Irish revolutionary period

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For other uses, see List of Irish uprisings.

The revolutionary period in Irish history was the period in the 1910s and early 1920s when Irish nationalist opinion shifted from the Home Rule-supporting Irish Parliamentary Party to the republican Sinn Féin movement. There were several waves of civil unrest linked to republicanism, Ulster loyalism, and trade unionism, leading to the War of Independence, the creation of the independent Irish Free State, the Partition of Ireland and the Civil War.

Modern historians define the revolutionary period as the period from 1912 or 1913 to 1923,[1] i.e. from the introduction of the Third Home Rule Bill to the end of the Civil War, or sometimes more narrowly as the period from 1916 to 1921 or 1923, i.e. from the Easter Rising to the end of the War of Independence or the Civil War.[2]

The early years of the Free State, when it was governed by the pro-Treaty party Cumann na nGaedheal, have been described by one historian as a counter revolution.[3]

Outline[edit]

Home Rule became certain when in 1910 the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) under John Redmond held the balance of power in Commons and the third Home Rule Bill was introduced in 1912. Unionist resistance was immediate with the formation of the Ulster Volunteers. In turn the Irish Volunteers were established to oppose them and enforce the introduction of self-government.

In September 1914, just as the First World War broke out, the UK Parliament passed the Third Home Rule Act to establish self-government for Ireland, but was suspended for the duration of the war. To ensure implementation of Home Rule after the war, nationalist leaders and the IPP under Redmond supported with Ireland's participation the British and Allied war effort under the Triple Entente against the expansion of Central Powers. The core of the Irish Volunteers were against this decision, but the majority left to form the National Volunteers who enlisted in Irish regiments of the New British Army, the 10th and 16th (Irish) Divisions, their Northern counterparts in the 36th (Ulster) Division. Before the war ended, Britain made two concerted efforts to implement Home Rule, one in May 1916 and again with the Irish Convention during 1917–1918, but the Irish sides (Nationalist, Unionist) were unable to agree to terms for the temporary or permanent exclusion of Ulster from its provisions.

The period 1916–1921 was marked by political violence and upheaval, ending in the partition of Ireland and independence for 26 of its 32 counties. A failed militant attempt was made to gain separate independence for Ireland with the 1916 Easter Rising, an insurrection in Dublin. Though support for the insurgents was small, the violence used in its suppression led to a swing in support of the rebels. In addition, the unprecedented threat of Irishmen being conscripted to the British Army in 1918 (for service on the Western Front as a result of the German Spring Offensive) accelerated this change. (See: Conscription Crisis of 1918). In the December 1918 elections Sinn Féin, the party of the rebels, won three-quarters of all seats in Ireland, twenty-seven MPs of which assembled in Dublin on 21 January 1919 to form a 32-county Irish Republic Parliament, the first Dáil Éireann unilaterally declaring sovereignty over the entire island.

Unwilling to negotiate any understanding with Britain short of complete independence, the Irish Republican Army, the army of the newly declared Irish Republic, waged a guerilla war (the Irish War of Independence) from 1919 to 1921. In the course of the fighting and amid much acrimony, the Fourth Government of Ireland Act 1920 implemented Home Rule while separating the island into what the British government's Act termed "Northern Ireland" and "Southern Ireland". In July 1921 the Irish and British governments agreed to a truce that halted the war. In December 1921 representatives of both governments signed an Anglo-Irish Treaty. The Irish delegation was led by Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. This abolished the Irish Republic and created the Irish Free State, a self-governing Dominion of the Commonwealth of Nations in the manner of Canada and Australia. Under the Treaty, Northern Ireland could opt out of the Free State and stay within the United Kingdom: it promptly did so. In 1922 both parliaments ratified the Treaty, formalising independence for the 26-county Irish Free State (which renamed itself Ireland in 1937, and declared itself a republic in 1949); while the 6-county Northern Ireland, gaining Home Rule for itself, remained part of the United Kingdom. For most of the next 75 years, each territory was strongly aligned to either Catholic or Protestant ideologies, although this was more marked in the six counties of Northern Ireland.

Timeline[edit]

1911
Parliament Act 1911 restricts House of Lords' power to veto Home Rule; Socialist James Connolly arrives in Belfast
1912
Third Home Rule Bill introduced at Westminster; Ulster Covenant signed by Unionist opponents of Home Rule
1913
Dublin lock-out labour dispute
1914
Curragh "mutiny" by Unionist army officers; First World War breaks out; Third Home Rule Bill enacted but suspended for the duration of the war
1915
Patrick Pearse's graveside panegyric at the funeral of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa: "Ireland unfree shall never be at peace"
1916
Easter Rising by republicans; Battle of the Somme in which Irish soldiers figure prominently, notably the Unionist 36th (Ulster) Division and Home Rule 16th (Irish) Division
1917
Irish Convention fails to find a political compromise
1918
Conscription Crisis; First World War ends; general election sees Sinn Féin eclipse Irish Parliamentary Party
1919
First Dáil proclaims an Irish Republic; Irish Republican Army starts Irish War of Independence (aka "Anglo-Irish War", or "Black and Tan War")
1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920 establishes Partition of Ireland into two home rule jurisdictions: Unionist-dominated Northern Ireland and stillborn Southern Ireland
1921
Ceasefire in War of Independence; Government of Northern Ireland takes office; UK and Dáil governments sign compromise Anglo-Irish Treaty
1922
Provisional Government begins administration in what becomes the Irish Free State; Irish Civil War opposes Free State and anti-Treaty republicans
1923
Free State wins the Civil War
1924
Army Mutiny suppressed
1925
Collapse of Irish Boundary Commission
1926
Fianna Fáil splits from anti-Treaty Sinn Féin
1927
Fianna Fáil enters the Dáil after disputably subscribing to the Oath of Allegiance, becoming a "slightly constitutional party".

Commemoration[edit]

Separate unionist and nationalist historical narratives exist for the historic events in question; nationalist perspectives are further divided by the Civil War which ended the revolutionary period. The Northern Ireland peace process, with its promotion of dialogue and reconciliation, has modified this separation.[4][5] The Bureau of Military History established by the Irish government in 1947 collected oral history accounts from republican veterans of the period 1913 to 1921. Its records were sealed until the last veteran's death in 2003; they were published online in 2012.[6]

In May 2010, the Institute for British Irish Studies in University College Dublin organised a conference on the theme "A Decade of Centenaries: Commemorating Our Shared History".[7] Taoiseach Brian Cowen addressed the conference:[8]

This coming decade of commemorations, if well prepared and carefully considered, should enable all of us on this island to complete the journey we have started towards lasting peace and reconciliation. Twelve years have passed since the [Good Friday] Agreement. In the next twelve years we will witness a series of commemorations which will give us pause to reflect on where we have come from, and where we are going. With the centenaries of the Ulster Covenant, the Battle of the Somme, the Easter Rising, the War of Independence, the Government of Ireland Act and the Treaty, the events which led to the political division of this island come up for re-examination. We will also reflect on the crucial roles played by the Labour movement in that defining decade.

He later said "We believe that mutual respect should be central to all commemorative events and that historical accuracy should be paramount."[9]

The Oireachtas joint committee on implementation of the Good Friday Agreement discussed commemoration on 13 October 2011, at which Ian Adamson said "The main problem that persists is one of two narratives. There is a Protestant, loyalist narrative and a republican narrative."[10]

On 27 February 2012, the Northern Ireland Assembly passed a motion:[11]

That this Assembly notes the number of centenaries of significant historic events affecting the UK and Ireland in the next 10 years; calls on the Executive to ensure that these are marked in an inclusive manner; and further calls on the First Minister and deputy First Minister, the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to work together, with the British and Irish Governments, to develop a co-ordinated approach to the commemoration of these important events in our shared history.

An All-Party Oireachtas Consultation Group on Commemorations exists,[12] with an "Expert Advisory Group of eminent historians".[13] In April 2012, the National Commemorative Programme for the Decade of Centenaries, covering centenaries from 1912 to 1922, was announced in the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under minister Jimmy Deenihan.[14] In June, Deenihan stated that consideration will initially be focused up to 2016, centenary of the Easter Rising.[15]

Hugo Swire told the UK parliament in May 2012 that the Northern Ireland Office was consulting with the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish government, saying "All these discussions underpin the need to promote tolerance and mutual understanding to ensure that these anniversaries are commemorated with tolerance, dignity and respect for all."[16]

In a debate on the programme in the Seanad in June 2012, Martin McAleese said "It may be more accurate to regard not alone the decade from 1912 to 1922 but rather the 13-year period from 1911 to 1923, as representing the turbulent years that had such a dramatic impact on the course of our island's history. There are approximately 62 events in that period which constitute the package of centenary celebrations, from the arrival of James Connolly in Belfast in 1911 through to the ending of the Civil War in 1923."[17]

A conference "Reflecting on a decade of War and Revolution in Ireland 1912–1923: Historians and Public History" was organised by Universities Ireland in June 2012.[5][18]

"Century Ireland" is a website launched in May 2013 to track events as their centenaries pass, using both period documents and modern commentary. It is produced by Boston College's Centre for Irish Programmes: Dublin; funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; and hosted by RTÉ.ie.[19][20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History - The Irish Revolution 1912 - 1923 MA - CKE49". Course Desciption. University College, Cork. Retrieved 7 July 2014. ; Murphy, William. "The Gaelic Athletic Association in Dublin during the Irish Revolution, 1913-1923". DublinHeritage.ie. Dublin City Public Libraries. Retrieved 7 July 2014. ; Farry, Michael (2012). The Irish Revolution, 1912–23: Sligo. Dublin: Four Courts Press. ISBN 978-1-84682-302-2. Retrieved 7 July 2014. ; Augusteijn, Joost (2002). The Irish Revolution, 1913-1923. Palgrave. ISBN 9780333982259. Retrieved 7 July 2014. ; Horne, John; Edward Madigan (2013). Towards Commemoration: Ireland in War and Revolution 1912-1923. Royal Irish Academy. ISBN 9781908996176. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Costello, Francis J. (2011). The Irish Revolution and Its Aftermath, 1916-1923. Irish Academic Press. ISBN 9780716531371. Retrieved 7 July 2014. ; Ó Broin, León (1989). W.E. Wylie and the Irish Revolution 1916-1921. Gill and Macmillan. ISBN 9780717116379. Retrieved 7 July 2014. ; Coleman, Marie (2013). The Irish Revolution 1916-1923. Routledge. ISBN 9781317801474. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Regan, John (1999). The Irish Counter-Revolution, 1921–36: Treatyite Politics and Settlement in Independent Ireland. Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 0312227272. 
  4. ^ Regan, John (November 2010). "Irish public histories as an historiographical problem". Irish Historical Studies (Antrim W. & G. Baird Ltd) 37 (146): 88–115. 
  5. ^ a b Boland, Rosita (25 June 2012). "Caution against 'glory' commemorations as centenary of crucial decade beckons". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Bureau of Military History 1913–1921". Dublin: Military Archives and National Archives. 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "IBIS Annual Conference 2010". UCD: Institute for British Irish Studies. May 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  8. ^ ""A Decade of Commemorations Commemorating Our Shared History" Speech by An Taoiseach, Mr Brian Cowen TD Institute for British Irish Studies UCD, 20 May 2010 at 11.00am". Department of the Taoiseach. pp. Taoiseach's Speeches 2010. Archived from the original on 2 June 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "Ceisteanna – Questions – Northern Ireland Issues". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 23 June 2010. pp. Vol.713 No.2 p.6. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "Northern Ireland Peace Process: Discussion". Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Oireachtas. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  11. ^ "Private Members' Business: Decade of Centenaries". Hansard. Northern Ireland Assembly. 27 February 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  12. ^ "Written Answers – Commemorative Events". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 6 March 2012. pp. Vol.758 No.1 p.47. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "Written Answers – Commemorative Events". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 1 May 2012. pp. Vol.763 No.3 p.31. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Minister Deenihan addresses Presbyterian Conference in Belfast." (Press release). Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "Written Answers – Commemorative Events". Dáil debates. Oireachtas. 6 June 2012. pp. Vol.767 No.1 p.44. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  16. ^ "Written Answers to Questions: Dealing with the Past". House of Commons Hansard. 17 May 2012. pp. c 232W–233W. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  17. ^ "Decade of Commemorations: Statements". Seanad Éireann debates. 7 June 2012. pp. Vol.215 No.14 p.5. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  18. ^ "Conference: Reflecting on a decade of War and Revolution in Ireland 1912–1923: Historians and Public History". News & Events. Universities Ireland. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  19. ^ Press Association (10 May 2013). "Virtual history newspaper goes live". Irish Independent. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  20. ^ "About Century Ireland". Century Ireland. Dublin, Ireland: RTÉ.ie. May 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 

External links[edit]