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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This is the first episode in a three part series, where we will discuss the Anglo-Irish War. Today, we review the major events that occurred in 1919 including rescuing DeValera from prison, sending DeValera to America, and the IRA ambushes at Soloheadbeg and Fermoy.
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.
As we discussed in our last post, the very secrecy needed to plan the rebellion nearly destroyed it. Despite Casement’s arrested and MacNeill’s counter-orders, Pearse and his comrades were determined to rebel. They sent out another order, telling the Volunteers to gather on Monday, 24 April 1916.
I’m writing this a little later than I wanted, but I am finally discussing the second half of de Valera’s life. My post discussing his contribution to the Anglo-Irish war and Irish Civil War can be found here. Continue reading →
Portrait of a Revolutionary General Richard Mulcahy and the Founding of the Irish Free State by Maryann Valiulis Published in 1992 by University Press of Kentucky
Richard Mulcahy is a criminally underappreciated Irishmen. Born in the 1890s and starting his career as a postal worker, he would eventually study to become an engineer, before taking part in Easter Rising, and ending up as Chief of Staff of the IRA. Working together with men like Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, and Cathal Brugha, Mulcahy struggled to install order on an unruly group of insurgents. His most important contribution to the creation of the Irish Free State, however, was his firm leadership during the Irish Civil War and the 1924 Mutiny that followed. The Mutiny pushed him to the background as De Valera took the spotlight, but Mulcahy remained a permanent feature of Irish Politics becoming party leader of Fine Gael in 1944 and serving in a various number of ministries throughout his long life. He even cobbled together a coalition government that forced De Valera’s party to the opposition in the 1948 elections. He died in 1971 at the age of 85.
Easter 1916 the Irish Rebellion by Charles Townshend. Published in 2015 by Penguin
I’m going to start this review with a warning: Charles Townshend is one of my favorite historians. I have read few historians who can take complicated messes and break them down into short, easy to understand chapters within a chapter, while also providing keen analysis and insight in a mostly unbiased way. Additionally, his book, the Rising, may or may not have saved my ass when writing my graduate paper.
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.
Eamon de Valera: A Will to Power by Ronan Fanning. Published in 2015 by Faber & Faber
Because of his many controversial decisions made during the rebellion, civil war, and his long presidency, it is hard to find an objective biography on Eamon de Valera. However, Fanning’s biography is the fairest and kindest book I’ve read on the Long Fellow.