The occupation of the Four Courts by Anti-Treaty forces in April 1922 made real the threat of violence that had existed only as a subtext to the treaty debates. That real fighting did not break out until the subsequent decision by the Pro-Treaty forces to forcibly retake the position in June 1922 shows just how reluctant the parties were to engage in more violence.
Once the decision to fight was made however, neither side showed much restraint. The shelling of the Four Courts and the ferocity of the fighting around the rest of Dublin during the initial phase of the war showed that neither side would balk at killing former friends if that was what was required.
On this day in 1922, after two days of heavy fighting that saw the complex more or less destroyed, the Anti-Treaty forces, by then under the Command of Ernie O’Malley, surrendered. Their surrender was at the order of the senior commander of Anti-Treaty forces in the city, Oscar Traynor.
They marched out of a burning and wrecked Four Courts a compelling symbol for the damage the Civil War was to bring to the young state over the next months and years.