County Cork: the experience of members of the establishment whose houses were burned in the IRA arson campaign, 1920-23

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Hanley, Kara
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University College Cork
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Between May 1920 and March 1923, there were seventy-three houses belonging to the County Cork establishment burnt down by IRA and anti-treaty forces. More houses were destroyed by this method in Cork than in any other Irish county in the same timeframe. The establishment were targeted by the IRA for their political, military and social persuasions that were essentially in opposition to the nationalist movement. The motivations behind these burnings is examined, the main reasons being reprisals for actions taken by Crown forces, military reasons, loyalty of house owners to the British government and agrarianism. The geographical distribution of these burnings is also provided to reveal how active individual IRA brigades were that operated within the county. Though there were few areas of the county left unaffected by the occurrence of arson attacks, there were higher concentrations of burnings in some areas. The house burnings in County Cork did not conform to the national pattern of house burnings and the reasons for this are explored. This study argues that the presence of Crown forces in Cork and their implementation of an official reprisal policy in January 1921 escalated military conflict, and arson attacks became a key tactic utilised by IRA forces in response to this policy. The aftermath of house burnings for members of the establishment is revealed through the various compensation committees that were formed after both the War of Independence and Civil War. Key sources for this study included personal papers of both the establishment and military figures, IRA witness statements, local and national newspapers, the 1901 and 1911 Irish Censuses, Colonial Office Papers, compensation claims filed with the British government and Irish Free State, and others from archives throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom.
House burnings , County Cork , Compensation , IRA , Crown forces
Hanley, K. 2016. County Cork: the experience of members of the establishment whose houses were burned in the IRA arson campaign, 1920-23. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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