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The Irish Civil War ( ga, Cogadh Cathartha na hÉireann; 28 June 1922 – 24 May 1923) was a conflict that followed the
Irish War of Independence The Irish War of Independence ( ga, Cogadh na Saoirse) or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary or ...
and accompanied the establishment of the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
, an entity independent from the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
but within the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. The
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publis ...
was waged between two opposing groups, the pro-treaty
Provisional Government A provisional government, also called an interim government, an emergency government, or a transitional government, is an emergency government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally ...
and the anti-treaty Irish Republican Army (IRA), over the
Anglo-Irish Treaty The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty ( ga , An Conradh Angla-Éireannach), commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingd ...
. The forces of the Provisional Government (which became the Free State in December 1922) supported the Treaty, while the anti-treaty opposition saw it as a betrayal of the
Irish Republic The Irish Republic ( ga, Poblacht na hÉireann or ) was an unrecognised revolutionary state that declared its independence from the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the Unite ...

Irish Republic
(which had been proclaimed during the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of ...
). Many of those who fought on both sides in the conflict had been members of the IRA during the War of Independence. The Civil War was won by the pro-treaty Free State forces, who benefited from substantial quantities of weapons provided by the British Government. The conflict may have claimed more lives than the War of Independence that preceded it, and left Irish society divided and embittered for generations. Today, two of the main
political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology ...
in the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
,
Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
and
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conser ...
, are direct descendants of the opposing sides of the war.


Background


The treaty and its consequences

The
Anglo-Irish Treaty The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty ( ga , An Conradh Angla-Éireannach), commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingd ...
was agreed upon to end the 1919–1921
Irish War of Independence The Irish War of Independence ( ga, Cogadh na Saoirse) or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary or ...
between the
Irish Republic The Irish Republic ( ga, Poblacht na hÉireann or ) was an unrecognised revolutionary state that declared its independence from the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the Unite ...

Irish Republic
and the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some f ...

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
. The treaty provided for a self-governing Irish state, having its own army and police. The Treaty also allowed
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
(the six north-eastern counties
Fermanagh Fermanagh ( ga, Fir Manach) was a kingdom of Gaelic Ireland Gaelic Ireland ( ga, Éire Ghaelach) was the Gaelic political and social order, and associated culture, that existed in Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Uls ...

Fermanagh
, Antrim,
Tyrone
Tyrone
,
Londonderry
Londonderry
,
Armagh Armagh ( ; ga, Ard Mhacha, , "Macha Macha () was a sovereignty goddess Sovereignty goddess is a scholarly term, almost exclusively used in Celtic studies (although parallels for the idea have been claimed in other traditions, usually unde ...

Armagh
and
Down Down most often refers to: * Down, the relative direction Body relative directions (also known as egocentric coordinates) are orientation (geometry), geometrical orientations relative to a body such as a human person's. The most common one ...

Down
where collectively the majority population was of the
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
religion) to opt out of the new state and return to the United Kingdomwhich it did immediately. However, rather than creating the independent
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
favoured by most nationalists, the Irish Free State would be an autonomous
dominion The term dominion was used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other D ...
of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
with the
British monarch The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents A precedent is a principle or rule established ...
as
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
, in the same manner as
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
. The British suggested dominion status in secret correspondence even before treaty negotiations began, but
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
leader
Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera (, ; first registered as ''George de Valero''; changed some time before 1901 to ''Edward de Valera''; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. He served severa ...

Éamon de Valera
rejected the dominion. The treaty also stipulated that members of the new Irish
Oireachtas The Oireachtas ( , ), sometimes referred to as Oireachtas Éireann, is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, count ...
(parliament) would have to take the following "
Oath of Allegiance An oath of allegiance is an oath Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It sha ...
" This oath was highly objectionable to many Irish Republicans. Furthermore, the
partition of Ireland The partition of Ireland ( ga, críochdheighilt na hÉireann) was the process by which the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state that existed be ...
, which had already been decided by the Westminster parliament in the
Government of Ireland Act 1920 The Government of Ireland Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 67) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer ...
, was effectively confirmed in the Anglo-Irish treaty. The most contentious areas of the Treaty for the IRA were the disestablishment of the Irish Republic declared in 1919, the abandonment of the
First Dáil The First Dáil ( ga, An Chéad Dáil) was Dáil Éireann (Irish Republic), Dáil Éireann as it convened from 1919 to 1921. It was the first meeting of the Unicameralism, unicameral Legislature, parliament of the revolutionary republic, revolut ...
, the status of the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
as a dominion in the
British Commonwealth The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the ...

British Commonwealth
and the British retention of the strategic
Treaty Ports Treaty ports (; ja, 条約港) were the port cities in China and Japan that were opened to foreign trade mainly by the unequal treaties Unequal treaty is the name given by the Chinese to a series of treaties signed between China (mostly refer ...

Treaty Ports
on Ireland's south western and north western coasts which were to remain occupied by the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
. All these issues were the cause of a split in the IRA and ultimately civil war. Michael Collins, 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 later said that
Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera (, ; first registered as ''George de Valero''; changed some time before 1901 to ''Edward de Valera''; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. He served severa ...

Éamon de Valera
had sent him as
plenipotentiary A ''plenipotentiary'' (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the po ...
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 that 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, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
and
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
. De Valera, for his part, was furious that Collins and
Arthur Griffith Arthur Joseph Griffith ( ga, Art Seosamh Ó Gríobhtha; 31 March 1871 – 12 August 1922) was an Irish writer, newspaper editor and politician who founded the political party Sinn Féin. He led the Irish delegation at the negotiations that prod ...

Arthur Griffith
had signed the treaty without consulting him or the Irish cabinet as instructed.
Dáil Éireann Dáil Éireann ( , ; ) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community i ...
(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, in accordance with article 17 of the Treaty, the British-recognised
Provisional Government of the Irish Free State The Provisional Government of Ireland ( ga, Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann) was the provisional government for the administration of Southern Ireland (1921–22), Southern Ireland from 16 January 1922 to 5 December 1922. It was a transitional admi ...
was established. Its authority under the Treaty was to provide a "provisional arrangement for the administration of Southern Ireland during the interval" before the establishment of the Irish Free State. In accordance with the Treaty, the British Government transferred "the powers and machinery requisite for the discharge of its duties". Before the British Government transferred such powers, the members of the Provisional Government each "signified in writing
heir Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property Public property i ...
acceptance of he Treaty. Upon the Treaty's ratification, de Valera resigned as
President of the Republic The President of the Republic is a title used for heads of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State itself or r ...
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. Meanwhile, he continued to promote a compromise whereby the new Irish Free State would be in " external association" with the British Commonwealth 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, de Valera formed the
Cumann na Poblachta A (Irish language, Irish for association; plural ) is the lowest local unit or branch of a number of Ireland, Irish political parties. The term ''cumann'' may also be used to describe a non-political association. Traditionally, Sinn Féin and F ...
('Republican Association') party while remaining a member of Sinn Féin, and commenced a speaking tour of the more republican province of
Munster Munster ( gle, an Mhumhain or ) is one of the provinces of Ireland Since pre-historic times, there have been four Provinces of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.ht ...

Munster
on 17 March 1922. During the tour he made controversial speeches at
Carrick on Suir Carrick-on-Suir () is a town in County Tipperary. It lies on both banks of the River Suir. The part on the north bank of the Suir lies in the Civil parishes in Ireland, civil parish of "Carrick",
, Lismore,
Dungarvan Dungarvan () is a coastal town and harbour A harbor (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language nativ ...

Dungarvan
and
Waterford Waterford ( ; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandi ...

Waterford
, saying at one point, "If the Treaty were accepted, 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 (; ''Durlas Éile'') is a town in County Tipperary, Ireland. It is located in the Civil parishes in Ireland, civil parish of Thurles (civil parish), same name in the Barony (Ireland), barony of Eliogarty and in the ecclesiastical paris ...
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 The ''Irish Independent'' is an Republic of Ireland, Irish daily newspaper, and online publication via Independent.ie, which is owned by Independent News & Media (INM) who are a subsidiary of Mediahuis. The newspaper version often includes gl ...
'' 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, many
Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and the 21st centuries. Organisations going by this name have been dedicated to irredentism through Irish republicanism, the be ...
(IRA) officers were also against the treaty, and in March 1922 an ad hoc Army Convention repudiated the authority of the Dáil to accept the treaty. In contrast, the Minister of Defence,
Richard Mulcahy page=32, alt=Military intelligence file for Richard Mulcahy, Military intelligence file for Richard Mulcahy Richard James Mulcahy (10 May 1886 – 16 December 1971) was an Irish Fine Gael politician and army general who served as Minister for Ed ...

Richard Mulcahy
, stated in the Dáil on 28 April that conditions in Dublin had prevented a Convention from being held, but that delegates had been selected and voted by ballot to accept the Oath. 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. On 26 April Mulcahy 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 The Irish Republican Police (IRP) was the police force of the 1919–1922 Irish Republic The Irish Republic ( ga, Poblacht na hÉireann or ) was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from the United Kingdom The United ...
and the disbanding of the
Royal Irish Constabulary The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, ga, Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police force in Ireland from 1822 until 1922, when the country was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain an ...
(RIC). By putting ten questions to Mulcahy on 28 April, Seán MacEntee 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. In his reply, Mulcahy rejected this interpretation. Then, in a debate on defence, MacEntee 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.''" MacEntee'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.


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 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 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. 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. Labour's 132,570 votes were ambiguous with regard to the Treaty. According to Hopkinson, "Irish labour and union leaders, while generally pro-Treaty, made little attempt to lead opinion during the Treaty conflict, casting themselves rather as attempted peacemakers." The election showed that a majority of the Irish electorate accepted the treaty and the foundation of the Irish Free State, 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, the pro-treaty Provisional Government set about establishing the Irish Free State, and organised the National Army – 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 Southern Ireland controlled only Dublin and some other areas like
County Longford County Longford ( gle, Contae an Longfoirt) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Cha ...
where the IRA units supported the treaty. Fighting ultimately broke 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.


Course of the war


Dublin fighting

On 14 April 1922, 200 Anti-Treaty IRA militants, led by Rory O'Connor, occupied the
Four Courts The Four Courts ( ga, Na Ceithre Cúirteanna) is Ireland's most prominent courts building, located on Inns Quay The Dublin quays () refers to the two roadways and quays that run along the north and south banks of the River Liffey in Dublin, Ir ...

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


Assassination of Field Marshal Wilson

The British Government at this time also lost patience with the situation in Dublin as a result of the assassination of Field Marshal
Henry Hughes Wilson Field Marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the highest rank in an army and as such few persons are appointed to it. It is ...
, a prominent security adviser to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, James Craig, by IRA men on his own doorstep in London on 22 June 1922, with no responsibility for the act being publicly claimed by any IRA authority.
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
assumed that the Anti-Treaty IRA were responsible for the shooting and warned Collins that he would use British troops to attack the Four Courts unless the Provisional Government 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,
howitzer A howitzer () is generally a large ranged weapon A ranged weapon is any weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the ef ...

howitzer
s and aeroplanes. However, on the advice of General
Nevil Macready General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral zon ...
, 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.


Collins orders the assault on the Four Courts

The final straw for the Free State government came on 26 June, when the anti-treaty forces occupying the
Four Courts The Four Courts ( ga, Na Ceithre Cúirteanna) is Ireland's most prominent courts building, located on Inns Quay The Dublin quays () refers to the two roadways and quays that run along the north and south banks of the River Liffey in Dublin, Ir ...

Four Courts
kidnapped JJ "Ginger" O'Connell, a general in the new National Army, in retaliation for the arrest of Leo Henderson. Collins, after giving the Four Courts garrison a final (and according to
Ernie O'Malley Ernie O'Malley ( ga, Earnán Ó Maille; born Ernest Bernard Malley; 26 May 1897 – 25 March 1957) was an IRA Ira or IRA may refer to: *Ira (name), a Hebrew, Sanskrit, Russian or Finnish language personal name *Ira (surname), a rare Estonian and ...
, only) ultimatum to leave the building on 27 June, 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 effectively declared and the Civil War officially began. Collins ordered Mulcahy to accept a British offer of two 18-pounder field
artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications dur ...

artillery
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 Richmond barracks in Inchicore. The anti-treaty forces in the Four Courts, who possessed only small arms, surrendered after three days of bombardment and the storming of the building by Provisional Government troops (28–30 June 1922). Shortly before the surrender, a massive explosion destroyed the western wing of the complex, including the
Irish Public Record Office The National Archives of Ireland ( ga, Cartlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann) is the official repository for the state records of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. Established by the National Archives Act 1986, taking over the functions of the State Paper O ...
(PRO), injuring many advancing Free State soldiers and destroying the records. 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 whether the explosions occurred when their ammunition store was accidentally ignited by the bombardment. Coogan, however, asserts that two lorry-loads of
gelignite Gelignite (), also known as blasting gelatin or simply jelly, is an explosive material consisting of collodion-cotton (a type of nitrocellulose or guncotton) dissolved in either nitroglycerine or nitroglycol and mixed with wood pulp and Potassium ...
was exploded in the PRO, leaving priceless manuscripts floating over the city for several hours afterward. Pitched battles continued in Dublin until 5 July. IRA units from the Dublin Brigade, led by
Oscar Traynor Oscar Traynor (21 March 1886 – 15 December 1963) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and Irish republicanism, republican who served as Minister for Justice (Ireland), Minister for Justice from 1957 to 1961, Minister for Defence (Ireland), Mini ...
, occupied
O'Connell Street O'Connell Street () is a street in the centre of Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Ireland, running north from the River Liffey. It connects the O'Connell Bridge to the south with Parnell Street to the north and is roughly split into two sections ...

O'Connell Street
– provoking a week's more street fighting and costing another 65 killed and 280 wounded. Among the dead was Republican leader
Cathal Brugha Cathal Brugha (; born Charles William St John Burgess; 18 July 1874 – 7 July 1922) was an Irish revolutionary A revolutionary is a person who either participates in, or advocates a revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term ''revo ...

Cathal Brugha
, 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, 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 declared in 1916 during the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of ...
, confirmed by the First Dáil and 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 Liam Lynch, the IRA Chief of Staff. De Valera, though the Republican 'President as of October 1922, had little control over military operations. The campaign was directed by Liam Lynch until he was killed on 10 April 1923, and then by Frank Aiken from 20 April 1923. The Civil War split the IRA. When the Civil War broke out, the Anti-Treaty IRA (concentrated in the south and west) outnumbered pro-Free State forces by roughly 12,000 men to 8,000. Moreover, the anti-treaty ranks included many of the IRA's most experienced guerrilla fighters. 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. According to Richard Mulcahy's estimate, the Anti-Treaty IRA at the beginning of the war had 6,780 rifles and 12,900 men.Cottrell, Peter ''The Irish Civil War, 1922–23'', London: Osprey, 2008, p. 22. However, the IRA lacked an effective command structure, a clear strategy and sufficient arms. As well as rifles they had a handful of machine guns and many of their fighters were armed only with
shotgun A shotgun (also known as a scattergun, or historically as a fowling piece) is a long gun, long-barreled firearm designed to shoot a straight-walled cartridge (firearms), cartridge known as a shotshell, which usually discharges numerous small ...

shotgun
s or handguns. They also took a small number of armoured cars from British troops as they were evacuating the country. Finally, 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 that could overwhelm their opponents in the field. British supplies of artillery, aircraft, armoured cars, machine guns, small arms and ammunition were of much help to pro-Treaty forces. The British delivered for instance, over 27,000 rifles, 250 machine guns and eight 18-pounder artillery pieces to the pro-treaty forces between the outbreak of the Civil War and September 1922. 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 had grown to 55,000 men and 3,500 officers, far in excess of what the Irish state would need to maintain in peacetime. Like the Anti-Treaty IRA, the Free State's National Army was initially rooted in the IRA that fought against the British.Cottrell, Peter ''The Irish Civil War, 1922–23'', London: Osprey, 2008, p. 23. Collins' most ruthless officers and men were recruited from the Dublin Active Service Unit (the elite unit of the IRA's Dublin Brigade) and from Michael Collins' Intelligence Department and assassination unit, The Squad. In the new National Army, they were known as the
Dublin Guard The Dublin Guard was a unit of the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and the 21st centuries. Organisations going by this name have been ded ...
. Towards the end of the war, they were implicated in some notorious atrocities against anti-treaty guerrillas in
County Kerry County Kerry ( gle, Contae Chiarraí) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers ...

County Kerry
. Up to the outbreak of Civil War, it had been agreed that only men with service in the IRA could be recruited into the National Army. However, once the war began, all such restrictions were lifted. A 'National Call to Arms' issued on 7 July for recruitment on a six-month basis brought in thousands of new recruits. Many of the new army's recruits were veterans of the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
in
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, where they had served in disbanded Irish regiments of the British Army. Many others were raw recruits without any military experience. The fact that at least 50% of the other ranks had no military experience in turn led to ill-discipline becoming a major problem. A major problem for the National Army was a shortage of experienced officers. At least 20% of its officers had previously served as officers in the British Army, while 50% of the rank-and-file of the National Army had served in the British Army in World War I. Former British Army officers were also recruited for their technical expertise. A number of the senior Free State commanders, such as
Emmet Dalton James Emmet Dalton MC (4 March 1898 – 4 March 1978) was an Irish soldier and film producer. He served in the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed F ...
,
John T. Prout John T. Prout (October 25, 1880 – April 27, 1969) was an Irish-American soldier. He served in the United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged i ...
and
W.R.E. Murphy William Richard English-Murphy, Distinguished Service Order, DSO Military Cross, MC known as W.R.E. Murphy (1890–1975) was an Irish soldier and policeman. He served as an officer with the British Army in the First World War and later in the Na ...
, had seen service as officers in World War I, 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, the majority of Free State soldiers were raw recruits without military experience, either in World War I or the Irish War of Independence. There were also a significant number of former members of the British Armed Forces on the Republican side, including such senior figures as Tom Barry, David Robinson and Erskine Childers.


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 or CORK may refer to: Materials * Cork (material), an impermeable buoyant plant product ** Cork (plug), a cylindrical or conical object used to seal a container ***Wine cork Places Ireland * Cork (city) ** Metropolitan Cork, also known as G ...
,
Limerick Limerick ( ; ga, Luimneach ) is a city in County Limerick County Limerick ( ga, Contae Luimnigh) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chamber ...

Limerick
and
Waterford Waterford ( ; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandi ...

Waterford
as part of a self-styled Munster Republic. 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 renegotiate 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 (born Owen Duffy, 28 January 1890 – 30 November 1944) was a fascist Irish nationalist politician, military commander and police commissioner. He was the leader of the Monaghan Brigade of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and a pro ...

Eoin O'Duffy
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 in the south and Mayo in the west. In the south, landings occurred at Union Hall in Cork and
Fenit Fenit () is a small village in County Kerry County Kerry ( gle, Contae Chiarraí) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers ...

Fenit
, the port of
Tralee Tralee ( ; ga, Trá Lí, ; formerly , meaning 'strand of the Lee River') is the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage ...

Tralee
, in 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 (locally known as "Passage"; ) is a port town in County Cork County Cork ( ga, Contae Chorcaí) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. B ...
. Another seaborne expedition to Mayo 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 is a form of irregular warfare Irregular warfare (IW) is defined in United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States ...
. After the fall of Cork, Liam Lynch ordered 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 ( ga, Contae Loch Garman) is a county A county is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geogr ...
in the east and counties
Sligo Sligo ( ; ga, Sligeach , meaning 'abounding in shells') is a coastal seaport A port is a maritime Maritime may refer to: Geography * Maritime Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps * Maritime Region, a r ...
and Mayo in the west. Sporadic fighting also took place around
Dundalk Dundalk ( ; ga, Dún Dealgan , meaning "the fort of Dealgan", a Fir Bolg Chieftain) is the county town (the administrative centre) of County Louth, Ireland. The town is on the Castletown River, which flows into Dundalk Bay on the east coast ...
, where
Frank Aiken Francis Thomas Aiken (13 February 1898 – 18 May 1983) was an Irish revolutionary and politician who served as Tánaiste The Tánaiste ( , ) is the deputy head of the government of Ireland and thus holder of its second-most senior office. The ...
and the
Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army The Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and the 21st centuries. Organisations going by this name have been de ...
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 that they had occupied in the July–August offensive, inflicting heavy casualties on them. Michael Collins was killed in an ambush by anti-treaty Republicans at Béal na Bláth, near his home in County Cork, in August 1922.In the 1996 film '' Michael Collins'', Éamon de Valera meets the killer of Michael Collins prior to the ambush that leads to his death. However, although de Valera was in the area at the time, he is not thought to have ordered the assassination. 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 government in the hands of W.T. Cosgrave and the Free State army under the command of General Richard Mulcahy. 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 eight 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 guerrilla 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 Teachtaí Dála (TDs) 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.


Atrocities and executions

On 27 September 1922, three months after the outbreak of war, the Free State's Provisional Government put before the Dáil an Army Emergency Powers Resolution proposing to extend the legislation for setting up military tribunals, transferring some of the Free State's judicial powers over Irish citizens accused of anti-government activities to the Army Council. The legislation, commonly referred to as the "Public Safety Bill", set up and empowered military tribunals to impose life imprisonment, as well as the death penalty, for 'aiding or abetting attacks' on state forces, possession of arms and ammunition or explosive 'without the proper authority' and 'looting destruction or arson'. 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 Erskine Childers. In all, out of around 12,000 Republican prisoners taken in the conflict, 81 were officially executed by the Free State. The Anti-Treaty IRA in reprisal assassinated TD Seán Hales on 7 December 1922. The next day four prominent Republicans held since the first week of the war — Rory O'Connor,
Liam Mellows William Joseph Mellows ( ga, Liam Ó Maoilíosa, 25 May 1892 – 8 December 1922) was an Irish republican and Sinn Féin politician. Born in England to an English father and Irish mother, he grew up in Ashton-under-Lyne Ashton-under-Lyne is ...

Liam Mellows
, and — were executed in revenge for the killing of Hales. In addition, Free State troops, particularly in County Kerry, where the guerrilla campaign was most bitter, began the
summary execution A summary execution is an execution Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...
of captured anti-treaty fighters. The most notorious example of this occurred at
Ballyseedy Ballyseedy () is a townland A townland ( ga, baile fearainn; Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulst ...
, where nine Republican prisoners were tied to a
landmine A land mine is an explosive weapon, explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it. Such a device is typically deto ...
, which was detonated, killing eight and only leaving one,
Stephen Fuller Stephen Fuller (1900–1984) was an IRA soldier, farmer and politician. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Kerry North (Dáil constituency), Kerry North constituency from 1937 to 1943. Early life Born in 1900, he was the son of Ellie and ...
, 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's father and W. T. Cosgrave's uncle in February 1923. The IRA were unable to maintain an effective guerrilla campaign, given the gradual loss of support. The
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
also supported the Free State, deeming it the lawful government of the country, denouncing the IRA and refusing to administer the
Sacrament A sacrament is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ...
s to anti-treaty fighters. On 10 October 1922, the Catholic Bishops of Ireland issued a formal statement, describing the anti-treaty campaign as: 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 IRA had been seriously eroded and when, in February 1923, the Republican leader Liam Deasy 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 County Tipperary ( ga, Contae Thiobraid Árann) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by Willia ...

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, the Republican leader, was killed in a skirmish in the
Knockmealdown Mountains The Knockmealdown Mountains ( ga, Sléibhte Chnoc Mhaoldomhnaigh) is a mountain range located on the border of counties County Tipperary, Tipperary and County Waterford, Waterford in Republic of Ireland, Ireland, running east and west between the ...
in County Tipperary 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 Daniel Breen ( ga, Dónall Ó Braoin; 11 August 1894 – 27 December 1969) 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 = = Christopher Stephen "Todd" Andrews (6 October 1901 – 11 October 1985) was an Irish political activist and public servant. He participated in the Irish War of Independence Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or ...
, Seán Gaynor and Frank Barrett (IRA), Frank Barrett in the operation. It is often suggested that the death of Lynch allowed the more pragmatic
Frank Aiken Francis Thomas Aiken (13 February 1898 – 18 May 1983) was an Irish revolutionary and politician who served as Tánaiste The Tánaiste ( , ) is the deputy head of the government of Ireland and thus holder of its second-most senior office. The ...
, 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 suspension of military activities; on 24 May 1923, he issued a ceasefire order to IRA volunteers. They were to dump arms rather than surrender them or continue a fight that 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: The Free State government had started peace negotiations in early May, which broke down. The High Court of Justice in Ireland ruled on 31 July 1923 that a state of war no longer existed, and consequently the internment of republicans, permitted under common law only in wartime, was now illegal. Without a formal peace, holding 13,000 prisoners and worried that fighting could break out again at any time, the government enacted two Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Acts on 1 and 3 August 1923, to permit continued internment and other measures. 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. 1923 Irish general election, A general election was held on 27 August 1923, which Cumann na nGaedheal, the pro-Free State party, won with about 40% of the first-preference 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 a hunger strike. The strike lasted for 41 days and met little success (among those who died were Denny Barry, Joseph Whitty and Andy O'Sullivan (Irish Republican), Andy O'Sullivan). 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 Unionists

Although the cause of the Civil War was the Treaty, as the war developed the anti-treaty forces sought to identify their actions with the traditional Republican cause of the "men of no property" and the result was that large Anglo-Irish landowners and some less well-off Irish Unionist Alliance#Southern Unionists, Southern Unionists were attacked. A total of 192 "stately homes" of the old landed class and of Free State politicians were destroyed by anti-treaty forces 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 W. T. Cosgrave to offer their support to the Free State and some of them had received positions in the State's Upper house or Seanad Éireann (Irish Free State), Senate. Among the prominent senators whose homes were attacked were: Palmerstown House near Naas, which belonged to the Earl of Mayo, Moore Hall, County Mayo, Moore Hall in Mayo, Horace Plunkett (who had helped to establish the rural co-operative schemes), and Senator Henry Guinness (which was unsuccessful). Also burned was Marlfield House in Clonmel, the home of Senator John Philip Bagwell, 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 Land Purchase (Ireland) Act 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 had ceased to function. In 1919, senior Sinn Féin officials were sufficiently concerned at this unilateral action that they instituted Dáil Courts, Arbitration Courts 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. The anti-Treaty IRA burnt an orphanage housing Protestant boys near Clifden, County Galway in June 1922, on the ground that it was "pro-British". The 60 orphans were taken to Devonport, Plymouth, Devonport on board a
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
destroyer. 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 University College Cork, UCC considers that about 41,000 who were not linked to the former British administration left Southern Ireland (which became the Irish Free State) between 1919 and 1923. He has found that a "high-water mark" of this 41,000 left between 1921 and 1923. In all, from 1911 to 1926, the Protestant population of the 26 counties fell from some 10.4% of the total population to 7.4%.


Foreign support

The Civil War attracted international attention which led to various groups expressing support and opposition to the anti-treaty side. The Communist Party of Great Britain in its journal ''The Communist'' wrote "The proletarians of the IRA have the future of Ireland in their hands. If the Irish Labour Party would only dare! A mass movement of the Irish workers in alliance with the IRA could establish a Workers' Republic now". They were also supported by the Communist International (Comintern) which on 3 January 1923 passed a resolution stating it "sends fraternal greetings to the struggling Irish national revolutionaries and feels assured that they will soon tread the only path that leads to real freedom – the path of Communism. The CI will assist all efforts to organise the struggle to combat this terror and to help the Irish workers and peasants to victory." The majority of Irish-Americans supported the treaty, including those in Clann na Gael and Friends of Irish Freedom. However anti-treaty republicans had control of what was left of Clann na Gael and the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic so they supported the anti-treaty side during the war.


Consequences


Casualties

The Civil War, though short, was bloody. It cost the lives of many public figures, including Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha, Arthur Griffith and Liam Lynch. Both sides carried out brutal acts: the anti-treaty forces killed a TD and several other pro-Treaty politicians and burned many homes of senators and Free State supporters, while the government executed anti-treaty prisoners, officially and unofficially. Precise figures for the dead and wounded have yet to be calculated. The pro-treaty forces suffered between 800-1000 fatalities from all causes. It has been suggested that the anti-treaty forces' death toll was higher. but the Republican roll of honour, compiled in the 1920s lists 426 anti-Treaty IRA Volunteers killed between January 1922 and April 1924. The most recent county-by-county research suggests a death toll of just under 2,000. For total combatant and civilian deaths, a minimum of 1,500 and a maximum of 4,000 have been suggested, though the latter figure is now generally estimated to be too high. The Garda Síochána (new police force) 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 (Ireland), Criminal Investigation Department, 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 of the administrative buildings and businesses that 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. This adversely affected the Boundary Commission (Ireland), boundary negotiations in 1924–25, in which the Free State government acquiesced that border with Northern Ireland would remain unchanged in exchange for forgiveness of the Imperial debt. 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 told the Dáil:


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 ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
ended. Collins and Sir James Craig 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 stance 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 (the "B-Specials") that had been established in 1920 (on the Partition of Ireland, foundation of Northern Ireland) 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 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 (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conser ...
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, 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 of the Irish Free State, Governor General (British representative in Ireland) and abolishing the Seanad Éireann (Irish Free State), Senate, which was dominated by former Unionists and pro-treaty Nationalists. In 1937, they passed a new Constitution of Ireland, constitution, which made a President of Ireland, President 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 that it had kept under the terms of the treaty. When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the state was able to demonstrate its independence by The Emergency (Ireland), remaining neutral throughout the war, although Dublin did to some extent tacitly support the Allies. Finally, in 1948, a coalition government, containing elements of both sides in the Civil War (pro-treaty
Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
and anti-treaty Clann na Poblachta) left the British Commonwealth and described the state as the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
. 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 (except for the 2011 Irish general election, 2011 and 2020 Irish general election, 2020 general elections) were Fianna Fáil and
Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
, 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 = = Christopher Stephen "Todd" Andrews (6 October 1901 – 11 October 1985) was an Irish political activist and public servant. He participated in the Irish War of Independence Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or ...
and Seán Lemass; and Free State supporters W. T. Cosgrave, Richard Mulcahy and Kevin O'Higgins.Seán Lemass's brother Noel, a captain in the Anti-Treaty IRA, was abducted and shot by Free State forces in July 1923, two months after the war had ended. His body was dumped in the Wicklow Mountains, near Glencree, where it was found in October 1923. The spot where his body was found is marked by a memorial. 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 Irish Republican Army (1922-1969), 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 Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
. After this point, the organisation dedicated itself primarily to the end of British rule in Northern Ireland. The IRA Army Council still makes claim to be the legitimate Provisional Government of the Irish Republic declared in 1916 and annulled by the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.


Notes


Footnotes


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


Historical artefacts from the Irish Civil War

The Irish Story archive on the Irish Civil War




* [http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/E900003-001/ The Dáil Treaty Debates 1921–22.] From the Official Report of the Parliamentary Debates of the Houses of the Oireachtas
List of National Army soldiers killed in action

War Memorials of the Civil War

Map of Europe
during Irish Civil War at omniatlas.com {{Authority control Irish Civil War, Civil wars involving the states and peoples of Europe Civil wars of the Industrial era Guerrilla wars History of the Republic of Ireland Wars involving Ireland Irish Free State 1922 in Ireland 1923 in Ireland Monarchy in the Irish Free State