‘Fight on to the last man’: Remembering the Irish Civil War

It was interesting to watch the commemoration yesterday of the hurried handing over by British forces of Dublin Castle in January 1922 to the Irish provisional government. As always, Michael D. Higgins handled the occasion with grace and dignity, and the residual parties of the subsequent civil war – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin – seemed at ease
with each other. It will be fascinating to watch how that changes, as it inevitably will, when the various events of that conflict are marked. But better this than a fraudulent consensus. Beyond wishing it had never happened, an agreed perspective still isn’t possible because of profound differences, then and now, around social and political ambitions and intentions.

I have written almost nothing on this period myself, but I did publish a short piece some years ago on Liam Lynch (the IRA chief of staff) and the civil war.

‘”Fight on to the last man”‘: a letter to Liam Lynch, March 1923’ can be downloaded here.

- Fintan Lane

Saothar 46 (2021) book reviews available online

In a change of policy, the Irish Labour History Society is now posting book reviews from its annual journal Saothar online, where they are free to read or download.

This year they include a review by myself of Karina Holton’s excellent biography of Valentine Lawless (1773-1853), the United Irishman and liberal politician.

A PDF of the Saothar, vol. 46 (2021) reviews can be downloaded or read here: saothar-46-book-reviews-2021.


History Ireland on the Interweb…

The magazine History Ireland (www.historyireland.com) under the stewardship of the indefatigable Tommy Graham has made a tremendous contribution to Irish history studies since it was first published in 1993. Apart from bringing good history-writing to a popular audience, it has provided useful information and leads for many researchers,  especially students and general enthusiasts, as they began exploring aspects of Irish history.

Being irredeemably and somewhat regretfully habituated to paper myself, I’ve a very large black canvas bag under the stairs loaded down with hardcopies of pretty much every back issue of the magazine (for reference purposes, you understand), so I don’t use the History Ireland internet resource very often, but I should. The website is fully searchable and allows free access to almost all of the articles and reviews published over the years, with the exception of material from the most recent issues. It’s a fantastic resource and well worth a browse.

Here are some of my own pieces published in the magazine at various times:

  • A lengthy review of Emmet O’Connor’s new edition of his classic A Labour History of Ireland. From the July/August 2013 issue.


  • An article on the handful of anarchists and social revolutionaries active in Dublin in the late 1880s. From the March/April 2008 issue.


  • A review of David Lynch’s book on the Irish Socialist Republican Party of the 1890s. From the May/June 2005 issue.


  • An article on the English artist and poet William Morris and his political connections to Ireland in the 1880s. From the spring 2000 issue.


  • A related letter on Morris and Ireland. From the autumn 2000 issue.


 Fintan Lane


Parnellism and James Joyce

This short article by Fintan Lane – free to download – was published in the James Joyce Quarterly in 1999. It traces the friendship between James Joyce’s father and the Parnellite and agrarian radical Daniel Hishon (1851-1919), who was born in County Limerick but lived out his final years in Portobello, Dublin. Hishon died at his home at 4 Kingsland Parade on 25 June 1919.

Click here for the article: hishon

Some information on James Joyce’s father: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stanislaus_Joyce