On this day in 1919, the republican party Sinn Féin declared Irish independence from Britain. After two years of guerilla warfare against British occupation and ~2,300 deaths, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, creating the Irish Free State...
In April 1916, Irish republicans had launched the Easter Rising against British rule, proclaiming an Irish Republic. Although the rebellion was suppressed, the incident led to greater popular support for Irish independence. In December 1918 elections, just a month prior to their independence declaration, republican party Sinn Féin won a landslide victory.
On January 21st, 1919 Sinn Féin formed a breakaway government (Dáil Éireann). The same day, two Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officers were killed in the Soloheadbeg ambush by Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers.
Throughout 1919, the IRA went about capturing weapons and freeing republican prisoners while the Dáil began building up a state. In September, the British government outlawed the Dáil and Sinn Féin, and the conflict intensified.
Over the following two years, the IRA waged a campaign of guerilla warfare against British occupiers. In total, approximately 2,300 people were killed - 936 of the British-aligned forces, 491 of the Irish-aligned forces, and 900 civilians.
The British government bolstered the RIC with recruits from Britain, the "Black and Tans and Auxiliaries", who became notorious for ill-discipline and reprisal attacks on civilians.
On December 6th, 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, bringing an end to the 1919 Irish War of Independence. The treaty formally recognized the Irish Free State and led to the creation of Northern Ireland, partitioning the island.
"If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs."
The Irish War of Independence – A Brief Overview – The Irish Story
Irish War of Independence | The Irish War
Revolutionary Ireland and Communism