Today’s Green Week post is for two different flavors of Jello shots. As in, the British wished they had Jello shots during the 1919 Irish War of Independence. Unfortunately, they didn’t. But you can. Choose from seasonally-appropriate lime or wish-it-was-summer pina colada.
The Irish War of Independence (Cogadh na Saoirse) or Anglo-Irish War took place from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British security forces in Ireland. The conflict stemmed from the desire of Irish nationalists for home rule, or self-government, from Britain. In 1912, the British government granted Ireland home rule. This was immediately followed by an armed group, called the Ulster Volunteers or UVF, resisting these measures. In response, the nationalists formed their own paramilitary group called the Irish Volunteers. In 1914, the British Parliament tried to appease both groups with an amending bill for the partition of Ireland which divided Ireland into two separate territories (Northern and Southern Ireland).
The home rule bill was immediately postponed due to the start of WWI. Many nationalists supported the Allied effort in Irish regiments of the New British Army but some of the Irish Volunteers opposed Ireland’s involvement. This split the volunteer movement into the Allied supporters, the National Volunteers, and the remainder, under Eoin MacNeill, whose main priority continued to be home rule. A faction of the splinter group, led by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, prepared for a revolt against Britain.
In the Easter Rising of 1916, the Volunteers declared a republic and launched an insurrection against Britain. The conflict was mostly confined to Dublin. Over four hundred people died and it was over in about one week. The British response included the execution of the insurrection leaders, the arrest of thousands of nationalists and the imposition of martial law, causing shock and outrage among the Irish people and boosting support for the separatist Sinn Féin party.
In 1918, the British Cabinet tried to link the implementation of home rule for Ireland with conscription. This alienated the nationalists further and prompted large demonstrations. Sinn Fein was given 73 of the 105 available seats in the following general election. These politicians refused to sit in the UK Parliament, instead forming their own parliament known as the First Dail. They reaffirmed their 1916 Declaration of Independence and the Irish Volunteers reconstituted as the IRA. The Irish Citizen Army, formed by James Connolly in 1913 following a series of violent incidents between trade unionists and the Dublin police, would also join the IRA. The IRA claimed to be 70,000 strong but only about 3,000 actively fought against the Crown.
The Dublin Castle administration, or the Castle, was the core of British power in Ireland. The Castle was headed by the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary. (You know they’re British ‘cause they so fancy.) In the words of British historian Peter Cottrell, the administration was “renowned for its incompetence and inefficiency.” The 5th and 6th British divisions, as well as the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, were the primary British forces at the start of the conflict.
The mainly Irish Catholic RIC was a special target of the IRA. Military action against the RIC was fairly limited. Instead the Dáil announced a policy of ostracism of the RIC, which was a very successful at demoralizing them. The Irish people increasingly associated the RIC with British oppression. Many shopkeepers refused to sell to RIC members. RIC resignation went up and recruitment dropped. By 1920 the RIC barracks had been burnt to the ground and members had mostly withdrawn.
Also in spring 1920, Dublin dock workers refused to handle any war material. The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union soon followed suit, banning railway drivers from transporting British troops. Jurors refused to attend trials so the court system collapsed. The Inland Revenue was replaced by the National Loan, set up to fund the new government. (Irish Americans contributed over $5 million.) IRA attacks picked up and the Irish Republican Police (IRP) was founded by the Dáil. Despite British resistance, the Irish Republic had become a reality; levying taxes, creating and enforcing laws and maintaining a military and police force.
In their frustration, British forces committed a number of inflammatory acts. In Fermoy, County Cork, the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry burned all of the main businesses following the death and lack of a murder conviction for one of their own. In the following eighteen months, British forces would enact nearly 40,000 raids on private homes, arrest nearly 5,000, commit over 100 shootings and burnings in various towns and kill 77, including women and children.
During the course of the war, two British paramilitary police groups were formed to offer support. They were made up mainly of WWI veterans and are best known as the Black and Tans, due to the colors of their uniforms, and the Auxies. The Black and Tans gained a reputation for drunkenness and lack of discipline. The group sacked many towns throughout Ireland and did more to harm Britain’s moral authority than any other group. The Auxies were not much better as far as their mistreatment of the civilian population but they were more effective against the IRA.
Of the British policy of reprisal against the Irish people, Lord Hugh Cecil famously satirized “It seems to be agreed that there is no such thing as reprisals but they are having a good effect.” This policy was highlighted by events such as Bloody Sunday, in which RIC men shot into the crowd during a football match and killed fourteen civilians and injuring 65, in response to an IRA guerrilla action. On December 11th, in response to an IRA ambush which killed one Auxillary, Black and Tans burnt the center of Cork City and then shot at firefighters attempting to put out the blaze.
The war would eventually end with a truce on July 11th, 1921. The British forces were unable to effectively combat the guerrilla tactics of the IRA. Instead they seemed only able to further alienate the Irish people and fuel their desire for independence. The British generously called off the policy of house burnings as reprisals on June 6th of the same year. King George V had expressed dissatisfaction with the behavior of the Black and Tans. The King planned to write a suggesting reconciliation with Ireland based on the suggestion of Prime Minister of South Africa Jan Smuts, who also drafted several speeches based on the King’s ideas. The final speech was delivered on June 22nd and was well-received worldwide. Sinn Féin, under Éamon de Valera, agreed to negotiations with the British Coalition Government’s Cabinet. The settlement reached was called the Anglo-Irish Treaty and we’ll learn more about that when we discuss the Irish Civil War.
The date of the truce signing is now the National Day of Commemoration when all fighting Irish men and women are remembered. The total number killed in the war came to over 1,400, about 550 were IRA and about 200 were civilians. Directly following the truce, political violence in now Northern Ireland, mainly Belfast, claimed the lives of 557 more. Most of these were civilians, with 303-340 Catholic civilians and 172-196 Protestant. The Garden of Remembrance was erected in Dublin in 1966, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising, as a memorial.
Stay tuned for the rest of this story in our Irish Civil War post and for some much lighter material, leprechauns!
Green Week Features:
Lime + Pina Colada Jello Shots
3 oz package lime Jello
1 cup boiling hot water
1 cup ice cold vodka (I measured mine out and left it in the freezer for a couple hours.)
Ingredients (Pina Colada):
3 oz package pineapple Jello
1 cup boiling hot water
1 cup ice cold coconut-flavored rum
Mix together Jello mix and hot water until powder is dissolved.
Quickly mix in alcohol.
Pour or spoon mixture into whatever small containers you will be using.
Move containers to fridge or freezer and allow Jello to set up. (This will probably take an hour or two.)