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The Politics of the Irish Civil War$
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Bill Kissane

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199273553

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273553.001.0001

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Historians and the Civil War

Historians and the Civil War

(p.202) 9 Historians and the Civil War
The Politics of the Irish Civil War

Bill Kissane (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the debate that exists among Irish historians about the civil war and critiques the existing consensus that the civil war was ‘the birth of Irish democracy’. It shows how two books written by two amateur historians in the inter-war era — Dorothy MacArdle and P. S. O'Hegarty — continue to frame scholarly debate about the civil war. At the heart of this debate is the question of whether divisions over the majority rule principle meant that the Treaty divide was irrepressible, or whether the outbreak of civil war was ultimately down to British pressure. Since this is exactly the same issue which polarized relations among the Treaty sides in 1922, the conclusion is that Irish historiography has simply continued the civil war by other means. The chapter concludes with some comparative reflections on Irish political development.

Keywords:   Irish historians, P. S. O'Hegarty, Dorothy MacArdle, democracy, IRA, historiography

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