AbstractErnest 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
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 Award
|Peter O'Connor (Supervisor)
- Irish Nationalism
- Cumann na nGaedheal