The IRA, 1926–36
Although many books have been written about the IRA, little attention has been paid to the rank and file of the organization as well as the movement in 1930s Ireland.
Thanks to the availability of records kept by Moss Twomey, leader from 1926 to 1936, much is now known. Twomey, as chief of staff, kept in his possession a vast quantity of correspondence, orders, and minutes from this particular period. Allied with the papers of such luminaries as Sighle Humphreys, Séan MacEntee, Desmond FitzGerald, as well as a host of other people, a broad picture can be pieced together.
Despite its military defeat in 1923 and the subsequent departure of members to Fianna Fáil, by its very existence through the period as an armed political force, dedicated to the overthrow of both states, the IRA remained a significant factor in Irish political life. As a result of this activity and the records that remain, we now know who was involved and at what level: membership numbers throughout Ireland (and in particular the Ulster counties) and to what degree these people were active for the 'cause', are discussed.
We learn about Brian Corrigan in Mayo, Terry Ward in Derry, David Matthews in Belfast, and Seán McGuinness in Offaly, among many others. With many interesting facts and figures, this book should become the definitive account of the IRA in the 1930s.
Brian Hanley, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, has written extensively on Republicanism. He lectures in the department of history, National University of Ireland, Maynooth.