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The Limits of Might: Liam Lynch and the End/Start of Conflict (Part I), 1921-2

Posted October 28th, 2017 at 12:57 PM by Ascendant

Article on Liam Lynch, from the start of the Truce and his attempts to both preserve the unity of the IRA and advance the anti-Treaty position, despite opposition within and without.

The Limits of Might: Liam Lynch and the End/Start of Conflict (Part I), 1921-2

At the IRA Convention of the 26th March 1922, held in the Mansion House, Dublin, Lynch was noted as looking "concerned and somewhat perturbed at this turn of events."

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(Liam Lynch)

Things were clearly not moving in a direction to his liking. This was despite Lynch having urged for the Convention to proceed as planned, despite the opposition of the Provisional Government and the IRA GHQ, dominated by Pro-Treatyites like Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy.

Despite the gulf that now lay between Lynch and many of his former comrades, he was not bitter, merely regretful. "I admire Mick as a soldier and a man," he wrote of Collins. "Thank God all parties can agree to differ."

Such respect often went both ways. When Limerick became the scene of a standoff between the pro and anti-Treaty IRA factions, Lynch was recommended by Mulcahy -and accepted by Collins - as an 'honest broker' who could resolve the tensions in the city.

This Lynch succeeded in, much to the relief of many on both sides. Lynch was less amiable when Mulcahy banned the March Convention, an event he was previously promised. A series of resolutions passed at the Convention reaffirmed the allegiance of the attendees to the Republic - and the expense of GHQ and the Provisional Government - and the newly-formed IRA Executive, headed by Lynch as its Chief of Staff.

"I was very impressed with Lynch,” recalled one contemporary. “He was always so meticulous about his appearance and dress… At the same time, he was a strong disciplinarian."

Others were not so sure, including his newfound allies, many of whom, like Rory O'Connor and Liam Mellows, regarded Lynch as too moderate and insufficiently zealous.

Which may say more about them, but it showed the difficulties Lynch would face in guiding his men through the difficult times ahead – men who would show little patience for any sort of guidance.

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(Group photograph of anti-Treaty IRA members at the Mansion House, 1922, with Liam Lynch (fourth from the left in the front row)
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