Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Christopher H. Johnson


This study investigates the forces and structures that produced and shaped the Irish Revolution and the subsequent modern Irish state. The project essentially asks: what accounts for limited socioeconomic change during and after the Irish Revolution? It argues that nineteenth-century Ireland emerged as a partial colony, that is to say, an integral part of the United Kingdom with parliamentary representation, but unlike England Wales and Scotland, Westminster continued to govern Ireland through the Colonial Office. This hybrid political structure produced two nationalist traditions: a constitutional tradition that attempted to use parliamentary politics to achieve an autonomous Irish state and a revolutionary tradition that aspired to an independent Irish nation through physical force. This division also extended into the debate over what socioeconomic change should take place in an independent Ireland. Constitutional nationalists tended to defend the existing socioeconomic system, while revolutionary nationalists were generally predisposed to radical social and economic change. The revolutionary tradition appeared to have ascended during the 1916 Easter Rising and the subsequent Anglo-Irish War (1919-1921) and in doing so, appeared to have discredited and destroyed the constitutional tradition, but my dissertation argues that this was only an illusion. The division remained and produced the Irish Civil War (1921- 1922), which resulted in the constitutional tradition’s ascension and its aspiration of political autonomy--the Irish Free state. While the constitutional tradition had its state, the revolutionary tradition continued to control the metaphysical Irish nation and thus the Irish Revolution assumed its incomplete nature. Beyond examining the revolution’s social and economic dimensions, my study argues for a new periodization of the revolution itself, which is currently placed between 1916-1922. The dissertation contends that the revolution continued until 1936 when Eamon de Valera and his Fianna Fail party succeeded in consolidating the heretofore separate Irish state and nation.