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Ireland 1916-1923 - Recommended books ?


MickLeeds

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Hello.

Can anyone give me any recommendations for good balanced books covering this period. I have nothing at all about this period in Irish history apart from general history books and would like to start learning about these events in more detail.

I'm including the Easter Rising to keep within the forum scope of the Great War but am more interested in the War of Independence and Civil War. Anything that covers this period as a whole or individual books on each period.

Thank you.

Mick.

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Thanks for the suggestions.

I looked at the Townsend book on Amazon yesterday. I think I shall put that one on my list.

Cheers.

Mick.

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Simon_Fielding

Townsend's The Republic very good on War of Independence / Civil War too...

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Thanks again. It has some good reviews.

Mick.

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Simon_Fielding


Police Casualties in Ireland, 1919-1922 by Richard Abbott is really good but silly money (£98) on Amazon...
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Max Caulfield's book on the Rising, though long in the tooth, was a good read, as I recall.

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Steven Broomfield

I found Townsend's book very good.

A trip to Eason's in Dublin usually uncovers a pile of books you're never heard of.

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Thanks everybody for the suggestions. I've ordered The Republic and Easter 1916 by Townsend.

Mick.

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David Filsell

You may find this review of a recently republished book on the Rising of interest.

David

Fearghal McGarry, The Rising: Dublin Easter 1916. Oxford University Press, Hardback, 370pp, 21 plates, 4 maps, notes and refs, index

ISBN 978-0-19-873234-1

'The Rising: Dublin Easter 1916' earned considerable and well deserved praise when first published in 2010. Although John Dorney, (the author of 'The Story of the Easter Rising, 1916') then noted of McGarry’s book, “... first time readers should perhaps look at a general history (of the rising) before coming to this work...” It is no secret, the Rising is difficult to unpick and yet I do not fully agree with this view. Despite the fact that the Irish nationalistic politics which necessarily infuse this book were, and remain, complex, this reprint of McGarry’s work, with a new introduction, is a fascinating evaluation of events in Dublin during Easter week 1916 in the year of the event’s centenary.

Whilst guiding the reader through Ireland’s many political, personal, and religious complexities, through the desire for home rule, opposition to it and the factionalism of Irish independence movements and individuals, the book’s narrative is driven by eyewitness experiences of the Rising of many shades of opinion; it is the book’s vital ingredient and great strength.

The material is drawn from the records of the Republic of Ireland’s Bureau of Military History which had been only recently released before the book’s original publication. (There had been a bar on their use until the last ‘veteran’ of the rising had died.) The archive comprises over 1,700 individual first person accounts of events in Dublin and elsewhere in the country. This, as Fearghal McGarry notes is “... one of richest - in relative terms - most comprehensive oral history archives devoted to any modern revolution”. Together the accounts encompass views, opinions and actions across the full and complex spectrum, of Irish ‘revolutionary’ movements - as well as those who simply witnessed events.

The fact is, much of the presented story of the rising is a Chimera: militarily: for those who rebelled, morally in the actions which the British following the event and politically for all parties. However, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. (he balancing votes of Irish parliamentarians had earned home rule (its implementation being delayed only by the events and implications of the Great War). The Irish judiciary was independent, elections were democratic. The Germans had no wish to become other than peripherally involved in Irish affairs. The population was not prepared to rise, nor the dissenter’s troops adequately armed, trained or led. Attempts to rise outside Dublin failed and during Easter week many in Dublin, and of all classes and political persuasions, positively, publicly resisted the rising. Some were rifle butted or shot for their pains by republicans; many others, ‘in the way’ ,by the British.

The witnesses’ statements reveal the shambolic on/off nature of the rising, its lack of effective command and control, of strategic and tactical nous, and competence displayed by its organisers – and the preparedness of many to die for their cause. Yet, there was little lack of blind courage. Britain and its army gained, and deserved, little credit for its actions during or after the convulsions in Dublin in 1916 (or in the period leading to the civil war). In Dublin inept British political and military leadership, poor tactics, and the limited military skill of part trained troops and the vindictiveness of individuals were viewed and witnessed realities in the streets of Dublin.

The post-event executions of the rising’s leaders created martyrs and it is now s clear, it was not the events of Easter 1916 in Dublin and elsewhere but ‘hand me down’ realties of the event became important. They became the symbols which triggered emotional acceptance within Southern Ireland the ‘blood sacrifice’ of 1916 could only be to be redeemed by future independence. Although some considered that “all that could have been expected” had been achieved, many, rightly, judged that Irish people “would now see the light”, and that that the Rising had “started a new advance”. As Yates put it, “A terrible beauty is born”.

The Easter Rising is easy to dismiss as a fascinating - if short and localised - Great War ‘sideshow’. Yet it was one with enormous - and yet un-ended - consequences. Easter 1916 was the trigger which latter fired off two years of guerrilla war between the Irish and the British at a cost of some 1,400 lives. It was also the forerunner of an 11 month long civil war between Irish Republicans and Irish Nationalist over the Anglo-Irish Peace treaty (during which it is estimated between 1,000 and 4,000 further active Irish patriots and civilians were killed) and its echoes ripple still.

The Rising: Dublin Easter 1916 is greatly recommended evaluation of political and military ineptitude and both Irish and British failure.

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You may be interested to know that there is a FutureLearn MOOC currently running on this very subject. Well worth signing up for it next time it runs if only for the stunning range of sources.

Len

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All good books. Caulfield generally regarded as the benchmark on the Easter rising.

I'd also add Padraig Yeates did a trilogy of books about Dublin 1913 - 1923. I only read the middle one "a city at war: Dublin 1914:1918". Obviously Dublin focused and more social and political than military history. But certainly puts the rising in context and does a great job explaining the impact of the Great War and how Irish attitudes evolved.

Id also recommend Neil Richardson's "According to their lights". Stories of Irishmen in the British Army during Easter 1916 for a different angle.

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Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to add the further suggestions. There are literally hundreds of books covering this subject on Amazon and other book sellers so it's good to get some opinions before I buy.

Cheers.

Mick.

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I've a fair collection of Easter Rising books. "When the Clock Struck in 1916" is a good read re the Easter Rising and is one I'd recommend to anyone trying to get a general feel for the events. The Osprey book is good too. Caulfield's is good but has a fair number of errors.

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