Irish Civil War (1922-23)


Figure 1.--Here Dublin children are playing Red Cross during the Civil War (1922). Children's often act out as games what they observe around them. Here the children are acting out what they saw going on. At the time there was no TV to give them idea. Source: Irish Natiinal Photographic Archive.

Several different conflicts were touched off by World War I. All pailed in the comparioson with the War itself, but several were quite large, such as the Russian Civil War. The Irish Civil War was one of the smaller of these conflicts. Only about 3,000 people were killed during the height of the violence, about a 1 year period (June 28, 1922 - May 24, 1923). This was less than the death toll during a week on the western front when major battles were not being fought. But Ireland was a small country and major issues in human history have not infrequently been resolved by relatively small bttles. The Irish Civil War (Cogadh Cathartha na hÉireann) followed the War of Independence launched by the Easter Rebellion and began with the establishment of the Irish Free State, a compromise entity which was independent from Britain but still within the British Empire. The conflict involved two opposing factions of Irish republicans who differed over the the Anglo-Irish Treaty which brought the Irish Free State into existence. The adherents of the Provisional Government (which officially became the Free State in December 1922) supported the Treaty. The Republican opposition saw the Treaty as a betrayal of the Irish Republic as proclaimed during the Easter Rising. Many of the combatantants in the Civil War had fought together as comrads in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the War of Independence. The Irish Civil War determined the nature of independent Ireland and the relationship with Britain. Spymaster Michael Collins who had played a central role in brining Britain to the negotiating table become President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood eventually accepted the British offer knowing it was the best deal he could get at the time. He calculated that independence would eventually follow. He also realized that there would be a terrible reaction among his former colleagues. The Free State forces prevailed in large part because of the heavuy weapons s provided by the British. The conflict resulted in higher losses than the War of Independence against the British. The result was the creation of the Irish Free State which eventually became the Irish Republic. There was considerable Catholic opposition to partition in both the Irish Free State and Ulster. An IRA faction opposing an end to the armed struggle without gaining Ulster assasinated Collins. The provisional Irish Government eventually supresses the IRA violence. More than 1,000 IRA supporters were arrested asnd inprisoned without trial. The Civil War generated the intense emotions that often acompanies civil war. It left Irish society divided and embittered for generations. The wounds inflicted during the Civil War would surface again during terrible The Trobles i Northern Irelans (1970s-80s). The two main political parties in modern Ireland, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, are the descendants of the opposing factions in the Civil war. Partition was an established fact at onset of the Civil War, but the conflict in the South made reunification a remote possibility.

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Created: 4:38 AM 7/12/2015
Last updated: 4:38 AM 7/12/20155