Versailles #25: OTD 21st Jan 1919 - An Irish Eruption
The Irish problem had not solved itself. Ever since the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, the neighbouring island had provided troubling signs of a future catastrophe, and with the proclamation of the Dáil or Irish assembly coinciding with an attack launched on Royal Irish Constabulary policemen, the catastrophe seemed to have arrived. The conflict which followed did not erupt evenly across the island. Instead it took the form of several ripples; a murder here, a robbery there, a high profile assassination somewhere in between.
It was however, an unmistakable fact that Ireland was becoming more volatile. With the political mandate vested in Sinn Fein, violent Irish nationalism had reached a level of popularity and acceptance previously unknown, and this in turn meant that Britain faced an island mobilised more completely against her occupation and domination than ever before. Such facts were painfully awkward at a time when David Lloyd George was attempting to cast British rule as benevolent and civilising, as a force for good and as a facilitator of self-determination movements across the globe. Why, critics could ask, was London then ignoring its closest neighbours, in their quest to attain independent self-rule?
These questions and so many more were etched into what became, by the summer of 1919, the Irish War of Independence, but the opening shots, in politics and on the battlefield, were fired on this day 100 years ago, when Ireland launched its bid for independence on a scale and with a passion never before seen or imagined possible...
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