Fateful Day: The Treaty 90 Years On
Deaglán de Bréadún
Check this out. It is a photograph of the signatories’ page of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was agreed this day, 90 years ago, on December 6th, 1921. You will find it on the National Archives of Ireland website.
I notice that Arthur Griffith signs his name in Irish and English and the Irish version, Art O Gríobhtha, is in the Gaelic script. However, Michael Collins signs only the Irish version of his name, Mícheál O Coileain, but uses the standard English-language script. I note he has a “síneadh fada” on the ‘i’ and ‘a’ of Mícheál (the current Fianna Fail leader only has an accent on the ‘a’) but none on the a of O Coileain; the unaccented O and the C are linked and there also appears to be an apostrophe between them. Interesting for political connoisseurs of political and linguistic minutiae.
The Treaty of course led to a bitter and bloody civil war where the casualties and the breaches of human rights were actually worse than most of what happened between the Old IRA and the British forces.
The saddest story of all was the execution of Rory O’Connor by a Government which included Kevin O’Higgins, who had chosen O’Connor to be best man at his wedding only a year or so previously. Tragedy piled on tragedy: O’Higgins was later shot dead himself.
The standard view now is that the signing of the Treaty was the right thing to do. With the benefit of hindsight, one finds it hard to quarrel with that view. British/English forces were leaving most of the island’s territory and, as Dev himself ironically proved, the means were there to obtain further degrees of independence later. In a strange way, Dav validated the Treaty he had opposed.
However, there were a lot of intelligent and sincere people who could not live with the compromise. They should not be dismissed out of hand as fools and extremists. There were arguments on both sides and everyone – apart from a few fanatics - wanted the best for Ireland.
To watch an excellent documentary on TG4 click here. I am not sure how long the link will be in place.