As a turbulent year drew to a close it was obvious that the die of revolution had been cast and Irish people were resigned to the fact that the violence and bloodletting would only escalate, writes Eamonn Duggan.

As the year 1919 drew to a close life across the country was overshadowed by a conflict destined to shape its future. Since that infamous day back in January when two R.I.C. men were killed by an IRA unit at Soloheadbeg in Co Tipperary, death and suffering had become increasingly prevalent in the daily news cycle.

During each passing month the level of violence increased as Crown forces and the Irish Republican Army stepped up their attacks on each other. By the end of December, the die of revolution and violence had been well and truly cast and, as the New Year dawned, the people of Ireland were resigned to the fact that the independence conflict was set to continue and become an even bloodier and violent one.

It was little wonder then, as the year ended, that a cloak of tension and suspicion enveloped the country and was set to prevail to an even greater extent for the following eighteen months.

The year saw the emergence of a new political order with the Sinn Féin Party becoming the dominant force at the expense of the Irish Parliamentary Party. The Republicans found their political voice back in January with the establishment of the First Dáil when twenty-seven of their elected number turned up at Dublin’s Mansion House to pledge their allegiance to the new republic.

Those who made up the new political elite were young and enthusiastic and determined to set the country on a new course towards independence and allow it take a rightful place in the new community of nations which had emerged after the conclusion of the Great War and the subsequent Paris Peace Conference.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own