Eunan O’Halpin on the Dead of the Irish Revolution

We interview Professor Eunan O’Halpin on the project, ‘The Dead of the Irish Revolution’ – which seeks to determine, for the first time, how many people were killed in the Irish revolution of 1916-1923. The Dead of the Irish Revolution by Eunan O’Halpin and Daithí Ó Corráin will be published in 2012. Questions by John Dorney.

Click on the links below to listen to the interview.

Eunan O Halpin 1

Eunan O Halpin2

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Eunan O Halpin 4


Unlike the Northern Ireland conflict (1969-98) where casualties were scrupulously counted, named and memorialised, the victims of the much more concentrated violence of the early 1920s in Ireland – traditionally serialised as the Easter Rising (1916), The War of Independence (1919-21) and the Civil War (1922-23) – were never counted.

In the aftermath, particularly of the intra-nationalist civil war, no one wanted to remember how many died, let alone who killed them. Now for the first time, a project based in Trinity College Dublin seeks to redress this gap in our knoweldge.

We talk to Eunan O’Halpin about the project, which so far has determined figures of fatal casulaties up to December 1921, discussing;

– How many died?

-Who killed them?

– How many were civilians?

– Which parts ofthe country had the highest death tolls?

-What kind of violence – combat, riot or assassination was most common?


Professor O’Halpin was also kind enough to provide us with a list of the figures to date, which will be published in an upcoming book, Terror in Ireland, edited by David Fitzpatrick.  A summary of the major points is as follows;

*2,141  deaths from political violence in 1917-21, of whom;

* Three places combined; Cork County,  Dublin city and Belfast, saw over 50% of the fatalities.

* A further 25% of the casualties are shared between four Munster counties; Limerick, Kerry, Tipperary and Clare.

*48% of deaths, or 898 people, were civilians and the other 52% were combatants.

*Of the combatants, 467 were IRA, 514 RIC, and 262 British military.

Additionally, 486 people were killed in the week-long Easter Rising of 1916. Professor O’Halpin tells us that the project has yet to determine reliable figures for 1922-23 but expects the total to be higher than for 1917-21, not only because of the civil war in the south from June 1922- April 1923, but because early 1922 was the most violent period of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.


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