|Irish Free State (1922–1937). Established by the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which ended the Irish War of Independence, this dominion comprised the autonomous southern 26 counties, but not the six counties of a now-truncated Ulster. A minority faction of the IRA rebelled against the settlement, provoking the brief but bitterly divisive Irish Civil War. That faction lost the civil war to Free State forces under Michael Collins. Failing with the gun, it turned to parliamentary tactics in the Dáil E Éireann, under a new political party (Fianna Fáil) led by Eamon de Valera. Fianna Fáil won the elections of 1932 and formed the government. In 1937 de Valera used his majority to change the name of the country from Irish Free State to Eire. The modern Republic of Ireland was declared in April 1949.|
|Irish Question. (1) Before 1829: The question was how England might best control Ireland, politically and, later, also militarily. This was aggravated after the Protestant Reformation by the abiding loyalty of most Irish peasants to the Catholic Church and the separate development of an Anglo-Irish and Protestant ascendancy, especially in Ulster, flowing from the Plantations of Cromwell and later. From the Act of Union in 1800 to Catholic Emancipation in 1829, the question took the special form of whether Irish Catholics should be granted civil and political rights roughly equal to those enjoyed by Anglicans in Britain, including representation in the British Parliament. (2) 1829–1916: The Irish Question was redefined by rising demands for Home Rule for Ireland, usually defined as requiring a separate Irish Parliament, endless maneuvering for and against this proposition within the Parliament at Westminster, and great public unrest in Ireland and in Britain—including expressions of deep and extensive anti-Catholicism—over the issue, all of which dogged the reformist efforts of Gladstone and marked much of his great struggle with Disraeli. (3) 1916–1922: The question was refined and again redefined, as demands for |
Irish independence were asserted in arms first during the Easter Rising (1916) and then in the Irish War of Independence, 1918–1921. A partial answer was given by the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921), only to be immediately contested in arms by irridentist Irish nationalists in the Irish Civil War, 1922–1923. (4) After 1922: The question became “what will be the ultimate status of Ulster?” To wit: should it remain within the United Kingdom or some day and somehow be rejoined to the rest of Ireland, as demanded by diehards of the Irish Republican Army and just as bitterly resisted by confirmed Unionists? In this form, the Irish Question remained unanswered into the twenty-first century.