May 1923


Hopkinson says about 12,000 anti-Treatyites in prison or internment camps.  Dorney says 11,500 men and 250 women


Hopkinson (1988), pg 228; Dorney (2017), pg 204


Two anti-Treaty prisoners - Christopher Quinn (from Turnpike, Ennis, Co. Clare) and William [O’]Shaughnessy (Ennis, Co. Clare) - are executed in Ennis.  These are the final executions on Macardle’s list. 

They had been arrested on the night that Private Canty was shot dead in Ennis and charged with his murder.  See Apr-21-23/2 and Apr-26-23/1.

O'Farrell P (1997), pg 225; Macardle (1999), pg 985; Ó Ruairc (2009), pgs 318-319; Power (2020), pgs 126-129


Senators Andrew Jameson and James Douglas (two Southern Unionists) meet with de Valera but he refuses to acknowledge the Free State Government as legitimate government.  De Valera also said that there would be no surrender of arms.  (However, Douglas said that his bearing was ‘that of a defeated man’.)

At de Valera’s request, they present his peace proposals (see Apr-27-23/1) to the Free Government who reject them.  They asked the senators to establish which anti-Treaty leaders would be bound by any peace terms and what proportion of the rank-and-file would follow them.

The Free State Government also puts forward their own proposals saying that (a) “all political issues … shall be decided by a majority vote of the elected representatives of the people” and (b) “that the people are entitled to have all lethal weapons within the country in the effective custody or control of the Executive government responsible to the people through their representatives”.  (Kissane notes that these were the same conditions set out by Collins the previous August.) See May-05-23/1.

(Macardle says that the two unionist senators met de Valera on May 1st and at de Valera’s invitation.  They met again on 3rd and 5th.  Curran says that de Valera wrote to them asking them to act as intermediaries on April 30th and that they put de Valera’s proposals before the pro-Treaty Executive Council on May 2nd.)


Hopkinson (1988), pgs 256-257; Macardle (1999), pgs 849-850; Curran J M (1980), pgs 274-275; Kissane (2005), pg 118


Cosgrave informs Senator Andrew Jameson that he would be willing to accept a scheme whereby the clergy would be involved in the collection of anti-Treaty arms on behalf of the state.


Kissane (2005), pg 118


A report from the Limerick area of the Free State army gives some idea of the suspicion on the pro-Treaty side about de Valera’s peace moves.  It states that “if the release of [anti-Treaty] prisoners could be effected … it could afford Irregulars a convenient space of time for re-organising their forces and attempting to secure fresh supplies of Armament. They would then be in a position to renew the struggle on an intensified scale at a later period.”

See May-28-23/1.


Kissane (2005), pg 122


De Valera forwards to the Free State Government amended terms for peace which included the assigning of one building to the anti-Treaty forces in each province in which their weapons could be stored under a “specially pledged republican Guard” and that “these arms may be disposed of after the elections by re-issue to their current holders, or in a manner as may secure the consent of the government then elected”.

These terms are rejected by the Free State Government on May 8th.  See May-09-23/1 for their reasons.


Macardle (1999), pg 853; Curran J M (1980), pg 295; Kissane (2005), pg 119


Cosgrave informs the Dáil that the two senators brought back from de Valera not acceptance of their terms (see May-03-23/1) but “a long and wordy document inviting debate where none is possible”. 

He repeated that all arms must be under government control and that military actions against the anti-Treaty army would continue as long as they retained their weapons but that the surrender of arms would be treated “with as much consideration as possible for the feelings of those concerned”. He also re-iterated that any prisoners who agreed to be bound by the terms of peace would be released.  Finally, he said that no further communication with de Valera would be entertained.


Kissane (2005), pg 119


Writing to Jameson and Douglas, who had acted as intermediaries, de Valera says that his proposals had been met “by rigid insistence of a condition [surrender of arms] in a form which is well known by everyone conversant with the situation to be impossible”.


Kissane (2005), pg 119


Referring to the treatment of anti-Treaty prisoners, W. B. Yeats says that oversight and improvements were needed.


Ferriter (2021), pg 111


With the end of the Civil War at hand, a meeting of the cabinet of Free State Government takes its first steps towards the setting up of the Boundary Commission.  See May-16-23/1.


Phoenix (1994), pg 288

May-13 to 14-23/1

Joint meeting of anti-Treaty Government and Army Council in Santry in Dublin.  It instructs Aiken to order a cease fire and dumping of arms to be published on May 24th. Volunteers were instructed to take adequate measures to protect themselves and their munitions – See May-28-23/1.


Hopkinson (1988), pg 257; Macardle (1999), pg 857; Curran J M (1980), pgs 275-276; Kissane (2005), pg 120


Strike by farm labourers in Waterford. 

Since the ending of the strike the previous year (see Aug-05-23/6), both sides had been preparing for a resumption of the conflict. 

The Waterford Farmers Association (WFA) led by Sir John Keane and the ITGWU meet in the Granville Hotel in Waterford City.  The WFA offered almost a 20% drop in the weekly wage – this was rejected by the ITGWU and the strike begins on May 19th. 

At the beginning, the strike went well for the strikers as they received support from dockers, railwaymen, carters, creamery workers, etc.  They also mounted pickets to prevent the movement of goods to and from strike-bound farms.  However, the farmers appealed to the Free State  army to keep the roads open and they proved decisive in breaking the strike.  The pro-Treaty Special Infantry Corps were told to “use your own discretion re action to be taken.  Use no half measures. Make an example of the place”. 

See Jun-01-23/1.


McCarthy (2015), pgs 122-125; Ferriter (2021), pg 111; Kissane (2005), pg 162


Bitter meeting between about 30 Devlinites and Eoin MacNeill and Kevin O’Sheil (representing Free State government).  Former complained of neglect by the Free State government but MacNeill asked them not to go into the Northern Ireland parliament as the Free State representative to the Boundary Commission was almost chosen. 

See May-16-23/1


Phoenix (1994), pg 286; Matthews (2004), pg 116


The Plunkett column of the anti-Treaty Dublin No. 2 Brigade is captured at Knocknadruce, Valleymount, Co. Wicklow after the death (in disputed circumstances) of its leader, Ned (Niall) Plunkett O’Boyle from Burtonport, Co. Donegal. 

(McDermott says that Roger McCorley – from 3rd Northern Division IRA – was “allegedly implicated in the killing of Niall Plunkett O’Boyle … after his surrender”.)


Macardle (1999), pg 857; McDermott (2001), pg 272; Dorney (2017), pg 254; Durney (2011), pg 158; Ó Duibhir (2011), pgs 208-209


Cosgrave writes to British Prime Minister Bonar Law informing him of the collapse of armed resistance by the anti-Treaty forces.  He suggests that it is time to prepare for the Boundary Commission.  See May-20-23/1.


Matthews (2004), pg 109


A pro-Treaty army survey of the military situation states that “Reports point to the fact that nearly every command of [the anti-Treaty military] organisation is absolutely broken and or else hampered in such a way as to render it almost impossible for them to carry out any major operation”.


McCarthy (2015), pg 120


A terminally ill Bonar Law resigns as British Prime Minster.  He is replaced by another Conservative, Stanley Baldwin. 

Bonar Law was an arch-Unionist (see, for example, Jan-30-21/3 and Oct-28 to 29-21/1).  Matthews writes that, even though he was Prime Minister of the UK for only 210 days, his ‘achievements’ with regard NI were as follows “The Boundary Commission was indefinitely postponed; the Council of Ireland, too, was put on hold. Equally important, under Bonar Law the process of altering the Treaty’s financial clauses was advanced so that these, too, would no longer pose a threat to Northern Ireland’s existence. … the Treaty’s Ulster clauses, especially those designed to bring about economic pressure on Northern Ireland, had largely been rendered impotent.  This change marked a serious blow to the prospects of Irish unity”.


Fanning (2013), pg 344; Matthews (2004), pgs 109-110


An anti-Treaty volunteer, Thomas MacNicholas, is shot and killed while travelling from Kilkelly to Kiltomagh in Co. Mayo in the custody of Free State forces.


Price (2012), pgs 256-257


Aiken publishes order of cease-fire and orders the dumping of arms.  The Civil War in the south is over. 

De Valera also issues a statement to the anti-Treaty army which states that “Legion of the Rearguard: The Republic can no longer be defended successfully by your arms. Further sacrifice on your part would be now in vain and continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the national interest.  Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic. Other means must be found to safeguard the nation’s right.”. 

See also May-28-23/1.


O'Farrell P (1997), pg xxiv; Hopkinson (1988), pg 258; Macardle (1999), pg 858; Ferriter (2021), pg 119


A young anti-Treaty volunteer, Thomas Makey, is shot dead when trying to evade a Free State patrol near Tallow, Co. Waterford.

McCarthy (2015), pg


Former pro-Treaty army officer, Patrick Keville, is shot dead near his home in Co. Leitrim by anti-Treaty men.  (Keville may have been on intelligence work.)


McGarty (2020), pg 130


The Deputy C/S of the anti-Treaty army, in memo to All Officers, says “The dumping of arms does not mean that the usefulness of the IRA is past, or release any member of it from his duty to his country. On the contrary a disciplined Volunteer force, ready for any emergency will be a great strength to the Nation in its march to Independence. It is clearly our duty to keep the Army Organisation intact.”


Kissane (2005), pg 123; McMahon (2008), pg 175


Replying to a request from Craig that the Northern Ireland Special Arbitration Committee (see Nov-21 to 22-22/1) be turned into a “standing tribunal to which fresh claims may be referred”, Stanley Baldwin says that he could not possibly agree with any such thing.  See cDec-01-24/1.


Mathews (2004), pg


An anti-Treaty prisoner, Joseph O’Leary, is killed while in custody in Castleisland, Co. Kerry.


Doyle (2008), pg 309


Kevin O’Shiel submits a detailed memorandum to the cabinet of the Free State Government on the northern situation

He reminds ministers that their primary goal remained national union and in this they were different from both the border nationalists whose focus was on “the inclusion within the Free State of their own parish” and the East Ulster nationalists who were in favour of “scrapping the Boundary Commission and accepting a compromise cooperation settlement with Craig”.  It went to say that the Government’s best chance lay with a tripartite conference aimed at producing a federal solution.  Tellingly he said there were “sufficient differences to justify an autonomous parliament in that corner of Ireland”.

See June-06-23/1.


Phoenix (1994), pg 288


O’Farrell says that Michael Murphy and Joseph O’Rourke (from Ardrahan, Co. Galway) are executed..  O’Farrell says that these were the final executions of the Civil War.  However, they are not listed by Macardle in her 77 executions. 

O’Farrell does say that they were arrested for armed robbery in Athenry on May 24th and also says that accounts differ as to detail, date and affiliation (if any).  Along with the date of May 30th, O’Farrell also gives the date of May 13th for the execution of O’Rourke. 


O'Farrell P (1997), pg 224 & 180


Margaret (Maggie) Doherty from Curanarra, Foxford, Co Mayo is attacked, badly beaten and raped in her home by, at least, three members of the Free State army.  After this brutal attack, Doherty’s health deteriorated and she eventually died, at the age of 32, in the mental hospital in Castlebar on December 28th 1928.  Three pro-Treaty soldiers, Lieutenants Watters, Benson and Mulholland, were court martialled on the July 29th 1923 in Claremorris but were acquitted.  As of 2019, the proceedings of the court martial remain closed in the Military Archives, Dublin.


Connolly (2019), pgs 35-37; Ferriter (2021), pg 105

May to Sept – 1923/1

Between May and September there is a public row in Britain whether British ministers had given secret undertakings to Irish leaders guaranteeing that the Treaty would end partition in Ireland. 


Matthews (2004), pg 113


By the end of the Civil War, at least 199 country mansions and hundreds of homes of pro-Treaty supporters have been destroyed by anti-Treaty supporters.


Dorney (2017), pg 227; Dooley (2017), pg 449


At end of Civil War, the Free State army consists of 52,000 men and 3,000 officers. GHQ wants to reduce this to 30,000 men and 1,300 officers by January 1924 and eventually to have an army of 18,000 men. Demobilisation of enlisted men and non-commissioned officers starts in June.


Valiulis (1985), pg 31 & 43; Doyle (2008), pg 304

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