The Irish Revolution, 1912-23: Sources (HIH3157)

StaffDr Gemma Clark - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at Level 1 and/or Level 2.
Co-requisitesHIH3158 The Irish Revolution, 1912–23: Context
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

Ireland’s seemingly natural trajectory towards self-governance within the United Kingdom was halted, in 1912, by Ulster Unionists’ rejection of the British government’s Home Rule Bill. The consequent militarization of Irish society – and the outbreak of global war in 1914 – provided opportunities for radical republicanism to overtake moderate nationalism as the driving force for change in Ireland. Through in-depth analysis of the available source material, this module explores the constitutional, (para)military and popular violent processes through which, by 1923, independence was established for the twenty-six southern counties (of the Irish Free State), whilst six Partitioned Ulster counties, comprising the new Northern Ireland state, remained under UK authority (as they do until this day). You will consider the perspectives of government officials, armed combatants and civilians, addressing historical topics (religion, nationality, identity, radicalism, counter-insurgency) that have strong contemporary resonances.
The module aims to foster the broad research, analytical, interpretative and communication skills that can be usefully applied to future academic studies and in graduate jobs. It also encourages the development of discipline-specific skills, including sensitivity historical controversy and robust awareness of the sectarian and political agendas that often beset the study of recent and on-going conflicts, in Ireland and elsewhere.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Have a detailed knowledge of the different sources available for the study of the Irish Revolution (1912–23), together with a very close specialist knowledge of those sources which the students focus upon in their seminar presentations and written work
  • 2. Analyse the complex diversity of the sources studied

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse closely original sources and to assess their reliability as historical evidence. Ability to focus on and comprehend complex texts
  • 4. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner
  • 5. Follow the often complex reasoning of political, ideological and military discourses in the period

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Carry out independent and autonomous study and group work, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 7. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 8. Present complex arguments orally

Syllabus plan

The introductory sessions will provide a framework within which all students (regardless of their prior knowledge of Ireland/Irish history) can place their future work. These sessions are likely to cover Ireland and the Union; religion and society in nineteenth-century Ireland; the development of constitutional and violent movements for Irish independence. In the process, you will also be exposed to some of the module’s key primary sources including, for example, British government reports and Irish nationalist memoirs.

Following the introductory sessions, the exact syllabus will vary from year to year, but topics are likely to include:

  • The Home Rule Party (and Home Rule Crisis)
  • Ulster Unionism and the militarization of Irish society
  • Radicalism and republicanism: Arthur Griffith, Sinn Féin and the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood; labour; women’s suffrage
  • World War I and Irish soldiers abroad
  • The Easter Rising
  • Aftermath of the Rising and the 1917 by-elections
  • Political imprisonment
  • The 1918 General Election and the alternative state (Dáil Éireann)
  • The War of Independence, 1919–21
  • The early IRA (Irish Republican Army)
  • The Anglo-Irish Treaty
  • Partition and borders
  • The Irish Civil War
  • Social revolution? The Irish Land Question since the Wyndham Act (1903)
  • Cultural revolution? Lives and beliefs of the ‘revolutionary generation’

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities4422 x 2 hour seminars.
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course1-6, 8Oral from tutor and fellow students

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio702 assignments totalling 4000 words1-7Verbal and written
Individual presentation3020-30 minutes1-8Verbal and written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-7Referral/deferral period
PresentationWritten transcript of 20 minute presentation1-8Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 4,000 word portfolio of source work, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 20 minutes of speech.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

James Connolly, The Reconquest of Ireland (Dublin, 1915) – many reprints are available online:–002/

Thomas Fennell, The Royal Irish Constabulary: a history and personal memoir (Dublin: UCD Press, 2003)

Countess Markievicz (1920), from Esther Roper (ed.), Prison letters of Countess Markievicz (1934), in David Pierce (ed.), Irish writing in the twentieth century: A reader (Cork: Cork University Press, 2000), 282–84

‘Proclamation of the Irish Republic, 24 April 1916’, in Alan O’Day and John Stevenson (eds.), Irish Historical Documents since 1800 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan Ltd, 1992), 160–61 – many reprints

Ernie O’Malley, On another man’s wound (new edn, The Mercier Press Ltd, 2013) – available as ebook

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Databases accessed through the Library website, including: Cabinet Papers (1915–1984); ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Guardian and The Observer; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Irish Times & Irish weekly

Digital Collections, the Library of Trinity College Dublin:; enter search term ‘recruiting’ for World War I recruitment posters

Irish Military Archives, Bureau of Military History Collection (1913–21), with a particular focus on Witness Statements:

'Letters of 1916', Trinity College Dublin:

Parliamentary debates, from Ireland ( and the UK (; see especially the debate on the Anglo-Irish Treaty:

Available as distance learning?


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Key words search

History, revolution, war, Ireland, Great Britain, violence, politics, nationalism