Eighty years ago this month the treaty port of Cobh was handed back to the Irish Free State, writes Billy O’Riordan
On July 6th, at Collins Barracks, Cork, a formal dinner took place between Lieutenant Colonel R.A. Love, accompanied by his fellow officers, and Frank Aiken, Ireland’s Minister of Defence. The officers in question were British and they were stationed in Cobh, Co. Cork.
It was the summer of 1938 and this gathering was the beginning of the ‘Handover’ of the British Harbour Fortifications in Ireland.
At the feast, Frank Aiken toasted the health of King George VI, and Lieutenant Colonel Love toasted President Hyde.
This event symbolised the cordial feelings which the two governments had come to after a long ‘Economic War’ which had begun in 1932.
Ever since the Treaty (1921) Eamon de Valera had slowly set about dismantling it, piece by piece – beginning with the Oath of Allegiance, then the External Relations Act and finally the 1937 Constitution, Bunreacht Na hEireann.
Yet despite all this, Britain still held territory within the twenty six counties, and this rankled with de Valera.