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The Fog of Certainty: Liam Lynch and the Start of the Civil War, 1922 (Part III)

Posted December 22nd, 2017 at 12:05 PM by Ascendant

Article on Liam Lynch and his actions as IRA Chief of Staff during the immediate start of the Irish Civil War (third part of a series).

The Fog of Certainty: Liam Lynch and the Start of the Civil War, 1922 (Part III)

On the 8th July 1922, the 'Free State' newspaper – the title of which left no ambiguity as to its allegiance – published a scathing account of Liam Lynch, Chief of Staff of the IRA forces, and his actions while leaving Dublin the month before. Under the provocative headline, THE HONOUR OF THE IRREGULARS, the article told how:

Quote:
"Mr Liam Lynch, on the outbreak of hostilities, did not join his command in the Four Courts. He was arrested by the National troops and taken to Wellington [now Griffith] Barracks. He was released on giving his word of honour that he disapproved of the policy of the Irregulars."
The article finished with a sneer: “Is further comment on this pure-souled patriot necessary?”

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(Liam Lynch)

Lynch did not take this affront lying down. Writing four days later, he began by taking exception to being referred to as ‘Mr’ without the dignity of his military rank. As for repudiating the behaviour of his anti-Treaty compatriots, Lynch insisted that nothing could have been further from the truth.

Not only had he defended the actions of the Four Courts garrison (then under attack), he wrote, he had told his captors in Wellington Barracks that he reserved the right to take whatever action he thought proper. That would be even if it meant defying the Provisional Government, the madness of which, he said, “would become even more evident when hundreds of more lives would be lost.”

Even after his spirited defence, the allegation that he had lied to get out of a bind continued to needle at Lynch. As the anti-Treaty leadership regrouped in Clonmel, he griped to whoever would listen: “I gave no promise of any kind. They wanted me to but I refused. How can they tell such lies?”

Still, whatever resentment Lynch had with the Provisional Government, he did not hold it against its soldiers. To the contrary, he insisted the prisoners the IRA had taken be served the same food as them, while granting them the freedom of Clonmel Barracks and even refusing to have them questioned for information. The idea that they would report on their colleagues offended him as much as the suggestion he had broken his word.

One onlooker was moved to note how:

Quote:
[Lynch] was a strange young man to be at the head of a rebel army…He was handsome, in a boyish, innocent way. His large blue eyes and open countenance indicated his transparent honesty. His looks, bearing and presence might have belonged to a single-minded devoted priest.
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(Article on Liam Lynch being the top middle-column)
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