The Green Divide: An Illustrated History of the Irish Civil War

Michael Barry’s book presents 400 photographs charting the sequence of events of the conflict

Michael Collins features prominently in Michael Barry’s collection of photographs depicting the history of the Irish Civil War

Michael Collins features prominently in Michael Barry’s collection of photographs depicting the history of the Irish Civil War

Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 15:00

   
 

Book Title:
The Green Divide: An Illustrated History of the Irish Civil War

ISBN-13:
9780956038364

Author:
Michael Barry

Publisher:
Andalus Press

Guideline Price:
€0.00

History was my favourite subject in school. I loved the history books and most of all the photographs that graced them. For me these images were proof that those things written about actually did take place.

I’ve never had a great understanding of the conflict waged between the two opposing groups of republicans we call the Irish Civil War. If my memory is right we skirted over it between the 1921 signing of the Anglo Irish Treaty and the commencement of the second World War.

As a result I’m delighted to get my hands on The Green Divide: An Illustrated history of the Civil War by Michael Barry. The book is essentially a portfolio of illustrations. It starts with an easily consumed chronology of 1922-23 and brief introduction before presenting over 400 photographs that roughly chart the sequence of events of the conflict.

All the protagonists feature. A rare photo of Eamon de Valera sees him sporting a large black hipster beard while another shows W.T. Cosgrave walking through his burnt-out Rathfarnham home surrounded by bodyguards.

Click here to open the gallery

A posed formal photo from Kevin O’Higgins’ wedding shows him, deValera and Rory O’Connor and their wives in October 1921. O’Higgins would later be a member of the executive council that approved the execution of Rory O’Connor (who had been his best man on that day).

Collins features prominently and many of the images are familiar. However the book features what must be the last photo of him alive taken at 4.30pm on the afternoon of August 22nd 1922 as he left the Eldon Hotel, Skibereen to return to Cork via Beal na mBlath.

There are photos of weapons, armoured cars, derailed trains, artillery, destruction and damage and all are of extremely high quality and well captioned. For me, the most interesting photos depict the ordinary unnamed participants in the conflict. Captured pro-treaty men play a football match under the eyes of their republican guards. A pro-treaty soldier snatches a nap in the front seat of a touring car. A pair of Capuchin priests leave the Four Courts having given spiritual comfort and helped with the evacuation of the wounded in June 1922.

Barry’s own contemporary photographs of the many civil war monuments around the country also tell a story. They mark the locations of the brutal acts that characterised the closing stages of this conflict. A memorial I passed daily in my hometown of Killarney marks the spot where five prisoners died after soldiers of the Dublin Guards brought them to ostensibly clear a barricade before throwing grenades amongst them and raking them with machine-gun fire.

A beautiful sculpture 30km away in Ballyseedy in Tralee marks the spot where on that same day, nine republican prisoners were tied together and blown up by a mine. Both of these barbaric acts were revenge for the killing of six National Army soldiers the previous day in nearby Knocknagoshel. They had been lured to their death by a false tip-off that a republican arms dump was located there.

The Green Divide: An Illustrated History of the Irish Civil War by Michael Barry is published by Andalus Press