20/9 Ireland

1909 – 1922


Ireland and England have a long history of conflict. This conflict dates back to the 1500s and

is a result of several factors:

1. English takeover –

During the time of queen Elizabeth 1, England began to take over Ireland. The Irish did

not like this and revolts broke out. The English put down these revolts, often in a very cruel manner.

2. Religion –

The fact that the English were taking over Ireland was bad enough, but religion made

this worse. The Irish people were mainly Catholic, the English were Protestant. The

English were not only taking over the country, they were also attacking Irish religion.

3. Economy –

The English took the opportunity to rip off Ireland for their own gain. They took over the

land and the Irish were either shifted on or were allowed to work on their former land as low-paid labourers. By 1800 Catholics owned only 5% of Irish land. The Irish people were very poor and in the 1850s were hit by a major disaster, the ‘potato famine’. Over a million people died in the famine, and another million left Ireland and settled in countries such as the USA and Australia.

After 1800 Ireland was officially part of England, however Irish hatred towards England remained strong, with many Irish people wanting to break away from English control.

08/10 Irish Nationalism:

Nationalism refers to the desire of people to control and run their own country. Towards the

end of the 1800s there were several nationalist groups emerging in Ireland.

1. The Fenians (I.R.B. Irish Republican Brotherhood):

The IRB were extreme nationalists. They wanted Ireland to be completely separate from

Britain and with no links to Britain in any way, i.e. they wanted Ireland to become an independent republic. The IRB aimed to bring about a republic through the use of violence, i.e. kidnappings, bombings, murders.

2. I.N.P. (Irish Nationalist Party):

This was a political party who wanted ‘Home Rule’ for Ireland.

‘Home Rule’ meant Ireland would have it’s own parliament which would control Ireland’s internal affairs, e.g. health. However aspects such as defence would still be run by Britain and Ireland would stay part of the UK. The INP hoped to bring this about legally through parliament and elections.

3. G.A.A. (Gaelic Athletic Association):

The GAA was a group mainly concerned with preserving and prompting Irish culture. They encouraged the Irish to speak Gaelic not English and also to give up English sport and instead play Irish sport.

Ulster – a different part of Ireland:

By 1900 the INP was the strongest nationalist group in Ireland. However there was one part

of Ireland which was totally opposed to ‘Home Rule’ or any form of independence, this was

the province of Ulster, located in the north of Ireland. Ulster opposed ‘Home Rule’ because:

1. The majority of the people in Ulster (about 60%) were Protestant, ‘Home Rule’ would mean that they were controlled by Catholics, or as Ulster put it, “Home Rule means Rome Rule.”

2. Ulster had been Ireland’s most prosperous province. It’s agriculture was more efficient and varied that that of the South and Ulster had built up an important industrial base. Many in Ulster saw home rule as a threat to the province’s prosperity.

Unionists were members of the Irish Loyal and Political Union; a person opposed to Home Rule.

The colour associated with Protestants was orange.

9/10 Sinn Fein:

At the start of the 20th Century the I.N.P. was the strongest political party in Ireland. In 1905

a new party was formed which was later to become very important, this was ‘Sinn Fein’

(ourselves alone).

Sinn Fein was set up by Arthur Griffith, they wanted Ireland to be independent with its own

Government but were still prepared for the monarch of Britain to also be the monarch of




No Complete

Independence Independence

I.N.P. Sinn Fein

12/10 The third home rule biU-1912:

The British Parliament is made up of 2 houses, the House of Commons and House of Lords.

A bill has to pass through both houses to become law. In 1910 the Liberal were the

Government. In that year an election was held, the election result was Liberal 273 seats,

Conservatives 273 seats. The next highest party was the INP. They now held the House of

Commons. In exchange for supporting the Liberals the INP wanted a home rule bill. In 1911

a law was passed which said the House of Lords (dominated by the Conservatives) could

only block a bill for 2 years. In 1912 the Home Rule bill was introduced, Ireland would have

Home Rule in 1914.

The leader of the INP, John Redmond now felt that Ireland was certain to get Home Rule.

However, there was a problem, Ulster had always said that it would never accept Home Rule

and from 1912 the Protestants began to prepare opposition to home rule.

15/10 Ulster’s opposition to the Home Rule bill:

Opposition to the Home Rule bill in Ulster was led by Edward Carson.

The Conservatives political party suppported the Unionists, because they could use their

opposition against Home rule to their political advantage, in the hope that it would bring down

the Liberal Government.

The ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ was a document which pledged those who signed it to

“use all means which may be found necessary: to oppose Home Rule. About 450,000 people

signed the document, some in their own blood.

The ‘Ulster Volunteer Force’ was a private army to give military muscle to Unionist demands.

More Armies - 1913 – 14:

In 1913 Eion MacNeill set up the “Irish Volunteers”. This was another army whose purpose

was to oppose the ‘Ulster Volunteers’ and help bring in Home Rule. MacNeill hoped that his

army would not have to be used, however he was unaware that soon after its formation, the

“Irish volunteers” was being infiltrated (taken over) by the I.R.B.

The Irish Citizen Army (I.C.A.) – about the same time another army was created by James

Connolly. This was the I.C.A., which was originally set up to protect striking workers.

However, Connolly hoped one day that it would be used to help bring about a socialist

republic in Ireland. This army was small but it was well-equipped and organised.

17/10 Gun Running – 1914:

Gun running – illegally bringing (smuggling) guns into a country.

Germany supplied guns to the Ulster Volunteers and Irish volunteers.

The Ulster Volunteers smuggled in 25000 rifles through the Port of Larne.

The Irish Volunteers smuggle din 900 rifles through the Port of Howth (near Dublin).

The Army and Police made no attempt to intervene the smuggling of rifles by the Ulser

Volunteers, however they tried to stop the Irish Volunteers. This was because many soldiers

and policemen were British, who were keen to support the Ulster volunteers in promoting the

continued union of Ireland and Britain, as well as the Protestant religion.

Bachelor’s walk massacre;

When the Army, which had tried to stop the Irish volunteers smuggling guns, was walking

back to base, they were abused by some members of the Catholic population. Some of the soldiers responded by opening fire, and three people were killed. This incident, which took

place at Bachelor’s Walk, increased anti-British feeling amongst the Catholics.

Curragh Mutiny:

Curragh was the main British army base in Ireland. In early 1914, 59 British army officers said

they would refuse to enforce home rule in Ulster. This was a threatened mutiny and it showed

that the British Government would have difficulty enforcing Home Rule.


Against Home rule

For Home Rule

For more than Home Rule

Ulster Volunteers

British Conservatives

Curragh Officers


Irish Volunteers

Eion MacNeill

John Redmond



James Connolly

Sinn Fein

Arthur Griffith


To brew up a good civil war, you need ingredients:

• a cause – the Home rule bill being brought in.

• several armies – Ulster Volunteers, Irish Volunteers, I.C.A., British Army.

• weapon supplies – imported rifles and ammunition from Germany.

• lack of outside authority – Britain. (army – Curragh mutiny).

World War One:

By mid 1914 the British Prime Minister (Asquith) was very concerned about the prospect of

civil war in Ireland. Asquith comes p with the solution of partition, i.e. let Ulster stay part of

Britain and give the rest of Ireland Home rule. Carson agrees, but Redmond objects, however

under pressure he reluctantly accepts the idea. A new argument then develops over how long

Ulster should stay part of Britain. This is till undecided when World Warn One breaks out and

the whole issue is put on hold until the war is over. The big loser in these negotiations is

Redmond, because he has failed to bring into Ireland what he has promised as a political

leader (Home Rule to the whole of Ireland by 1914), and as a result his reputation has gone


Cartoon interpretation:

1. Home Rule bill

2. process that the Home Rule Bill must go through to become law.

3. Liberal party (INP).

4. Redmond has been “kicking” the Home Rule Bill to make it get through faster and

ensure that it finishes the “course”.

5. No – horse has injuries.

- comment from horse “I can!” whilst looking at spurs.

World War One – we will fight?

Yes No

• Ulster volunteers • a small group of Irish

& Unionists. (very Volunteers refuse to

loyal to Britain). fight, and they keep

• Most of the Irish name.

Volunters (“to show • Sinn Fein believe that

they deserve Home war is none of Ireland’s

Rule” – Redmond.) business.

• Become known as I.C.A.

National Volunteers.

Legally, but if that didn’t work he was prepared to use violence.

More British blunders – In April 1918 the British attempted to introduce conscription into

Ireland. Most Irish are opposed to this, and Sinn Fein leads the opposition which in turn

increases its support.

25/10 The vast majority of people in Ireland took action against conscription, e.g. going on strike.

De Valera made sure that Sinn Fein was prominant in this opposition.

In may 1918 the British arrested 70 Sinn Fein leaders and jailed them. This had the effect

of making these people, as well as the Sinn Fein party, even more popular amongst the

Irish people.

The 1918 Election:

In December 1918 a general election was held. Of the 105 Irish seats Sinn Fein won 73. The

INP which in the previous election had won 68, now only won 6. De Valera said that Sinn

Fein now spoke for all of Ireland, however he was wrong. The other 26 seats were won by the


The Dail Eireann 1919:

By March 1919 Britain had released the Sinn Fein leaders from jail.

The 73 Sinn Fein members of Parliament decided to not attend the British Parliament (boycott), instead they went to Dublin and set up their own Government which the British said was illegal. This Government was called the Dail Eireann which means the assembly of Ireland,

26/10 De Valera was chosen as president of the Dail Eireann and Michael Collins was made leader

of the military forces.

Measures carried out by the Dail to govern Ireland:

set up its own system of courts to hear cases, give decisions and impose penalties.

organised its own ‘police force’ to carry out some of the work of the Royal Irish Constabulary in areas of southern Ireland threatened by collapse of law and order.

Set up an industrial disputes board to settle trade union/employer disputes.

encouraged citizens to pay taxes and rates to the Republican government rather than to

British authorities in Ireland.

printed an official republican newspaper.

arranged a loan of about $1 million to finance the republican government

gained considerable control over local government in the south. After the 1920 local

elections Sinn Fein had a majority in every Irish city council except Belfast.

approved the use of Irish Volunteers as the Army of the Irish Republic, that is, the Irish

Republican Army (IRA). Historians still disagree over how much control the Dail and its

government really had over the IRA. Historians still disagree over how much control the

Dail and its government really had over the IRA.

British reaction to the Dail:

At first the British Government ignored the activities of the Dail, but it soon became clear that

the Dail was seriously challenging the authority of the British. In September 1919 Prime

Minister Lloyd George declared the Dail a prohibited organisation whose members could be

arrested. This made it a lot more difficult for the Dail to operate.

23/10 The Easter Rising 1916:

In 1916 the I.R.B. decided to take advantage of Britain’s involvement in World War One and

launch a revolt. It was hoped that the rest of Ireland would join in, the British would be thrown

out and a republic established.

The two leaders of the revolt were Patrick Pearse and James Connolly.

Pearse believed in ‘blood sacrifice’ – this meant that people should be prepared to die as


Easter was chosen because it represented sacrifice and resurrection, it was hoped that the

death of those in the rising would lead to the rebirth of a new, free Ireland. As Easter was a

public holiday, many police and military personnel were ensured to be on holiday.

The plans for revolt were kept secret from MacNeill.

On the Saturday of Easter weekend MacNeill found out about the planned revolt, he was very

angry and cancelled it. Pearse then issued new orders saying the revolt would take place on

Easter Monday. This left many people confused and less rebels turned up on Monday than

was planned. The person who was also meant to be organising extra weapons (Roger

Casement) got caught by the British. Despite these factors the revolt still went ahead.

The Revolt:

Irish Volunteers and ICA take over G.P.O. (main post office) in Dublin.

Barricades set up in streets, British send in reinforcements.

Heavy fighting between rebels and British, British boat begins firing on rebels.

British artillery shells G.P.O., Connolly wounded.

Rebels evacuate G.P.O. after heavy fighting.

Rebels surrender, rising over.

Why did the rising fail?

Some reasons:-

The GPO was a poor choice as headquarters for the revolt. It was surrounded by other

buildings and no clear field of fire.

The Dublin population failed to support the rebels and in fact scorned them and their


The rebels were poorly armed and unable to prevent the British using their superior

firepower of machine-guns and artillery.


500 deaths, most Irish; 300 civilians, 130 police and soldiers and 70 rebels.

$10 million property damaged.

3000 casualties.

Immediately after the rising, the rebels were condemned by their fellow Irish as fools and


The blunder made by the British was their over punishment of the rebels by execution. The

decision to execute was made by the army commander-in-chief of Ireland, General Maxwell.

This turned the rebels into martyrs.

Pearse’s dream had come true, because he had become a martyr.

The Irish people’s support for the rebels also meant that the rebels’ cause received a

boost in support, i.e. there was an increase in support for a republic.

Sinn Fein had played no part in the rising. However after the rising it was given credit for

organising it. As the rebels became martyrs, Sinn Fein’s popularity also increased.

The rise of Sinn Fein:

By 1917 Sinn Fein had replaced the I.N.P. as the most popular political party in Ireland. This

was due to several factors;

1. The Easter Rising.

2. The fall of the I.N..P. – by 1917 the majority of Irish people wanted more than just home

rule. Redmond and the I.N.P. were seen as being “out of touch” with the Irish people.

Redmond was also seen as giving in too easily to the British since he had failed to even

achieve home rule.

3. New leader – De valera became leader in 1917. De Valera wanted to set up an independent Irish Republic. Once this was achieved the Irish people. Redmond was also

seen as giving in too easily to the British since he had failed to even achieve home rule.

Government of Ireland Act 1920:

Ireland was to be partitioned into 2 parts.

Each of the two sections of Ireland would have its own home rule type government.

Both sections would send members to the British Government.

Britain would control matters such as taxation, defence and foreign affairs.

A council of Ireland would be set up, with equal members of representatives from each

of the two sections of Ireland. It would deal with matters concerning Ireland as a whole.

Sinn Fein rejected this act because it didn’t give them a republic. The unionists relunctantly accepted the act.

In 1920, the Government of Ireland Act gave Ireland Home Rule but Sinn Fein rejected it

because they only wanted a Republic. Ulster reluctantly accepted the act. This act split

Ireland into Northern Ireland (the 6 most protestant countries of Ulster) and the rest of Ireland.

Both Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland were given Home Rule. Northern Ireland

reluctantly accepted it, however the rest of Ireland flatly rejected it, they wanted a republic and

nothing less.

The Anglo-Irish War 1919-1921:

At the same time as the Dail first met in January, 1919 war broke out between the IRA and British forces in Ireland. The IRA was led by Michael Collins. The IRA concentrated on the Royal Irish Constabulary RIC (Irish police) as its main target. The ‘Black and Tans’ and the

‘Auxiliaries’ were men recruited in Britain to reinforce the RIC. This was a nasty, dirty war

because of the tactics used to gain victory. Arson, reprisal shootings, the taking of hostages,

torture of suspects and assassinations were carried out by both sides. The IRA also used

guerilla warfare.

In July 1921 a truce was agreed upon after both sides knew they were not capable of outright


For those who wanted a republic the IRA were heroic freedom fighters but for those who

supported the British they were murderous thugs.

01/11 In January 1922 the Dail voted on the treaty. It was agreed to by seven votes. In protest

De Valera resigned as president and with his supporters walked out of the Dail.

31/10 The Treaty 1921:

After the Anglo-Irish War had finished attempts were made to try and create a settlement.

De Valera met with Lloyd-George, however no agreement resulted, because of two main

issues; De Valera insisted that Ireland must become a republic and he also insisted that this

meant all of Ireland, including Northern Ireland. Lloyd-George would not agree.

New negotiations took place in December. They were led by Collins and Griffith. De Valera

was not involved in the negotiations.

On 5th December Lloyd-George gave the Irish Delegation an ultimatum -sign an agreement

immediately or war would resume.

Reaction in Ireland

to ‘The Treaty’

Supporters led by Collins & Opponents led by De Valera

Griffith because the terms of because it did not make Ireland

the treaty were the most that a republic.

could be gained out of Britain

and gave Ireland freedom, and

the IRA were incapable of

winning a renewed war.

What did the treaty say?

Under the treaty Ireland became a self-governing dominion called the Irish free state. This

meant Ireland would have complete control of its own country but would still be part of the

British Empire and people would still have to swear an oath of allegiance to the crown. The

treaty was for all of Ireland but Northern Ireland did have the choice of opting out and

remaining part of the UK as set out in the Government of Ireland Act. Northern Ireland did

opt out.

Civil War 1922 – 23:

After de Valera and his supporters had walked out of the Dail tension increased between

pro and anti treaty groups. Griffith and Collins set up a provisional government. de Valera said

his supporters would not obey the provisional government. In the middle of the year an

election was held. Pro treaty conditions won most seats. Straight afterwards, civil war broke


Supporters of the treaty were known as ‘Free Staters’, opponents were known as Irregulars.

The war lasted for one year.

Two prominent free state leaders died during the war; Griffith and Collins.

Reasons why the free staters finally won the war;

severe measures of the emergency Powers Act eroded Republican morale and removed

by imprisonment or execution many of their leaders.

more free staters and superior weapons.

lack of wide-spread anti-treaty support.

trade unions, businessmen and newspapers supported the free state.

The Irregulars ceased fighting, but did not forget their ideas.

Northern Ireland 1920-23:

Northern Ireland had decided to ope out of the treaty which meant that it accepted Home

Rule as set out by the government of Ireland Act of 1920. The Home Rule Government, which

was set up was dominated by Protestants. The biggest problem facing this Government led

by Sir James Craig was the Catholic minority. This problem took several forms;

some Catholics went on strike in protest about being ruled by Protestants.

there were increasing outbreaks of sectarian violence (fighting between different religious


the police force was mainly made up of Protestants. They were often accused of

discriminating against Catholics.

Gerrymandering also took place, this was where for local elections the political

boundaries were deliberately redrawn so as to make it very difficult for Catholics to win.

By 1923 the Protestants were firmly in control, however for reasons noted the Catholic minority was a considerable problem.

Last modified: Thursday, 29 December 2011, 9:02 PM