Tuesday 24 April 2018

The 'strange rebirth' of Ireland after the Rising

Objects and symbols played a key role in the 'new' nationalist movement after 1916

Birth of a nation: Eamon de Valera speaks from O'Connell's Monument in Ennis, Co Clare, in midsummer 1917 Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Birth of a nation: Eamon de Valera speaks from O'Connell's Monument in Ennis, Co Clare, in midsummer 1917 Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Darragh Gannon

One hundred years ago, on July 11, 1917, Eamon de Valera, the senior surviving commandant of the 1916 Rising, was declared victor in the East Clare by-election, defeating his opponent by 5,010 votes to 2,035.

De Valera emerged from the Ennis courthouse to a "tornado of cheers" from the crowd. Enthusiastic supporters waved autograph books, uniformed Volunteers chanted The Soldier's Song, while election campaigners marketed republican badges. Tricolour flags coloured the scene.

East Clare marked the third successive, and most significant, victory of Sinn Fein over the Irish Parliamentary Party since the Rising. How had Irish politics changed between 'Sinn Fein rebellion' and Sinn Fein election? Artefacts and objects present exciting new sources for understanding the emergence and expansion of this 'new' nationalist movement in 1917.

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