Edwardian Ireland and Irish Independence

1901 to 1922

Edward VII was 59 when he came to the throne in January 1901. After the propriety of Queen Victoria's later years, the new reign ushered in a period of social change and intellectual brilliance. There was a new confidence exhibited in the construction of government offices and public buildings in an exuberant Neo-Baroque style. In 1904 the King and Queen Alexandra laid the foundation stone of the College of Science in Merrion Street, Dublin, now the Government Buildings. King Edward died in May 1910, and was succeeded by his only surviving son as George V. In Ireland, this was a period of extreme nationalism, marked by sustained agitation for the repeal of the Act of Union of 1800. In Ulster, protestant opinion led by Sir Edward Carson, feared the loss of power that would come from the creation of an Irish parliament, and in 1914 obstructed the implementation of the Liberal government's Irish Home Rule Bill on account of the war with Germany.

The outbreak of the First World War in summer of 1914, the Easter Rising of 1916, and the continuation of the war with Germany until 1918 drained Ireland of resources and manpower. Continuing dissent led to the Anglo-Irish War, pursued by the IRA from January 1919 until a truce was made with the British government in July 1921. The Anglo Irish treaty, signed in December 1921, established the Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth. The immediate rejection of the treaty by de Valera and other Sinn Féin leaders plunged the country into the Civil War in which the Four Courts and Customs House were burnt out. The partition of Ireland with one parliament in Dublin and a second in Belfast for the six counties of Northern Ireland came into being in 1922. Though Ireland did not take part in the Second World War from 1939 to 1945, the country suffered severe economic stagnation during the war years.

previousPrevious - The Victorian Age
Next - Architectural Stylesnext