The Irish Civil War

Seán Enright


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Merrion Press
25 March 2022
ISBN: 9781785371684
200 pages

From the publisher

During the Irish Civil War eighty-three executions were carried out by the National Army of the emerging Free State government, including four prisoners not tried or convicted of any charge. After the war the trial records were destroyed and the execution policy became a bitter memory that was rarely discussed. In this groundbreaking work, Seán Enright examines how a climate emerged in which prisoners could be tried by rudimentary military courts and then executed, and how so many other prisoners were killed without any trial at all.

The government of the emerging state relied on the National Army to fight the war and implement policy, but the National Army was new and lacked discipline. More than 125 further prisoners were killed in the custody of the state; shot at the point of capture or killed in custody. ‘Shot while trying to escape’ became an all too familiar press release. Seventeen prisoners were killed in the Kerry landmine massacres alone.

In the struggle to survive, the new state turned a blind eye and the rule of law simply unravelled. Featuring new material from the Irish Military Archives, The Irish Civil War: Law, Execution and Atrocity examines the dark legacy of this chaotic and bitter conflict.