Richard Mulcahy: From the Politics of War to the Politics of Peace 1913–1924


Pádraig Ó Caoimh

November 2019

Major new biographical study of revolutionary leader Richard Mulcahy.


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Chief of Staff of the IRA, successor to Michael Collins as Commander in Chief of the National Army, founding member of Cumann na nGaedheal and later leader of Fine Gael: Richard Mulcahy was a leading figure in revolutionary Ireland and the new Irish State. But who was the enigmatic man behind the myth? Conspiratorial IRB nationalist; stubborn military tribune; pragmatic, political officeholder; or a fascinating combination of these and other traits?

In Richard Mulcahy: From the Politics of War to the Politics of Peace, Pádraig Ó Caoimh expertly explores the awkward, often competitive, relationships Mulcahy had with Brugha, Cosgrave, de Valera, O’Higgins and Stack, and investigates the forging of the Irish national army out of the furnace of change brought about by the rise of militarism, a mismanaged rebellion and two wars, one of liberation, the other of brothers. This long overdue new biography also reveals the ambiguous role of the IRB, and the strategically important military and political executive positions that Mulcahy occupied during the post-rebellion, army-building and state-building phase of 1917–24.

This extensively researched new study of Richard Mulcahy and the struggle for supremacy concerning the post-revolutionary government-army relationship is a vital contribution to understanding Ireland’s revolutionary past.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Political Life of Richard Mulcahy, 1890–1959
Chapter 1. Inspired: The Socio-Political Milieu, 1886–1913
Chapter 2. Zealous: Home Rule and the Irish Volunteers, 1913–16
Chapter 3. Committed: Rebellion and Reorientation, 1916–17
Chapter 4. Assiduous: Volunteer Command, 1917–19
Chapter 5. Confined: IRA GHQ, 1919–21
Chapter 6. Pragmatic: Truce, Treaty and Debate, 1921–22
Chapter 7. Purposeful: Split, January–June 1922
Chapter 8. Adamant: The Regular Army, June–December 1922
Chapter 9. Aloof: The Free State Army, December 1922–June 1923
Chapter 10. Ambivalent: Army Demobilisation and Reform, June 1923–March 1924
Chapter 11. Recalcitrant: Mutiny, March 1924
Chapter 12. Disillusioned: Inquiry, March–June 1924

Conclusion: Enduring: Transition, 1913–24

1. Particular Phases in the History of the IRB, 1858–1916
2. Extract from a Seán MacEoin Document on the IRB Supreme Council’s Attitude to Government, 1919–24
3. Jephson O’Connell’s Evidence on the Revived IRB, as Submitted in Writing to the Army Inquiry Committee, 6 May 1924
4. Extracts from Attorney General Hugh Kennedy’s Memorandum on the Army and its Relationship with Government, 4 April 1923
5. Select Biographical Information

About the Author

Pádraig Ó Caoimh has an MA and PhD in Irish political history and has been a regular book reviewer for the Irish Examiner.

Praise for Richard Mulcahy: From the Politics of War to the Politics of Peace, 1913-1924

‘This is indeed an important contribution to the study of key revolutionary period of 1913-1924, incorporating significant new revelations deriving from the author’s deep knowledge of his sources and reflecting recent significant contributions to the historiography of the Irish revolution’
Richard McMinn, Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review

‘A useful and well researched addition to the Irish revolutionary bookshelf.’
Susan Byrne, Saothar: Journal of Irish Labour History

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