Irish Civil War
Overview
 
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 as an entity independent
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 from the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 within the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

The conflict was waged between two opposing groups of Irish nationalists
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

: the forces of the "Provisional Government"
Provisional Government of Southern Ireland
The provisional Government of Southern Ireland was the provisional government for the administration of Southern Ireland between 16 January 1922 and 6 December 1922. The government was effectively a transitional administration for the period between the ratifying of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the...

 that established the Free State in December 1922, who supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

, and the Republican
Irish Republicanism
Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.In 1801, under the Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 opposition, for whom the Treaty represented a betrayal of the Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

. The war was won by the Free State forces.

The Civil War may have claimed more lives than the War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

 against Britain that preceded it, and left Irish society divided and embittered.
Encyclopedia
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 as an entity independent
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 from the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 within the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

The conflict was waged between two opposing groups of Irish nationalists
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

: the forces of the "Provisional Government"
Provisional Government of Southern Ireland
The provisional Government of Southern Ireland was the provisional government for the administration of Southern Ireland between 16 January 1922 and 6 December 1922. The government was effectively a transitional administration for the period between the ratifying of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the...

 that established the Free State in December 1922, who supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

, and the Republican
Irish Republicanism
Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.In 1801, under the Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 opposition, for whom the Treaty represented a betrayal of the Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

. The war was won by the Free State forces.

The Civil War may have claimed more lives than the War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

 against Britain that preceded it, and left Irish society divided and embittered. Today, two of the main political parties
Political Parties
Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy is a book by sociologist Robert Michels, published in 1911 , and first introducing the concept of iron law of oligarchy...

 in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 and Fine Gael
Fine Gael
Fine Gael is a centre-right to centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland. It is the single largest party in Ireland in the Oireachtas, in local government, and in terms of Members of the European Parliament. The party has a membership of over 35,000...

, are direct descendants of the opposing sides in the War.

The treaty and its consequences

The Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

 arose from the Irish War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

, fought between Irish separatists (organised as the Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

) and the British government, from 1919–1921. The treaty provided for a self-governing Irish state in 26 of Ireland's 32 counties, having its own army and police. However, rather than creating the independent republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 favoured by most nationalists, the Irish Free State would be an autonomous dominion of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 with the British monarch
British monarchy
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

 as head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, in the same manner as Canada and Australia. This had been suggested by the British in secret correspondence even before treaty negotiations began, but rejected by de Valera. The treaty also stipulated that members of the new Irish Oireachtas
Oireachtas of the Irish Free State
The Oireachtas of the Irish Free State was the legislature of the Irish Free State from 1922 until 1937. It was established by the 1922 Constitution of Ireland which was based from the Anglo-Irish Treaty...

 (parliament) would have to take the following "Oath of Allegiance
Oath of Allegiance (Ireland)
The Irish Oath of Allegiance was a controversial provision in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which Irish TDs and Senators were required to take, in order to take their seats in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann .-Text of the Oath:The Oath was included in Article 17 of the Irish Free State's 1922...

"

"I... do solemnly swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State as by law established, and that I will be faithful to His Majesty King George V, his heirs and successors by law in virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain and her adherence to and membership of the group of nations forming the British Commonwealth of nations".

This oath was considered highly objectionable by many Irish Republicans. Furthermore, under the treaty, the state was not to be called a republic but a "free state
Free state (government)
Free state is a term occasionally used in the official titles of some states.In principle the title asserts and emphasises the freedom of the state in question, but what this actually means varies greatly in different contexts:...

" and it would be limited to the 26 southern and western counties of Ireland. The remaining six northeastern counties, with their unionist
Unionism in Ireland
Unionism in Ireland is an ideology that favours the continuation of some form of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain...

 majority, were allowed to—and did—opt to remain part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. The partition of Ireland
Partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland was the division of the island of Ireland into two distinct territories, now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Partition occurred when the British Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920...

 had already been decided by the Westminster parliament in the Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned Ireland. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or as the Fourth Home Rule Act.The Act was intended...

 and was confirmed in the Anglo-Irish treaty. Also, several strategic ports
Treaty Ports (Ireland)
Following the establishment of the Irish Free State, three deep water Treaty Ports at Berehaven, Queenstown and Lough Swilly were retained by the United Kingdom as sovereign bases in accordance with the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 6 December 1921...

 were to remain occupied by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

.

Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

, the republican leader who had led the Irish negotiating team, argued that the treaty gave "not the ultimate freedom that all nations aspire and develop, but the freedom to achieve freedom". However, anti-treaty militants in 1922 believed that the treaty would never deliver full Irish independence.

Split in the Nationalist movement

The split over the treaty was deeply personal. Many of the leaders on both sides had been close friends and comrades during the War of Independence. This made their disagreement over the treaty all the more bitter. Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

 later said that Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 had sent him as plenipotentiary
Plenipotentiary
The word plenipotentiary has two meanings. As a noun, it refers to a person who has "full powers." In particular, the term commonly refers to a diplomat fully authorized to represent his government as a prerogative...

 to negotiate the treaty because he knew that the British would not concede an independent Irish republic and wanted Collins to take the blame for the compromise settlement. He said he felt deeply betrayed when de Valera refused to stand by the agreement that the plenipotentiaries had negotiated with David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 and Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

. De Valera, for his part, was furious that Collins and Arthur Griffith had signed the treaty without consulting him or the Irish cabinet as instructed.

Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann (1919-1922)
Dáil Éireann was the revolutionary, unicameral parliament of the unilaterally declared Irish Republic from 1919–1922. The Dáil was first formed by 73 Sinn Féin MPs elected in the 1918 United Kingdom general election. Their manifesto refused to recognise the British parliament at Westminster and...

 (the parliament of the Irish Republic) narrowly passed the Anglo-Irish Treaty by 64 votes to 57 on 7 January 1922. Following the Treaty's ratification, a "Provisional Government", headed by Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

, was set up to transfer power from the British administration to the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

.

Upon the treaty's ratification, de Valera resigned as President of the Republic
President of the Irish Republic
President of the Republic was the title given to the head of the Irish ministry or Aireacht in August 1921 by an amendment to the Dáil Constitution, which replaced the previous title, Príomh Aire or President of Dáil Éireann...

 and failed to be re-elected by an even closer vote of 60–58. He challenged the right of the Dáil to approve the treaty, saying that its members were breaking their oath to the Irish Republic. De Valera continued to promote a compromise whereby the new Irish Free State would be in "external association" with the British Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 rather than be a member of it (the inclusion of republics within the Commonwealth of Nations was not formally implemented until 1949).

In early March he formed the "Cumann na Poblachta" (Republican Association) party while remaining a member of Sinn Féin and commenced a speaking tour of the more republican province of Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

 on 17 March 1922. During the tour, de Valera made controversial speeches at Carrick on Suir, Lismore
Lismore, County Waterford
Lismore is a town in County Waterford, Ireland. It is located where the N72 road crosses the River Blackwater.-History:It was founded by Saint Mochuda, also known as Saint Carthage. In the 7th century, Lismore was the site of the well-known Lismore Abbey. It is also home to Lismore Castle, the...

, Dungarvan
Dungarvan
Dungarvan is a town and harbour on the south coast of Ireland in the province of Munster. Dungarvan is the county town and administrative centre of County Waterford. The town's Irish name means "Garbhan's fort", referring to Saint Garbhan who founded a church there in the seventh century...

 and Waterford
Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

, saying at one point, "If the Treaty were accepted [by the electorate], the fight for freedom would still go on, and the Irish people, instead of fighting foreign soldiers, will have to fight the Irish soldiers of an Irish government set up by Irishmen." At Thurles
Thurles
Thurles is a town situated in North Tipperary, Ireland. It is a civil parish in the historical barony of Eliogarty and is also an ecclesiastical parish in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly...

, several days later, he repeated this imagery and added that the IRA "would have to wade through the blood of the soldiers of the Irish Government, and perhaps through that of some members of the Irish Government to get their freedom."

In a letter to the Irish Independent
Irish Independent
The Irish Independent is Ireland's largest-selling daily newspaper that is published in both compact and broadsheet formats. It is the flagship publication of Independent News & Media.-History:...

 on 23 March, de Valera accepted the accuracy of their report of his comment about "wading" through blood, but deplored that the newspaper had published it.

More seriously, the majority of Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 (IRA) officers were also against the treaty, and in March 1922 their ad-hoc Army Convention repudiated the authority of the Dáil to accept the treaty. The anti-Treaty IRA formed their own "Army Executive", which they declared to be the real government of the country, despite the result of the 1921 general election
Irish elections, 1921
Two elections in Ireland took place in 1921, as a result of the Government of Ireland Act 1920 to establish the House of Commons of Northern Ireland and the House of Commons of Southern Ireland. The election was used by Irish Republicans as the basis of membership of the Second Dáil...

. On 26 April, the Minister of Defence, Richard Mulcahy
Richard Mulcahy
Richard James Mulcahy was an Irish politician, army general and commander in chief, leader of Fine Gael and Cabinet Minister...

, summarised alleged illegal activities by many IRA men over the previous three months, whom he described as 'seceding volunteers', including hundreds of robberies. Yet this fragmenting army was the only police force on the ground following the disintegration of the Irish Republican Police
Irish Republican Police
The Irish Republican Police was the police force of the 1919-1922 Irish Republic and was administered by the Department for Home Affairs of that government.-Foundation:...

 and the disbanding of the Royal Irish Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary
The armed Royal Irish Constabulary was Ireland's major police force for most of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police controlled the capital, and the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police...

 (RIC).

By putting ten questions to General Mulcahy on 28 April, Seán McEntee argued that the Army Executive had acted continuously on its own to create a republic since 1917, had an unaltered constitution, had never fallen under the control of the Dáil, and that: "the only body competent to dissolve the Volunteer Executive was a duly convened convention of the Irish Republican Army" – not the Dáil. By accepting the treaty in January and abandoning the republic, the Dáil majority had effectively deserted the Army Executive. Then, in a debate on defence, McEntee suggested that supporting the Army Executive "... even if it meant the scrapping of the Treaty and terrible and immediate war with England, would be better than the civil war which we are beginning at present apparently." McEntee's supporters added that the many robberies complained of by Mulcahy on 26 April were caused by the lack of payment and provision by the Dáil to the volunteers.

Descent into war

In the months leading up to the outbreak of civil war, there were a number of armed confrontations between the opposing IRA factions. In March, there was a major stand-off between up to 700 armed pro- and anti-treaty fighters in Limerick
Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

 over who would occupy the military barracks being vacated by departing British troops. The situation was temporarily resolved in April when, after arbitration, the two sides agreed to occupy two barracks each. In April, a pro-treaty general, Adamson, was shot dead by anti-treatyites in Athlone. In early May, there was an even more serious clash in Kilkenny
Kilkenny
Kilkenny is a city and is the county town of the eponymous County Kilkenny in Ireland. It is situated on both banks of the River Nore in the province of Leinster, in the south-east of Ireland...

, when anti-treaty forces occupied the centre of the town and 200 pro-treaty troops were sent from Dublin to disperse them. On 3 May, the Dáil was informed 18 men had been killed in the fighting in Kilkenny. In a bid to avoid an all-out civil war, both sides agreed to a truce on 3 May 1922.

Delay until the June election

Collins established an "army re-unification committee" to re-unite the IRA and organised an election pact with de Valera's anti-treaty political followers to campaign jointly in the Free State's first election in 1922
Irish general election, 1922
The Irish general election of 1922 took place in Southern Ireland on 16 June 1922, under the provisions of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty to elect a constituent assembly paving the way for the formal establishment of the Irish Free State...

 and form a coalition government afterwards. He also tried to reach a compromise with anti-treaty IRA leaders by agreeing to a republican-type constitution (with no mention of the British monarchy) for the new state. IRA leaders such as Liam Lynch
Liam Lynch (general)
Liam Lynch was an officer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the commanding general of the anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army during the Irish Civil War.-Early life:...

 were prepared to accept this compromise. However, the proposal for a republican constitution was vetoed by the British as being contrary to the terms of the treaty and they threatened military intervention in the Free State unless the treaty were fully implemented. Collins reluctantly agreed. This completely undermined the electoral pact between the pro- and anti-treaty factions, who went into the Irish general election on 18 June 1922 as hostile parties, both calling themselves Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

.

The Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin party won the election with 239,193 votes to 133,864 for Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin. A further 247,226 people voted for other parties, most of whom supported the Treaty (although Labour's 132,570 votes were ambiguous with regard to the Treaty). The election showed that a majority of the Irish electorate accepted the treaty and the foundation of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

, but de Valera, his political followers and most of the IRA continued to oppose the treaty. De Valera is quoted as saying, "the majority have no right to do wrong".

Meanwhile, under the leadership of Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

, the pro-treaty Provisional Government set about establishing the Irish Free State, and organised the National Army
Irish Army
The Irish Army, officially named simply the Army is the main branch of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army, divided into three infantry Brigades...

 – to replace the IRA – and a new police force. However, since it was envisaged that the new army would be built around the IRA, Anti-Treaty IRA units were allowed to take over British barracks and take their arms. In practice, this meant that by the summer of 1922, the Provisional Government of the Free State controlled only Dublin and some other areas like County Longford
County Longford
County Longford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Longford.Longford County Council is the local authority for the county...

 where the IRA units supported the treaty. Fighting would ultimately break out when the Provisional Government tried to assert its authority over well-armed and intransigent Anti-Treaty IRA units around the country – particularly a hardline group in Dublin.

Dublin fighting


On 14 April 1922, 200 Anti-Treaty IRA militants, led by Rory O'Connor
Rory O'Connor (Irish republican)
Rory O'Connor was an Irish republican activist. He is best remembered for his role in the Irish Civil War 1922-1923, which led to his execution.-Background:...

, occupied the Four Courts
Four Courts
The Four Courts in Dublin is the Republic of Ireland's main courts building. The Four Courts are the location of the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Dublin Circuit Court. The building until 2010 also formerly was the location for the Central Criminal Court.-Gandon's Building:Work based on...

 and several other buildings in central Dublin, resulting in a tense stand-off. These anti-treaty Republicans wanted to spark a new armed confrontation with the British, which they hoped would unite the two factions of the IRA against their common enemy. However, for those who were determined to make the Free State into a viable, self-governing Irish state, this was an act of rebellion that would have to be put down by them rather than the British.

Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

 was in favour of using force against these men immediately, but Michael Collins, who wanted at all costs to avoid civil war, left the Four Courts garrison alone until late June 1922. By this point the Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin party had secured a large majority in the general election
Irish general election, 1922
The Irish general election of 1922 took place in Southern Ireland on 16 June 1922, under the provisions of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty to elect a constituent assembly paving the way for the formal establishment of the Irish Free State...

, along with other parties that supported the Treaty. Collins was also coming under continuing pressure from London to assert his government's authority in his capital.

The British lost patience as a result of an action secretly ordered by Collins. He had Henry Hughes Wilson, a retired British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 field marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 and a prominent security advisor to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland James Craig
James Craig
-Public officials:*James Henry Craig , British soldier and colonial administrator*James Craig , British politician*James Craig , Canadian politician...

, assassinated in London on 22 June because of his role in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 assumed that the Anti-Treaty IRA were responsible for the killing and warned Collins that he would use British troops to attack the Four Courts unless the Free State took action. In fact, the British cabinet actually resolved to attack the Four Courts themselves on 25 June, in an operation that would have involved tanks, howitzers and aeroplanes. However, on the advice of General Nevil Macready
Nevil Macready
General Sir Cecil Frederick Nevil Macready, 1st Baronet, GCMG, KCB, PC , known as Sir Nevil Macready and affectionately as Make-Ready , was a British Army officer...

, who commanded the British garrison in Dublin, the plan was cancelled at the last minute. Macready's argument was that British involvement would have united Irish Nationalist opinion against the treaty, and instead Collins was given a last chance to clear the Four Courts himself.

The final straw for the Free State government came on 27 June, when the Four Courts republican garrison kidnapped JJ "Ginger" O'Connell
JJ "Ginger" O'Connell
JJ Ginger O'Connell was a Lieutenant General in the Irish Defence Forces.Born in county Mayo and educated at University College Dublin, he spent the years 1912-1914 in the United States Army....

, a general in the new National Army
Irish Army
The Irish Army, officially named simply the Army is the main branch of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army, divided into three infantry Brigades...

. Collins, after giving the Four Courts garrison a final ultimatum to leave the building, decided to end the stand-off by bombarding the Four Courts garrison into surrender. The government then appointed Collins as Commander-in-Chief of the National Army. This attack was not the opening shot of the war, as skirmishes had taken place between pro- and anti-treaty IRA factions throughout the country when the British were handing over the barracks. However, this represented the 'point of no return', when all-out war was ipso facto declared and the Civil War officially began.

Collins had accepted a British offer of artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 for use by the new army of the Free State, though General Macready gave just 200 shells of the 10,000 he had in store at Kilmainham
Kilmainham
Kilmainham is a suburb of Dublin south of the River Liffey and west of the city centre, in the Dublin 8 postal district.-History:In the Viking era, the monastery was home to the first Norse base in Ireland....

 barracks. The anti-treaty forces in the Four Courts, who possessed only small arms, surrendered after two days of bombardment and the storming of the building by Free State troops (June 28–30, 1922). Shortly before the surrender of the Four Courts, a massive explosion destroyed the western wing of the complex, including the Irish Public Record Office (PRO), injuring many advancing Free State soldiers and destroying the records of several centuries of government in Ireland. Government supporters alleged that the building had been deliberately mined. Historians dispute whether the PRO was intentionally destroyed by mines laid by the Republicans on their evacuation or if the explosions occurred when their ammunition store was accidentally ignited by the bombardment.

Pitched battles continued in Dublin until 5 July, as Anti-Treaty IRA units from the Dublin Brigade, led by Oscar Traynor
Oscar Traynor
Oscar Traynor was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and revolutionary. He served in a number of Cabinet positions, most notably as the country's longest-serving Minister for Defence....

, occupied O'Connell Street
O'Connell Street
O'Connell Street is Dublin's main thoroughfare. It measures 49 m in width at its southern end, 46 m at the north, and is 500 m in length...

 – provoking a week's more street fighting. The fighting cost both sides 65 killed and 280 wounded. Among the dead was Republican leader Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha was an Irish revolutionary and politician, active in the Easter Rising, Irish War of Independence, and the Irish Civil War and was the first Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann.-Background:...

, who made his last stand after exiting the Granville Hotel. In addition, the Free State took over 500 Republican prisoners. The civilian casualties are estimated to have numbered well over 250.
When the fighting in Dublin died down, the Free State government was left firmly in control of the Irish capital and the anti-treaty forces dispersed around the country, mainly to the south and west.

The opposing forces

The outbreak of the Civil War forced pro- and anti-treaty supporters to choose sides. Supporters of the treaty came to be known as "pro-treaty" or "Free State Army", legally the "National Army
Irish Army
The Irish Army, officially named simply the Army is the main branch of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army, divided into three infantry Brigades...

", and were often called "Staters" by their opponents. The latter called themselves "Republicans" and were also known as "anti-treaty" forces, or "Irregulars", a term preferred by the Free State side. The Anti-Treaty IRA claimed that it was defending the Irish Republic that had been declared in 1916 during the Easter Rising
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

, that had been confirmed by the First Dáil
First Dáil
The First Dáil was Dáil Éireann as it convened from 1919–1921. In 1919 candidates who had been elected in the Westminster elections of 1918 refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and instead assembled as a unicameral, revolutionary parliament called "Dáil Éireann"...

 and that had been invalidly set aside by those who accepted the compromise of the Free State. Éamon de Valera stated that he would serve as an ordinary IRA volunteer and left the leadership of the Anti-Treaty Republicans to military leaders such as Liam Lynch
Liam Lynch (general)
Liam Lynch was an officer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the commanding general of the anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army during the Irish Civil War.-Early life:...

, the IRA Chief of Staff.

The Civil War split the IRA. When the Civil War broke out, the Anti-Treaty IRA (concentrated in the south and west) outnumbered the pro-Free State forces by roughly 15,000 men to 7,000 or over 2-1. (The paper strength of the IRA in early 1922 was over 72,000 men, but most of them were recruited during the truce with the British and fought in neither the War of Independence nor the Civil War). However, the Anti-Treaty IRA lacked an effective command structure, a clear strategy and sufficient arms. They started the war with only 6,780 rifles and a handful of machine guns. Many of their fighters were armed only with shotguns. They also took a handful of armoured cars from British troops as they were evacuating the country. More important still, they had no artillery of any kind. As a result, they were forced to adopt a defensive stance throughout the war.

By contrast, the Free State government managed to expand its forces dramatically after the start of the war. Michael Collins and his commanders were able to build up an army which was able to overwhelm their opponents in the field. British supplies of artillery, aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

, armoured cars, machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

s, small arms
Small arms
Small arms is a term of art used by armed forces to denote infantry weapons an individual soldier may carry. The description is usually limited to revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, battle rifles, multiple barrel firearms, sniper rifles, squad automatic weapons, light...

 and ammunition
Ammunition
Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

 were much help to pro-treaty forces. The National Army amounted to 14,000 men by August 1922, was 38,000 strong by the end of 1922, and by the end of the war it had swollen to 55,000 men and 3,500 officers, far in excess of what the Irish state would need to maintain in peacetime. Collins' most ruthless officers and men were recruited from the Dublin "Active Service Unit" (the elite unit of the IRA's Dublin Brigade), which Collins had commanded in the Irish War of Independence and in particular from his assassination unit, "The Squad". In the new National Army, they were known as the Dublin Guard
Dublin Guard
The Dublin Guard was a unit of the Irish Republican Army, in the Irish War of Independence and then of the Irish National Army during the Irish Civil War 1922-23.-Foundation:...

. Towards the end of the war, they were implicated in some notorious atrocities against anti-treaty guerrillas. Most of the National Army's officers were Pro-Treaty IRA men, as were a substantial number of their soldiers. However, many of the new army's other recruits were unemployed veterans of the First World War, where they had served in the Irish Division
British 16th (Irish) Division
The 16th Division was a voluntary 'Service' division of Kitchener's New Army raised in Ireland from the 'National Volunteers', initially in September 1914, after the outbreak of the Great War...

 of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

. Former British Army officers were also recruited for their technical expertise. A number of the senior Free State commanders such as Emmet Dalton
Emmet Dalton
Emmet Dalton was an Irish soldier and film producer. He served in the British Army in the First World War, reaching the rank of Major. However, on his return to Ireland he became one of the senior figures in the Dublin Brigade of the guerrilla Irish Republican Army which fought against British...

, John T. Prout
John T. Prout
John T. Prout was an Irish American soldier. He held one of the senior commands in the Irish Army during the Irish Civil War...

 and W.R.E. Murphy
W.R.E. Murphy
William Richard English Murphy known as W.R.E. Murphy was an Irish soldier and policeman. He served as an officer with the British Army in the First World War and later in the Irish Army in the Irish Civil War. In the Civil War he was second in overall command of the National Army from January to...

 had seen service as officers in World War One, Dalton and Murphy in the British Army and Prout in the US Army. The Republicans made much use of this fact in their propaganda — claiming that the Free State was only a proxy force for Britain itself. However, in fact, the majority of the Free State soldiers were raw recruits without military experience in either the First World War or the subsequent Irish War of Independence.

The Free State takes major towns


With Dublin in pro-treaty hands, conflict spread throughout the country. The war started with the anti-treaty forces holding Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, Limerick
Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

 and Waterford
Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

 as part of a self-styled "Munster Republic
Munster Republic
The Munster Republic was an informal and affectionate term used by Irish republicans to refer to the territory they held in the province of Munster at the start of the Irish Civil War...

". However, since the anti-treaty side were not equipped to wage conventional war, Liam Lynch was unable to take advantage of the Republicans' initial advantage in numbers and territory held. He hoped simply to hold the "Munster Republic" long enough to force Britain to re-negotiate the treaty.

The large towns in Ireland were all relatively easily taken by the Free State in August 1922. Michael Collins, Richard Mulcahy and Eoin O'Duffy
Eoin O'Duffy
Eoin O'Duffy was in succession a Teachta Dála , the Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army , the second Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, leader of the Army Comrades Association and then the first leader of Fine Gael , before leading the Irish Brigade to fight for Francisco Franco during...

 planned a nationwide Free State offensive, dispatching columns overland to take Limerick in the west and Waterford in the south-east and seaborne forces to take counties Cork and Kerry
County Kerry
Kerry means the "people of Ciar" which was the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective...

 in the south and Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

 in the west. In the south, landings occurred at Union Hall in Co. Cork and Fenit, the port of Tralee, in Co. Kerry. Limerick fell on 20 July, Waterford on the same day and Cork city on 10 August after a Free State force landed by sea at Passage West
Passage West
Passage West is a port town in County Cork, Ireland, situated on the west bank of Cork Harbour. It is some 10 km from Cork city, separated by the green belt from the urban sprawl of Douglas and Rochestown. The town has many services, amenities and social outlets...

. Another seaborne expedition to Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

 in the west secured government control over that part of the country. While in some places the Republicans had put up determined resistance, nowhere were they able to defeat regular forces armed with artillery and armour. The only real conventional battle during the Free State offensive, the Battle of Killmallock, was fought when Free State troops advanced south from Limerick.

Guerrilla war

Government victories in the major towns inaugurated a period of guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

. After the fall of Cork, Liam Lynch ordered Anti-Treaty IRA units to disperse and form flying columns as they had when fighting the British. They held out in areas such as the western part of counties Cork and Kerry in the south, county Wexford
County Wexford
County Wexford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the South-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Wexford. In pre-Norman times it was part of the Kingdom of Uí Cheinnselaig, whose capital was at Ferns. Wexford County Council is the local...

 in the east and counties Sligo and Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

 in the west. Sporadic fighting also took place around Dundalk
Dundalk
Dundalk is the county town of County Louth in Ireland. It is situated where the Castletown River flows into Dundalk Bay. The town is close to the border with Northern Ireland and equi-distant from Dublin and Belfast. The town's name, which was historically written as Dundalgan, has associations...

, where Frank Aiken
Frank Aiken
Frank Aiken was a commander of the Irish Republican Army and later an Irish politician. A founding-member of Fianna Fáil, Aiken was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1923 and at each subsequent election until 1973...

 and the Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army
Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army
The Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army operated in an area covering parts of counties Louth, Armagh, Monaghan, and Down. Frank Aiken was commander and Padraig Quinn was the quartermaster general. John McCoy was Adjutant General for the division; after he was shot and captured by...

 were based, and Dublin, where small scale but regular attacks were mounted on Free State troops.

August and September 1922 saw widespread attacks on Free State forces in the territories they had occupied in the July–August offensive, inflicting heavy casualties on them. Commander-in-Chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

 was killed in an ambush by anti-treaty Republicans at Béal na mBláth, near his home in County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

, in August 1922. Collins' death increased the bitterness of the Free State leadership towards the Republicans and probably contributed to the subsequent descent of the conflict into a cycle of atrocities and reprisals. Arthur Griffith, the Free State president, had also died of a brain haemorrhage ten days before, leaving the Free State government in the hands of W. T. Cosgrave and the Free State army under the command of General Richard Mulcahy
Richard Mulcahy
Richard James Mulcahy was an Irish politician, army general and commander in chief, leader of Fine Gael and Cabinet Minister...

. For a brief period, with rising casualties among its troops and its two principal leaders dead, it looked as if the Free State might collapse.

However, as winter set in the republicans found it increasingly difficult to sustain their campaign, and casualty rates among National Army troops dropped rapidly. For instance, in County Sligo, 54 people died in the conflict, of whom all but 8 had been killed by the end of September.

In the autumn and winter of 1922, Free State forces broke up many of the larger Republican guerrilla units – in Sligo, Meath, and Connemara in the west, for example, and in much of Dublin city. Elsewhere, Anti-Treaty units were forced by lack of supplies and safe-houses to disperse into smaller groups, typically of nine to ten men. Despite these successes for the National Army, it took eight more months of intermittent warfare before the war was brought to an end.

By late 1922 and early 1923, the Anti Treaty guerrillas' campaign had been reduced largely to acts of sabotage and destruction of public infrastructure such as roads and railways. It was also in this period that the Anti-Treaty IRA began burning the homes of Free State Senators and of many of the Anglo-Irish landed class.

In October 1922, Éamon de Valera and the anti-treaty TDs
Teachta Dála
A Teachta Dála , usually abbreviated as TD in English, is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas . It is the equivalent of terms such as "Member of Parliament" or "deputy" used in other states. The official translation of the term is "Deputy to the Dáil", though a more literal...

 (Members of Parliament) set up their own "Republican government" in opposition to the Free State. However, by then the anti-treaty side held no significant territory and de Valera's "government" had no authority over the population. In any case, the IRA leaders paid no attention to it, seeing the Republican authority as vested in their own military leaders.

Atrocities and executions


The final phase of the Civil War degenerated into a series of atrocities that left a lasting legacy of bitterness in Irish politics. The Free State began executing Republican prisoners on 17 November 1922, when five IRA men were shot by firing squad. They were followed on 24 November by the execution of acclaimed author and treaty negotiator Robert Erskine Childers
Robert Erskine Childers
Robert Erskine Childers DSC , universally known as Erskine Childers, was the author of the influential novel Riddle of the Sands and an Irish nationalist who smuggled guns to Ireland in his sailing yacht Asgard. He was executed by the authorities of the nascent Irish Free State during the Irish...

. In all, the Free State sanctioned 77 official executions of anti-treaty prisoners during the Civil War. The Anti-Treaty IRA in reprisal assassinated TD Seán Hales
Sean Hales
Sean Hales was an Irish political activist in the early 20th century. Hales was born in Ballinadee, County Cork, where he and his brothers Tom, Donal and Robert were involved in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence.At the 1921 elections Hales was elected to the Second...

.

On 7 December 1922, the day after Hales' killing, four prominent Republicans (one from each province
Provinces of Ireland
Ireland has historically been divided into four provinces: Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, literally meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five; the fifth province, Meath, was incorporated into Leinster, with parts going to...

), who had been held since the first week of the war—Rory O'Connor
Rory O'Connor (Irish republican)
Rory O'Connor was an Irish republican activist. He is best remembered for his role in the Irish Civil War 1922-1923, which led to his execution.-Background:...

, Liam Mellows
Liam Mellows
Liam Mellows was an Irish Republican and Sinn Féin politician. Born in England, Mellows grew up in County Wexford in Ireland. He was active with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and Irish Volunteers, and participated in the Easter Rising in County Galway, and the War of Independence...

, Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett (Irish Republican)
Richard Barrett was a prominent Irish Republican Army volunteer who was executed during the Irish Civil War in 1922.-War of Independence:...

 and Joe McKelvey
Joe McKelvey
Joe McKelvey was an Irish Republican Army officer who was executed during the Irish Civil War. He participated in the anti-Treaty IRA's repudiation of the authority of the Dáil in March 1922 and was elected to the IRA Army Executive...

 — were executed in revenge for the killing of Hales. In addition, Free State troops, particularly in County Kerry
County Kerry
Kerry means the "people of Ciar" which was the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective...

, where the guerrilla campaign was most bitter, began the summary execution
Summary execution
A summary execution is a variety of execution in which a person is killed on the spot without trial or after a show trial. Summary executions have been practiced by the police, military, and paramilitary organizations and are associated with guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency, terrorism, and...

 of captured anti-treaty fighters. The most notorious example of this occurred at Ballyseedy, where nine Republican prisoners were tied to a landmine
Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

, which was detonated, killing eight and only leaving one, Stephen Fuller
Stephen Fuller
Stephen Fuller was an Irish Fianna Fáil Party politician who served as TD for the Kerry North constituency.Fuller served in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence . He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922 and fought in the Anti-Treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War...

, who was blown clear by the blast, to escape.

The number of "unauthorised" executions of Republican prisoners during the war has been put as high as 153. Among the Republican reprisals were the assassination of Kevin O'Higgins' father and WT Cosgrave's uncle in February 1923.

The Anti-Treaty IRA were unable to maintain an effective guerrilla campaign, given the gradual loss of support. The Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 also supported the Free State, deeming it the lawful government of the country, denouncing the Anti-Treaty IRA and refusing to administer the Sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s to anti-treaty fighters. On 10 October 1922, the Catholic Bishops of Ireland issued a formal statement, describing the anti-treaty campaign as,
a system of murder and assassination of the National forces without any legitimate authority... the guerrilla warfare now being carried on [by] the Irregulars is without moral sanction and therefore the killing of National soldiers is murder before God, the seizing of public and private property is robbery, the breaking of roads, bridges and railways is criminal. All who in contravention of this teaching, participate in such crimes are guilty of grievous sins and may not be absolved in Confession
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

 nor admitted to the Holy Communion if they persist in such evil courses.


Churchmen were appalled by the ruthlessness and cruelty. The Church's support for the Free State aroused bitter hostility among some republicans. Although the Catholic Church in independent Ireland has often been seen as a triumphalist Church, a recent study has found that it felt deeply insecure after these events.

End of the war

By early 1923, the offensive capability of the Anti-Treaty IRA had been seriously eroded and when, in February 1923, Republican leader Liam Deasy
Liam Deasy
Liam Deasy was an Irish Republican Army officer in the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War of the 1920s.Deasy was born in Bandon in County Cork in 1898....

 was captured by Free State forces, he called on the republicans to end their campaign and reach an accommodation with the Free State. The State's executions of Anti-Treaty prisoners, 34 of whom were shot in January 1923, also took its toll on the Republicans' morale.

In addition, the National Army's operations in the field were slowly but steadily breaking up the remaining Republican concentrations.

March and April 1923 saw this progressive dismemberment of the Republican forces continue with the capture and sometimes killing of guerrilla columns. A National Army report of 11 April stated, "Events of the last few days point to the beginning of the end as a far as the irregular campaign is concerned".

As the conflict petered out into a de facto victory for the pro-treaty side, de Valera asked the IRA leadership to call a ceasefire, but they refused. The Anti-Treaty IRA executive met on 26 March in county Tipperary to discuss the war's future. Tom Barry proposed a motion to end the war, but it was defeated by 6 votes to 5. Éamon de Valera was allowed to attend, after some debate, but was given no voting rights.

Liam Lynch
Liam Lynch (general)
Liam Lynch was an officer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the commanding general of the anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army during the Irish Civil War.-Early life:...

, the intransigent Republican leader, was killed in a skirmish in the Knockmealdown mountains in County Tipperary
County Tipperary
County Tipperary is a county of Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster and is named after the town of Tipperary. The area of the county does not have a single local authority; local government is split between two authorities. In North Tipperary, part of the Mid-West Region, local...

 on 10 April. The National Army had extracted information from Republican prisoners in Dublin that the IRA Executive was in the area and as well as killing Lynch, they also captured senior Anti-Treaty IRA officers Dan Breen
Dan Breen
Daniel "Dan" Breen was a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. In later years, he was a Fianna Fáil politician.-Background:...

, Todd Andrews
Todd Andrews
Christopher Stephen "Todd" Andrews was an Irish political activist and public servant. He participated in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War as a political and military activist in the Irish Republican movement. Todd Andrews never ran for election and was never a government minister...

, Seán Gaynor and Frank Barrett
Frank Barrett
Francis Joseph Barrett , born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals , Boston Red Sox , Boston Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates ....

 in the operation.

It is often suggested that the death of Lynch allowed the more pragmatic Frank Aiken
Frank Aiken
Frank Aiken was a commander of the Irish Republican Army and later an Irish politician. A founding-member of Fianna Fáil, Aiken was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1923 and at each subsequent election until 1973...

, who took over as IRA Chief of Staff, to call a halt to what seemed a futile struggle. Aiken's accession to IRA leadership was followed on 30 April by the declaration of a ceasefire
Ceasefire
A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. Ceasefires may be declared as part of a formal treaty, but they have also been called as part of an informal understanding between opposing forces...

 on behalf of the anti-treaty forces. On 24 May 1923, Aiken followed this with an order to IRA volunteers to dump arms rather than surrender them or continue a fight which they were incapable of winning.

Aftermath of the ceasefire

Éamon de Valera supported the order, issuing a statement to Anti-Treaty fighters on 24 May;

Thousands of Anti-Treaty IRA members (including Éamon de Valera on 15 August) were arrested by the Free State forces in the weeks and months after the end of the war, when they had dumped their arms and returned home.

The Free State government had started peace negotiations in early May which broke down. Without a formal peace, holding 13,000 prisoners and worried that fighting could break out again at any time, it enacted the Emergency Powers Act on 2 July by a vote of 37 – 13.

Shortly following the end of the civil war, a General Election
Irish general election, 1923
The Irish general election of 1923 was held on 27 August 1923. The newly elected members of the 4th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 19 September when the new President of the Executive Council and Executive Council of the Irish Free State were appointed. The election was held just after the end...

 was held, which Cumann na nGaedheal, the pro-Free State party, won with about 40% of the vote. The Republicans, represented by Sinn Féin, won about 27% of the vote. Many of their candidates and supporters were still imprisoned before during and after the election.

In October 1923 around 8,000 of the 12,000 Republican prisoners in Free State gaols went on hunger strike. The strike lasted for forty one days and met little success. However, most of the women prisoners were released shortly thereafter and the hunger strike helped concentrate the Republican movement on the prisoners and their associated organisations. In July de Valera had recognised the Republican political interests lay with the prisoners and went so far as to say:

Attacks on former Loyalists

Although the cause of the Civil War was the Treaty, as the war developed the Republicans sought to identify their actions with the traditional Republican cause of the "men of no property" and the result was that large Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish was a term used primarily in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify a privileged social class in Ireland, whose members were the descendants and successors of the Protestant Ascendancy, mostly belonging to the Church of Ireland, which was the established church of Ireland until...

 landowners and some not very well-off former Protestant Loyalists
Ulster loyalism
Ulster loyalism is an ideology that is opposed to a united Ireland. It can mean either support for upholding Northern Ireland's status as a constituent part of the United Kingdom , support for Northern Ireland independence, or support for loyalist paramilitaries...

 were attacked. A total of 192 "stately homes" of the old landed class were destroyed by Republicans during the war.

The stated reason for such attacks was that some landowners had become Free State senators. In October 1922, a deputation of Southern Unionists met WT Cosgrave to offer their support to the Free State and some of them had received positions in the State's Upper House
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

 or Senate. Among the prominent senators whose homes were attacked were: Palmerstown House near Naas
Naas
Naas is the county town of County Kildare in Ireland. With a population of just over twenty thousand, it is also the largest town in the county. Naas is a major commuter suburb, with many people residing there and working in Dublin...

 which belonged to the Earl of Mayo
Earl of Mayo
Earl of the County of Mayo, usually known simply as Earl of Mayo, is a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1785 for John Bourke, 1st Viscount Mayo, for many years First Commissioner of Revenue in Ireland...

, Moore Hall
Moore Hall, County Mayo
Moore Hall, or Moorehall, the house and estate of George Henry Moore and family, is situated in the barony of Carra, County Mayo in a karst limestone landscape. The Moores were an aristocratic Irish family who built Moore Hall between 1792 and 1795. The first Moore of Moore Hall was George Moore,...

 in Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

 (the house of Oliver St. John Gogarty
Oliver St. John Gogarty
Oliver Joseph St John Gogarty was an Irish poet, author, otolaryngologist, athlete, politician, and well-known conversationalist, who served as the inspiration for Buck Mulligan in James Joyce's novel Ulysses....

, who also survived an assassination attempt), Horace Plunkett (who had helped to establish the rural co-operative schemes), and Senator Henry Guinness
Henry Guinness
Henry Seymour Guinness was an Irish politician and was formerly the Governor of the Bank of Ireland.-Public Life:...

 (which was unsuccessful). Also burned was Marlfield House in Clonmel
Clonmel
Clonmel is the county town of South Tipperary in Ireland. It is the largest town in the county. While the borough had a population of 15,482 in 2006, another 17,008 people were in the rural hinterland. The town is noted in Irish history for its resistance to the Cromwellian army which sacked both...

, the home of Senator John Philip Bagwell
John Philip Bagwell
John Philip Bagwell DL was the son of Richard Bagwell and Harriette Philippa Jocelyn Newton. The Bagwells of Marlfield could trace their arrival in Ireland to John Bagwell , a Captain in Cromwell's New Model Army.- Business :John Bagwell was general manager of Ireland's Great Northern Railways ...

 with its extensive library of historical documents. Bagwell was kidnapped and held in the Dublin Mountains, but later released when reprisals were threatened.

However, in addition to their allegiance to the Free State, there were also other factors behind Republican animosity towards the old landed class. Many, but not all of these people, had supported the Crown forces during the War of Independence. This support was often largely moral, but sometimes it took the form of actively assisting the British in the conflict. Such attacks should have ended with the Truce of 11 July 1921, but they continued after the truce and escalated during the Civil War. In July 1922, Con Moloney, the anti-treaty IRA's Deputy Chief of Staff, ordered that unionist property should be seized to accommodate their men. The "worst spell" of attacks on former unionist property came in the early months of 1923, 37 "big houses" being burnt in January and February alone.

Though the Wyndham Act of 1903 allowed tenants to buy land from their landlords, some small farmers, particularly in Mayo and Galway, simply occupied land belonging to political opponents during this period when the RIC
Royal Irish Constabulary
The armed Royal Irish Constabulary was Ireland's major police force for most of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police controlled the capital, and the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police...

 had ceased to function. In 1919, senior Sinn Féin officials were sufficiently concerned at this unilateral action that they instituted Arbitration Courts
Dáil Courts
During the Irish War of Independence, the Dáil Courts were the judicial branch of government of the short-lived Irish Republic. They were formally established by a decree of the First Dáil Éireann on 29 June 1920, replacing more limited Arbitration Courts that had been authorised a year earlier...

 to adjudicate disputes. Sometimes these attacks had sectarian overtones, although most Anti-Treaty IRA men made no distinction between Catholic and Protestant supporters of the Irish government.

In July 1922 a Protestant orphanage
Orphanage
An orphanage is a residential institution devoted to the care of orphans – children whose parents are deceased or otherwise unable or unwilling to care for them...

 near Clifden
Clifden
Clifden is a town on the coast of County Galway, Ireland and being Connemara's largest town, it is often referred to as "the Capital of Connemara". It is located on the Owenglen River where it flows into Clifden Bay...

, County Galway
County Galway
County Galway is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the city of Galway. Galway County Council is the local authority for the county. There are several strongly Irish-speaking areas in the west of the county...

, housing 58 children was burnt by the anti-treaty side. The children were subsequently transferred to England on board a British destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

 as the Provisional government was unable to rescue them. The proselytising aspect of the Society for Irish Church Missions
Irish Church Missions
The Irish Church Mission to the Roman Catholics is a conservative and semi-autonomous Anglican mission. It was founded in 1849 chiefly by English Anglicans with the backing and support of the Church of Ireland clergy and Bishops.-History:...

, which ran the institutions, had long been a source of local resentment, but it had apparently ceased proselytising in the area before 1921.

Controversy continues to this day about the extent of intimidation of Protestants at this time. Many left Ireland during and after the Civil War. Dr Andy Bielenberg of UCC considers that about 41,000 left Southern Ireland
Southern Ireland
Southern Ireland was a short-lived autonomous region of the United Kingdom established on 3 May 1921 and dissolved on 6 December 1922.Southern Ireland was established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 together with its sister region, Northern Ireland...

 (which became the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

) between 1919 and 1923, who were not linked to the former British administration. He has found that a "high watermark" of this 41,000 left between 1921 and 1923. In all, from 1911–1926, the Protestant population of the 26 counties fell from some 10.4% of the total population to 7.4%.

Casualties

The Civil War, though short, was bloody. It cost the lives of many public figures, including Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

, Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha was an Irish revolutionary and politician, active in the Easter Rising, Irish War of Independence, and the Irish Civil War and was the first Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann.-Background:...

 and Liam Lynch. Both sides carried out brutal acts: the anti-treaty forces murdered TDs and burned many historic homes, while the government executed anti-treaty prisoners
Executions during the Irish Civil War
The executions during the Irish Civil War took place during the guerrilla phase of the Irish Civil War . This phase of the war was bitter, and both sides, the government forces of the Irish Free State and the anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army insurgents, used executions and terror in what...

, officially and unofficially.

Precise figures for the dead and wounded have yet to be calculated. The pro-treaty forces may have suffered between 540–800 fatalities, and the anti-treaty forces appear to have received considerably heavier losses. There is, as yet, no figure for civilian deaths. A minimum figure of 1,000 and a maximum figure of 4,000 deaths (including both combatant sides and civilians) have been suggested.

The new police force
Garda Síochána
, more commonly referred to as the Gardaí , is the police force of Ireland. The service is headed by the Commissioner who is appointed by the Irish Government. Its headquarters are located in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.- Terminology :...

 was not involved in the war, which meant that it was well-placed to develop into an unarmed and politically neutral police service after the war. It had been disarmed by the Government in order to win public confidence in June–September 1922 and in December 1922, the IRA issued a General Order not to fire on the Civil Guard. The Criminal Investigation Department
Criminal Investigation Department (Ireland)
The Criminal Investigation Department in the Irish Free State was an armed, plain-clothed counter-insurgency police unit that operated during the Irish Civil War. It was organised separately from the unarmed Civic Guard police force...

, or CID, a 350-strong, armed, plain-clothed Police Corps that had been established during the conflict for the purposes of counter-insurgency, was disbanded in October 1923, shortly after the conflict's end.

Economic costs

The economic costs of the war were also high. As their forces abandoned their fixed positions in July–August 1922, the Republicans burned many administrative buildings and businesses they had been occupying. In addition, their subsequent guerrilla campaign caused much destruction and the economy of the Free State suffered a hard blow in the earliest days of its existence as a result. The material damage caused by the war to property came to over £30 million. Particularly damaging to the Free State's economy was the systematic destruction of railway infrastructure and roads by the Republicans. In addition, the cost to the Free State of waging the war came to another £17 million. By September 1923 Deputy Hogan estimated the cost at £50 million. The new State ended 1923 with a budget deficit of over £4 million. This weakened financial situation meant that the new state could not pay its share of Imperial debt under the treaty, and this adversely affected the boundary negotiations
Boundary Commission (Ireland)
The Irish Boundary Commission was a commission which met in 1924–25 to decide on the precise delineation of the border between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland...

 in 1924–25, which left the border with Northern Ireland unchanged. Further, the state undertook to pay for damage caused to property between the truce of July 1921 and the end of the Civil War; W.T. Cosgrave
W.T. Cosgrave
William Thomas Cosgrave , known generally as W. T. Cosgrave, was an Irish politician who succeeded Michael Collins as Chairman of the Irish Provisional Government from August to December 1922. He served as the first President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1922 to...

 told the Dáil:
Every Deputy in this House is aware of the complaint which has been made that the measure of compensation for post-Truce damage compares unfavourably with the awards for damage suffered pre-Truce.

Political results

The fact that the Irish Civil War was fought between Irish Nationalist factions meant that the sporadic conflict in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 ended. Collins and Sir James Craig
James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon
James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon, PC, PC , was a prominent Irish unionist politician, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland...

 signed an agreement to end it on 30 March 1922, but despite this Collins covertly supplied arms to the Northern IRA until a week before his death in August 1922. Because of the Irish Civil War, Northern Ireland was able to consolidate its existence and the partition of Ireland was confirmed for the foreseeable future. The continuing war also confirmed the northern Unionists' existing prejudices against the ethos of all shades of nationalism. This might have led to open hostilities between North and South had the Irish Civil War not broken out. Indeed the Ulster Special Constabulary
Ulster Special Constabulary
The Ulster Special Constabulary was a reserve police force in Northern Ireland. It was set up in October 1920, shortly before the founding of Northern Ireland. It was an armed corps, organised partially on military lines and called out in times of emergency, such as war or insurgency...

 (the "B-Specials") that had been established in 1920 (on the foundation of Northern Ireland
Partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland was the division of the island of Ireland into two distinct territories, now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Partition occurred when the British Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920...

) was expanded in 1922 rather than being demobilised.

In the event, it was only well after their defeat in the Civil War that anti-treaty Irish Republicans seriously considered whether to take armed action against British rule in Northern Ireland (the first serious suggestion to do this came in the late 1930s). The northern units of the IRA largely supported the Free State side in the Civil War because of Collins's policies, and over 500 of them joined the new Free State's National Army.

The cost of the war and the budget deficit it caused was a difficulty for the new Free State and affected the Boundary Commission negotiations of 1925, which were to determine the border with Northern Ireland. The Free State agreed to waive its claim to predominantly Nationalist areas in Northern Ireland and in return its agreed share of the Imperial debt under the 1921 Treaty was not paid.
In 1926, having failed to persuade the majority of the Anti-Treaty IRA or the anti-treaty party of Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 to accept the new status quo as a basis for an evolving Republic, a large faction led by de Valera and Aiken left to resume constitutional politics and to found the Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 party. Whereas Fianna Fáil was to become the dominant party in Irish politics, Sinn Féin became a small, isolated political party. The IRA, then much more numerous and influential than Sinn Féin, remained associated with Fianna Fáil (though not directly) until banned by de Valera in 1935.

In 1927, Fianna Fáil members took the Oath of Allegiance and entered the Dáil, effectively recognising the legitimacy of the Free State. The Free State was already moving towards independence by this point. Under the Statute of Westminster 1931
Statute of Westminster 1931
The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Passed on 11 December 1931, the Act established legislative equality for the self-governing dominions of the British Empire with the United Kingdom...

, the British Parliament gave up its right to legislate for members of the British Commonwealth. When elected to power in 1932, Fianna Fáil under de Valera set about dismantling what they considered to be objectionable features of the treaty, abolishing the Oath of Allegiance, removing the power of the Office of Governor General
Governor-General of the Irish Free State
The Governor-General was the representative of the King in the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Until 1927 he was also the agent of the British government in the Irish state. By convention the office of Governor-General was largely ceremonial...

 (British representative in Ireland) and abolishing the Senate
Seanad Éireann (Irish Free State)
Seanad Éireann was the upper house of the Oireachtas of the Irish Free State from 1922–1936. It has also been known simply as the Senate, or as the First Seanad. The Senate was established under the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State but a number of constitutional amendments were...

, which was dominated by former Unionists and pro-treaty Nationalists. In 1937, they passed a new constitution
Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

 which made a President
President of Ireland
The President of Ireland is the head of state of Ireland. The President is usually directly elected by the people for seven years, and can be elected for a maximum of two terms. The presidency is largely a ceremonial office, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute...

 the head of state, did not mention any allegiance to the British monarch, and which included a territorial claim to Northern Ireland. The following year Britain returned without conditions the seaports it had kept under the terms of the treaty. Finally in 1948, a coalition government, containing elements of both sides in the Civil War (pro-treaty Fine Gael
Fine Gael
Fine Gael is a centre-right to centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland. It is the single largest party in Ireland in the Oireachtas, in local government, and in terms of Members of the European Parliament. The party has a membership of over 35,000...

 and anti-treaty Clann na Poblachta
Clann na Poblachta
Clann na Poblachta , abbreviated CnaP, was an Irish republican and social democratic political party founded by former Irish Republican Army Chief of Staff Seán MacBride in 1946.-Foundation:...

) left the British Commonwealth and re-named the Free State the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. By the 1950s the issues over which the Civil War had been fought were largely settled.

Legacy

As with most civil wars, the internecine conflict left a bitter legacy, which continues to influence Irish politics to this day. The two largest political parties in the republic through most of its history (until the 2011 Irish General Election) were Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 and Fine Gael
Fine Gael
Fine Gael is a centre-right to centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland. It is the single largest party in Ireland in the Oireachtas, in local government, and in terms of Members of the European Parliament. The party has a membership of over 35,000...

, the descendants respectively of the anti-treaty and pro-treaty forces of 1922. Until the 1970s, almost all of Ireland's prominent politicians were veterans of the Civil War, a fact which poisoned the relationship between Ireland's two biggest parties. Examples of Civil War veterans include: Republicans Éamon de Valera, Frank Aiken, Todd Andrews
Todd Andrews
Christopher Stephen "Todd" Andrews was an Irish political activist and public servant. He participated in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War as a political and military activist in the Irish Republican movement. Todd Andrews never ran for election and was never a government minister...

, and Seán Lemass
Seán Lemass
Seán Francis Lemass was one of the most prominent Irish politicians of the 20th century. He served as Taoiseach from 1959 until 1966....

; and Free State supporters W. T. Cosgrave, Richard Mulcahy and Kevin O'Higgins
Kevin O'Higgins
Kevin Christopher O'Higgins was an Irish politician who served as Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for Justice. He was part of early nationalist Sinn Féin, before going on to become a prominent member of Cumann na nGaedheal. O'Higgins initiated the An Garda Síochána police force...

. Moreover, many of these men's sons and daughters also became politicians, meaning that the personal wounds of the civil war were felt over three generations. In the 1930s, after Fianna Fáil took power for the first time, it looked possible for a while that the Civil War might break out again between the IRA and the pro-Free State Blueshirts. Fortunately, this crisis was averted, and by the 1950s violence was no longer prominent in politics in the Republic of Ireland.

However, the breakaway IRA continued (and continues in various forms) to exist. It was not until 1948 that the IRA renounced military attacks on the forces of the southern Irish state when it became the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. After this point the organisation dedicated itself primarily to the end of British rule in Northern Ireland. Up until the 1980s, the IRA Army Council
IRA Army Council
The IRA Army Council was the decision-making body of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, more commonly known as the IRA, a paramilitary group dedicated to bringing about the end of the Union between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The council had seven members, said by the...

 still claimed to be the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic declared in 1918 and annulled by the Treaty of 1921.

External links

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