the Irish Republican Army (1916–1923) that fought in the Easter Rising April 1916, Irish War of Independence 1919–21, and split to fight the Irish Civil War 1922–23. For later groups using the same name, such as the Provisional IRA, see List of IRAs.
Irish Republican ArmyIrish Republican Army
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This article is about the Irish Republican Army (1916–1923) that fought in the Easter Rising April 1916, Irish War of Independence 1919–21, and split to fight the Irish Civil War 1922–23. For later groups using the same name, such as the Provisional IRA, see List of IRAs.
Irish Republican Army
(Óglaigh na hÉireann)
Participant in Irish War of Independence
The Seán Hogan flying column during the War of Independence.
Leaders IRA Army Council
Strength c. 100,000 enrolled by 1918, c. 15,000 effectives (maximum strength including front-line and support personnel) of whom 3,000 served as fighters at any one time
Originated as Irish Volunteers
Became Split into Irish Defence Forces and anti-treaty Irish Republican Army
Opponents British Empire
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) (Irish: Óglaigh na hÉireann) was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation descended from the Irish Volunteers, established 25 November 1913 and who in April 1916 staged the Easter Rising. The Irish Volunteers were recognised in 1919 by Dáil Éireann (its elected assembly) as the legitimate army of the unilaterally declared Irish Republic, the Irish state proclaimed at Easter in 1916 and reaffirmed by the Dáil in January 1919. Thereafter, the IRA waged a guerrilla campaign against British rule in Ireland in the Irish War of Independence from 1919–1921.
The original IRA split in 1922. After the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, members of the IRA who supported the Treaty formed the nucleus of the National Army founded by IRA leader Michael Collins. However, a high proportion of the IRA was opposed to the treaty. The anti-Treaty IRA fought a civil war with their former comrades in 1922–23, with the intention of creating a fully independent all Ireland republic. Having lost the civil war, this group remained in existence, with the intention of overthrowing both the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland and re-establishing the Irish Republic declared in 1919.
1.1 Background—Home Rule and the Volunteers
1.2 Easter Rising
2 The emergence of the IRA after the Easter Rising
3 Dáil Éireann and the IRA
4 The War of Independence
4.1 IRA campaign and organisation
4.2 Atrocities on both sides
5 Truce and Treaty
6 The IRA and the Treaty
7 Civil War
8 See also
11 External links
Physical force Irish republicanism as an ideology had a long history, from the United Irishmen of the 1798 and 1803 rebellions, to the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848 and the Irish Republican Brotherhood rebellion of 1867. In addition, the methods of the IRA were to some extent inspired by the traditions of militant agrarian Irish secret societies like the Defenders, the Ribbonmen and the supporters of the Irish Land League.
The acronym IRA was first used by the IRB organization in America (also known as the Fenian Brotherhood). This "Irish Republican Army" of the 1860s comprised the American Fenians' paramilitary forces, organized into a number of regiments. Fenian soldiers wearing IRA insignia fought at the Battle of Ridgeway on 2 June 1866. However the term Irish Republican Army in its modern sense was first used in the second decade of the 20th century for the rebel forces of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizens Army during the Easter Rising. It was subsequently, and most commonly, used for those Volunteers who fought a guerrilla campaign in 1919–1921 in support of the Irish Republic declared in 1919.
 Background—Home Rule and the Volunteers
James ConnollyThe political violence that broke out in Ireland between 1916 and 1923 had its origins in Irish nationalist demands for Home Rule within the UK and British Empire and unionist resistance to these demands. By 1914, this issue was at an impasse, with the British government prepared to concede Home Rule or self government to Ireland. This led to the formation of unionist and nationalist armed militias, respectively, the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Irish Volunteers.
The Government of Ireland Act 1914, more generally known as the Third Home Rule Act, was an Act of Parliament passed by the British Parliament in May 1914 which sought to give Ireland regional self-government within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Although it received Royal Assent in September 1914, its implementation was postponed until after the First World War, amid fears that opposition to home rule by Irish Unionists and illegal gun-running by the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Irish Volunteers would lead to civil war.
The standoff was temporarily averted by the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. The Irish Volunteers split. The National Volunteers, with over 100,000 members led by Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond were prepared to accept British promises to deliver Home Rule and about 20,000 of them served in the war in the British Army. However about 12,000 Volunteers, led by Eoin MacNeill and dominated by the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood, refused to join the British war effort and kept the name Irish Volunteers. Whereas MacNeill intended to use force only to resist the imposition of conscription on Ireland, the IRB men intended to launch an armed rebellion in pursuit of Irish independence.
A smaller organisation, the Irish Citizen Army—originally a worker's defence association under socialist James Connolly—independently planned their own rebellion. To avoid confusion, the IRB co-opted Connolly onto their supreme council in 1915. McNeill, however was never told of the planned insurrection.
 Easter Rising
Main article: Easter Rising
The Proclamation of the Republic read by Pádraig Pearse outside the GPO in 1916.
Pádraig Pearse head of the 'Provisional Government' proclaimed in the Easter Rising.Weapons were supplied by Germany under the auspices of a leading human rights campaigner, Sir Roger Casement—including over 20,000 rifles and 10 machineguns. However, the plot was discovered on 21 April 1916 and the weapons were lost when the ship carrying them, the Aud, was scuttled to prevent the arms from falling into the hands of the British.
The Rising broke out on 24 April 1916. However, Eoin MacNeill, the Volunteer leader found out about the plot at the last minute and issued countermanding orders to Volunteer units around the country. As a result, less than 2,000 Volunteers out of 12,000 turned out. The IRB plan was to seize a compact area of central Dublin and launch simultaneous Risings around the country. In the event, the rising consisted of a week's street fighting in the Irish capital after which the rebels surrendered. The British used overwhelming force, including over 16,000 troops, artillery, and a naval gunboat, to put down the rebellion. Over half the 500 or so killed were civilians caught in the crossfire.
The leaders seized the General Post Office (GPO), raising a green flag bearing the legend "Irish Republic", and proclaiming independence for Ireland. While the Rising later became a celebrated episode for Irish nationalists, it was very unpopular at the time. The rebel Volunteers were a minority faction among Irish nationalists and up to 200,000 Irishmen were serving on the British side in the First World War. Moreover, the public largely blamed the rebels for the death and destruction caused in the fighting. There were calls for the execution of the "ringleaders" in the major Irish nationalist daily newspaper, the Irish Independent, and local authorities also sought the ringleaders. After the Rising, Dubliners spat, threw stones at them, and emptied chamber pots down on the rebels as they were marched towards the transport ships that would take them to the Welsh internment camps.
However, public opinion dramatically shifted to the rebels' side in the next two years. Initially, this was caused by the revulsion over the summary executions of 16 senior leaders—some of whom, such as James Connolly, were too ill to stand—and of other people thought complicit in the rebellion. As one observer described, "the drawn-out process of executing the leaders of the rising, it was like watching blood seep from behind a closed door." Opinion shifted even more in favour of the Republicans in 1917–18 with the Conscription Crisis, an attempt by Britain to impose conscription on Ireland to bolster its flagging war effort. By 1917, this was extremely unpopular in Ireland due to heavy casualties on the Western Front.
A small nationalist Irish party, Sinn Féin, was widely, but wrongly, credited with orchestrating the Easter Rising although its leader Arthur Griffith in fact advocated Irish self government under a dual monarchy. The Republican survivors of the Rising, under Éamon de Valera, infiltrated and took over Sinn Féin in 1917 and committed the party to founding an Irish Republic.
From 1916 to 1918, the two dominant nationalist movements, Sinn Féin and the Irish Parliamentary Party, fought a tough series of battles in by-elections. Neither won a decisive victory; however, the Conscription Crisis tipped t