War and Revolution in the West of Ireland: Galway, 1913–1922


Conor McNamara

March 2018

War and Revolution in the West of Ireland explores the history of the entire revolutionary period in Connacht, with particular focus on the ferment and violence in County Galway. It captures the bewildering strain of these years, the outbreaks of open violence, and the enduring legacies that are felt in the region today.

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‘The people generally are out for a Republic and they propose to get it.’ – County Inspector RIC, West Galway, July 1920

The period 1913–22 witnessed extraordinary upheaval in Irish society. The Easter Rising of 1916 facilitated the emergence of new revolutionary forces and the eruption of guerrilla warfare. In Galway and elsewhere in the west, the new realities wrought by World War One saw the emergence of a younger generation of impatient revolutionaries.

In 1916, Liam Mellows led his Irish Volunteers in a Rising in east Galway and up to 650 rebels took up defensive positions at Moyode Castle. From the western shores of Connemara to market towns such as Athenry, Tuam and Galway, local communities were subject to unprecedented use of terror by the Crown Forces. Meanwhile, conflict over land, an enduring grievance of the poor, threatened to overwhelm parts of Galway with sustained land seizures and cattle drives by the rural population.

War and Revolution in the West of Ireland: Galway, 1913–1922 provides fascinating insights into the revolutionary activities of the ordinary men and women who participated in the struggle for independence. In this compelling new account, Galway historian Conor McNamara unravels the complex web of identity and allegiance that characterised the west of Ireland, exploring the enduring legacy of a remarkable and contested era.

Table of Contents

Introduction: ‘The gnarled and stony clods of townland’s tip’

  1. A Tradition of Violence: Agrarian Unrest, 1910–1916
  2. Outbreak of War, 1914–1916
  3. Liam Mellows and the 1916 Rising in Galway
  4. The rise of Sinn Féin and the Volunteers, 1916–1918
  5. War of Independence I: The Volunteers, 1920–1921
  6. War of Independence II: The Crown Forces, 1920–1921
  7. Settling Old Scores: Communal Conflict, 1918–1921

Conclusion: The Cheated Dead?

About the Author

Conor McNamara has written extensively about the history of the Irish revolution and rural society. He was previously a winner of the National Library of Ireland, History Fellowship (2009) and was awarded the 1916 Scholar in Residence at NUI Galway (2015–17). He was a Moore Institute, NUI Galway, Visiting Fellow (2017) and this is his fourth publication.

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