Jul 14, 2022

Ireland’s New Virtual Record Treasury is Online

On June 30, 1922, a calamity occurred for the people of Ireland: in the opening engagement of the Civil War, a massive explosion and fire in the Four Courts complex in Dublin destroyed seven centuries of Irish archives in the Public Records Office of Ireland. The new Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland is a 21st century project to replace what was lost 100 years ago.

n the aftermath of World War I, with home rule for Ireland never closer following the Easter Rising of 1916, Irish republicans had battled the British to a stalemate in the War of Independence, a guerilla conflict from January 1919 to July 1921. There had been support for independence throughout Ireland, particularly in the south and west. However, in the north, many Irish Protestants did not want independence from the United Kingdom. The UK Parliament had passed the Government of Ireland Act in 1920, foreshadowing the partition of Ireland into two entities, both within the British Empire; it came into force in May 1921. Tense negotiations from October 1921 led to the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December, a compromise which confirmed the two entities: the Irish Free State composed of 26 counties, with a dominion status comparable to Canada’s, and Northern Ireland, six counties remaining part of the UK proper. Many, likely most, Irish considered the compromise the best deal to be obtained from the British and wanted peace. However, many others felt the treaty fell short of the cause of complete independence for the island of Ireland, and wanted to continue armed conflict. As British garrisons were evacuated from Ireland, brothers in arms who had fought them for independence prepared to fight each other over whether the partition of Ireland should be allowed to happen.

You can read much more in an article by Sean Daly that is published at: