Irish War of Independence centenary...and The Truce

A couple of links relating to some of the information from Gary's posts

Rioting in Belfast:


Prison conditions protest:

 
22 November 1921

Apologies for my absence for the last while, I was away for a few days with Mrs Cooper. By the time Icatch up the Civil War will have kicked off.

In Belfast the day began early with sniping into the Catholic areas of Patrick Street and Lancaster Street. Agnes Stewart was wounded in the leg as she opened her shop.

About noon, an hour long gun battle took place between those professing Loyalty to the Crown and those actually serving the Crown. Several Loyalists were wounded. At 2 pm Loyalist gunmen opened fire into Bridge End in the Newtownards Road area. A single bullet entered the Bridge End Labour Bureau office killing two men who worked there;

Jack Keating, age 28 from Dublin. Keating was an ex-Royal Dublin Fusilier and former POW.

William McMordie, age 22, from Sandhurst Street.

Around 6 pm, a bomb was thrown at a tram in Corporation Street, killing three men and wounding ten;

The dead were;

William Cairnduff, age 40.

James Rodgers

Robert Nesbitt, age 17.

Patrick Connolly was fatally wounded as he worked in his uncle’s grocery shop and died the following day. Patrick Malone was also shot dead in his own shop by gunmen.

45 IRA prisoners tunnel their way out of Kilkenny prison. No attempt is made to re-capture them.
Kilkenny Jail Escape – Kilkenny Archaeological Society

The Irish delegation in London sent a new memorandum to the British which was in effect, an outline treaty. It was mostly prepared by Childers but presented as Barton’s to avoid incurring Griffith’s wrath. Thomas Jones later met with Griffith saying that the new memorandum had filled Llyod George with despair. Copy of the proposals here;

Responsibility for security was transferred from Westminster to the Northern Ireland Government. Curfew regulations were reimposed. The opportunity was taken to reactivate the USC.
 
Last edited:
23 November 1921

Another day of violence began in Belfast with gunfire in several parts of city - Royal Avenue, Ballymacarrett and the Antrim Road. In the docks, workers had to abandon their posts due to sniping. The York Street area became a battle zone from 2.30pm until the army arrived to subdue the violence. Killed during the day were;

Patrick Brundon

Ellen Bell

Herbert Philips

Michael Spallen

and

Margaret Millar. Margaret was 60 years of age when she was shot in the chest by a sniper in Dock Lane, near her home. Her son, Joseph, had been killed in June and Margaret herself was injured in the same incident. Her daughter lost an eye to a bomb while another had been shot in the thigh. Margaret’s brother, William Kane, had his right hand blown off in a bomb explosion. Not a lucky family it seems.

The Ulster Special Constabulary moved into Catholic areas of Belfast and arrested a number of men in Thomspon Street and Foundry Street.

A riot broke out in Galway prison, protesting at the treatment of Diarmuid Crowley, a barrister who had been acting as a Sinn Féin Judge.

Prisoners are still threatening hunger strike in Mountjoy Prison over plans to move Madge and Lily Cotter to a prison in England. Eileen McGrane, who is still ill in the prison hospital, was also under threat of deportation.

Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins met with Lloyd George, Austen Chamberlain and Birkenhead to discuss the Irish memorandum. The British delegates privately discussed the situation among themselves and decided to continue with talks. The Irish side was asked to return again the following day and to bring with them their constitutional lawyer - John Chartres.
 
24 November 1921

For the second time in days, a bomb was thrown into a packed tram on Royal Avenue in Belfast, killing 4 and injuring 7. Richard Graham and Jeremiah Fleming died immediately with Robert Johnston and Thomas Rodgers dying the following day. In a reprisal attack in Ohio Street, J.J Kelly, a Catholic man who ran his mother's spirit grocery, was chatting to his Protestant neighbour, Thomas Thompson when gunmen opened fire killing them both.

The funerals of first victims of the bloodshed in Belfast took place with the coffins of the Protestant victims draped in Union Jacks and guarded by the military in armoured vehicles.

In London, Arthur Griffith suggested to Lord Birkenhead that the British might prefer the English translation of Saorstát Éireann as 'Irish Free State', and not 'Irish Republic'. Birkenhead agreed to this. You may recall that Lloyd George had suggested this to De Valera back in July. Saorstát Éireann will last from 1922 to the formation of the Republic in 1949.

The rest of the Downing Street meeting on the did not go well. John Chartres was in attendance and his explanation of what external association would mean to the Irish was opposed outright by the British. With no progress being made, Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins decided to return to Dublin for the weekend.
 
25 November 1921

Violence continued in Belfast. After this date it began to peter out for a while. John McHenry, a Catholic member of the Harbour Police, was shot dead near Milewater Gate as about 6 pm as the Shipyard workers were making their way home. McHenry was 59 years old and had been a policeman for 30 years.

James McIvor, age 45 was shot dead in his shop in Little Patrick Street. David Duncan was subsequently charged with McIvor’s murder, but acquitted.

Lloyd George called off further discussion in the treaty negotiations. He informed James Craig that Sinn Féin's members would refuse to take an oath of allegiance to the King as a condition of serving in an All-Ireland parliament.

A meeting of the Dáil Éireann cabinet took place in the Mansion House, Dublin. Collins and Griffith updated de Valera, Stack, and Brugha on British opposition to de Valera's External Association proposals. After much debate, the cabinet demanded that there be no movement on the Irish proposals.
 
26 November 1921

Diarmuid Crowley, whose treatment sparked rioting in Galway Prison, has been transferred to Mountjoy, where he is in the prison hospital. 28 prisoners were transferred from Galway to prisons in England overnight

Lord Birkenhead made an appeal for Irish peace saying that a reconquering project in Ireland would cost Britain much blood and treasure and leave them in the same situation. He said he believed in the sincerity of Griffith and Collins.

James Craig, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, returned to Belfast from London.
 
27 November 1921

A Republican women’s protest, made up of members of Cumann na mBan, the Irish Women's Franchise League and graduates of UCD, marched from O'Connell Street. The crowd was addressed by Countess Markievicz, Kathleen Lynn, Charlotte Despard, and Maude Gonne-McBride.

In Belfast, James Craig conferred with his cabinet on British proposals regarding some form of a United Ireland.
 
28 November 1921

Arthur Griffith and Eamonn Duggan travelled to meet with Lloyd George and Robert Horne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in Chequers, Buckinghamshire. A memo from the Irish delegates outlining their proposal on External Association was discussed and rejected. The British made some concession in a counter-proposal. In Griffith's words they offered "to put in any phrase in the Treaty we liked to ensure that the function of the Crown in Ireland should be no more in practice than it is in Canada or any Dominion". An offer to modify the Oath of Allegiance was also made.
 
29 November 1921

Annie McNamara, a 48 year old mother of 8 heard a thud outside the front door of their home at 56 Keegan Street, Belfast at 11pm. When Annie opened her door to investigate a grenade exploded and she sustained a shrapnel wound to the neck. Annie died shortly after being admitted to the Mater Hospital.

Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, and Eamonn Duggan met Lloyd George, Chamberlain, and Birkenhead in Downing Street. Lloyd George reiterated the offers made the day before in Chequers. Griffith told Lloyd George that the Oath of Allegiance was unacceptable. LG replied that they would reconsider and send final proposals to the Irish and James Craig on 6th December. Griffith and Collins said they needed to see the proposals before Craig and Lloyd George agreed to send them on 1st December.

Griffith later wrote to de Valera asking him to convene a Cabinet meeting in Dublin for 3rd December. Collins and Griffith planned to arrive in Dublin the day before.

De Valera's meanwhile had already revealed his plan to reject the Treaty in a letter to Harry Boland. As things stand to-day it means war ... you will understand ... if I appear with those who choose war, it is only because alternative is impossible without dishonour.

De Valera then headed off to Clare (his Dáil constituency since 1917) where he began the task of rallying the IRA to the anti-Treaty side.
 
30 November 1921

Alexander Reid, age 61, a Harland and Wolff shipyard worker, was shot dead by a sniper as he walked to work at 7.30am. The killing was believed to be a reprisal for the bomb attack on Keegan Street the previous night.

Late in the night and a few hours ahead of schedule, the revised British proposals were sent to Arthur Griffith in Hans Place. The draft proposed that the Oath of Allegiance declared fealty to King George as 'head of the State and Empire'. It also outlined that British defence of the Irish coast be temporary until an arrangement was worked out with the new Irish state An appendix to the draft noted that ports within the 26 counties that Britain wished to retain control of were Berehaven, Cobh, and Lough Swilly. It also proposed that no submarine cables or wireless telegraphy connections be made to other countries without British permission.

30november.jpg


Part of the draft Treaty annotated by Griffith on the night of 30th November.​
 
1 December 1921

The draft Treaty which had arrived late the previous night from was still being considered by the Irish delegates in Hans Place. The discussions were outlined by Erskine Childers in his diary. Childers was less than complimentary, accusing Griffith of being 'muzzy' with whiskey as he read the draft the night before. Childers added that Collins and Griffith didn’t understand the meaning of half of the points the English worked on ... I thought of the fate of Ireland being settled hugger-mugger by ignorant Irish negotiators and A. G. in genuine sympathy with many of the English claims. Robert Barton meanwhile had departed London for Dublin.

De Valera continued his visit to his home constituency of Clare, reviewing Volunteers in Kilrush and Kilmurry and planning to do the same the following day in Scarriff and Glenwood.

The Northern Ireland Parliament reacted with surprise to the recent decision of the RIC not to cooperate with a planned transfer of services in Ulster to the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland. They refused to act under any authority except that of Westminster.

The British press reported that Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, was definitely planning on travelling to Washington to attend part of the Disarmament Conference. The rush to cross the Atlantic put a timeline on concluding the Anglo-Irish talks.
 
29 November 1921

Annie McNamara, a 48 year old mother of 8 heard a thud outside the front door of their home at 56 Keegan Street, Belfast at 11pm. When Annie opened her door to investigate a grenade exploded and she sustained a shrapnel wound to the neck. Annie died shortly after being admitted to the Mater Hospital.

Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, and Eamonn Duggan met Lloyd George, Chamberlain, and Birkenhead in Downing Street. Lloyd George reiterated the offers made the day before in Chequers. Griffith told Lloyd George that the Oath of Allegiance was unacceptable. LG replied that they would reconsider and send final proposals to the Irish and James Craig on 6th December. Griffith and Collins said they needed to see the proposals before Craig and Lloyd George agreed to send them on 1st December.

Griffith later wrote to de Valera asking him to convene a Cabinet meeting in Dublin for 3rd December. Collins and Griffith planned to arrive in Dublin the day before.

De Valera's meanwhile had already revealed his plan to reject the Treaty in a letter to Harry Boland. As things stand to-day it means war ... you will understand ... if I appear with those who choose war, it is only because alternative is impossible without dishonour.

De Valera then headed off to Clare (his Dáil constituency since 1917) where he began the task of rallying the IRA to the anti-Treaty side.
It was as if Dev knew what was coming......
 
2 December 1921

An escape attempt from Derry Jail went badly wrong. Three prisoners under sentence of death were supposed to escape but were rounded up in an exercise yard before they could do so. An RIC Constable named Michael Gorman and a USC man named William Lyttle, allegedly in cahoots with the escapees, were to be rendered unconscious with chloroform. Unfortunately the two men were given an overdose and died. Joseph Lavery, James Campbell, Joseph McGuinness and William O’Kane were charged with murder but discharged by the end of the month.

Michael Gorman was from Malin Head, Donegal, aged 45 and had joined the RIC in 1899.

William Lyttle was 27 and from Magherafelt.

Alfred Phippen died in hospital in Belfast, of wounds he sustained on 23rd November. Phippen was originally from England, aged 60.

Arthur Griffith and Eamonn Duggan left London early in the morning to return to Dublin for the Cabinet meeting the following day.

Michael Collins stayed in London for two vital meetings in the Treasury with Robert Horne and Lloyd George. Erskine Childers accompanied Collins to the first meeting with Horne, but was left behind as Collins met Lloyd George alone. According to Childers' diary, at the first meeting, he "blew whole thing to pieces by pointing out not only gross impropriety of a provincial fund but grotesque results which might follow Ulster receiving too much from central funds". He added that Collins didn't understand the clause. Childers appears to have been a gobsh1te. At least when his son keeled over and died in office we got a day off school.

After the meetings Childers and Collins departed London for the long journey to Dublin via rail and sea, along with George Gavan Duffy. The journey was hardly made shorter by the fact that they all hated each other at this stage.

de Valera and Brugha arrived in Scarriff, Co. Clare for the latest leg of their tour. After a quickl review of the Volunteers they rushed back to Dublin, arriving late in the evening ahead of tomorrow's the cabinet meeting the following day.
 
Last edited:
3 December 1921

Michael Collins, Erskine Childers, and George Gavan Duffy along with 271 other passengers were aboard the Cambria, when it collided with a schooner, the James Tyrel. The schooner split in two, sank within minutes and killed three crewmen. The Cambria's lifeboats were dropped and passengers assembled on the deck before the ship turned about and returned to Holyhead where the passengers transferred to the Hibernia and set off for Dublin a second time. The Hibernia docked in Dun Laoghaire at 10.30am. Collins, Childers, and Gavan-Duffy rushed to the Mansion House after possibly the worst preparation ever for a crucial meeting.

At the Mansion House, Eamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Robert Barton, W.T. Cosgrave, Kevin O'Higgins, Austin Stack, Eamon Duggan, George Gavan Duffy, Erskine Childers, and Cathal Brugha began a bitter and divisive cabinet meeting that lasted seven hours.

Of the plenipotentiaries, Griffith, Collins, and Duggan were prepared to agree to the Treaty while Barton and Gavan Duffy believed there were more concessions to be got from British. Erskine Childers opposed several clauses in the Treaty.

De Valera told the cabinet that the draft Treaty could not be accepted as it was. He personally opposed the Oath of Allegiance and giving the north the power to vote itself out of the Irish State. De Valera then added that a modified treaty might be accepted honourably, something he later denied saying.

Griffith argued that the document wasn't great, but was hardly dishonourable. Brugha replied that the treaty as it stood would split Ireland. Griffith allegedly replied 'I suppose that's so' but said the plenipotentiaries should sign and leave it to De Valera and the Dáil to reject the treaty. Cathal Brugha also asked how the sub-committee arrangement came about in London with Collins and Griffith leading the negotiations. He implied that the British had singled out the two as the most malleable members of the delegation.

During a lunch recess, Collins briefed Seán ÓMuirthile, a leading member of Irish Republican Brotherhood. Collins had intended to meet the IRB in person and brief them before the cabinet meeting, but could not due to his late arrival in Dublin. Ó'Muirthile told Collins that the IRB opposed the oath, defence and Northern Ireland clauses.

The Cabinet meeting resumed after lunch with Griffith saying he would not take the responsibility for breaking off negotiations over the Crown. De Valera made a proposed amendment to the oath although there is some confusion over what that emendment was. He later vehemently denied giving any instructions to the delegation as to any final treaty document. The cabinet agreed that Griffith was to tell Lloyd George that the document could not be signed, to state that it is now a matter for Dáil, and to try and put the blame on Ulster. At 7pm the meeting concluded after over six hours.

With thanks to @131Weeks on Twitter for the details of the Cabinet meeting.
 
4 December 1921

The split is the Irish delegation is so profound that they return to London in separate parties- Collins and Griffith leaving from Dun Laoighre while Childers, Barton and Gavan Duffy travelled from Dublin port.

In London, David Lloyd George returned to Downing Street from Chequers and met with Robert Horne, Austen Chamberlain, and Lord Birkenhead to discuss the planned meeting with the Irish delegates at 5pm.

After arrival in London the two Irish parties met in Hans Place where the tensions immediately re-emerged. After what must have been a rancorous meeting, Collins furiously refused to go to Downing Street while Griffith decided to accompany Barton, Gavan Duffy. The 5pm meeting in Downing Street with Lloyd George, Chamberlain, Horne, and Birkenhead began well. However after an hour when it was clear little headway was being made Gavan Duffy suggested the real issue was Ireland remaining part of the Empire. Chamberlain seized his moment, leapt to his feet and said 'that ends it'. Gavan Duffy's comment had been the excuse the British had been waiting for to end the talks. They told three men that they would formalise the break down of talks the following day and inform James Craig that the Anglo-Irish talks were over.

Meanwhile, back in Ireland, De Valera had resumed his tour to rally the IRA, heading off to Galway. His speeches, both in Clare and Galway carried the theme of no surrender of the Irish Republic.

Sean Collins, brother of Michael was released from Cork Military Hospital, where he had been sent after internment on Spike Island.
 
Last edited:
5 December 1921

It was the final day of talks in London.

About midnight on 4th/5th December Arthur Griffith had just finished a report to De Valera when he received an unexpected visitor at Hans Place. Tom Jones, Deputy Secretary to the British Cabinet was on a mission to once again salvage negotiations. Griffith told Jones that he and Collins were willing to support a Treaty but it needed more on Irish unity to stand a chance of ratification in the Dáil. Griffith and Jones discussed matters well into the early hours. They agreed Collins should meet with Lloyd George later in the day in a last ditch effort.

Collins first found out when he spoke with Griffith first thing. Somewhat reluctant, Collins finally agreed although it took some time and he turned up at Downing Street 15 minutes late at 9.30 am.

Lloyd George opened the conversation with Collins by telling him that he had a meeting of his cabinet in two hours' time, and that he would be telling them that Anglo-Irish talks were over, having broken down the previous night. Collins replied that he was entirely unsatisfied with the current proposals on the north, the agreed break for the Irish delegation. Lloyd George argued that Collins had previously stated that Northern Ireland would be too small to economically survive, which Collins acknowledged, but he now wanted some written assurance from James Craig. Lloyd George suggested that there could be room to move on this which both men must have known was bóllocks. LG suggested that there could be movement on trade and defence if Dominion Status was accepted. At this the meeting ended with Collins telling Lloyd George that unless he heard otherwise, the Irish would return later in the day.
 
5 December 1921
The evening meeting
The crunch meeting came at 3 pm. Griffith, Collins and Barton met with Lloyd George, Birkenhead, Chamberlain and Churchill in Downing Street. Childers was in Downing Street but not at the meeting. Griffith began by discussing the need for agreement from Craig on a united Ireland. Lloyd George responded that what was on offer was what Griffith had already agreed to a few weeks previously. Collins began to argue that there could be no agreement without Craig's giving his assent to unity. Lloyd George angrily produced the memorandum in which Griffith had agreed to a Boundary Commission on 12th November during his one-on-one meeting with Lloyd George. Collins and Barton were unaware that Griffith had been played by LG at this meeting and the memorandum cut the ground from under their feet. The British made some meaningless concessions before the meeting stopped for a break.

Resuming at 7 pm, Griffith threw in the towel and agreed to personally sign the Treaty, but said that he would not ask the other delegates to do so. LG responded that he always took it that Griffith led and spoke for the delegation. They were all Plenipotentiaries. It was a matter of peace or war and there was no agreement if all delegates did not sign. Lloyd George produced two letters, both to James Craig. One contained the Treaty and news of Sinn Féin’s acceptance, the second news of the collapse of the talks and war within three days. Those who refused to sign must take full responsibility for the war that would immediately follow. The Irish had until 10 pm to choose. And at that the meeting ended.
 

Latest Threads

Top