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100 years ago....

Irish truce is declared

July 22, 1921

Ireland now has a truce after months of the most savage fighting that the country has ever known - and it looks like holding. Over the past few days events have moved with a dramatic swiftness. Even the peace move came so suddenly as to cause surprise.

For days, a peace conference had been in progress in Dublin's Mansion House. Hopes were not high as it included a number of people who had not spoken a civil word to each other in months. Then on July 20 General Sir Neville Macready, the Commander-in-Chief, was invited to the talks,

He arrived wearing full military uniform, a revolver in his pocket, and apprehensive. As he had left for the talks, news came that the IRA were trying to blow up a patrol of Gordon Highlanders elsewhere in the city. The omens were not good.

At the Mansion House he saw Catholics kneeling on the footpath saying the Rosary. He was surprised that they gave him a warm cheer. At the front door the nationalist Lord Mayor himself greeted the General and took him to the gilded conference room. He was shown Eamon de Valera's reply to the peace overture from the British Prime Minister, Mr David Lloyd George. De Valera's letter reads :

"The desire you express on the part of the British Government to end centuries of conflict between the peoples of these two islands and to establish relations of neighbourly harmony is a genuine desire of the people of Ireland".

The General asked if they could get the cease-fire message through to their men in the hills. They assured him that there was no line of communication to beat their bush telephone. He said that he expected them to release people they had kidnapped such as the Earl of Bandon, who he said was over 70 and perfectly harmless. General Macready has been ordered by Whitehall to give Michael Collins and other fighters free passage as "lawful belligerents".

Article from "Chronicle of the 20th Century" ISBN 1 872031 80 3

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