‘Clear-Hold-(Re)Build’: an examination of the Irish Civil War

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Prendergast, Gareth
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University College Cork
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What was achieved by the Free State during the Irish Civil War was remarkable. Within a period of less than a year they raised and equipped a standing National Army of nearly 60,000 soldiers, defeating an insurgency by the anti-Treaty elements of the IRA. Using the counterinsurgency framework of Clear-Hold-Build, and concentrating on the Civil War actions of the National Army in Cork, I will explain how the Free State managed to attain this remarkable achievement. Outnumbered at the start of the fighting, the Free State overcame the IRA insurgency by utilising a number of key concepts that included the combination of kinetic clearance operations and ‘Good Governance’ stability actions. Ultimately the disintegration of the anti-Treaty IRA occurred because of their inability to gain outright public support and the ability of the Free State to undermine their cause. The Free State also employed a superior force generation strategy using local forces living amongst the population. When these advantages were combined with enhanced Information Operations and the use of superior counterinsurgency tactics, they ultimately brought victory for the National Army.
Irish Civil War , Irish National Army , Munster Republic , Free State , Counterinsurgency , Information operations
Prendergast, G. 2022. ‘Clear-Hold-(Re)Build’: an examination of the Irish Civil War . PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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