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    "Few Supporters and No Organisation"? Cumann Na Ngaedheal Organisation and Policy, 1923-33

    Farrell, Mel (2011) "Few Supporters and No Organisation"? Cumann Na Ngaedheal Organisation and Policy, 1923-33. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    As stated, this thesis is organised in two parts. Part I comprises the first five chapters, part II the latter four. Chapter one is an introductory chapter that examines the origins of the Cumann na nGaedheal party, founded in December 1922 and launched in April 1923. It looks at the new cultural nationalism emerging at the turn of the twentieth century and the eclipse of the Irish party after 1916. This chapter draws on the work of Laffan and Garvin in helping to understand that Sinn Féin was united for four years and that the different sides in 1922 represented, to a certain extent, different factions of the superficially united revolutionary party. Chapter two outlines Cumann na nGaedheal’s national structures and its performance in general elections during the period 1923-33. As such, the chapter paves the way for the following three which chart the party organisation’s fortunes in three representative constituencies. Chapters three, four and five focus exclusively on party life in the three constituencies of Clare, Longford/Westmeath and Dublin North. Clare was chosen because the western county was the bailiwick of Eamon de Valera and Cumann na nGaedheal struggled for support there, only ever winning one of the five seats available. Longford/Westmeath was chosen because it lies in the midlands, was a two-county constituency and represented something of a middle ground in terms of Cumann na nGaedheal support.28 In three of the five elections between 1923 and 1933, the party won one seat in Longford/Westmeath before gaining a second in September 1927, which was successfully defended as the party lost power in 1932. The third constituency, Dublin North was selected because it was an urban constituency representing the northern portion of the capital. Moreover, it was something of a Cumann na nGaedheal stronghold for much of the period, returning four Cumann na nGaedheal deputies to the Dáil in 1923 and September 1927 and three in the elections of June 1927, February 1932 and January 1933. In addition, Dublin North and Longford/Westmeath witnessed byelections in this period while the locations of the three constituencies provide the study with something of an even geographical balance. Chapter six provides an overview of political, social and economic change in Europe from 1918 to 1933. This chapter draws heavily on secondary sources (mentioned above) and is designed to set a wider, international context to Irish policy choices that are described in chapters seven and eight. Parallels between events in Ireland and Europe are noted as are various points of contrast. Chapter seven documents the first period of Cumann na nGaedheal government, 1923 to 1928, stopping short of the generally accepted date for the onset of the Great Depression in 1929.29 The chapter charts the government’s attempts to place the new state’s finances on a firm footing arguing that its policy preferences largely corresponded with the dominant ‘gold standard orthodoxy’ of the period. Chapter eight looks at Free State government policy between 1929 and 1933. As such the chapter scrutinises the last years of Cumann na nGaedheal administration and the first year of de Valera’s government. The chapter charts the downturn in the Irish economy from about 1930 as trade collapsed and recognises that the Cumann na nGaedheal cabinet, like most European governments, were slow to realise their mistake in simply continuing to pursue deflationary policies. New approaches were needed and governments across Europe fell to more radical or extremist alternatives usually encompassing some form of economic nationalism as international cooperation all but came to an end in the early 1930s. The chapter argues that Fianna Fáil, as the Irish advocate of protectionism and economic nationalism, found itself coming to power in 1932 at a time when its policy was beginning to carry weight internationally. In the thesis that follows, it will be seen that there was more to the Cumann na nGaedheal party’s organisation and policy than has been depicted to date. The party took the reins of government at a very difficult time as the country emerged from a destructive civil war into statehood as the international economy creaked. On losing their two leaders, Collins and Griffith in 1922, Cosgrave and his colleagues were charged with leading the country through those turbulent years. Having taken the less glamorous side in the Treaty division, the political initiative for change would rest ultimately with their opponents and recruitment of a mass party membership was neither a priority, nor an easy task, for a government facing such gargantuan difficulties. However, in the pages that follow it is hoped that the reader will gain some fascinating new insights into pro-Treaty mobilisation in the years 1923-33.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Cumann Na Ngaedheal Organisation; 1923-33;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > History
    Item ID: 4072
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2013 15:52
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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