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A Formative Decade: Ireland in the 1920s


Mel Farrell, Ciara Meehan, Jason Knirck (Eds)

March 2015

This pioneering collection focuses on the politics and economics of the island of Ireland in the aftermath of the struggle for Independence. It overturns traditional thinking on the formation of the Irish state, the birth of democracy and national identity in modern Ireland. Included is a fascinating study of the Shannon hyro-electric posters and the birth of the Senate.

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In the aftermath of the Great War, Europe’s empires crumbled and a patchwork of new nation states emerged across the continent.  As the map of Europe was being redrawn after 1918, Ireland too stood on the threshold of great change. The 1920s were a formative decade for Ireland, both north and south of the border, but the decade is all too often dismissed as one of stagnation. In contrast, the contributors to this timely collection provide a refreshingly alternative view of such events as the Shannon hydro-electric scheme, and the workings of the Church of Ireland and of the Senate – all serving to reignite the debate about how modern Ireland was defined and how statehood collided with national identities and allegiances.

The relationship between policy and the emerging state is also explored in chapters focusing on Free State election posters, loyalty and treason, the 1923 Land Act, the Irish Farmers’ Party and parliamentary democracy. Other dynamic contributions look at how economic policy shaped the lives of ordinary Irish citizens and continue to have an impact today, long after Ireland won it’s struggle for independence.

Table of Contents

Introduction ~ Mel Farrell, Jason Knirck, and Ciara Meehan

1. Politics Pictorialised: Free State Election Posters ~ Ciara Meehan

2. Cumann na nGaedheal: A New ‘National Party’? ~ Mel Farrell

3. A Unique Experiment in Idealism: The Irish Senate 1922-1928 ~ Elaine Byrne

4. ‘Harnessed in the Service of the Nation’: Party Politics and the Promotion of the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme 1924-1932 ~ McKayla Sutton

5. Redefining Allegiance: Loyalty, Treason, and the Irish Free State 1922-1932 ~ Justin Dolan Stover

6. The 1923 Land Act: Some New Perspectives ~ Terence Dooley & Tony McCarthy

7. Reframing the Republic: Republican Socioeconomic Thought and the Road to Fianna Fáil 1923-1926 ~ Timothy M. O’Neil

8. ‘A Regime of Squandermania’: The Irish Farmers’ Party and Parliamentary Democracy 1922-1927 ~ Jason Knirck

9. ‘A Cold House for Catholics’? The consolidation of the Northern Ireland State in the 1920s ~ Sarah Campbell

10. ‘Ireland’s destiny is in the making’: the impact of the centenary celebrations of 1929 and 1932 on the religious atmosphere in Ireland ~ Miriam Moffit

About the Editors

Dr Mel Farrell is based at Maynooth University.

Dr Jason Knirck is based at Central Washington University.

Dr Ciara Meehan is based at the University of Hertfordshire.