The Irish Revolution and its Aftermath

Charles Townshend reviews three new contributions to the historiography of the Troubles.

Charles Townshend | Published in
  • The Irish Revolution and its Aftermath 1916-1923: Years of Revolt by Francis Costello 
    Irish Academic Press, Dublin  452pp. £35 
    ISBN 0 7165 2633 6
  • The Irish War of Independence by Michael Hopkinson 
    Gill & Macmillan, Dublin  274pp. £40
    ISBN  0 7735 2498 3
  • Armed Struggle: A History of the IRA by Richard English 
    Macmillan, London  486pp. £20  
    ISBN 1 4050 0108 9

At a moment when the peace process in Northen Ireland teeters on the brink of resolution – or paralysis – a grasp of historical perspective remains vital.  This is not because Ireland is (as some suggest) locked in an unchanging timewarp, but because the issues powering the conflict are very much the unfinished business of the period sometimes called the Irish revolution. In the decade bracketing the First World War, the key geopolitical tensions of twentieth-century Ireland were locked in place through the establishment by the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty of a twenty-six county Irish state governed from Dublin, with a six-county ‘statelet’ in the north-east, governed from Belfast.

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