In today’s episode we discuss the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, including the many controversial decisions made by DeValera during the Truce, the struggle Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Michael Collins, and Arthur Griffith faced from internal and external stakeholders during the negotiations, and the tragic fracture that occurred within the Irish people after the Dail approved the Treaty.
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The Anglo-Irish conflict, like many asymmetrical conflicts, can be confusing because of the vast amount of people and organizations involved. I have often wished there was a simple chart that I could refer to as I am reading about the conflict, so I made my own.
Thursday and Friday were some of the bloodiest days during Easter Rising. Cathal Brugha made a brilliant stand on Thursday, during the famous battle for South Dublin Union and Daly held the British forces at the Four Courts from Wednesday to Friday. Most importantly, Commander-in-chief General Sir John Maxwell arrived in Ireland on Friday. General Maxwell, perhaps, did more to ensure the spiritual and political success of the Rising than anyone else.
There are few men who participated in the Anglo-Irish War and the Irish Civil War who have as complicated a legacy as Eamon de Valera. He was a mathematics professor, last man to surrender during Easter Rising, leader of the Dáil and the IRA, instigator of the anti-treaty movement, political outcast, and Taoiseach, and, finally, president of Ireland. He did more to shape the Irish constitution and its relations with both North Ireland and England than any other single person. His decisions didn’t always make sense and he hurt his own legacy as much as it was twisted over the trauma of the civil war and his lengthy presidency. However, it is his legacy and the mythos that surrounded him that makes him an interesting historical figure to study. I will discuss his life and legacy in two different posts. This first post will discuss de Valera’s leadership during the Anglo-Irish and Civil War and the second post will de Valera’s presidency and later period of his life.