Book Review: 'Peace after the Final Battle': The Story of the Irish Revolution 1912-1924


by John Dorney

Dublin: New Island / Portland, Or.: International Specialized Book Services, 2014. Pp. vi, 376. Notes, biblio., index. $29.99. ISBN: 1848402724

Ireland's War for Independence

Independent Irish historian Dorney opens with a short overview of the early history of Irish resistance to English rule, which usually resulted in bloody retribution. He then addresses the state of the independence movement in the early twentieth century, as the Irish resorted to politics to press their case. This culminated in a promise of “Home Rule,” which pleased the Catholics, but almost led to civil war between the Irish Protestants and Britain and near mutiny in the British Army, and was then postponed due to the outbreak of the Great War.

Dorney uses three chapters to cover events in Ireland during the First World War, which included German support of the Irish revolutionaries, the 1916 “Easter Rising” and its brutal suppression, and the role of Irishmen in the British Armed Forces. 

Dorney then covers the actual war for independence of 1919-1921 in two chapters, an insurgency which saw violence escalate rapidly, with a series of brutal incidents initiated by both sides, and particularly in Ulster acquired a sectarian character. There followed a “truce” which led to independence within the British Commonwealth for much of the island, save Ulster.

Dorney concludes with a chapter on the Irish civil war of 1921-1922 and one on the legacy of the revolution. Dorney makes a number of important observations in his account, noting, for example, that the rebellion was opposed by some Catholics and supported by some Protestants, due to complexities of class, ideology, and ethnic identity. 

A good introduction to the Irish war for inpendence, the book lacks maps, which makes following some of the events rather difficult.   


Note ‘Peace After the Final Battle’ is also available as an e-Pub, ISBN 978-1-8484-0273-7.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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