Defying the IRA?

Intimidation, coercion, and communities during the Irish Revolution

Brian Hughes

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ISBN: 9781781383544

Publication: October 18, 2016

Series: Reappraisals in Irish History

This book examines the grass-roots relationship between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the civilian population during the Irish Revolution. It is primarily concerned with the attempts of the militant revolutionaries to discourage, stifle, and punish dissent among the local populations in which they operated, and the actions or inactions by which dissent was expressed or implied. Focusing on the period of guerilla war against British rule from c. 1917 to 1922, it uncovers the acts of ‘everyday’ violence, threat, and harm that characterized much of the revolutionary activity of this period. Moving away from the ambushes and assassinations that have dominated much of the discourse on the revolution, the book explores low-level violent and non-violent agitation in the Irish town or parish. The opening chapter treats the IRA’s challenge to the British state through the campaign against servants of the Crown – policemen, magistrates, civil servants, and others – and IRA participation in local government and the republican counter-state. The book then explores the nature of civilian defiance and IRA punishment in communities across the island before turning its attention specifically to the year that followed the ‘Truce’ of July 1921. This study argues that civilians rarely operated at either extreme of a spectrum of support but, rather, in a large and fluid middle ground. Behaviour was rooted in local circumstances, and influenced by local fears, suspicions, and rivalries. IRA punishment was similarly dictated by community conditions and usually suited to the nature of the perceived defiance. Overall, violence and intimidation in Ireland was persistent, but, by some contemporary standards, relatively restrained.

Brian Hughes is Associate Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Exeter.

List of Figures and Tables
List of Abbreviations
Note on the Text

1 Intimidating the Crown
2 Collecting the Rates: Dáil Éireann Local Government and the IRA
3 Civilians and Communities I: Non-cooperation and Defiance
4 Civilians and Communities II: Coercion and Punishment
5 Defying the IRA in Belfast
6 Old Enemies? July 1921–June 1922


This is a first class piece of work and will be indispensable to those interested in the history of ordinary people in Ireland during the war of independence as well as university level students of Irish and British history.
Declan O'Reily, British Journal for Military History

Hughes makes excellent use of both the Irish and British state record... he represents a vast number of stories of people whose allegiances, loyalties or histories cannot be neatly summarised or easily dismissed.
Deaglan Page   Belfast Books

'Intellectually serious, impressively researched, and very well written, this book will significantly enhance our understanding of the grassroots dynamics of the Irish Revolution.'

Tim Wilson  

Format: Ebook

ISBN: 9781781383544

Publication: October 18, 2016

Series: Reappraisals in Irish History

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