I have always had an interest in the War of Independence in Ireland 1918-1921.
Of course this period of Irish History grew from the 1916 rebellion and developed into a full scale guerrilla war which culminated in the infamous treaty which artificially partitioned Ireland under Lloyd Georges threat of “terrible and immediate war”. There are two points of interest that have arisen this week regarding this period in our history that I believe are notable and interesting
In West Cork during that period there is a prevailing myth within unionism that something of a pogrom took place against the local protestant population. If it did, let me be clear, I would unreservedly condemn it. Today’s Bel Tel carries the following article on the subject: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/republic-of-ireland/killing-of-protestants-not-ethnic-cleansing-claims-irish-war-of-independence-author-29943667.htm
I’ll just quote one sentence.”Despite claims that the killings had a major impact on west Cork ‘s ethnic profile, with the local Protestant population dropping by almost 30pc between 1911 and 1926, recent research has shown that the majority of these were British military and that most native Protestants remained.”
My own family were involved in the War of Independence and I can, with confidence, state that there was no appetite for a sectarian aspect to that conflict in that area. In fact I can also state that, although there was a Catholic majority actively involved on the Republican side, they were by no means the only religion represented. The North Eastern part of the Island was a different story. Pearse spoke in this the 1916 proclamation:
“The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.”
I would suggest that our resident Unionist contributors here could find little to disagree with in that quote?
The second thing that caught my eye was the fascinating release of new archive material by the Irish Army at Cathal Brugha barracks relating to the same period. This material relates to applications for pensions by volunteers but involves hand written operational details and information previously unavailable.
It’s all here.