independence from 1916 until the end of the Civil War. Michael Collins was idolised by Ernie, and was...

  • 2006 – The Wind That Shakes the Barley
    The Wind That Shakes the Barley (film)
    The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a 2006 Irish war drama film directed by Ken Loach, set during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War...


External links