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The Irish Republican Brotherhood, 1916-1924

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  • The Irish Republican Brotherhood, 1916-1924

    Given that this is the year that's the centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, 1916 - the event that changed the course of Irish history forever - it may be of interest to know more about the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), the group that was arguably the most responsible for the Easter Rising being carried out.

    Most studies on the IRB focus on the build-up to the Rising or earlier. These three articles attempt to cover the Brotherhood as it survived and evolved and ultimately perished in the years following the Rising, from 1916 to 1924.

    To Not Fade Away: The Irish Republican Brotherhood, Post-1916

    An overall of the IRB from the Easter Rising to its last gasp in 1924.

    It looks at perceptions of the group from outsiders (which were not always good), how the organisation worked at a grassroots level, and whether it could be held responsible for the Treaty being pushed through the Dáil, as many Anti-Treatyites alleged.


    Despite the IRB Supreme Council voting to support the Treaty, many IRB members were adamantly against it.

    This article looks at the attempts by the IRA Chief of Staff, Liam Lynch, to reform the IRB on anti-Treaty lines and to 'take back' the organisation.

    Career Conspirators: The (Mis)Adventures of Seán Ó Muirthile and the Irish Republican Brotherhood in the Free State Army, 1923-4

    A Free State reverse on the previous article, with this one looking at attempts to continue the IRB within the victorious Free State Army and even reform it in order to accommodate the new circumstances, attempts which were to fail in humiliating and very public circumstances.

  • #2
    Interesting indeed. I've always thought that the Irish Civil War an even greater tragedy than the War of Irish Independence.

    Could they both have been avoided ?
    "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
    Samuel Johnson.


    • #3
      Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
      Interesting indeed. I've always thought that the Irish Civil War an even greater tragedy than the War of Irish Independence.
      It certainly poisoned the country for years to come - even today, we have 'civil war politics', as it's called, with the two leading parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, being descended from the two opposing sides in the War. I've tried explaining it all to my non-Irish friends before realising that I don't really understand it myself.

      Could they both have been avoided ?
      Possibly - I don't think the WoI was necessary and Ireland *was* on the track of achieving some sort of self-rule, even if that was not obvious to the people at the time; or desirable, both from the POV of a Unionist who wanted nothing to do with a free Ireland or from an uber-Nationalist who thought anything short of a Republic was despicable sell-out (which was much the thinking behind the CW).

      Having said that, it's been a much contested and debated view in Ireland, and wondering if Ireland could have achieved the same without violence takes us into 'what if' territory: interesting but ultimately fruitless.

      The CW, on the other hand, IMO, *was* inevitable the moment the Treaty was signed in December 1921, albeit with hindsight. Neither side was going to back down and both had already used violence to get as the Treaty in the first place, and when you've been using a hammer for a while, ever problem looks like a nail...

      After said that, the CW and political split probably saved Ireland from becoming like post-Apartheid South Africa under the ANC, which is a one-party state in all but name. So maybe we do live in the best of all possibly worlds, after all.


      • #4
        It's important to note just how bad conditions were in Ireland at the turn of the last century. Dublin was the second city of the biggest empire in the world but it has the worst slims and the highest infant mortality rate in the developed world.
        The country was run for the benefit of the 50,000(ish) Anglo-Irish ascendancy with the Protestant population of Northern Ireland coming in second. Nobody else really had a chance.
        "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their
        validity." - Abraham Lincoln.
        "Nothing's going to change while one side it lying about the cause and the other is lying about the solution" - Me


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