December 1921 



The British send the Irish delegation ‘Proposed Articles of Agreement’ (according to Curran, it actually arrived ahead of schedule on the evening of Nov-30).   Collins and Griffith go to Downing St, they presented an altered oath but this was rejected.  However, they discussed other amendments until late at night.  A revised document was delivered to the Irish HQ at about 1.30am on the 2nd.  Barton left for Dublin. 


Macardle (1999), pg 576; Curran J M (1980), pg 116


In a memo to the British Secretary of State for War, Macready warned that if the truce was not more strictly observed then British forces would either take action on their own against the IRA or else become completely demoralised.


Curran J M (1980), pg 137


The cabinet in Belfast decides to disband the ‘recalcitrant’ county councils in Fermanagh and Tyrone.

McCluskey (2014), pg 105


Griffith leaves for Dublin in the morning with a copy of the revised terms.  He meets de Valera at 11.00pm in Dublin and the two argue late into the night – Griffith says he would accept the terms but de Valera says he would not.  At 8.45pm, as Collins, Gavan Duffy and Childers leave London for Dublin, Thomas Jones hands them the latest amendments to the British proposals.


Macardle (1999), pg 576; Curran J M (1980), pgs 116-117


During an escape attempt by prisoners held in Derry jail, an RIC man (Constable Michael Gorman) and a Special Constable (S/Constable William Lyttle) are killed as the prisoners used too much chloroform when trying to silence them.  The escape attempt is foiled.  Three men – two prisoners (Thomas McShea and Patrick Johnson from the Donegal No. 4 Brigade) and a warder who aided the prisoners (Patrick Leonard) are subsequently sentenced to death.  This sentencing was to have some serious repercussions – see January 14th 1922.


Abbott (2000), pgs 270-271; Gallagher (2003), pg 38; McDermott (2001), pg 142; Grant (2018), pgs 122-123; Lawlor (2011), pgs 195-196; Ó Duibhir (2011), pgs 42-44


Dáil Cabinet meets at 11.00am – as the boat Collins, Gavan Duffy and Childers were on had a collision, they arrive just as the meeting is due to start.  Members of the delegation who were not cabinet ministers were present at the morning session (along with Kevin O’Higgins and Erskine Childers) but afterwards the cabinet met alone.   More Detail 


Macardle (1999), pg 580; Curran J M (1980), pg 117-119; Townshend (2014), pgs 347-348


Barton, Gavan Duffy and Childers, back in London, work on amendments to the Proposed Articles of Association.  Griffith, Collins and Duggan were not keen on making amendments but after some discussion did change them somewhat.  A key change was changing the word Association to Associated States in the Oath as this could be interpreted as the accepting the King as head of the Irish state.  The amendments are given as Appendix 20 in Macardle.  They made no changes to the clauses on Ulster (as the delegates had no specific instructions to do so) and the British assumed that, since there were no changes, the Irish side were satisfied with them.  After the amendments were made, Collins and Duggan refused to go to Downing St. so Griffith, Barton and Gavan Duffy went to push them on the British.  They met with Llyod George, Chamberlain, Birkenhead and Horne at 5.00pm.  The British side read the amendments and rejected them.  Griffith tried to bring out Craig’s refusal of an All-Ireland Parliament as the dominant factor but the British said that their proposals stood with or without Craig’s approval.  When Gavan Duffy came to speak he said “our difficulty is to come inside the Empire, looking to all that has happened in the past …”.  With that the British delegation jumped to their feet and said the conference was at an end.  They said they would send word to Craig that the negotiations had broken down.  However, later that night Thomas Jones told Collins that Llyod George wished to see him in the morning.  Llyod George had learned of who was on each side in the Irish cabinet.

Macardle (1999), pgs 581-583; Curran J M (1980), pgs 120-122


Llyod George meets Collins at 9.30am.  At this meeting Llyod George would seem to have convinced Collins that the Boundary Commission would save Ireland from partition.  Also, Collins agreed to ask him colleagues to meet with Llyod George in the afternoon. At 3.00pm, the Irish delegation met the British delegation in Downing St.  This was a truly historical meeting and much written about.  Present on the British side were Llyod George, Chamberlain, Birkenhead and Churchill while on the Irish side were Griffith, Collins and Barton.   Llyod George put an ultimatum to the Irish delegation that either they signed that day and promised to recommend the Treaty or that any delegate who refused to sign was taking responsibility for the war that would follow within three days.  (This was done in the form of which of two letters he would send to Craig.) Griffith assented to sign.  Collins asked for some time and the Irish delegation retired to Hans Place at 7.15pm where they received the final draft of the Treaty at 9.00pm.  The Treaty is given as Appendix 21 in Macardle.  Finally, all other four members of the delegation agreed to sign with increasing degrees of reluctance in, it would seem, this order: Collins, Duggan, Barton and Gavan Duffy.  (Macardle says that they should have phoned Dublin as that would have, at least, averted the charge that they were breaking written instructions from cabinet.  In addition, Curran points out that they did not need to accept Llyod George’s deadline for telling Craig and could have asked him to phone Craig.)  It was after mid-night when they Irish delegation came back to Downing St.  Griffith informed the British side that they were willing to sign but that there were a few points of detail.  They concentrated on these and the signing took place at 2.10am on the 6thComment


Macardle (1999), pgs 583-589; Curran J M (1980), pgs 123-131


Treaty signed at 2.10am


O'Farrell P (1997), pg xviii


British cabinet approves Treaty unanimously and next day and approves release of 4,000 internees.

Curran J M (1980), pg 138


Griffith meets with representatives of the Southern unionists and gives them undertakings that their interests will be safeguarded in the new Irish Free State.

Macardle (1999), pgs 592-593


Meeting takes place in Mansion House of large delegation of northern nationalists and Sinn Féiners with Dáil ministry (Eoin MacNeill, as TD for Derry, in the chair).  Delegation seeking clarification of the Treaty.   MacNeill puts forward a policy of non-recognition of the Northern Ireland government including a number of concrete steps with regard to local government, education, etc. The Mayor of Derry, Hugh O’Doherty said that the Treaty amounted to the abandonment of northern nationalists. He says “If … Belfast contracts out you are handling over manacled the lives and liberties of the Catholics”.  However, Tyrone and Fermanagh delegates seem to believe that the Boundary Commission would deliver them to the Free State.

The delegation met with de Valera the next day before the cabinet met.  The Northern Whig reports that there were celebrations in nationalist areas of Belfast.


Phoenix (1994), pgs 156-157; Parkinson (2004), pg 173; McDermott (2001), pg 141; Grant (2018),


The British cabinet meets to discuss that release of prisoners and internees, a key demand of the Irish negotiators.  They agree to the release of all internees (almost 4,000) as “it would be more difficult for the Irish Parliament to reject the Articles of Agreement if the internees had been released as an act of clemency immediately after the signing of the agreement”.  Also, each prisoner’s case was to be reviewed by a judicial tribunal.

Ó Duibhir (2011), pgs 44-45


Dáil Cabinet meets and four members are for Treaty (Griffith, Collins, Barton and Cosgrave) and three are against (De Valera, Brugha and Stack).  The Cabinet summons the Dáil to meet on the 14th.  It also empowers de Valera to issue a public statement in which says that he "Could not recommend the acceptance of this Treaty either to Dáil Eireann or the country".  He added “The greatest test of our people has come.  Let us face it worthily, without bitterness and, above all, without recriminations.  There is a definite constitutional way of resolving our political differences – let us not depart from it”


O’Donoghue (1986), pg 196; Curran J M (1980), pg 142


Michael Crudden, on his way home from Mass, is shot by a lone gunman in the Marrowbone area of Belfast.


Parkinson (2004), pg 173; McDermott (2001), pg 144


Michael Byrne of the 5th Battalion, Kilkenny Brigade IRA is demonstrating bomb throwing at his home in Kiltown, The Rower while a bomb explodes prematurely.  Byrne dies of his injuries the following day.

Walsh (2018), pg 142


The IRA internees start to be released – including 1,700 from Ballykinlar.  They are frequently given rapturous receptions. Nearly 4,000 internees released over the coming days.

O'Farrell P (1997), pg xviii; Abbott (2000), pg 274; McDermott (2001), pg 143; Walsh (2018), pgs 143-145


In Thurles, Co. Tipperary, a grenade is thrown into a railway carriage carrying home a number of released internees.  A number are injured and one, Declan Hurton from Ardmore, latter dies of his injuries.  See December 14th.

McCarthy (2015), pgs 96-97


Supreme Council of the IRB meets and issues a statement saying the "present Peace Treaty between Ireland and Great Britain should be signed" but goes onto say that members "who have to take public action as representatives are given freedom of action in this matter."  (Statement is issued to centres on the 12th December). More Detail


O’Donoghue (1986), pg 190; Hopkinson (1988), pg 44; Curran J M (1980), pg 316; Townshend (2014), pgs 367-369


1st Southern Division, IRA declares against the Treaty saying “The Treaty as it is drafted is not acceptable to us” – shortly afterwards, they inform Dáil deputies from Cork that voting for the Treaty would be considered treason against the Republic.


Hopkinson (1988), pg 42; Curran J M (1980), pg 145; Townshend (2014), pg 350


Nationalist areas in Belfast come under sustained attacks from loyalist gunmen.  IRA man, Bernard Shanley, was found shot dead on the Ormeau Rd.  (McDermott says 16th and that the killing took place on Bankmore St.)


Parkinson (2004), pg 174; McDermott (2001), pg 144 & 152


Writing a private letter, Cardinal Logue says there was not “a man alive who ever expected that such favourable terms could be squeezed out of the British government in our time”

Townshend (2014), pg 358


Two RIC men were attacked on the Castle Green, Ballybunion, Co. Limerick resulting in the death of one (Sgt John Maher) and the serious wounding of the other (Constable Gallagher).


Abbott (2000), pg 271


At Griffith’s instigation, de Valera meets the IRA GHQ staff who express pessimism about the outcome if hostilities are resumed but they agree to carry on their work whatever the Dáil decided. De Valera assured them that if the Treaty was approved by the Dáil, he would not tolerate mutiny in the army.


Curran J M (1980), pg 144


Roman Catholic bishops meet.  A majority support the Treaty but the minority ensure that the public statement is neutral.

Townshend (2014), pg 358


In a letter, Llyod George offers assurances to Griffith on matters such as arbitration of Ireland’s financial liability, membership of the League of Nations and the drafting of the Free State Constitution.  He also promised that the beginning of British troop evacuation would start as soon as the Treaty was ratified. 


Curran J M (1980), pg 143


Craig states that Northern Ireland would oppose any boundary revision that threatened it with substantial loss of territory.


Curran J M (1980), pg 138


British parliament begins to debate the Treaty.  It is supported by the Liberals, Labour and crucially by Bonar Law.  After three days debate it is passed by 401 votes to 58.  Opposition was stronger in the House of Lords but on December 16th they pass it by 166 votes to 47 (with many abstentions).


Curran J M (1980), pgs 138-139.


15 members of the Irish Roman Catholic Hierarchy issue a statement supporting the Treaty.


Macardle (1999), pg 597


The Dáil begins to debate of the Treaty.  The full transcript of the Dáil debates on the Treaty (all twelve sessions) is available HERE. In this first session, de Valera claims that the delegates did not carry out their instructions by failing to consult the cabinet before signing the Treaty.  He also says that the Treaty should be discussed on its merits.  Collins and Griffith dispute that the delegates had exceeded their powers and the Dáil goes into private session to discuss the negotiations.


O'Farrell P (1997), pg xviii; Macardle (1999), pg 609


Two RIC men were attacked at Kilmallock, Co. Limerick resulting in the death of one policeman (Constable Thomas Enright) and the other seriously wounded. O/C Donnchadh O’Hannigan said that the East Limerick Brigade was not involved.  However, a local volunteer, in his BMH statement said that Constable Enright was “particularly active and bitter against our men … For this we decided that he should pay the death penalty.”  It was also believed that it was Constable Enright who threw the grenade in Thurles on the 9th December which led to the death of Declan Hurton.


Abbott (2000), pg 271; O’Callaghan (2018), pg 102;

McCarthy (2015), pg 97


Dáil meets in private session and de Valera introduces his External Association plan (a preliminary draft of Document No. 2).  Macardle says that de Valera introduced it in the hope of uniting the Dáil behind it but it meets with strong opposition.  Collins and Griffith say that the British had rejected external association. De Valera withdraws his document and asks that it be treated as confidential.  Collins and Griffith strongly object saying that confidentiality would prevent them showing that the alternative to the Treaty was another compromise.  (There were those in the Dáil, for example Liam Mellows and Seamus Robinson – who rejected all compromises.)


Macardle (1999), pg 609; Curran J M (1980), pgs 147-148


Fermanagh County Council pledges allegiance to Dáil Eireann.  After the meeting the RIC take possession of the council chamber.  On the 21st, The NI Minister of Home Affairs dissolves the council and appoints a Commissioner. (Curran says 23rd.)


Phoenix (1994), pg 163; Curran J M (1980), pg 151


An Editorial in An tOglaċ says that “The Army is the servant of the Nation and will obey the national will expressed by the chosen representatives of the people …  Whatever the decision may be, the soldiers and officers of the Army of Ireland will accept it in the true spirit of disciplined soldiers”.

Townshend (2014), pg 351; Garvin (1996), pg 47


The Belfast Newsletter says that the ratification of the Treaty in Westminster – see December 14th  is a “betrayal of Ulster” (but see January 23rd 1922).


Parkinson (2004), pg 198


Writing to his fiancée, Kitty Kiernan, Collins says that “[The English] have made a greater concession than we.  They have given up their age-long attempt to dominate us”.  Townshend comments that “This perception was as vital as his famous assertion that the Treaty gave freedom – not the “ultimate freedom” but the “freedom to achieve freedom””.   Townshend also comments (with perhaps a little too much prescience) “The Treatyites perhaps sensed – before perhaps the British did – that in future the crude assertion of old-fashioned ‘hard’ power would be in decline”.

There was also some subterfuge going on, on the pro-Treaty side, which would emerge more fully over the coming months.  For example, Seán Hales claims that Collins told him “the British broke the Treaty of Limerick, and we’ll break this Treaty too when it suits us, when we have our own army”.  Similarly, Frank Aiken claims that Eoin O’Duffy said, in the presence of a number of senior IRA officers including himself, that the signing of the Treaty was a trick and that GHQ had only approved the Treaty “in order to get the arms to continue the fight”.

Townshend (2014), pgs 334-356


Three men were shot by snipers during disturbances in Belfast.  Two were Protestants – Walter Pritchard (30) and John McMeekin (41) and the third – Edward Brennan (22) – was Catholic.  Also, a Catholic shopkeeper, Frances Donnolly, was shot in her shop on the Ravenhill Rd. and she died two days later.  (McDermott says that McMeekin was shot dead by a Special.)


Parkinson (2004), pg 174; McDermott (2001), pg 145


An attempted raid for arms by the IRA on the Balmoral military camp in Belfast is foiled with the capture of six IRA men.


McDermott (2001), pg 146-147


Dáil meets again in public.  Griffith proposes the motion “That Dáil Eireann approves the Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland signed in London on December 6th, 1921”.  He referred to de Valera’s External Association document and said that the difference between it and the Treaty was a “quibble of words”.  The motion is seconded by Sean McKeon.  De Valera opposed the motion saying the Treaty did not do “the fundamental thing” and it would set bounds to the march of the nation.  He asked if the members of the Dáil were “to sign our names to the most ignoble document that could be signed”.  Austen Stack opposed the motion saying that the Treaty would leave Irishmen British subjects, he denounced the oath and demanded full independence.  After lunch, Collins supported the motion saying that there would have been no conference if the Irish cabinet recognition of the Republic as a precondition.   “The whole attitude of Britain towards Ireland in the past was an attitude of intimidation and we, as negotiators, were not in a position of conquerors dictating terms of a peace to a vanquished foe.  … Rejection of the Treaty means that your national policy is war. …”.  He went onto say that the Treaty gave “us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all nations desire and develop to, but the freedom to achieve it” and to advance towards the achievement of economic independence and a Gaelic state.  Childers talked next and opposed the Treaty, he said that terms honourable to Ireland were pressed until “that last terrible hour”.  These terms would have excluded the King of England and British authority from Ireland and then, when Ireland was absolutely free in Irish affairs, it could enter into an association with Britain.  Kevin O’Higgins then supported the motion, as did Robert Barton, albeit reluctantly.


Macardle (1999), pgs 609-611; Curran J M (1980), pgs 147-149


Commenting on the recent upsurge in violence, the Northern Whig say that it was due to the IRA’s return to the “warpath” and it was the “work of men who want to see Belfast … reduced to a condition of chronic anarchy”.  However, the Irish News on the same day says that Catholic areas faced “an organised campaign of extermination” and that they were faced double attacks from loyalists and Crown forces.


Parkinson (2004), pg 175


Dáil debate on the Treaty resumes.  It goes into private session in the afternoon to discuss the military situation.  Most of the military officers present say that a return to pre-Truce conditions was impossible.  Seán T. O’Kelly says “The two great principles for which so many have died … - no partition and no subjugation of Ireland to any foreign power – have gone in this Treaty and some good men are thinking of voting for it.” In the renewed public session, Sean Milroy attacks de Valera’s tactics.


Curran J M (1980), pg 149; Garvin (1996), pg ii


Dáil debate on the Treaty resumes.  Gavan Duffy claims he signed the Treaty because there was no alternative.  Eamonn Duggan states that the delegates did not sign the Treaty because of personal intimidation or demoralization. He signed because Britain was more powerful than Ireland and war was the alternative.  Sean T. O’Kelly argued against the desertion of national principle which the Treaty involved.  Cosgrave argued for the merits of the Treaty – he also said that pressing economic and social problems made its acceptance imperative.  In a three-hour speech, Mary MacSwiney pleaded with the deputies not to abandon the Republic.


Curran J M (1980), pg 150; Macardle (1999), pgs 618-622


Mulcahy issues a long memo on Army and State.  He argues that, by the provisions of the Treaty, English armed occupation of Ireland would come to an end.  He also argued by saying that, if war restarted “the English could not be driven into the sea, nor even expelled from their fortified positions”.  He also said “Any good Irishman, if assured that by dying he would secure for Ireland the benefits included in the Treaty would have dies without hesitation.

Townshend (2014), pg 352


A Protestant, John Wilson (71) was shot on his way to work in Belfast and died in hospital two weeks later.  Around this time, two Catholic barmen – Charles McCallion (30) and Donegal-born Hugh Kelly (28) were shot in separate attacks in Millfield and York St and fail to recover from their injuries.  (McDermott says that McCallion was shot on the 19th.)


Parkinson (2004), pg 174; McDermott (2001), pg 145


Dáil debate on the Treaty resumes.  Mulcahy said that, even though there were faults in the Treaty, he would support it as there was no alternative.  The IRA could not drive the enemy from the Treaty ports, it fact, it had been unable to drive the enemy from anything but a good-size police barracks.  Sean McEntee attacks the Treaty because it “perpetuates partition” and asked “When did the achievement of our nation’s unity cease to be one of our national aspirations?” and went to say that unity was the “greatest of all our Irish aspirations”.  He was one of the few anti-Treaty speakers to attack the Treaty on the partition issue alone.  (Joe McDonagh did accuse the Treaty signatories of abandoning the Catholic minority to “their inveterate enemies”.)


Curran J M (1980), pg 150; Macardle (1999), pgs 622-623; Phoenix (1994), pgs 160-161


A Protestant bar owner, William Armstrong is shot dead near his home in Belfast. 


Parkinson (2004), pg 174


On Christmas morning, two policemen attacked near Cupar St, Belfast – although injured both survive.


Parkinson (2004), pg 175


Llyod George appoints a cabinet committee to oversee the transfer of power to the Free State.  It is called the Provisional Government of Ireland committee and is headed by Churchill (as Colonial Secretary).  Meets for the first time on this date.  


Hopkinson (1988), pg 53; Curran J M (1980), pg 160


During a conflict between a Special Constabulary patrol (led by an RIC constable) and a group of men on the Oldpark Road, Belfast, one civilian and the RIC constable (Constable Francis Hill) are killed.  The civilian is an IRA officer, David Morrison and McDermott says he was shot in his home by Specials.  Another IRA man, Patrick J. Flynn (23) dies in Belfast around this time.

Abbott (2000), pg 272; O'Farrell P (1997), pg 114; Parkinson (2004), pg 175; McDermott (2001), pg 148-149 & 153


Over the Christmas period, many meetings are held around the country on the Treaty and support for the Treaty solidifies. 

Overall, some 328 public bodies were to pass motions in favour of the Treaty including 20 county councils, 75 urban/rural district councils and 23 Board of Guardians.

For example, on the 29th December, Sligo Corporation supported the Treaty by 14 votes to five (despite the fact that practically all the Sligo IRA had gone anti-Treaty). 

Also, Tyrone county council supported the Treaty.

100 delegates representing 40 Sinn Féin clubs in Co. Monaghan meet in Ballybay and pass a resolution supporting the Treaty.  Phoenix says that unionist hostility to the Treaty (and the boundary clause in particular) served to solidify northern nationalist support for the Treaty.

Waterford Corporation on the 3rd January passed a motion in support of the Treaty while Waterford County Council failed to reach agreement.

On the 30th December, Kildare County Council voted in favour of the Treaty.

Louth County Council passed a motion in favour of the Treaty by seventeen votes to one.

Meeting on New Year’s Eve, Donegal County Council unanimously called on Donegal TDs to ratify the Treaty.


Phoenix (1994), pgs 161-164; Dooley (2000), pg 46; Farry (2012), pg 90; McCarthy (2015), pg 95; Durney (2013), pg 217; Hall (2019), pg 88; Doyle (2008), pg 60; Ozseker (2019), pgs 161-162

Late 1921

Kevin O’Higgins is alleged to have said that “That crooked Spanish bastard will get the better of that pasty-faced blasphemous fucker from Cork”. 

Garvin (1996), pg 101


Macready fears that British troops will be attacked in effort to provoke retaliation.  He writes "I am more than ever convinced that unless troops are withdrawn from Southern Ireland with the utmost despatch … they will find themselves in a very difficult and unpleasant situation."


Hopkinson (1988), pg 53


Writing to Joe McGarrity, de Valera says that he had “been tempted several times to take drastic actions, as I would be entitled to legally” but continues “the army is divided and the people wouldn’t stand for it”. 

De Valera does not specify what the ‘drastic actions’ he was contemplating but Townshend speculates that he may have considered arresting the signatories to the Treaty.  Todd Andrews also says that he heard from Andy Cooney that he thought that “Griffith, Collins and the other signatories should have been arrested at Dun Laoghaire on their return from London”.  Andrews says that he gathered that there was some support for this proposition from South Tipperary, there was no support for such a move from Cork and Dublin and goes on to say that “The arrest of Mick Collins [by the  IRA] … would be like Tibetan monks arresting the Dalai Lama”.  He added that “There was a widespread belief in the IRA that, whatever the outward appearances might be, Collins had something up his sleeve”. 

Townshend (2014), pg 359; Andrews (1979), pg 205


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