The Inevitable Conflict: Essays on the Civil War in County Limerick

The Inevitable Conflict: Essays on the Civil War in County Limerick

A commemorative volume on the Civil War in Limerick.

The Inevitable Conflict: Essays on the Civil War in County Limerick comprises thirteen original essays authored by professional and local historians, and Ph.D. students from Mary Immaculate College. They employ a wide range of traditional and newly released archival resources to shed new light on the experience of the Civil War in county Limerick, the strategic importance of which cast it as one of the principal theatres of the conflict’s conventional phase.

Dr Matthew Potter examines the Civil War through the prism of local politics in Limerick while Stephen Kelly and Dr John O’Callaghan trace the war’s course through the city and county respectively. In the first of two essays in the volume, John Dorney analyses the casualty figures for Limerick, an important metric which reveals much about the character of the conflict in the county. Professor Linda Connolly focusses on female casualties, uncovering many long-forgotten tragic cases of injury and death which extracted high social and economic costs from the victims and/or their families. Benjamin Ragan explores the place of the supernatural in Civil War Limerick, presenting a variety of stories of perceived paranormal activity that speak to the conflict’s psychological toll on combatants and civilians alike. In his second essay, John Dorney explores the civilian experience of civil war in Limerick where problems with food supply, public transport, and physical harassment became commonplace. Nonetheless, everyday life in the city and county did proceed with a rather surprising degree of normality and Sharon Slater examines public entertainments in this context, demonstrating that, aside from the period of high intensity urban warfare in mid-July, Limerick city’s theatres, cinemas, and sports’ venues operated as normal during 1922.

                Dr Brian Hughes, Dr Gemma Clark, and Dr Seán William Gannon explore the Limerick loyalist experience of civil war, a group which included Protestants, Catholic unionists, British ex-servicemen and ex-RIC. Clark uncovers what she terms the ‘everyday violence’ prosecuted against them in 1922/1923. This included arson, intimidation and physical attacks, and was often informed by factors other than strict ideological politics, as the chaos of the period was used to settle local agrarian disputes and personal scores. Hughes examines the attempts of Limerick Protestants to navigate the uncertainty of the revolutionary period and the difficulties they (and Catholic loyalists) endured during its endgame of civil war. Gannon focusses on the victimisation of ex-RIC by elements of the local anti-Treaty IRA which frequently culminated in attempted or actual expulsion from the county. Thomas Toomey draws on his vast collection of oral histories to explore friendships amongst East Limerick IRA that survived the Civil War split. He details a number of intriguing examples where individuals from both sides put personal relations before political loyalty in 1922/1923 when dealing with former War of Independence comrades. Finally, Siobhán English examines the afterlives of Limerick’s Civil War generation through the lens of the Military Service Pensions Collection. Using Limerick-related applications for compensation under the terms of the Army Pensions Acts of 1923/1953, she uncovers several examples of lives scarred or destroyed by the conflict.

                The volume is richly illustrated. Drawing on the extensive contemporary visual reportage by Pathé News and photographer William D. Hogan, who was embedded with the Irish Free State’s National Army, it provides a remarkable photographic record of the Civil War in Limerick, the most visually documented event in the county’s revolutionary history.