Between 1919 and 1923, Ireland was engulfed by violence as the Irish Republican Army (IRA) fought a guerrilla campaign against the British state and later fellow Irishmen and women in pursuit of an Irish Republic. Police barracks and government offices were attacked and burned, soldiers and policemen were killed and the economic and social life of the country was dislocated.
Britain itself was a theatre in the war too. ‘In the heart of enemy lines’, as one IRA leader put it, cities such as London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Glasgow and their environs saw the establishment of IRA companies, Irish Republican Brotherhood circles, Cumann na mBan branches and Na Fianna Éireann troops. Composed of Irish emigrants and the descendants of emigrants, these organizations worked to help their comrades across the Irish Sea. Their most important activity was gunrunning, acquiring and smuggling weapons to Ireland. In November 1920, setting fire to warehouses and timber yards in Liverpool, they launched a campaign of violence. Meanwhile, mass-membership organizations such as the Irish Self-Determination League of Great Britain and Sinn Féin sought to persuade the British public of Ireland’s right to independence. Republican leaders such as Michael Collins, Rory O’Connor and Liam Mellows took a keen interest in these exploits.
Making extensive use of archival sources and memoirs, The IRA in Britain is the first book to study this little known aspect of the Irish Revolutionary period. Tracing the history of the Irish Volunteers in Britain from their establishment in 1914 and participation in the Easter Rising two years later, through the weapons’ smuggling activities and violent operations of the War of Independence to the bitter divisions of the Civil War and the response of the authorities, The IRA in Britain highlights the important role played by those outside of Ireland in the Revolution.
Gerard Noonan has a PhD from Trinity College Dublin.
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Graphs
List of Abbreviations
1. ‘On a Solid Footing’: Organizing Republicanism in Britain, January 1919–July 1921
2. Supplying an Army: Gunrunning in Britain, January 1919–July 1921
3. ‘We are doing what you are doing in Ireland’: IRA Operations in Britain, January 1919–July 1921
4. Truce, Treaty and Dissension, July 1921–June 1922
5. The Civil War, June 1922–May 1923
6. Combating the ‘Sinn Fein Movement’ in Britain: The Response of the Authorities, 1919–1923
Epilogue and Conclusion
Gerard Noonan’s new book is a welcome addition to the growing historiography of modern Ireland, which places the Irish diaspora at the centre of analysis….This book deserves commendation for its depth of research and for its novel approach to integrating Irish and British history in a critical period.
Twentieth Century British History, Vol 26
April 2, 2014