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4 January 1922: The Treaty Debates

04 January 2022

Read Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid's essay on 'The Politics of Emotions' on Century Ireland.

Ireland 1922, edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, features 50 essays from leading international scholars that explore a turning point in history, one whose legacy remains controversial a century on. Building on their own expertise, and on the wealth of recent scholarship provoked by the Decade of Centenaries, each contributor focuses on one event that illuminates a key aspect of revolutionary Ireland, demonstrating how the events of this year would shape the new states established in 1922. Together, these essays explore many of the key issues and debates of a year that transformed Ireland.

In collaboration with Century Ireland, we are making the 50 essays freely available online. Today's essay is by Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid and it covers the Treaty debates that took place on 4 January 1922:

"On 4 January 1922 the cool concrete façade of Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin concealed a pressure-cooker atmosphere as the debates over the ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty approached a conclusion. Seán O’Mahony, TD for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, made an emotional appeal to the ‘youth of the Irish Republican Army’ who, he declared, ‘had proved themselves too straight, too true, too unselfish in their love and loyalty to the Republic to be decoyed from the path of honour, or righteousness and of duty’, unlike those who, he claimed, ‘live in trembling’ and would ‘bend the knee and sign their rights away’.¹ O’Mahony’s intervention that day encapsulated key features of the Treaty debates: opening with a joke, prompting laughter, but moving swiftly to invoke strong emotions—love, loyalty, fear, betrayal—and ending with a round of applause. These debates of course have long featured as a climactic point in the history of the Irish revolution: the moment when the fraternal camaraderie of the republican movement was fractured, ushering in the bitterness and divisions of the civil war. An ‘avalanche of oratory’ akin to O’Mahony’s was unleashed, in support of and against the proposed Treaty..." Continue reading (you will be redirected to the website of Century Ireland)

Ireland 1922, edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, is published by the Royal Irish Academy with support from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme.

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