The Irish Civil War of 1922/23

A.) Pre-History

In a campaign of terrorist acts against the British administration in Ireland, the I.R.A. in 1921 had succeeded in causing the British Government to enter into negotiations. Irish chief delegate Michael Collins returned to Dublin with the draft to an Anglo-Irish treaty that foresaw the establishment of an Irish Free State (as opposed to the Irish Republic the I.R.A. had fought for) which was to cover roughly 3/4 of Ireland - Northern Ireland was to remain British.
The treaty was accepted by both the Irish parliament and the population (January 1922), and Ireland, as a Free State, became semi-independent (the Irish had to swear allegiance to the king of the United Kingdom; Ireland was to become member of the Commonwealth). However, Ireland politically split into two camps (Northern Ireland not counted), the majority faction supporting Michael Collins and the treaty, the minority faction supporting Eamon de Valera and fighting the treaty.

B.) The War

The war began with the occupation of the Four Courts, the center of administration of Ireland, in Dublin in April 1922, by militant opponents of the treaty. At first the complex was cordonned of by Free State forces; on June 28th to June 30th Free State forces took the complex; street fighting in Dublin continued until July 5th. Free State forces militarily gained the upper hand; General Michael Collins was assassinated on August 22nd 1922. In May 1923 the government ordered the militant opponents of the treaty (which already had declared a cease-fire) to lay down their arms. The civil war is said to have caused c. 3,000 fatalities.

C.) The Legacy

While the Free State, the supporters of the treaty, won the Irish Civil War, the continuation of British rule over Northern Ireland left a scar on the political consciousness of the Irish. After years of opposition, Eamon de Valera in 1932 would be appointed President of the Executive Council, i.e. the factual prime minister, and would dominate Irish politics until 1959, achieving full independence, proclaiming the Republic of Ireland.

The Irish Civil War 1922-1923 : a military study of the conventional phase, 28 June - 11 August 1922, by Paul V. Walsh
Irish Civil War and before, from USNA
Conflicts in Ireland, Irish Civil War 1922-1923, from Fame of Tipperary Group
Article Irish Civil War, from Wikipedia
Article Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins, from Wikipedia

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 6th 2004, last revised on November 17th 2004

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