Ernest Blythe 1889 - 1932
: A political study

  • Marjorie McKay

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Ernest Blythe was a central figure in the Irish revolution, playing a major
    role in the consolidation and settlement of the Irish Free State. He was a
    leading organiser and recruitment officer for the Irish Republican
    Brotherhood and the Irish Volunteers before and after the Rising of 1916.
    Following the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, Blythe served in a variety of
    governmental posts in the Cumann na nGhaedheal party from 1922-1932.
    He was elected to the position of Vice-President of the Executive following
    the assassination of Kevin O’Higgins in July 1927.
    Blythe’s allegiance to Irish nationalism ran counter to his Ulster Unionist
    upbringing. He was considered a major threat to British interests in Ireland
    during the revolutionary period. He was a devotee of the Irish language
    believing strongly that Ireland would lose its individuality as a nation if the
    language died out. His views on partition were regarded as highly
    controversial when he stated that England was not to blame for partition but
    Ireland herself.
    This is the first Doctor of Philosophy treatment of Ernest Blythe which
    offers a broad, in-depth investigation as to why he chose to follow Irish
    nationalism. Blythe, not as popular as some of his revolutionary comrades
    of the period, but nevertheless, a stalwart in terms of his contribution to Irish
    independence, has been marginalised by historians except for a few journal
    articles and a recent publication by D. Fitzpatrick. He has also been the
    subject of much criticism resulting from his more controversial policies
    when he was in government.
    The rehabilitation of Ernest Blythe is long overdue. Blythe was a man of
    substance, who believed absolutely in Ireland’s right to nationhood, who
    remained true to his youthful vow of Rachainn leis na Fíníní [I would go
    with the Fenians], and who worked tirelessly to achieve his objectives.
    Date of AwardNov 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPeter O'Connor (Supervisor)


    • Magheragall
    • Lisburn
    • Irish Nationalism
    • Cumann na nGaedheal

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