The following is a summary of the events of the Civil War of the 1920s. It is a portion of TA Jackson
's Ireland Her Own, published 1947.
Civil War and the Six Counties
Free Staters vs the Republicans
The actual occasion of the Civil War
between the Free Staters and the Republicans was the resolve of Rory O'Connor
to lead the IRA into the Six Counties for a war of reprisals.
O'Connor had taken possession of the Four Courts in Dublin as his headquarters and had begun to commandeer lorries for his raid upon Belfast. The English Government, alarmed at what might happen, urged the Free State Government to dislodge the "anarchists". Finally Michael Collins
, now Commander in Chief of the Free State Army
, at 4 am on June 28th, 1922, began the bombardment of the Four Courts with artillery lent by the English Government.
The civil war between the Griffith
-Collins led Free State Government forces, and the "illregular" IRA led by De Valera
, as President of the Irish Republic, was fought with intense bitterness on both sides; and by men who had become largely dehumanised by the prolonged struggle with the Black and Tans
. The Free State Government had the advantage, in that its army consisted mainly of trained ex-servicemen, and they had unlimited supplies of arms and ammunition.
The Republicans suffered the disability of the lack of any real popular support. A tragic aspect of the struggle was the large number of men, distinguished in the Anglo-Irish War, who were killed either in action, by execution, or "trying to escape". Collins, Liam Lynch
, Rory O'Connor, Mellows
, Cathal Brugha
, and Erskine Childers
are among this number.
At noon, on April 30th, 1923, the Republican Chief of Staff ordered the cessation of offensive operations. On May 24th, this was followed by and order to Cease Fire, to conceal all arms and ammunition and disperse. There was no formal surrender. But the civil war was at an end. Attempts to revive it which have been made from time to time have found no popular backing; except, occasionally, from the exasperated minority in the Six Counties.
The struggle when transferred by De Valera to the plane of political contest met with much greater success.