While the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty brought a renewed hope across the country during the early months of the year, not everyone accepted it and the country sadly descended into the chaos of a brutal and terrible civil war, writes Eamonn Duggan.
The signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 brought a renewed sense of hope across the country for a brighter future for Ireland. Though not the result most people wanted from the negotiations with the British, the Treaty was viewed by the majority of the people as the basis for the way forward for the country.
While the Treaty did not deliver a thirty-two county republic – so gallantly fought for during the Easter Rising and the War of Independence – it did, according to Michael Collins, give ‘us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all nations desire and develop to, but the freedom to achieve it.’
That declaration alone was good enough for the majority of the people who had put their trust in the Irish delegation during the Treaty negotiations. They viewed the Treaty as a vehicle for peace and stability which had been lacking across the country for so long.
It was then, with a certain amount of hope, the people of Ireland welcomed the new year with a full expectation that normal life was about to return after many years of tragedy, suffering and loss.
Sadly, by the end of June those expectations had been shattered as the country descended into a civil war which not only wreaked havoc across the country in the short term, but left a bitter legacy which took decades to overcome.
The hope for a better future was evident on 7th January when Dáil Éireann voted in favour of the Anglo-Irish Treaty despite the fact that Éamon de Valera had offered his resignation as President of the Republic the previous day.
On 10th January, Arthur Griffith was elected President of the Provisional Government and Michael Collins became Minister for Finance. That very same day de Valera and some fifty-six of his supporters staged a symbolic walk out of Dáil Éireann, signalling a battle of wills was about to break out over the future direction of the country.
Two days later, the British Government ordered the release of the last remaining Irish prisoners captured during the War of Independence. On 16th January, after Dublin Castle was handed over by the British to Michael Collins, the Provisional Government met for the first time and began the task of transitioning the country from British rule to that of an independent Free State by the end of the year.