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    IRA activity in Westmeath during the War of Independence, 1918-21.

    Shortt, Russell W. (2001) IRA activity in Westmeath during the War of Independence, 1918-21. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Between 1918-1921, Ireland was swept along by a phenonomen, the entire island became embroiled in a transition, from being ruled by another power, namely Britain in entirety, to becoming independent yet divided. This period has being well documented, analysed and written about, on a national scale. The active areas have received the attentions of many historians and commentators. But the ‘other’ areas rarely receive a mention; the mistake is too often made of superimposing a blueprint that was concocted for one county, upon all the rest. True, Westmeath follows the general pattern that occurred in the rest of the country, that of young men joining the Volunteers and becoming increasingly militant against Crown Forces, marginalised to a large extent from their local communities, and working more often than not on their own initiative. Also the pattern of the war was dictated largely, by changes in the British government’s policies in Ireland and GHQ’s reaction to them. Therefore the country at many stages did move as one, changing tactics to receive the various threats and challenges thrown at them. But the counties also followed separate paths, slight differences occur in the methods adopted, when these methods were adopted and to a certain degree who adopted them. The movement was developed along regional lines, along parish boundaries; therefore it was always going to form differently, depending on the attitude, politics and policies of the activists and the local communities reaction to them. Thousands joined the ranks of the Volunteers during the latter half of the 1910s, but many did not foresee the violent role that they would be asked to play. After the 1916 Rising, the Volunteers who had being interned had strong reasons to become more militant, and from here on Volunteers were being arrested and re-arrested and in turn this increased their radicalism. Activists set up small nuclei by enrolling their brothers, close friends or work-mates. The movement spread as these small groups began to drill openly, its ranks swelled with the conscription crisis of 1918, when everybody realised that the Volunteers were the most capable body to oppose conscription into the British Army. Effectively then, the majority of recruits were joining for the wrong reasons and therefore the possibility of activity was still very much in the hands Introduction. of a small cluster of men. The most important thing that I have attempted to convey is the fact that there did exist a militant section of men in the county of Westmeath and that they did affect British rule in the county. The fact that activity in the less ‘active’ counties is seldom mentioned could have the effect of people presuming that nothing whatsoever occurred. In the course of this work, I will attempt to document the course of events in Westmeath during the War of Independence. I have divided the thesis into three chapters. Chapter 1 is a chronology of events that occurred within the county in this period; beginning with the minor acts of defiance in 1918, accentuating along a radical path, finally ending with total lawlessness in 1921. Chapter 2 assesses these events, attempting to explain the path that the county took in relation to the rest of the country and why different areas of the county developed conflicting attitudes and methods to the war. Finally Chapter 3 provides a social composition of the Westmeath Volunteers, providing some indication as to who joined the IRA as regards age, occupation, social class and marital status.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Keywords: IRA; Westmeath; War of Independence; .
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > History
    Item ID: 5300
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2014 12:26
      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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