Anglo-Irish Treaty set for public display to mark State centenary

Contentious document signed on December 6th, 1921, establishing the Irish Free State

The Anglo-Irish Treaty, foundation document of the Irish State, will go on public display for the first time later this year.

The treaty will be the centrepiece of an exhibition in Dublin Castle to mark its centenary which occurs on December 6th this year. Twelve signatories signed the document at 2am on December 6th, 1921, seven on the British side and five on the Irish.

The original signed document is in the National Archives, Dublin, but will be moved to Dublin Castle as part of the Government’s centenary programme.

Another highlight of the Anglo-Irish Treaty centenary programme will be “Staging the Treaty”, a 20-hour experience based on the treaty debates of December 1921 and January 1922.


Created by Anu Productions and edited by poet Theo Dorgan, it will recreate the often bitter and divisive treaty debates of Dáil Éireann which led to a narrow vote in its favour on January 7th by 64 votes to 57.

Staging the Treaty takes place at Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin, site of the original debates. It will take place around the centenary of the actual arguments on December 22nd and January 7th next year.

Playwright Colin Murphy has written The Treaty, which recounts events behind the negotiations which established the Irish Free State that later became the Republic.

The Treaty will be staged between November 18th and 27th by the Fishamble Theatre Company in the National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, and in London from December 1st to 6th.

The programme further showcases several other important events and initiatives which examine different aspects of this founding document and mark the various centenaries of the milestones associated with signing of the treaty.

It encourages the public to delve into the stories behind the treaty and to access the various materials and content as part of the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme.

‘Key document’

These initiatives include exhibitions, lectures, new theatre experiences, new music, large-scale digitisation projects and online content.

Minister for Culture Catherine Martin took the opportunity of the publication of the centenary programme to visit the National Archives and view the original treaty document.

“You don’t need to be an historian or an expert on this period of history to appreciate the different stories attached to this key document and the impact it had on future events,” she said.

The programme launched today also features several events hosted by the Irish Embassy in London including an exhibition of John Lavery's Anglo-Irish Treaty portraits in collaboration with the Hugh Lane Gallery, National Gallery of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin and an exhibition entitled The Treaty, 1921: Records for the Archives in partnership with the National Archives, the British Academy, and the National Archives of the UK.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times