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Explosion at the Four Courts the battle of Dublin. Alamy Stock Photo
100 years on

Timeline of ‘22: Civil war centenary makes for dark year of commemorations

What were the key developments as Ireland spiralled into civil war?

IRELAND’S DECADE OF commemorations is transitioning into its most difficult period as the country marks the 100-year anniversary of the Civil War.

The War of Independence was halted with a truce in July 1921 and brought to a close with the signing of the Anglo Irish Treaty five months later.

The Treaty established the Irish Free State (which would come into existence in December 1922, one year after the Treaty was signed), giving the 26-county State self-governing dominion status within the British empire.

The compromise agreement fell short of a republic and did not include the six counties in Northern Ireland.

For many in the Republican movement it represented a betrayal of what they had fought for and it saw communities, friends and families split apart as Ireland spiralled into further, vicious, conflict.

Discussion around the commemorations this year will focus on many sensitive subjects and incidents. To brace you for the year ahead, here is a non-exhaustive timeline of some of the events likely to be remembered and spoken about this year.


7 January 1922: After weeks of lengthy and contentious debates, the Dáil approves the Anglo Irish Treaty by a total of seven votes (64-57).

9 January 1922: Éamon de Valera resigns as president of Dáil Éireann.

10 January 1922: De Valera loses a motion for his re-election as Dáil president by two votes. Arthur Griffith is subsequently elected after De Valera and followers walk out.

16 January 1922: Michael Collins, in his role as chairman of the Provisional Government, takes control of Dublin Castle from the last Viceroy of Ireland, Lord FitzAlan-Howard.

31 January 1922: The Free State Army takes possession of its headquarters at Beggars’ Bush Barracks in Dublin.


5 February 1922: The treaty is rejected by Cumann na mBan.

11 February 1922: Four Ulster Special Constables and a member of the IRA are killed during a gun battle at Clones railway station, Co Monaghan. Numerous other people are injured, including civilians. The evacuation of British troops is temporarily suspended.

12-15 February 1922: Sectarian violence erupts in Belfast, killing approximately 30 people and leaving dozens of others injured. One incident saw six children die when a bomb was thrown into the yard of a Catholic school on Weaver Street.


2 March 1922: The anti-treaty IRA lands a shipment of German arms at Helvick Head, Co Waterford.

11 March 1922: After a standoff, anti-treaty forces cede control of Limerick to pro-Treaty troops.

15 March 1922: De Valera forms the Cumann na Poblachta (League of the Republic) political party from the anti-treaty wing of Sinn Féin.

26 March 1922: Anti-treaty IRA officers hold a convention where they reject the treaty and repudiate the authority of the Dáil.

29 March 1922: Catholic businessman Owen McMahon, four members of his family and one of his employees is shot dead at the McMahon family home in Belfast. Survivors of the attack say the gunmen wore police uniforms. The attack is believed to be a reprisal for the killing of two policemen the day before.

29 March 1922: Anti-treaty forces seize large quantities of guns, ammunition and explosives in Cobh, Co Cork. The armaments were awaiting shipment to England.


13-14 April 1922: Around 200 Anti-Treaty troops, led by Rory O’Connor and Liam Mellows, take control of the Four Courts in Dublin.

26 April 1922: After meeting in Maynooth, the Catholic hierarchy issues a statement supporting acceptance of the Treaty.  


1 May 1922: Anti-Treaty forces take more than £750,000 in raids on Bank of Ireland branches.

20 May 1922: Collins and De Valera agree a pact providing for Sinn Féin candidates in the June general election to be drawn from pro and anti Treaty sides in proportion to their existing Dáil strength. The pact angers the British government and Collins and Griffith are summoned to London.

20-22 May 1922: 14 people are killed in sectarian clashes in Belfast. West Belfast’s member of the British parliament WJ Twaddell is shot dead.

31 May 1922: The shooting of two police officers in Belfast provokes reprisals. 80 Catholic families are burnt out of their homes and eight are killed.


16 June 1922: Pro-Treaty candidates win 58 seats in the general election; Anti-Treaty candidates win 36; Labour win 17; Farmers Party wins seven; smaller parties and Independents win 10. 

18 June 1922: An IRA convention at the Mansion House in Dublin splits on the issue of resuming the offensive against British troops.

26 June 1922: Anti-Treaty irregulars based in the Four Courts kidnap Free State General JJ “Ginger” O’Connell in retaliation for the arrest of Anti-Treaty officer Leo Henderson.

27 June 1922: Collins issues a final ultimatum to the Four Courts garrison to surrender before they are attacked.

28 June 1922: The Civil War definitively starts as the Provisional Government starts bombarding the Four Courts at 4.15am. Collins borrows two 18-pounder field guns to carry out the offensive. It is the first use of artillery by the Free State army.

30 June 1922: Anti-Treaty forces abandon the Four Courts. A huge explosion blows up a wing of the Four Courts including the Public Record Office. Free State troops claim the building was mined.

the-irish-civil-war-28-june-1922-24-may-1923-was-a-conflict-that-followed-the-irish-war-of-independence-and-accompanied-the-establishment-of-the-irish-free-state-on-14-april-1922-dublins-four A week of fighting ensued after the shelling of the Four Courts. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

5 July 1922: Fighting ends in Dublin as Anti-Treaty troops surrender or flee. Republican leader Cathal Brugha is mortally wounded outside the Hamman hotel after refusing to surrender, he dies two days later. Dublin is now in the control of the Provisional government. Over 300 people were killed during the fighting in the capital. The vast majority were civilians.  

20 July 1922: The cities of Limerick and Waterford fall to the Provisional government. Over 450 people are killed in sectarian fighting in Belfast during June and July.

irish-civil-war-a-smiling-national-army-soldier-with-a-a-captured-member-of-the-ira-in-july-1922-photo-national-library-of-ireland-image-shot-1922-exact-date-unknown A smiling National Army soldier with a a captured member of the IRA in July 1922. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo


8 August 1922: Free State forces carry out seaborne landings in county Cork. Over one thousand men land in three separate landings at Passage West, Youghal and Glandore. There is heavy fighting at Rochestown as irregulars try to halt the Free State advance on Cork City. 

10 August 1922: Free State troops enter Cork after Anti-Treaty forces abandon the city.

11 August 1922: Anti-Treaty forces abandon Fermoy, the last town under their control. The Republicans abandon the policy of holding towns and pursue guerrilla warfare.

12 August 1922: Dáil President Arthur Griffith dies in hospital from a cerebral haemorrhage. He was 51 years old. He is succeeded by WT Cosgrave.

22 August 1922: Michael Collins is killed in an ambush at Béal na Bláth, Co Cork. The incident took place not far from his family home. Collins was the only victim of the firefight. The man who shot him is believed to be Denis ‘Sonny’ O’Neill.

28 August 1922: Massive crowds line the streets of the capital as Michael Collins’ funeral takes place in Dublin. Five civilians are killed in Westport, Co Mayo, after Anti-Treaty troops open fire on a crowd leaving a mass held for Collins. 

on-22-august-1922-michael-collins-was-killed-in-an-ambush-at-beal-na-mblath-outside-cork-he-was-buried-in-glasnevin-cemetery-on-28-august-1922-his-coffin-on-a-horse-drawn-gun-carriage-drawn-by-free Michael Collins' coffin passing down Gardiner Street Lower on 28 August 1922. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo


9 September 1922: The third Dáil assembles, WT Cosgrave is elected president. Anti-Treaty members of the parliament implement a policy of abstentionism. Anti-Treaty troops attack Kenmare, Co Kerry. They kill a local Free State officer and take 120 Free State troops prisoner, but later release them. They capture 110 rifles and 20,000 rounds of ammunition.

28 September 1922: Army Emergency Powers legislation is passed by the Dáil. It comes into effect the following month and empowers military courts to impose the death penalty. A total of 77 Anti-Treaty Republicans are executed between November 1922 and May 1923. 


3 October 1922: The Free State offers an amnesty to Anti-Treaty fighters who surrender their arms and recognise the government. Attacks and confrontations continue across the country as they had done for months.

25 October 1922: Éamon de Valera sets up a “Republican Cabinet” consisting of Anti-Treaty TDs. 

29 October 1922: An Anti-Treaty IRA column takes Clifden, Co Galway, capturing 80 Free State soldiers, after a 10-hour gun battle. They take rifles and burn the barracks before retreating. 


17 November 1922: The first executions of the Civil War take place as four men are killed at Kilmainham jail.

24 November 1922: Erskine Childers is executed. Childers was arrested earlier in the month after being found in possession of a revolver, which has been a gift from Michael Collins. He had been head of anti-Treaty propaganda.


6 December 1922: The Irish Free State comes into existence after being formally established by the British House of Commons.

7 December 1922: Seán Hales TD is shot dead on his way to a Dáil meeting. Leas Ceann Comhairle Padraic Ó Máille is also wounded in the incident.

8 December 1922: In retaliation for the killing of Hales, four anti-Treaty leaders captured in the Four Courts in July (Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows, Dick Barrett and Joseph McKelvey) are executed.

10 December 1922: The house of TD Seán McGarry is deliberately set on fire and his son dies in the blaze.

13 December 1922: Republicans led by Tom Barry take Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, in a surprise attack. They capture 107 rifles, two Lewis Guns and two armoured cars but do not attempt to hold the town.

17 December 1922: The last British soldiers leave the Free State. They are the remnants of a 5,000-strong garrison that had been maintained in Dublin up to that point.

19 December 1922: Seven Republicans are executed.

24 December 1922: 22 members of an Anti-Treaty guerrilla column are arrested at Midnight Mass in Curraheen, Co Kerry.

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