The Irish War of Independence 1919-1921

Table of Contents
1. Overview
1.1 Background - Devon M.
1.2 Origins - Oumaima E.
1.3 The Steps - Bobby P.
1.4 Anglo-Irish Treaty - Kim O.
1.5 The Battles - Raechel R.

2. Michael Collins - Raechel R.
2.1 Photography
2.2 Background
2.3.1 "Michael Collins"
2.3.2"The Big Fellah"
2.3.3"The Ballad of Michael Collins"

3. Eamon De Valera - Bobby P.
3.1 Photography
3.2 Background
3.3 "Eamon De Valera"

4. Ernie O’Malley - Devon M.
4.1 Photography
4.2 Background
4.3 "The Boys of the Old Brigade"

5. Sean Treacy - Kim O.
5.1 Photography
5.2 Background
5.3 "Sean Treacy"

6. Kevin Gerard Barry - Oumaima E.
6.1 Photography
6.2 Background
6.3 "Kevin Barry"

7. Relevant Links
8. Works Cited


1.1 Background

The Irish War of Independence, or “Cogadh na Saoirse” in Irish, was a guerilla war between Britain’s government and the Irish Republican Army (IRA)( The IRA was led by Michael Collins ( The war was started because the Irish didn’t like the presence of the British in Ireland. The Irish Republican Army attacked the British government ( The war started in January 1919, after the Irish Republic’s declaration of independence, and ended with a truce in July 1921 ( The IRA used many tactics to try and make the British negotiate. The war concluded with the Anglo-Irish Treaty. This treaty established that British rule would end in most of Ireland, and it also recognized the Irish Free State ( The Anglo-Irish Treaty also recognized that six northern counties would still be part of the United Kingdom, and would be named Northern Ireland (

1.2 Origin

In 1919, The Powers sat down to redraw the map of Europe after the First World War ( Sinn Fein was in the meetings to include Ireland in this redrawing ( In these meetings, they decided that Ireland should be granted independence by a treaty, but almost all of the leaders in Europe ignored Sinn Fein and they came back home with empty hands ( The years between 1916 and 1919, the beginning of the War of Independence were not bloodless ( . At least there wasn’t a lot of damage in the volunteers. However, now there aren’t any issues for Irish people to have British people in their land. There is a kind of peace now, unlike before (

1.3 The Steps

It all started in World War 1 when Irish rebels, preferably called the Volunteers tried to overthrow the British Government ( As a result, many of the Irish who participated in this poorly organized uprising were jailed. In December of 1916, the newly appointed British Prime Minister , David Lloyd George, released anybody that was jailed in the 1916 Easter Rising because he felt like it was the right thing to do ( The people that were doing their time in jail progressively started to switch to a Republican mentality ( Many people believed that happened because they started recruiting the Irish in Wales ( Many of the Irish that suffered from internment returned to their native countries as heroes ( With all of these problems building up, the English should’ve had some idea that the Irish were not going to give up on what they believe in. As a result, the War of Independence has begun.

1.4 Anglo-Irish Treaty and its Negotiations

The Anglo-Irish Treaty was negotiated by Dáil Éireann, the House of Commons of Southern Ireland, and both Houses of the British parliament in January 1922 (Irish War of Independence: Facts). This treaty gave way to new opportunities of peace between northern and southern ireland. This bestowed the right of Free State upon Northern Ireland through the Government of Ireland Act, activated in 1920 (Irish War of Independence: Facts). The Anglo-Irish Treaty may have established temporary peace among the states by giving way to a few rights, but it didn’t give much power back to Northern Ireland. It also started a civil war within Northern Ireland because a lot of people didn't want treaty due to the lack of concessions given to them in the treaty. “T
he Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall in Northern Ireland have in relation to matters in respect of which the Parliament of Northern Ireland has not the power to make laws under the Act” (Documents).

1.5 The Battles

There had been many conflicts predating the Irish War of Independence. Tensions were rising yet again in 1919. Many people were attempting passive resistances. However, the conflict soon escalated into violence, following the 1919 Soloheadbeg Ambush in County Tipperary (Higgins). On 21 January 1919, the IRA shot dead 2 Irish policemen in county Tipperary, and this marked the beginning of what is now known as the War of Independence ("History of Ireland"). The war quickly escalated and many lives were claimed by the fighting between the British and the IRA. Quite often innocent people were caught in the crossfire. In 1920 the IRA, led by a Corkman named Michael Collins, concluded that the war was not having the desired effect and decided to intensify the war ("History of Ireland"). Twelve people were killed and sixty injured on Bloody Sunday (21 November 1920) at a Gaelic Football match at Croke Park by The Black and Tans in retaliation for Collins' directive to kill eleven special detectives (Higgins). Most of the battles were like this, retaliations for the ambushes of the other side. The Volunteers, or IRA (Irish Republican Army), in local areas responded to The Tans with guerrilla warfare ambushes, such as the Kilmichael Ambush, near Macroom, County Cork, led by Tom Barry (Higgins). The 'Tans responded by burning houses and creameries; people were shot and towns such as Balbriggan, Tuam and Cork City were broken up in retaliation (Higgins). All the violence continued up until 1921, although it was not the end of conflicts in Ireland.

Michael Collins

(October 16, 1890 - August 22, 1922)

Mícheál Seán Ó Coileáin, the man once known as a main leader in the Irish War of Independence, started life as simply as any other person. Michael Collins was born near Sam's Cross, a tiny hamlet in West Cork (Barrett). He grew up playing and fishing with the boys his age, although he never learned to swim. His father, also called Michael, instilled in his son a love of Irish poetry and ballads (Trueman). Michael's father, Michael John Collins, was sixty years old when he married a local girl, Marianne O'Brien (Barrett). Marianne was only twenty-three, but they were apparently happy and went on to have eight children (Barrett). Growing up he also had influences around his home that instilled in him a huge level of pride for Ireland. At school, Michael was taught by a teacher called Denis Lyons who belonged to the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the village blacksmith, James Santry, was a Fenian (Trueman).

At age 15 Michael moved to London to find work in a large Irish community there. While in London, Collins joined Sinn Fein and the Gaelic League and in 1909, he became a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (Trueman). With his amount of loyalty to his country and his tactical mind Collins would prove to be a tantamount leader for the Irish War of Independence and a key strategist, but first he needed experience to rise in the ranks. In 1916, Collins returned to Ireland to take part in the Uprising in Dublin (Trueman). Following the Rising, Michael, as a prisoner of war, was sent to Richmond Barracks and later to Frongoch internment camp in Wales (Barrett). His time in that camp proved his ability as an organizer and the second he was free he rebuilt the IRB. In 1917, he was elected to the Sinn Fein executive.During 1917 and 1918, his activities included: creating an intelligence network, organising a national loan to fund a rebellion, creating an assassination squad ("The Twelve Apostles") and an arms-smuggling operation (Barrett). In 1919, Michael Collins personally, with the help of his friend Harry Boland, another IRB man, went to Lincoln gaol in England to help Eamon de Valera escape (Barrett). Ove the years the British price on his head steadily increased. Michael Collins had made himself known and the British had deemed him a significant threat to their power. Meanwhile, British attempts to smash the Sinn Féin Government ignites the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921 (also known as the Irish War of Independence) and leads to the formation of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Dáil Éireann's militia ("moreorless : heroes & killers of the 20th century"). In 1922 after a long career tormenting the British Michael Collins was tragically killed by a ricocheted bullet; a year after the war ended. His convoy is ambushed at Béal na Bláth (Mouth of Flowers) in West Cork on 22 August ("moreorless : heroes & killers of the 20th century").

"Michael Collins" by Derek Warfield (Lyrics)
"The Big Fellah" by Black 47 (Lyrics)
"The Ballad of Michael Collins" by Brendan O'Reilly (Lyrics)

Eamon De Valera
(October 14, 1882 - August 29, 1975)

According to, Eamon De Valera is considered one of the most influencial political figures during his time. In his political career, he was one of the people that contributed to the creation of the Irish Constitutioin( Not only was he an important figure in the Irish government but he also helped the Irish with the struggle against the British for independence and the anti-Treaty opposition which sparked the Irish Civil War( In 1926, he found the Fianna Fail which at the time was the largest political party( Over the years, his political beliefs changed from a militant republicanism to a social and cultural conservatism particularily after his release from internment( He was also the co-owner of the Irish Press( As a result, a form of an Irish block press was formed.

In early 1919, he went to America to seek financial and political support for an independent Ireland after his release from jail to gain back political power( He later returned to Ireland in December 1920 to become President of Ireland( From the start, the problem with the Dail was that there was no experience in the new government. The War of Independence was still going at the time with the British. In May of 1921, there were elections held of the Nationalist Parliament in Dublin( "The Sinn Fein, which was under the leadership of Eamon De Valera, took 124 seats and the Unionist took the remaining 4"( Even though the Sinn Fein took more seats, the party still refused to recognize the Parliament and they continued to meet in Dail Eireann to discuss about overthrowing it(

"Eamon De Valera" (Song)
"Eamon De Valera" (Lyrics)

Ernie O’Malley

(May 26, 1897 - March 25, 1957)


Ernie O’Malley was born in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland on May 26th, 1897 ( and in 1906 he moved with his family to Dublin ( It was probably a difficult move because he had such a large family. He was part of a family of eleven children ( He went to school at the O’Connell Schools on North Richmond Street ( He also went to University College Dublin as a medical student during Easter 1916 and fought on the periphery of the GPO ( Since he fought on the periphery of the GPO, that jump started his further career as a Irish Republican Army Officer. During the Irish War of Independence he was an Irish Republican Army officer and during the Irish Civil War he was a commander of the anti-treaty IRA (

As well as being a part of the Irish War of Independence, Ernie O’Malley was an author. He wrote three books about his life ( The books were titled,
On Another Man's Wound, The Singing Flame, and Raids and Rallies ( These three books were about his life and all the experiences he had. The first book was about his life and his part in the Irish War of Independence ( As seen in The Singing Flame , “I went to Connacht on a tour of inspection, visiting country I had not seen since I was a boy, country which had always been a vivid, living memory. I motored from Sligo along the coast out to Erris on the rough Atlantic, where our boyhood hero Ferdia had come in; the mountains of Achill and the cliffs could be seen in the distance as I took the road to Mulranny” ( The second book is about the Civil War, and the third book was about his experiences and the experiences of his fellow soldiers ( The long journey that he endured was a neccesary struggle in order for him to emerge victorious. The excellence of these books distinguished O’Malley from the other men of the IRA (

"The Boys of the Old Brigade" (Lyrics)

Sean Treacy
(February 14, 1895 - Ocotber 14, 1920)


John J. Sean Treacy was born on the 14th of February in 1895 at Solohead in County Tipperary, Ireland (Quebecoise). Sean Treacy showed great patriotism throughout his life. He became a member of the Gaelic League, The Irish Repuplican Brotherhood in 1911, and the Irish Volunteers in 1913 (Seán). His immense activism greatly affected society from his Soloheadbeg ambush to his death. His activism became vivid just after his first arrest. After his arrest in the aftermath of the Easter Rising, he began doing hunger strikes in the midst of his thirst for nationalism (Seán).

Around the time of 1918 the Irish Volunteers began the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and started plotting schemes (Quebecoise). On the 21st of January in 1919, Sean, Dan Dreen, Sean Hogan, and a few other IRA members ambushed a load of explosives in midst of being transported to Soloheadbeg quarry(Quebecoise), they shot two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary RIC who refused to surrender (Seán). "... Treacy had stated to me that the only way of starting a war was to kill someone, and we wanted to start a war, so we intended to kill some of the police whom we looked upon as the foremost and most important branch of the enemy forces..." (Seán).Though Sean Treacy died in the line of fire, his death had a great influence on Bloody Sunday. “The death of Sean Treacy was a major factor in the decision of Michael Collins to initiate the plan to assassinate more than a dozen British secret service agents on Sunday, November 21, 1920” (Brash). Sean is a very important person who is still remembered. There is also a memorial service held in Kilfeacle every year for Sean Treacy (Treacy).

"Sean Treacy" (song) by Dominic Behan
"Sean Treacy" (lyrics) by Dominic Behan

Kevin Gerard Barry
(January 20, 1902 – November 1, 1920)

Kevin Gerard Barry or “Caoimhín de Barra” in Irish was a medical student ( He was born on January 20th, 1902 and lived in Dublin ( He was the fourth of seven kids; two boys and five girls ( He died when he was 18 years old on November 1st, 1920, by getting hanged in Mountjoy Jail ( He is known as one of the “The Forgotten Ten” ( That term is applied to ten members of the Irish Republican Army and one of the IRA volunteers (

On 1920, he was brought to the prison under military power ( Barry told the court that, as an Irish solider, all of his actions were regarded as an act of war. He refused many things from the court. He’d been asked many times if he wanted to question the witness and he always replied, “No” ( On the 27th of October, he was told that he will be killed next Monday, therefore he made a statement in the prison about his treatment that would become known as “The Torture of Kevin Barry;” it developed into the central part of the Kevin Barry Story ( On the 1st of November, Kevin Barry was hanged in Mountjoy prison (

"Kevin Gerard Barry" (Lyrics)

Related Links

Barrett, Suzanne. "Michael Collins." Ireland for Visitors. 13 Nov 1997. Web. 4 Dec 2009.

Behan, Dominic. "Video About Sean Treacy by Dominic Behan |"
Encyclopedia - Online Dictionary | Get facts, articles, pictures,
video. Web. 18 Nov. 2009. <[[ ]]
sean-treacy-by- dominic-behan.aspx>.

Black 47. "Black 47 - The Big Fellah Lyrics." Lets Sing It. Web. 20 Nov 2009.

Brash, Edward. "Sean Treacy." E-mail interview. 16 Nov. 2009.

Dardis, Martin. "Sean Tracy." Irish Songs Lyrics And Guitar Chords by Martin Dardis.
Web. 18 Nov. 2009.

"Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Series: Anglo-Irish Treaty: Text of." National Archives. Web. 20 Nov. 2009. <>.

"Éamon de Valera -." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.

"Ernie O'Malley and Achill Island, Ireland - page 1 of 6." Achill Island 24/7:
Ireland pictures, poems, artists and writers from Achill Island, Co Mayo, Ireland
. Web. 20 Nov. 2009. <>.

"Ernie O'Malley." Welcome to University College Dublin, Ireland's Education Capital. Web. 20 Nov. 2009. <>.

"Ernie O'Malley -." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 20 Nov. 2009.

"File:Ernestomalley.jpg -." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.

"History of Ireland 1919 - 1921: The War of Independenceand Partition." Wesley
Johnston. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.

"Kevin Barry." <>. Web. 29 October 2009

"Michael Collins." moreorless : heroes & killers of the 20th century. 17 November 2006 . Web. 16 Dec 2009. <>.

"Michael Collins." The Big Fellow - Michael Collins. Web. 20 Nov 2009.

"Multitext -." Multitext - Welcome to the
Cork Multitext Project. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.

O'Reilly, Brendan. "The Ballad Of Michael Collins." King Laoghaire. Web. 20 Nov 2009.

Photograph. Wikipedia. Web. 5 Nov. 2009.

Quebeciose. "Sean Treacy (1895 - 1920) - Find A Grave Memorial." Find A Grave –
Millions of Cemetery Records. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.

"Seán Treacy (Irish Republican) -."
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 21 Nov. 2009. <>.

"The Irish War of Independence and the IRA, 1916-1921 - Colm McInerney in the second of three articles in. | Three Monkeys Online." Three Monkeys Online Magazine. Web. 16 Dec. 2009. <>.

"Treacy - tre03.htm." Helen's Family Trees. Web. 21 Nov. 2009.

"Triskelle - Rebel Song Lyrics: Boys Of The Old Brigade."
Triskelle - Spending Time In Ireland - Irish History, Music, Lyrics and Tourism. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.
< 0

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Works Cited

"1919 - 1921: The War of Independence and Partition." History of Ireland. Web. 16 Dec 2009. <>.

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Higgins, Noreen. "THE IRISH WAR OF INDEPENDENCE 1919- 1922." CONFLICTS IN IRELAND. May 2001. The Fame of Tipperary Group, Web. 16 Dec 2009. <>.

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