Easter Rising

The Easter Rebellion was staged in Dublin (1916). Irish Nationalists like most Europeans had thought the War would quickly be over, at which time the question of home rule could be taken up again. When the War continued throughout 1915 and into 1916, it was clear that the War could continue for some time. The Irish Republican Brotherhood and the splinter IVF decided to tak a bold action against against British rule in Ireland. They planned to take advantage of the fact that the British Army as in France with only a small force in Ireland. The Easter Rising was mastermined by Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, and Joseph Plunkett. Roger Casement was to obtain German weapons. The British intercepted the weapons, but the Rising occurred as planned on Easter Monday (April 24, 1916). Although unsuccessful it was the first action that would eventually lead to Irish independence after the War. The British quickly put it dowm. Almost 100 men were shot after nominal trials. One leader they failed to shoot was Michael Collins. The British wrongly blamed Sinn Féin for the rising (it had actually been the Irish Republican Brotherhood). Although the Easter Rising (1916) was quickly put down by the British, the Rising had a profound impact on Irish public opinion. The Rising and perhaps more significantly the brutal British suppresion which followed dramatically inflamed the island. Some authors believe that the ferocity in which the rising was supressed and the executions doomed the British presence in Ireland. It may well have been the case that even if the British has reacted more moderately that in the ens it would have made little difference. The Rising failed, but the British response radicalized the Catholic south. And scared the Protestant north. With photos and text. ">








Independence Struggle (1916-22)


Figure 1.--The Anglo-Irish War was primarily foughtbin the Catholic south. There was, however, violemce in Protestant north as well. The Catholic minority in the north wanted to be part of a united Catholic majority Ireland. The Protestants while wanting anited Ireland as well, sid not want to break wiyth Britain becoming known as unionists. The press cation here read as best I can make out, "Rioting Renewed in Belfast with Disatrous Results: Irish ??? in the shape of stones at the street irner ready for use." It was dated Sptenber 15, 1920. These boys appear to be Catholic youngsters with a cache of stones ready to throw at th Protestant unionist authorities.

Although the Easter Rising (1916) was quickly put down by the British, the Rising had a profound impact on Irish public opinion. The Rising and perhaps more significantly the brutal British suppresion which followed dramatically inflamed the island. The Rising failed, but the Brirish response radicalized the Catholic south. And the languishing Home Rule Bill presented a serious problem for both Prime Minister Asquith and then Lloyd George. While the pending Home Rule Bill was anthma to Protestant Ulster, but it was far short of anything that would satisfy the majority Catholic south. Undoubtedly the enormous losses on the Western Front were another factor. At the end of the War, an increasing majority of Catholic Ireland wanted to break their ties with Britain. After the Armistice, the British Government announced a General Election (1918). The first election since 1910. The Conservatives emerged as the major party, but Lloyd George continued as prime minister. The most stunning development was in Ireland. The Republicans (Sinn Féin) led by Eamon de Valera) swept Catholic Ireland defeating the Home Rule Party. Sinn Féin refused, however, to take their seats in Westminster. Rather they established an alternative Irish parliament (Dáil Éireann) in Dublin. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the Anglo-Irish War of 1919–21 (Irish War of Independence) supported Sinn Féin. A vicious civil war occurred in Ireland after the War. Irish resistance was centered in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which begam assasinating British officials, British landlords, and their Irish supporters. The British answered with the equally violent Black and Tans. The IRA was made into an effective group in large measure through the leadership of Michael Collins. Eventually the British offered the Irish all but the majprity Protestant six counties of northern Ireland--Ulster.

Easter Rising

The Easter Rebellion was staged in Dublin (1916). Irish Nationalists like most Europeans had thought the War would quickly be over, at which time the question of home rule could be taken up again. When the War continued throughout 1915 and into 1916, it was clear that the War could continue for some time. The Irish Republican Brotherhood and the splinter IVF decided to tak a bold action against against British rule in Ireland. They planned to take advantage of the fact that the British Army as in France with only a small force in Ireland. The Easter Rising was mastermined by Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, and Joseph Plunkett. Roger Casement was to obtain German weapons. The British intercepted the weapons, but the Rising occurred as planned on Easter Monday (April 24, 1916). Although unsuccessful it was the first action that would eventually lead to Irish independence after the War. The British quickly put it dowm. Almost 100 men were shot after nominal trials. One leader they failed to shoot was Michael Collins. The British wrongly blamed Sinn Féin for the rising (it had actually been the Irish Republican Brotherhood). Although the Easter Rising (1916) was quickly put down by the British, the Rising had a profound impact on Irish public opinion. The Rising and perhaps more significantly the brutal British suppresion which followed dramatically inflamed the island. Some authors believe that the ferocity in which the rising was supressed and the executions doomed the British presence in Ireland. It may well have been the case that even if the British has reacted more moderately that in the ens it would have made little difference. The Rising failed, but the British response radicalized the Catholic south. And scared the Protestant north.

Home Rule

The languishing Home Rule Bill presented a serious problem for both Prime Minister Asquith and then Lloyd George. While the pending Home Rule Bill was anthma to Protestant Ulster, but it was far short of anything that would satisfy the majority Catholic south. Undoubtedly the enormous losses on the Western Front were another factor affecting public opinion. At the end of the War, an increasing majority of Catholic Ireland wanted to break their ties with Britain.

General Eletion (1918)

After the Armistice, the British Government announced a General Election (1918). The first election since 1910. The Conservatives emerged as the major party, but Lloyd George continued as prime minister. The most stunning development was in Ireland. The Republicans (Sinn Féin) led by Eamon de Valera) swept Catholic Ireland defeating the Home Rule Party. Sinn Féin refused, however, to take their seats in Westminster. Rather they established an alternative Irish parliament (Dáil Éireann) in Dublin. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the Anglo-Irish War (Irish War of Independence) supported Sinn Féin.

Government of Ireland Act (1920)

The British coalition government formed by David Lloyd George after the 1918 Feneral Election if it did not have plentu to deal with after the War, faced an essentially impossible situation in Ireland. Most of the island expressed their opposition to union by voting for Sinn Féin. Ulsree facored union, but rejected everything that Sinn Féin favored. Lloyd George's answer was the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. This created two units with a degree of home rule suthority. The one in the north was six of Ulster’s nine counties (later to be known as Northern Ireland. Thiswas a Protestant majority unit. Thevother was the rest of the island, the three remaining counties of Ulster together with the other 23 counties. A Catholic majority unit. The Protestant majority of the six counties wanted continued union for all of Ireland. It was clear, however, that this was no longer possible. So it reluctantly settled for Home Rule in the Protestant north. The Northern Ireland parliament and government began operating (June 1921). In contrast, the Catholic majority in the south for which Home Rule had for long been planned, rejected it as inadequate and division of Ireland as unacceptable.

Anglo-Irish War (1919-22)

The Anglo-Irish War or Irish War for Independence began on the day the Dáil first met. This was the alternative body in Dublin created by the Sinn Féin MPs elected in the 1918 General Election who to take their seats in Westminster. Irish resistance was centered in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which begam assasinating British officials, British landlords, and their Irish supporters. IRA gunmen commanded by Dan Breen shot and killed two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in Tipperary--the Soloheadbeg ambush (January 21, 1919). The RIC supported British rule, but thecrank and file were Irish. The explosive shipmnt they were transporting was seized. This is seen as the beginning of the comflict because it was te day the Dáil met. The Soloheadbeg ambush was not the first killings. Shots were fired and people killed in 1918. The British managed to contain the violence for a while through aggressive, some might say oppresive, police work. The guerrila war which negan to achieve results was organized by the Volunteers or IRA Director of Intelligence, Michael Collins. He organized a ‘Squad’ to assassinate the British detectives who began arresting republican activists. Collins and his men even tried to kill John French, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, but failed. The violence was fairly limited in 1919, but various passive resistance actions were organized to promote the idea of independence and to make it difficult for the British to govern Ireland. Prisoners held by the British staged hunger strikes. The British released many (March 1920). Rail workers refused to transport troops. Disturbances proliferated n rural areas beyond the ares controlled by the British. Landless farm workers began to seize plots on large estates often called ‘ranches’. The British responded by arresting the Sinn Fein political leadership. Eamon de Valera, the President of the Republic, fled to America to raise funds. Violence increased notably (1920). The two principal IRA leaders, Collins and Richard Mulcahy, ordered Volunteer units to raid RIC barracks for arms. The Dáil eventually endorsed the IRA’s campaign of violence (1921). Sinn Fein figures, such as Arthur Griffith, opposed the violence. The IRA focused on small rural police barracks (early-1920). These were targets that small IRA groups could overcome and also haf the impact of lessing the British control of the countryside. The RIC was forced to withdrew from its small rural stations into fortified barracks in towns. The IRA organizing a burning oif these stations on the night of Easter Sunday 1920, of course to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising. Their lives threatened, RIC men whio were Irish not British began resigning their commissions (Summer 1920). As aesult, the IRA gradually began to gakin cokntrol of rural areas. The RIC began responding in kind by assassing known republicans such as Tomas MacCurtain, the Lord mayor of Cork. Sinn Fein had won the 1918 General Election, meaning MPs. Sinn Fein won local government elections across most of Catholic Ireland (summer 1920). As aesult, they began taking over government funcions from the British, mot importantly tax collection and the police. In many areas the RIC was replaced by IRA police and the British judicial system by the Sinn Fein or Dáil Courts. The British Government responded by proposing autonomous governments in Northern and Southern Ireland. And to reverse the deterioirating security situation, the British introduced a new corps of paramilitary police recruited in Britain--the Black and Tans and Auxiliary Division. They werecrecruitedcfrom World War I veterans. Lloyd George oversaw the passge thriufg Parlamebt of the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act whch gave special powers to the police and military. The resuktv ws an escalation of violence.

Irish Free State

An Irish delegation led by Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith, signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty (December 1921). The Treaty disestablished the Irish Republic of 1919 and created the Irish Free State (IFS) in its place. The IFS controlled 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties. The Treaty did not recognize independence, but the IFS had more authority than the Home Rule Act of 1912 would have granted. The IFS which would lead to the post-World war II Republic was the first fully independent Irish state in recorded history. Despite the achievement, the IRAas split by the Treaty. This led to a vicious civil war. The violence did not finally end with the truce and treaty. British troops remained in their garrisons (until spring 1922). The final British 6,000 soldiers did not leave (until December 1922). There were political cores to be settled. The IURA killed quite a number of serving and former RIC personnel. The IRA also killed some civilins. The IRA killed 13 Protestant civilians near Dunmanway, Cork. They were thought to be informers (April 1922). These actions strebgthen the determnination of the Protestants in Ulster to maintain the union with Britain. A vicious civil war occurred in Ireland after the Anglo Irish War and the formation of the Irish Free State.

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Created: 9:17 AM 1/5/2017
Last updated: 9:18 AM 1/5/2017