Talk:Timeline of the Irish War of Independence

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Can I make a few suggestions?

First, Wikipedia is telling us that this article may be too long. A lot of this length is the result of including many very minor skirmishes. Although this accurately reflects the nature of the conflict, perhaps it would be better to leave out little-known incidents that do not meet some kind of minimum casualty number--say, the deaths of three ordinary people, or the death or capture of an officer. That would let us slim things down a bit, and still hit the highlights.

Second, Richard Abbot has published an excellent reference work, Police Casualties in Ireland 1919-1922, which lists every policeman and auxiliary killed in the War of Independence. I have revised a few entries after checking them against Abbott, and I suggest others do the same.

Third, I have tried to add some information about important British political decisions and events, like the failure of the Summer assizes in 1920, the Cabinet meeting of 23 July 1920, the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act, and Black Whitsun in May 1921. I think that more information of this kind from the Republican side would be more useful than more details about ambushes and assassinations. --Cliodule 16:13, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Hi Clodule, good work on this article so far.

Re the length of the article. The 32k limit is only a guideline as certain browsers, my own included, cannot edit articles over this length in full. However many articles go over this limit and this one is only slightly over it. I do not feel that this article should be cut down from its present state.

Re the second point. The purpose of this article is to catalogue the events of the War of Independence. Most of these events were on a very small scale and this article should reflect this. If we were to apply a rule of only listing incidents where only three people were killed this would not only distort the picture, it would also mean leaving out seminal incidents like Soloheadbeg, where two RIC men were killed. Another advantage to this approach is that it means that much of the detail that still clutters the main article can be removed and moved to here. The main article, not this one, should confined to "highlights". Regarding political developments, I have nothing against their inclusion here, but I feel that wide-ranging or analytical points are better made in the main article.

Re the Police casualties, I have got most of my information from Michael Hopkinson's "Irish War of Independence", if his figures are found to be incorrect, then I have no problem with them being changed.

Jdorney 17:53, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

  • Well, if the length of the article isn't a problem, then it isn't a problem, and there's no reason to limit what we include.--Cliodule 21:00, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Cleaning up this article[edit]

The Wikipedia:WikiProject Irish Republicanism has listed this article for cleanup, which includes: grammar, style and content. I've volunteered to help with the process but don't want to get into pissing matches with the current editors involved here. So if there are some sensitivities, then I'd like to know about them so I can determine whether I can help or should pick another project. One immediate problem which I see is an annoying inconsistency between present tense and past tense in the narrative(s). My preference for an encyclopedia is to treat the past as past and the present as present, although there are those among us who think that speaking in the present tense enlivens the topic. Personally I think that this ceases to have an effect after the third grade. Clean up will be a time consuming project so if it means battle and reversions, I’ll move on to something else. Any comments? --Kevin Murray 21:03, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

It's not a particularly active article from what I've seen Kevin, only a dozen edits this year so I don't think there will be any problems. One thing you might not be aware of is that the counties need capitalising, for example county Clare becomes County Clare. One Night In Hackney303 21:06, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, I wasn't aware of the County issue and I will work on that too. Any other advice will be appreciated. --Kevin Murray 21:10, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Well forgive me if I'm stating the obvious, but just to try and improve some of the slightly stubby sentences. For example:

29 June 1920: IRA ambush in Ballina, north Mayo. One RIC man killed, one wounded.

Would become something like:

29 June 1920: One IRC member was killed and one wounded in an IRA ambush in Ballina, north Mayo.

But I'm sure you knew that already. One Night In Hackney303 21:13, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
No worries. It is good to clarify. I don't awnt to be overly wordy, but it would be nice to have sentences rather than note-speak. --Kevin Murray 21:59, 18 April 2007 (UTC)


Regarding the Limerick Soviet section: (1) Is "Limerick Soviet" the name of the strike? (2) The sentence: "The response was a general strike and boycott of the troops." seems ambiguous to me. --Kevin Murray 22:21, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

According to the Limerick Soviet article that's what the press called it. One Night In Hackney303 22:31, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

  • 23 June 1919: RIC Detective Hunt was shot dead by IRA man Jim Stapleton in Thurles, County Tipperary. Jim Stapleton had been selected to shoot D.I. Hunt, but actually missed his shot wounding another man in the knee. D.I. Hunt was subsequently shot in the ensuing chaos with a pistol at close quarters by one James Murphy. THIS SEEMS CONTRADICTORY WHO ACTUALLY KILLED THE MAN?
By my reading of it, Stapleton wounded another man, and Murhpy shot D.I. Hunt. One Night In Hackney303 22:33, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Try: *23 June 1919: RIC Detective D.I. Hunt was killed in a gun battle with IRA men Jim Stapleton and James Murphy in Thurles, County Tipperary. Jim Stapleton had been selected to shoot Hunt, but missed his shot wounding another man in the knee. In the ensuing chaos Hunt was killed at close quarters by a shot from Murphy's pistol. --Kevin Murray 22:47, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Looks pretty good. Wish I had the time to sort it out myself, but there's that many IR articles in need of improvement and the majority of them rely on offline sources so it's an arduous and time consuming job which doesn't leave much time for the simple but time-consuming tasks. One Night In Hackney303 22:59, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
No problem. I'm learning as I go. I just need a bit of help with the ambiguities. Thanks. --Kevin Murray 23:03, 18 April 2007 (UTC)


Sorry I hadn't kept up with the spring cleaning of this article, but I don't agree with the recent change from the present to the past tense. This is a timeline article, and the norm for such articles is that events are listed in the present tense. The idea is to show events unfolding as they happened, see for example Timeline of the Kashmir conflict for another example, among many.

Jdorney 13:22, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

As far as I'm aware all articles (with the exception of fiction) are written in the past tense, I've not seen any guidelines to say timelines or chronologies are any different. One Night In Hackney303 20:21, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Take a look at the articles here [1] for the precedent. timeline articles are usually written in the present tense, that's all. Jdorney 21:38, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

That's not a precedent. Guidelines state we write in the past tense. One Night In Hackney303 22:33, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Ok, we don't have a guideline set in stone, but what do YOU think and why? In my opinion timeline articles read better in the present tense, because the purpose is to lay out for the reader what was happening day by day. This is the way chronologies are almost always written in books. See, for example, the chronology at the end of Ed Moloney's 'Secret History'. Writing them in the past tense just feels wrong to me. Jdorney 10:11, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Writing about the past in present tense is a tool to "inject energy" into dull topics, and is most successful at the elementary school level or in light-weight treatments of history such as TV documentaries, or in periodicals. After a while though it becomes tedious and annoying, and few writers can pull it off well over the longer haul. There is a reason why we have past tense, and we should continue to use it as it is proper grammar. Re editing this has been a chore, so there is no reason to continue if this is going to be an argument over tense. --Kevin Murray 22:04, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

Sorry Kevin, but if you want to edit articles then you have to be prepared to discuss their content with other editors. Writing in the the present is not just a tool for enlivening dull topics or for kids who haven't learned the past tense, it's also the standard format for writing chronologies. Have a look at the chronologies carried in the appendix of many serious, not 'lightweight', history books and you will see some examples. This is not a narrative article, it is a chronology article. Its purpose is to list events as they happened on consecutive days and to accomodate information that will not fit in the narrative article. It is not intended to be read over the long haul. Jdorney 12:14, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

I agreed to clean up this article if it didn't end up in a pissing match. Have at it! --Kevin Murray 15:14, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Well clean up according to whose standards? These are things that should be discussed, for example with the page's creators. It's not a pissing match, its a question of format. The wikipedia process can't work without reasoned debate. Jdorney 17:03, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

J, yes, do what you will. Please read my post above prior to starting this process. Clearly it's not binding on you. But I'm not interested in doing a lot of work which will be reverted. I'll move on to a different project. If you want to clean it up to your standards be my guest. I've been a bit busy to work on this for a couple weeks anyway. Good luck. --Kevin Murray 19:24, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

"Black and Tan troops"[edit]

Hi--I've noticed that this article uses the term "Black and Tan troops" in some places. This is a contradiction in terms. The word "troops" always means "soldiers". Though the term was used loosely to include the Auxiliaries as well, the Black and Tans were British RIC constables. Both the Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries were police, not soldiers.

And I'd just like to say that, while I have no objection to my entries being rewritten to put them in the past tense, in my experience, most of these types of chronologies are written in the present tense, to give readers the sense of events unfolding before their eyes. But that's just my two cents--like I said, I don't mind, either way.Cliodule 06:15, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

  • I don't object to the proposal of changing the reference to troops. --Kevin Murray 00:38, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
  • I disagree with changing to present tense. What once was clever has now become cliche and abused ad naseum. --Kevin Murray 00:38, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

I've gone and changed the rest of the article to the past tense. As I argued above, I would have it in the present tense, but at least it's better than having it half in one tense and half in another. Re the Tans, yes technically 'constables' would be correct, but they were, in fact troops in all but name. So I don't think its a big error to call them that. Jdorney 23:57, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

No, I don't agree: I think it is in fact a very LARGE error to call them troops; it obscures one of the chief weaknesses of the Government's counterinsurgency strategy. As Charles Townshend pointed out thirty years ago, Soldiers are under military law and discipline. The Royal Irish Constabulary was not. Its constables were free to resign on a month's notice. Soldiers have no such freedom.

The British Government thought that, by reinforcing the RIC instead of the Army of Ireland, it could maintain the fiction that there was no war being fought in Ireland. They were so insistent on this point--that there was no war going on--that they refused to strike a campaign medal or clasp for soldiers who served in this conflict.

As we all know, this refusal to face reality blew up in their faces: police discipline was not enough to restrain the violence of BOTH Irish AND British police during the desperate summer and autumn of 1920; the Force's discipline was only restored by the flood of British recruits over the winter of 1920-21, which brought the RIC back up to strength, and by martial law and official military reprisals in the South. Even then, clear signs of police discontent arose again by the spring of 1921.

What's more, by calling them "troops," we obscure what Thomas Mockaitis has called the "Black and Tan syndrome" in the history of Britain's 20th-century colonial wars--the British tendency to rely on police and paramilitary units rather than the regular military--despite the tendency of such units to run amok and commit atrocities, for want of discipline and legal restraint. See the history of the Kenya Emergency for a particularly horrible example--or, for that matter, the later history of the Ulster Special Constabulary and Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland.

--Cliodule 16:29, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Interesting points. If you feel it's necessary, please go ahead and change it. Jdorney 14:44, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I was doing some cleanup editing in this article and added "troops" to the Black and Tan entries. But I have no problem with the change based on your concerns. --Kevin Murray 16:21, 24 July 2007 (UTC)


This article has serious NPOV issues as do many articles on this subject. Many happening involving British brutality go unreferenced and weasle word are used throughout to make the British appear in an unfavourable light. These issues need to be addressed. (talk) 22:04, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

A little known July 1918 ambush[edit]

Although most of Sean Patrick Lynch is likely not true, there's a mention of a July 1918 ambush in Co. Cork which does appear to have happened. This is before the ambush that is thought to have kicked off the war of independence. A caption in the photo archives of the Irish Examiner calls it "The first armed attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary to occur in Ireland since the 1916 rising". The facts appear to be:
On 7 or 8 July 1918 at Beal a' Ghleanna ("Mouth of the Glen") on the road between Ballingeary and Ballyvourney, two armed RIC men on a horse-drawn side-car who had been stationed to stop a feis being held, Bennett and Butler, were ambushed - one was shot in the neck, the other beaten, and police carbines and ammunition were seized. The ambushers were Jonny/Sean Lynch, Tadhg Twomey, Liam Twomey, Jamie Moynihan, Dan Tady Sweeney/MacSweeney, Neilus Reilly/Cornelius O'Reilly, Jer./Jeremiah O'Shea, as recounted in Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin's 1965 book, "Where Mountainy Men Have Sown". It was called "an attack calculated to shake to its foundations all sense of public security"[2] and was commemorated by Taoiseach Jack Lynch with Old IRA War of Independence veterans on 17 March 1970.[3]
Sources: Where Mountainy Men Have Sown by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Chapter Four "The Mouth of the Glen", p39-45, 1965; The I.R.A. and its enemies: violence and community in Cork, 1916-1923 By Peter Hart, p62; No other law: the story of Liam Lynch and the Irish Republican Army, 1916-1923 by Florence O'Donoghue. Irish Press, 1954, p29; The Capuchin annual, 1968, p343; Examiner Photographs > Pictures from the Examiner Archive > ghleanna.jpg;;;
Worth including a mention? Fences&Windows 09:07, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

I wouldn't put it in this article, since it is really for the conventional narrative. I do think it's worth a brief mention in Irish War of Independence#Initial hostilities, though. Possibly after the account of Soloheadbeg you could say, "This was not in fact the first armed action after 1916; in July 1918..." Scolaire (talk) 06:23, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Aye, I'd considered that too. I'll put a brief mention there about earlier clashes, this book mentions a few alongside that ambush. Fences&Windows 18:36, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Nice job! Scolaire (talk) 07:44, 21 June 2011 (UTC)


The state was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and it's rather odd calling the Royal Irish Constabulary or indeed Constables Patrick MacDonnell and James O'Connell "British". While the term is colloquially used to refer to the UK, articles should be clear so I've modified the lead. . dave souza, talk 20:17, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

When was the last time you saw a news report referring to the "UK Army" or "UK troops"? It's not colloquial, it's standard practice in Britain and everywhere else to refer to "British forces". If you don't think Irish constables should be called "British" - and I see your point - then it might be better to delete "X state forces" altogether. That sentence is unwieldy as it is and the phrase adds nothing to it. The Tans and the Auxies were part of the RIC anyway! I'm reverting in the meantime because it just looks wrong as it is. Scolaire (talk) 22:35, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
Agre that 'it looks wrong'. Also, at the time in question and later, the majority of newspaper reports books etc. used the term 'British' in reference to 'the opposing force'. RashersTierney (talk) 23:14, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
<ec> gulfnews : Gurkha services in UK forces to end, BUDGET 2012: UK troops will receive 'full' council tax relief while deployed | Mail Online, UK troops in major op to clear IEDs | British Forces News, The Press Association: UK troops support Afghan offensive. "British" is often colloquial, and correctly in the British Army as that's what it's called, but daft in the "British Royal Irish Constabulary". . . dave souza, talk 23:27, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
The phrasing is still a bit of a pig's ear. RashersTierney (talk) 01:49, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
It really is! Scolaire (talk) 07:49, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Referencing timeline events[edit]

I see that many entries to the timeline have no references, so how can their accuracy be confirmed? Parts of my contributions are being removed when they are clearly referenced. So why the double standards? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Slogger3 (talkcontribs) 14:29, 2 April 2012 (UTC)

I read the linked newspaper reports, and I can see nothing in it to justify the statement: "They were killed, not for what they did, but for what they were deemed to have learned from their time in captivity." Somehow I can't imagine that the "correspondence from Army Finance Office concerning exhumation of the remains" will, either. Primary sources are not encouraged on Wikipedia, precisely because they are difficult to check. I reverted a previous edit of yours because it used emotive language, thereby introducing a POV into an article which should have an NPOV (neutral point of view). I agree with you that it would be preferable if all entries were referenced by reliable sources. It would also be better if the whole article was in either the present or past tense. Scolaire (talk) 13:13, 3 April 2012 (UTC)

Yes, I accept these remarks and have made appropriate edits. (Slogger3 (talk) 09:47, 4 April 2012 (UTC))[edit]

Is really a reliable source? It gives me an itchy feeling... The Banner talk 22:25, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Same here. It contains a lot of primary sources, fine in their place, but it is essentially self-published. RashersTierney (talk) 22:39, 4 June 2013 (UTC)