"Michael Collins rose to his feet. In repose his eyes glimmer softly and with humour. When aroused they narrow - hard, intense and relentless. He speaks like this. One or two words. Then he pauses to think. His speech does not flow in a stream as it does in the case of Eamon de Valera. Yet from not one word is firmness absent." This work provides eye-witness accounts by two reporters from the Irish Independent newspaper of the historic Treaty debates of Dail Eireann, held in University College Dublin's Earlsfort Terrace building in December 1921 and January 1922. Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith and a host of other participants come to life. The colourful descriptions of the scene and of the reactions to speeches, written while the debates were in progress, are far more revealing than the published record of the debates.
An Dail assembles
the treaty moved
lady creates a scene
Alderman Cosgrave's humour
a day of fervid oratory
after the recess
a dramatic scene
a day of sensations
De Valera's resignation
the fateful division
De Valera's defeat for presidency
Griffith elected president
treaty formally ratified
'Greater familiarity with these sources — including the range of evocative first-hand accounts spanning the revolutionary decade from the Ulster crisis to the Civil War published as part of UCD Press’s new Centenary Classics series — should complicate as well as inform commemoration in 2016.
Although the achievements of the founding generation will be honoured and, inevitably, appropriated, the urge to celebrate independence should be tempered by an unsentimental understanding of the process by which it was achieved.'
21 March 2016
'UCD Press’s new ‘Centenary Classics’ series makes available eye-witness accounts of key revolutionary episodes including the Ulster crisis; the aftermath of 1916; the rise of Sinn Féin; the War of Independence; the Treaty split; and the Civil War. These provide first-hand perspectives on such topics as the significance of sectarian divisions; the impact of imprisonment on republicanism; the importance of popular mobilisation and guerrilla warfare; and the conflict’s divisive legacy.
These accounts offer many insights into the influences that shaped the revolutionary generation. The value of these texts does not lie solely in the factual light they shed on past events, they illuminate mentalities, as well as the memory of the revolution, a growing area of research.
These stories could be ‘made into a patchwork quilt from memory’. This aim alone provides a compelling reason to ensure the wider availability of eye-witness accounts, particularly during a period of commemoration in which politicians and others will claim to speak on their behalf.'
Fearghal McGarry, Queen's University Belfast
'These contemporary accounts by well known personalities of historical events and attitudes have an immediacy that conventional histories do not have. Introductions by modern historians provide additional historical background and, with hindsight, objectivity.'
'Scholars of nineteenth-century Irish and Irish-American politics should reacquaint themselves with these classics, part of a long running and immensely useful series from University College Dublin Press.'
Irish Literary Supplement
FREE STATE OR REPUBLIC?
'If journalism is the first draft of history, Free State or Republic constitutes primary source material.'