The years from the Easter Rising in 1916 to the ending of the Civil War in 1923 were years full of drama and of fast-changing events, whose outcome shaped Irish society for generations. The conventional narrative of this period is one that focuses on the efforts of the nationalist politicians of various hues and the military activities of the IRA in their struggle to escape the British Empire. But these were also years of extraordinary popular initiatives, directed against both the British administration of the Ireland and indigenous employers. Over a hundred 'soviets' were proclaimed in the period. This book studies the militancy of working people throughout urban and rural Ireland during these revolutionary years. It examines how this popular militancy impacted on the struggle for independence: how it shaped the policy of the British authorities; how leaders of the national movement, such as de Valera and Collins, were affected by the popular struggle; and how the ebbs and flows of the popular movement were closely intertwined with the issue of partition. This book provides a great deal of detail on working-class militancy between 1917 and 1923.
It stresses the large scale and considerable impact of mass action and labor activism, challenging traditional interpretations that focus almost exclusively on the role of armed groups. There is a full account of the strikes, factory occupations and land seizures that shook Irish society. It details popular involvement in the struggles of those years, paying particular attention to the socialist and trade union movement. This revised edition consists of a comprehensive rewrite that updates the work in the light of recent publications and the release of new archive materials. In particular, this new edition includes new eyewitness accounts from the archives of the Bureau of Military History including the testimony of notable trade union activists, an extension of the account of the mutiny of the Connaught Rangers (28 June 1920), and extra information on Michael Collins' intelligence system.