Griffith: The Resurrection of Hungary

Pdf Griffith, Arthur. The resurrection of Hungary: a parallel for Ireland. Dublin: Whelan and Son, 1918
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Griffith, Arthur 1871 – 1922 was born in Dublin . He started his career as a printer, becoming a journalist and writer and finally a politician. Arthur Griffith was strongly influenced by Charles Stewart Parnell, Thomas Davis, and John Mitchel. He was a founding member of the Celtic Literary Society in 1893 and he was active in the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and the Gaelic League. He edited the weekly paper, the United Irishman in which he wrote editorials urging the Irish to work for self-government. In 1900, he founded Cumann na nGaedheal, a cultural and education association aimed at the promotion of Irish culture.

In 1904, Griffith published The Resurrection of Hungary: A Parallel for Ireland on the 1848 Hungarian Revolution in which he set out his ideas for Irish independence under a dual monarchy, like that of Austria-Hungary. Griffith developed a protectionist policy based on the idea of national self-reliance. He set up a movement under the name Sinn Féin meaning ‘ourselves’. When the United Irishman ceased publication in 1906 as a result of a libel action and Griffith started a new paper, Sinn Féin.

The Home Rule Bill of 1912 gave concessions to Irish nationalists. Griffith joined the Irish Volunteers to counter Unionist opposition to Home Rule. He was involved in the Volunteers’ gun-running at Howth in July 1914. At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 thousands of young Irishmen responded to John Redmond’s call and joined the British army. Griffith urged against joining the British army and as a result Griffith ’s paper Sinn Féin was suppressed. 

Griffith rejected the use of force to establish Irish independence and did not take part in the 1916 Rising. Nonetheless Sinn Féin was thought to have been behind the Rising and he was imprisoned along with those who had fought in the Easter Rising. After the execution of the leaders, Griffith became vice-president of a new republican style Sinn Féin organization with DeValera as its president. In the general election of 1918, Sinn Féin had an overwhelming victory. Griffith , again in prison, retained the East Cavan seat he had won in the by-election earlier that year. The elected Sinn Féin members followed Griffith ’s policy of absenteeism from Westminster . Instead they assembled as Dáil Eireann in Dublin in 1919, proclaimed themselves the parliament of Ireland , and declared a republic. De Valera was elected president of the Dáil and Griffith vice-president. While de Valera was in the United States from June 1919 to the end of 1920 to enlist American support, Griffith acted as Head of the Dáil. The War of Independence, comprising civil resistance and guerilla warfare under the leadership of Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy spread countrywide. Griffith was arrested in November 1920 and imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail until July 1921. 

A truce in July 1921 was followed by an invitation from the British government to the Irish leaders to talks in London . Griffith was chosen to lead the Irish delegation to London . The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 6 December 1921 established the Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth . Griffith and the other negotiators believed that the Treaty was the best that could be achieved for Ireland . In the subsequent Dáil debates, Griffith defended the Treaty, arguing that it gave Ireland the opportunity to advance to full freedom. The treaty was ratified and Griffith was elected President of the Dáil on the 10th January 1922. DeValera led the opposition to the treaty and there followed a bitter, destructive civil war. Arthur Griffith died of a brain haemorrhage in Dublin on the 12 August 1922.

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