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Pro-Treaty Social Attitudes and Perceptions of Republicans

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Abstract

When assessed in terms of casualty figures or the duration and scale of fighting, the Irish Civil War scarcely measures up to many other countries’ experiences of civil war.1 But while hardly prominent in the annals of military history, the 1922–3 fight between Irish nationalists stands out for the ferocity of the invective and partisan rhetoric that accompanied it.2 The notorious intensity of enmities between ‘Staters’ and ‘Irregulars’, among other less civil epithets the two sides traded, reflects the intimate, close-knit nature of Ireland’s revolutionary movement, which, when it ultimately foundered on the treaty question, produced a correspondingly ‘bitter, incestuous conflict’ tellingly known as the ‘war of friends’.3 The contrast between Sinn Féin’s unity of purpose (or, at least, ‘harmonization of political differences’)4 between 1916 and 1921, and the rancorous and highly public falling-out of movement leaders and factions from late 1921 is among the most rapid and dramatic transformations in a hectic decade of revolutionary change.

Keywords

Hunger Strike Republican Movement Revolutionary Violence Irish Nationalist Discursive Theme 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    On the small scale of the civil war see Michael Hopkinson (2004 edn) Green against Green: the Irish Civil War (Dublin), pp. 272–4.Google Scholar
  2. Bill Kissane (2004) The Politics of the Irish Civil War (Oxford), Chapter 4 passim.Google Scholar
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    Quotation from Hopkinson, Green against Green, p. xii. See also Tom Garvin (2005 edn) The Evolution of Irish Nationalist Politics (Dublin), p. 118.Google Scholar
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    Ambrose Bierce defined respectability as ‘The offspring of a liaison between a bald head and a bank account’, Bierce (1993 edn) The Devil’s Dictionary (New York), p. 105.Google Scholar
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  32. 43.
    Brian Hanley (2003) ‘The Rhetoric of Republican Legitimacy’ in Fearghal McGarry (ed.) Republicanism in Modern Ireland (Dublin), p. 170.Google Scholar
  33. 56.
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    The editorial was published 31 January 1919. See Robert Kee (2000 omnibus edn) The Green Flag: a History of Irish Nationalism (London), p. 635.Google Scholar
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  44. 103.
    For a contemporary picture of the age versus youth cleavage in pre-1916 nationalist politics, see Bulmer Hobson (1968 edn) Ireland Yesterday and Tomorrow (Tralee, Co. Kerry), pp. 29–30.Google Scholar
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  47. 114.
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  48. 115.
    Regan, The Irish Counter-Revolution, passim. But recently, Jason Knirck has challenged this picture of Cumann na nGaedheal. J. Knirck (2014) Afterimage of the Revolution: Cumann na nGaedheal and Irish Politics, 1922–1932 (Madison, Wisconsin), Introduction pp. 3–21 and passim.Google Scholar
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    Morning Post, RIC reports, and other sources quoted in Sinead Joy (2005) The IRA in Kerry (Cork), pp. 42–3.Google Scholar
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  51. 124.
    A pungent example of hostility to the poor and unemployed expressed by Dáil Éireann Minister for Local Government, William Cosgrave, can be found in Diarmaid Ferriter (2004) The Transformation of Ireland 1900–2000 (London), p. 186.Google Scholar
  52. 131.
    Freeman’s Journal, 5 Aug. 1922. United Irishman, 22 Feb. 1923. Terence de Vere White (1986 edn) Kevin O’Higgins (Dublin), p. 79.Google Scholar
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    Collins to Griffith, 14 July 1922, quoted in Eunan O’Halpin (1999) Defending Ireland: the Irish State and its Enemies since 1922 (Oxford), p. 25.Google Scholar
  54. 135.
    Risteárd Mulcahy (1999) Richard Mulcahy (1886–1971): a Family Memoir (Dublin), p. 82. Ironically, Mulcahy later admitted that ‘a large proportion of the criminal element found its way into the [Free State] Army’, Hopkinson, Green against Green, p. 137.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, United Irishman, 11 and 18 Aug. 1922. See also L. P. Curtis (1997 edn) Apes and Angels: the Irishman in Victorian Caricature (Washington DC).Google Scholar
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    Trevor Wilson (ed.) (1970 edn) The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott 1911–1928 (Ithaca, NY), pp. 404–5.Google Scholar
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    M. G. Valiulis (1992) Portrait of a Revolutionary: General Richard Mulcahy and the Founding of the Irish State (Dublin), p. 180. ‘Hammer-Heads’ cartoon and reference to ‘Sledgers’ in Freeman’s Journal, 11 April and 6 April 1922. To be fair, the paper was reacting to the IRA’s destruction of its printing press.Google Scholar
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    Jeffrey Prager (1986) Building Democracy in Ireland: Political Order and Cultural Integration in a Newly Independent Nation (Cambridge) and Garvin, 1922.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. ‘Non-rational’ comes from Charles Townshend (1983) Political Violence in Ireland: Government and Resistance since 1848 (Oxford), p. 363.Google Scholar
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    United Irishman, 6 Oct. 1923. Freeman’s Journal, 17 April 1923. On this theme see Gavin Foster (2012) ‘Res Publica na hÉireann? Republican Liberty and the Irish Civil War’, New Hibernia Review, Vol. 16, No. 3, Autumn, p. 31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 200.
    Reginald Hathaway is a complex case in point. See Ernie O’Malley (Cormac O’Malley and Tim Horgan eds) (2012) The Men Will Talk To Me: Kerry Interviews By Ernie O’Malley (Dublin), pp. 24–7.Google Scholar
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    ‘The Dead Chief’, An tÓglach, 26 Aug. 1922. See also P. Béaslaí (1926) Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland (Vol II) (London), p. 358 and O’Hegarty, The Victory of Sinn Féin, p. 100.Google Scholar
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    Seymour Lipset (1960) Political Man: the Social Bases of Politics,Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Gavin Maxwell Foster 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Concordia UniversityCanada

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