The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Féin Party, 1916-1923

The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Féin Party, 1916-1923

The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Féin Party, 1916-1923

The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Féin Party, 1916-1923


Between 1916 and 1923 Ireland experienced a political as well as a military revolution. This book examines how--after the Easter Rising of 1916--radical revolutionaries formed a precarious coalition with (relatively) moderate politicians. The new Sinn F¿in party routed its enemies, cooperated uneasily with the underground Irish government, and achieved most of its objectives before disintegrating in 1922. Its rapid collapse should not distract from its achievements--in particular its role in "democratizing" the Irish revolution--while its successors since have dominated the political life of independent Ireland.


It was as a research student in University College, Dublin that I first became fascinated by the history of the Sinn Féin party. Desmond Williams supervised my ma dissertation, portions of which were to be cannibalised and absorbed into chapters 3 and 5 of this book. He was kindly, supportive, insightful, stimulating and frequently absent. From time to time during his legendary disappearances his place was taken by his learned and terrifying colleague, Robin Dudley Edwards. Dudley scrutinized all that I wrote with great care, fretted about my work and even dreamt about it. They were a colourful combination, and I cherish their memory.

After years abroad I returned to Dublin and to the subject of Sinn Féin. I researched intermittently on what ultimately became this book, defluected by work on two other books, by various articles, and by an infinite number of other less productive distractions. It grew; the time span to be covered doubled; new sources became available; and I developed different ways of looking at the period and its problems. the book has been many years in the making, and if its appearance is long overdue it can at least benefit from the vast literature which has appeared in the course of recent years.

It is a lengthy work, and unapologetically so. the subject of the Irish revolution has provoked numerous books, articles and dissertations, but its political aspects have remained underexplored. the resurrection of Ireland is an attempt to right this imbalance, to examine in some depth the complex and often dificult interaction between military and civilian manifestations of a moderate and almost 'accidental revolution'; a revolution which depended on freak circumstances for its initial impetus and which was reined in, at least in part, by an organized expression of mass civilian opinion. Political developments are also examined in their own right, independently of their links with soldiers and warfare. One of my aims has been to understand, describe and explain what it was like to be a supporter of Sinn Féin in the years after the Easter Rising.

The Sinn Féin party navigated the Irish democratic tradition through the squalls and storms of a military revolution. It helped ensure that, at the end of . . .

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