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Osprey - Essential Histories 065 - The Anglo-Irish War 1913-1922


72 Essential HistoriesThe Anglo-Irish War nothing much really changed. RIC Constable Patrick Larkin, a native of Oranmore, Co. Galway, accompanied by a group of Black and Tans, was once called out to deal with the unwarlike activity of cattle and horses wandering around on the roads outside Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow, in August 1920. In normal times a man may have thought himself extremely fortunate to be able to afford a motorcar in the 1920s. During the Troubles, however, he was likely to have his vehicle commandeered by either the police or the IRA and if he was lucky he might see Not everyone was glad to see the British leave in 1922. (Courtesy of National Library of Ireland, Photographic Archive) it again in one piece. More often than not such vehicles were never seen again. The IRA dragged some men from their beds to dig trenches across the roads to disrupt superior mobility. By day the same men could find themselves being compelled by the RIC to fill in the same trenches to re-open the roads, and so it went on. Ultimately, most ordinary people tried to get on with their lives despite the upheaval all around them. This was, of course, made extremely difficult in some areas where the IRA and Crown forces were in competition for control. One activity that seems to have been utterly unaffected by the violence of 1916-23 was the 'sport of kings' - horse racing. General Macready, the General Officer Commanding

The world around war 73 RIC Constable 70979 Patrick Joseph Larkin. (Courtesy of Jim Herlihy) (GOC), had warned that if there was any trouble at race meetings or if any of his men were killed at them he would enforce a universal ban ending horse racing in Ireland. Horse racing was extremely popular amongst both sides in the struggle and the IRA realized that any action on their part to precipitate a ban would have serious consequences as far as popular support was concerned. As a result, racecourses became almost neutral ground where both rebels and Loyalists rubbed shoulders and offered the opportunity for some to discover whether they were on an IRA death list or not. By 1922 the majority of the population in the United Kingdom and Ireland were tired of the seemingly endless hostilities, and in June the British offered a solution. They suggested that Nationalists should be granted a degree of independence in 26 of Ireland's 32 counties and that six of the nine counties of Ulster should form a state that would remain Protestant and part of the United Kingdom. The result of this June 1922 southern Irish General Election, or Partition Election as it is sometimes known, was a resounding 78 per cent in favour of the Treaty and, by implication, partition. This does not mean that the majority of ordinary Irish people wanted partition, but rather that most were so sick of the violence that they preferred any sort of peace to continued war. If partition did not come easily to Nationalist Ireland it would be wrong to see it as welcomed by the Unionists either. The Unionist leader Sir Edward Carson was a Dubliner by birth and would have preferred to see all of Ireland remain within the UK. As it was the Unionists cut their losses and settled for what they could. Ulster may have been the heartland of Unionism but not all of its population was Protestant or Ulster-born. Because Belfast was the only industrial centre in an essentially agricultural country it drew Northern as well as Southern Catholics to it in much the same way as Glasgow and Liverpool. This helped swell the Catholic ghettos within the city, storing up potential problems for the future. Although Loyalist gunmen carried out sectarian killings in the North, not every Catholic who went to Belfast was a rebel at heart, and many moved there to gain both employment and sanctuary from the violence in the South. The view from mainland Britain The British public had some sympathy for Home Rule but there was very little public

A history of Protestant Irish speakers
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