Archive for January 7th, 2013

January 7,

The Saddest Day in Irish History

January 7: TODAY in Irish History:

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Snippets of Irish History by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks

Arthur Griffith, Eamonn De Valera 1921

Conor is a Chicago based Motivational Humorous Business Speaker, Author and History buff.

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1922: Dail Approves Treaty – Civil War Looms

January 7th 1922 is possibly the saddest day in Irish history when a vote on the Treaty unfortunately set the scene for the Irish Civil War.

Thirty-two days after Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith sign the treaty in London  granting Ireland legislative and financial independence for the first time since 1800, the divided Dail votes on the Treaty: sixty-four for approval and fifty-seven against.

The debate took a huge emotional toll on the participants. The official Dail record states that at the end of the debate, when De Valera knew he had lost the vote:

“PRESIDENT DE VALERA: I would like my last word here to be this: we have had a glorious record for four years; it has been four years of magnificent discipline in our nation. The world is looking at us now——

(The President here breaks down).”

Civil war was now just months away between men who fought side by side during the War of Independence.
First Dail Eireann – Happier Times

first dail eireann

Front Row: From Left to Right: Second Left Michael Collins (pro-Treaty), Cathal Brugha (anti), Arthur Griffith (pro) Eamonn De Valera (anti)


The vote followed a vitriolic debate were each side accused the other of bad faith. Michael Collins—who when he signed the Treaty wrote “I have signed my death warrant—was a significant target for personal attacks from anti-Treaty members of the House.

Pro-Treatyite Cathal Brugha commented: “While the war was in progress I could not praise too highly the work done by the Head Quarters’ Staff. The Chief of Staff and each of the leaders of the subsections—the members of the Head Quarters’ Staff—were the best men we could get for the positions; each of them carried out efficiently, so far as I know, the work that was entrusted to him they worked conscientiously and patriotically for Ireland without seeking any notoriety, with one exception; whether he is responsible or not for the notoriety I am not going to say (cries of “Shame” and “Get on with the Treaty”). There is little more for me to say. One member was specially selected by the Press and the people to put him into a position which he never held; he was made a romantic figure, a mystical character such as this person certainly is not; the gentleman I refer to is Mr. Michael Collins.”

The Treaty vote may well have signaled the saddest day in Irish History.

READ: The Treaty Debate January 7th 1922

A brief timeline:

1916: Easter Rising. Michael Collins, Eamonn De Valera, Cathal Brugha take part in the Rising.

1918: Sinn Fein wins massive majority (73 seats) in General Election and refuses to take its seats in UK Parliament

1919: January 21: Sinn members meet in Dublin proclaiming the first Dail and declaring an Irish Republic (not recognized by Britain). On the same day in a totally unconnected incident, two Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) are ambushed and killed at Soloheadbeg, Co. Tipperary by IRA men including Dan Breen and Sean Treacy. The unauthorized attack is now accepted as the first incident in the brutal War of Independence which would eventually force Britain to the negotiating table.

1921: December 6th: The Anglo-Irish Treaty is signed in London. The following debate in Dail Eireann primarily centered on whether Collins, Griffith and company had the authority to sign an agreement on behalf of the Irish people.

1922: Dail Eireann votes to ratify the treaty. De Valera and anti-Treaty members refuse to accept the vote. Senior members of the IRA who had fought so hard to oust Britain from Ireland were now on different sides. The pro-Treaty side included Richard Mulcahy, Eoin O’Duffy, Michael Collins, Emmet Dalton, Piaras Bealsai. The  anti- Treaty side included Rory O’Connor,  Liam Mellows,  Cathal Brugha,  Austen Stack, Countess Markievicz and President of the Dail Eamonn De Valera.


Happier Times: Kevin O’Higgins Wedding

Kevin O'Higgins and best man Rory O'Connor Wedding

De Valera, Kevin O’Higgins and Best Man Rory O’Connor. O’Higgins would approve  the execution of his friend O’Connor during the Civil War


June 28th: Opening act of what would prove to be a vicious civil war when Irish government forces bombard the Four Courts in Dublin which anti-Treaty forces had taken by force.

Four Courts Bombardment

August 22nd: Michael Collins killed in Cork by anti-Treaty forces.

December 6th: Irish Free State is formally established consisting of the whole Ireland of Ireland

December 7th: Six counties of Northern Ireland opts out of the Irish Free State and becomes a separate political entity with allegiance to England.

1923: Late May: Civil War ends with complete victory for Irish government forces. Atrocities had been carried out by both sides.

1926: Eamonn De Valera founds Fianna Fail

1927: Fianna Fail wins 44 seats in the general election and De Valera now enters Dail Eireann, prepared to take an Oath of Allegiance that he railed against during the Treaty debate now describing it merely as an “empty political formula.” Had he taken that view on January 7th 1922, it is quite likely there would have been no Civil War.


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This history is written by Irish author, business keynote speaker and award winning humorist IrishmanSpeaks – Conor Cunneen. If you spot any inaccuracies or wish to make a comment, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the comment button.

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