State Repression in the Civil War’s Aftermath



The half decade between the ambiguous end of the civil war and the rise of de Valera’s Fianna Fáil party in the late 1920s was a deeply traumatic period for the losers of the conflict. In his oration at the 1924 Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown, republican propagandist Brian O’Higgins spoke of ‘the cesspools of calumniation … the thorny ways of poverty … the torture-hells called prisons and the bitterness of exile’ that ‘republican idealists’ in every generation had been forced to endure.1 O’Higgins’ prophetic comments neatly telegraph the central features of republicans’ collective experience living under a newly consolidated post-revolutionary status quo. Stripped of O’Higgins’ literary language, the primary post-revolutionary difficulties republican sources have stressed include ongoing persecution by the state; financial hardship brought about by imprisonment and economic discrimination amidst the depressed postwar economy; and a mass exodus abroad. To what extent does this picture stand up to scrutiny? Were the forces of repression as severe as republicans alleged? Did the losers of the civil war suffer inordinate hardship as a result of an orchestrated campaign of economic victimization? Did republican activists emigrate from the early Free State in especially high numbers? And if so, were government repression and economic victimization the main ‘push factors’ behind this exodus?


Public Safety State Repression Hunger Strike Habeas Corpus Republican Movement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Pádraig Ó Tuille (n.d. [1966]) Life and Times of Brian O’Higgins (Navan, Co. Kildare), p. 20.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Anne Dolan (2003) Commemorating the Irish Civil War: History and Memory, 1923–2000 (Cambridge), p. 95 (footnote 254).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bill Kissane (2005) The Politics of the Irish Civil War (Oxford), pp. 2–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    ‘Irish Peace Offer — Rebel Offensive to Cease — De Valera’s Terms’, The Times, 28 April 1923. Michael Hopkinson (2004 edn) Green against Green: the Irish Civil War (Dublin), pp. 256–7.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Over a hundred republican fighters were captured in the first week of May alone, Dorothy Macardle (1968 edn) The Irish Republic (London), pp. 779–80.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Tom Garvin (1996) 1922: the Birth of Irish Democracy (Dublin), pp. 120–1.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Hopkinson, Green against Green, p. 259. For text of the 24 May 1923 order see Cormac O’Malley and Anne Dolan (eds) (2007) No Surrender Here! The Civil War Papers of Ernie O’Malley 1922–1924 (Dublin), p. 377.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Hopkinson, Green against Green, p. 259. See also Sligo IRA member William Pilkington quoted in Michael Farry (2000) The Aftermath of Revolution: Sligo, 1921–1923 (Dublin), p. 93.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Francis Blake (1986) The Irish Civil War 1922–1923 and What It Still Means For the Irish People (London), p. 56.Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    Macardle, The Irish Republic, p. 786; O’Halpin (1999) Defending Ireland: the Irish State and its Enemies since 1922 (Oxford), p. 42;Google Scholar
  11. and Michael Hopkinson in J. R. Hill (ed.) (2003) A New History of Ireland, VII, Ireland 1921–84 (Oxford), p. 52.Google Scholar
  12. Higher figures appear in Meda Ryan (2003) Tom Barry: IRA Freedom Fighter (Cork), p. 196;Google Scholar
  13. McGarry (2002) Frank Ryan (Dublin), p. 5;Google Scholar
  14. and Pyne (1969) ‘The Third Sinn Féin Party: 1923–1926, Part 1’, The Economic and Social Review, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Oct.), 33.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Robert Kee (2000 edn) The Green Flag: a History of Irish Nationalism (London), p. 744.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    Ernie O’Malley (2012 edn) The Singing Flame (Cork), p. 292.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    See O’Malley, The Singing Flame, p. 292; Peter Hart (1998) The IRA and its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork, 1916–1923 (Oxford), p. 125;Google Scholar
  18. and Jeremiah Murphy (1998) When Youth Was Mine: a Memoir of Kerry, 1902–1925 (Dublin), p. 268.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Calton Younger (1969) Ireland’s Civil War (New York), p. 503.Google Scholar
  20. Uinseann Mac Eoin (1997) The IRA in the Twilight Years 1923–1948 (Dublin), pp. 77, 79.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Seosamh Ó Longaigh (2006) Emergency Law in Independent Ireland, 1922–1948 (Dublin), pp. 39–41.Google Scholar
  22. 26.
    T. P. Coogan (1994) The IRA: a History (Niwot, CO) pp. 31–2.Google Scholar
  23. IRA policy against ‘signing out’ was codified in General Order No. 24, Brian Hanley (2002) The IRA 1926–1936 (Dublin), pp. 37–9.Google Scholar
  24. 33.
    Litton (1995) The Irish Civil War: an Illustrated History (Dublin), pp. 125–6.Google Scholar
  25. 46.
    Frank O’Connor described the post-strike mood in his camp as a ‘grave of lost illusions’, Frank O’Connor (1961) An Only Child (New York), p. 270–1.Google Scholar
  26. See also J. Campbell (Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, ed.) (2001) As I Was Among the Captives: Joseph Campbell’s Prison Diary, 1922–1923 (Cork), p. 105.Google Scholar
  27. 48.
    Harnett (J. H. Joy, ed.) (2002) Victory and Woe: the West Limerick Brigade in the War of Independence (Dublin), p. 159.Google Scholar
  28. 51.
    Constance Markievicz, NDU Internment Camp, 12 Dec. 1923 letter to sister, Eva, in Markievicz (1987 edn) (A. Sebestyen, ed.) Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz (London), p. 282.Google Scholar
  29. 52.
    C. S. Andrews (1982) Man of No Property: an Autobiography (Volume Two) (Cork), p. 51.Google Scholar
  30. 53.
    Blake, The Irish Civil War, p. 56. Kiernan McCarthy and Major Britt Christensen (1992) Cobh’s Contribution to the Fight for Irish Freedom 1913–1990 (Cobh, Co. Cork), p. 130.Google Scholar
  31. 54.
    O’Halpin, Defending Ireland, p. 42; J. M. Curran (1980) The Birth of the Irish Free State, 1921–23 (Mobile, AL), pp. 259–60, 267;Google Scholar
  32. D. Fitzpatrick (1998) The Two Irelands 1912–1939 (Oxford), pp. 205–6, 241–2; Garvin, 1922, pp. 53–4, 165–8;Google Scholar
  33. J. Bowyer-Bell (1997 edn) The Secret Army: the IRA (Dublin), p. 41; Coogan, The IRA, pp. 30–1.Google Scholar
  34. 58.
    Min./Justice O’Higgins’ 10 Jan. 1924 memo to Executive Council and accompanying Garda crime returns for 1 July–21 Dec. 1923 highlighting cases involving (ex-)members of the National Army, P24/323, E. Blythe Papers, UCDA. John Regan (1999) The Irish Counter-Revolution 1921–1936: Treatyite Politics and Settlement in Independent Ireland (Dublin), p. 178.Google Scholar
  35. 69.
    Macardle, Irish Republic, p. 787. Neeson (1989 edn) The Civil War 1922–23 (Swords, Co. Dublin), p. 294 and Mac Eoin, Survivors, p. 50.Google Scholar
  36. 94.
    Brian O’Higgins (1962 edn) Wolfe Tone Annual (Dublin), pp. 24–7.Google Scholar
  37. 97.
    Brian O’Higgins lists eight such victims post-ceasefire, O’Higgins (1962 edn) Wolfe Tone Annual (Dublin: n. p.), pp. 28–9.Google Scholar
  38. 100.
    Seamus Mac Suain (1993) Republican Wexford Remembers 1922–1923 (Loch Garman, Ireland), pp. 26–7, 44. See also Hart, The IRA and its Enemies, p. 125.Google Scholar
  39. 104.
    Ernie O’Malley (2012) (C. K. H. O’Malley and T. Horgan eds) The Men Will Talk to Me: Kerry Interviews (Cork), pp. 26, 28–9, 75–6, 95–7, 102–8, 146, 211, 235, 258–9, 278–9, 286–7, 293, 329. But O’Malley himself expressed some skepticism about the blame his interviewees p laced on Daly and Neligan, p. 293.Google Scholar
  40. 105.
    Kerry Volunteers, in particular, dwell on the topic of dugouts. Seamus O’Connor (1987 edn) Tomorrow Was Another Day: Irreverent Memories of an Irish Rebel Schoolmaster (Dun Laoire, Co. Dublin), pp. 91–2, 113. Also see John Joe Sheehy in Mac Eoin, Survivors, p. 358.Google Scholar
  41. 107.
    Liam Skinner (1946) Politicians by Accident (Dublin), p. 87.Google Scholar
  42. 109.
    F. S. L. Lyons (1979) Culture and Anarchy in Ireland, 1890–1939 (Oxford), Chapter 4 passim.Google Scholar
  43. 112.
    John Horgan (1997) Seán Lemass: the Enigmatic Patriot (Dublin), p. 26.Google Scholar
  44. 114.
    Padraic O’Farrell (1997) Who’s Who in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War 1916–1923 (Dublin), p. 169.Google Scholar
  45. 125.
    Seán Kennedy (2005) ‘Cultural Memory in Mercier and Camier: the Fate of Noel Lemass’, in Marius Bunig et al. (eds) Historicizing Beckett/Issues of Performance (Amsterdam and New York), p. 118.Google Scholar
  46. 160.
    The three acts were the ‘Public Safety (Powers of Arrest and Detention) Temporary Bill, 1924’, the ‘Public Safety (Punishment of Offences) Temporary Act, 1924’, and the ‘Firearms (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1924’. Ó Longaigh, Emergency Law, pp. 45–50; also see F. S. L. Lyons (1973 edn) Ireland Since the Famine (London), pp. 487–8.Google Scholar
  47. 163.
    Ryan, Tom Barry, pp. 202–3. Michael Laffan (1999) The Resurrection of Ireland: the Sinn Féin Party, 1916–1923 (Cambridge), p. 439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 168.
    De Valera’s 11 July 1927 statement in Maurice Moynihan (ed.) (1980) Speeches and Statements by Eamon de Valera 1917–73 (Dublin), pp. 148–9.Google Scholar
  49. 170.
    Alvin Jackson (1999) Ireland 1798–1998: Politics and War (Oxford), p. 287; Regan, The Irish Counter-Revolution, pp. 288–94.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gavin Maxwell Foster 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Concordia UniversityCanada

Personalised recommendations