1993 Volume 102 Issue 8 Pages 1507-1533,1603-
The Irish Civil War (1922-23) is a rare field of study in the research on the history of Irish independence. The Civil War which followed the Anglo-Irish War broke out between the Separatist Republicans and the Free Staters who accepted Irish independence as having Dominion status within the British Common-wealth. The Irish Civil War is seen by many to stem from the conflict arising from the constitutional status of the resulting independence. Here the author reexamines the Civil War with regard to the Irish Volunteers' organisation during the Anglo-Irish War. The first point is the relationship between Volunteers and Dail Eireann, the Irish national assembly. Since their foundation in 1913 the Irish Volunteers had been an autonomous body, and they were not exactly the "regular force" subordinate to the Dail. There were some attempts to define the Irish Volunteers as the "regular force", but these definitions were not adequate enough. The fact that the anti-government Republican Irregulars in the Civil War kept completely independent from the Separatist Republican leaders is probably related to the way in which the Irish Volunteers were organised during the Anglo-Irish War. The second point concerns the relationship between the Volunteers GHQ and local Volunteers units. In the process of promoting a guerilla war based on each unit's self-sufficiency, some units, especially the Munster Volunteers who were the most active units during the Anglo-Irish War, were de-centralised. The fact that the Munster area would be a stronghold for the Republican Irregulars in the Civil War should be attributed to the strong independent character and high political consciousness instilled in the Munster Volunteers from the time of the Anglo-Irish War. From these observations, the author concludes that for the Free State government the Irish Civil War presented the critical problem of how an armed force should be reorganised in a newly independent state.