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The Irish War of Independence and Its Legacy

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The Irish War of Independence and Its Legacy

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  • September 2012
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The Irish War of Independence and its Legacy

The Irish War of Independence is by no means a cut and dry issue. The legacy of this War, which began in 1919 and ended 1921 and its consequences are not confined to this specific time period. It resulted in an immediate Civil War between Irish pro-Treaty and anti-Treaty forces, which lasted for one violent and bloody year post independence. It’s legacy can also be seen in Northern Ireland today which has seen acts of extreme terrorism by loyalist and republican forces still in conflict over the partition of the island. In this paper I will be discussing the War of Independence itself and the key events and actors involved that lead eventually to the formation of the Irish Free State that exists today. I will also discuss the differing views and strategies on how best to defeat the British Empire. On the one hand Eamon De Valera wanted open warfare and rebellion as he believed this to be the only way to be viewed as legitimate by the international community. On the other Michael Collins preferred to engage in guerrilla warfare, intelligence gathering and clandestine operations mimicking the Boers in South Africa. He felt that open warfare and rebellion would be consistently futile in the face of a vastly superior and powerful military force. The Irish War of Independence cannot be discussed without first analyzing the preceding events and in particular the Easter week of 1916 which some people consider the real start of the Irish War of Independence. Immediately prior to this week Irish Nationalists signed anPoblacht na hEireann (Provisional Government of Ireland) a one-page document declaring Ireland as a sovereign nation. A group of armed volunteers overtook by force strategic locations around Dublin City and engaged in a week-long battle against British forces in which roughly 400 people on both sides lost their lives.

The Easter Rising, as it comes to be known is significant for a number of reasons. The...