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Afterimage of the Revolution

Cumann na nGaedheal and Irish Politics, 1922–1932

Jason Knirck

Publication Year: 2014

Ascending to power after the Anglo-Irish Treaty and a violent revolution against the United Kingdom, the political party Cumann na nGaedheal governed during the first ten years of the Irish Free State (1922–32). Taking over from the fallen Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith, Cumann na nGaedheal leaders such as W. T. Cosgrave and Kevin O'Higgins won a bloody civil war, created the institutions of the new Free State, and attempted to project abroad the independence of a new Ireland.
            In response to the view that Cumann na nGaedheal was actually a reactionary counterrevolutionary party, Afterimage of the Revolution contends that, in building the new Irish state, the government framed and promoted its policies in terms of ideas inherited from the revolution. In particular, Cumann na nGaedheal emphasized Irish sovereignty, the "Irishness" of the new state, and a strong sense of anticolonialism, all key components of the Sinn Féin party platform during the revolution. Jason Knirck argues that the 1920s must be understood as part of a continuing Irish revolution that led to an eventual independent republic. Drawing on state documents, newspapers, and private papers—including the recently released papers of Kevin O'Higgins—he offers a fresh view of Irish politics in the 1920s and integrates this period more closely with the Irish Revolution.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-2

This book has been over a decade in the making, and I have accrued a tremendous number of intellectual and personal debts over the course of those years. The research for this project was mostly carried out at the University College Dublin Archives, the National Library of Ireland, and the National...

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Introduction: Cumann na nGaedheal, Historians, and the Irish Revolution

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pp. 3-21

In 1919 Irish activists loosely gathered under the banners of Sinn Féin, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) launched an attempt to throw off British colonial rule in Ireland. Seizing the initiative from the Irish Party, these men and women instigated what has generally been...

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1. The Treaty and the Revolutionary Inheritance

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pp. 22-53

The Treatyites were brought to power by what all concerned believed to have been a revolution. They did not want to ignore their origins, nor did they want to overturn all the principles and ideas that had propelled their rise. Instead, they had to accommodate...

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2. Security, Order, and Sovereignty

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pp. 54-104

For the new Treatyite government in 1922, the demonstration of sovereignty internally through the rule of law and the establishment of order was as important as the projection of sovereignty externally. Historians have focused extensively on Cumann na nGaedheal’s law and order policies, which form the heart of later depictions of the regime...

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3. The Promotion of Irishness

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pp. 105-140

Ernest Blythe’s pro-Treaty speech to the Second Dáil pledged his allegiance to a Gaelic state, while noting the difficulties involved in such a creation: “I stand for a Gaelic State. I realise the difficulties that are before us in arriving at a Gaelic state. I know how far Anglicisation has gone in this country. I know the close relationship there must be...

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4. The Treaty and the Empire

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pp. 141-176

Membership in the British Empire was obviously one of the most difficult aspects of the Treaty for Irish nationalists to accept, and the fallout from this dominated the Dáil’s debates in December 1921. The broader imperial and international dimensions of the Treaty often get minimized in discussions of the Treaty debates, though. While Irish...

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5. A Dominion in Name

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pp. 177-213

Initially, pro-Treatyites were so concerned by the internal split with republicans that foreign affairs took a back seat. Cosgrave told a cabinet meeting in June 1922 that “our foreign affairs, other than commercial, would be a matter of no importance.”1 Earlier that year, Collins had told Lloyd George that he was not terribly interested in external affairs, as...

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6. Reclaiming the Revolution

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pp. 214-254

When Fianna Fáil entered the Dáil in the summer of 1927, the Irish political landscape was transformed irrevocably. Suddenly, a change of government seemed possible, and former civil war opponents now faced each other across the aisle in the Dáil. Those...


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pp. 255-290


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pp. 291-298


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pp. 299-304

Series Page

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pp. 305-306

E-ISBN-13: 9780299295837
E-ISBN-10: 0299295834
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299295844
Print-ISBN-10: 0299295842

Page Count: 318
Publication Year: 2014