Irish Republic

revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain (UKGBI); 1919-1922

The Irish Republic (Irish: Saorstát Éireann [1]) was a declared independent state of the United Kingdom in the Easter Rising of 1916 and established in 1919 by the First Dáil. It only existed during the Irish War of Independence of 1919-1922 between the Irish Republican Army and the forces of the United Kingdom.

Irish Republic
Poblacht na hÉireann
(Saorstát Éireann)
Flag of Ireland
Anthem: God Save Ireland
The Island of Ireland
The Island of Ireland
Common languagesIrish, English
President of Dáil Éireann 
• 1919
Cathal Brugha
• 1919–1922
Éamon de Valera
• 1922
Arthur Griffith
• 1922
W. T. Cosgrave
LegislatureDáil Éireann
24 April 1916
• Dáil Constitution
21 January 1919
6 December 1922
192184,116 km2 (32,477 sq mi)
• 1921
ISO 3166 codeIE
Preceded by
Succeeded by
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Irish Free State
Northern Ireland

It formally ceased to exist in 1922 with the ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty that ended the war, when 26 of the country's 32 counties became the Irish Free State and the other six remained within the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin refused to accept the treaty, said that the Irish Republic existed, even if it did not control any territory. This is why elected Sinn Féin TDs never took their seats in the parliaments of the Irish Free State or the United Kingdom

In English, the revolutionary state was known as the 'Irish Republic'. Two different Irish language names were used:

  • Poblacht na hÉireann
  • Saorstát Éireann
    • Saorstát is the two Irish words saor ("free") and stát ("state"). Its literal translation was "free state". The Declaration of Independence and other documents adopted in 1919 used Saorstát Éireann.

Saorstát Éireann was also the official Irish title of the Irish Free State.

Government of the Irish Republic




This was Dáil Éireann. It was made up of the majority of Irish Members of Parliament elected in the 1918 general election. Two further general elections called by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland,[3] the head of the British administration in Dublin Castle, were treated by nationalists as elections to the Dáil. The Second Dáil's members were elected in the 1921 elections for the Parliaments of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland; the Third Dáil was elected in 1922 as the provisional parliament of Southern Ireland, as provided for by the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

At its first meeting the Dáil adopted the Dáil Constitution. It also passed a Declaration of Independence.



The Dáil Constitution gave executive authority in a cabinet called the "Aireacht" or "Ministry". The Aireacht' head was first known as the "Príomh Aire". He in turn appointed the ministers. According to the original version of the constitution enacted in January 1919, there were to be four ministers:

  1. Minister of Finance (Aire Airgid),
  2. Minister of Home Affairs (Aire Gnóthaí Duthchais),
  3. Minister of Foreign Affairs (Aire Gnóthaí Coigcríoch)
  4. Minister of Defence (Aire Cosanta).

In April 1919, the ministry was increased in size to not more than nine ministers. In August 1921 it underwent a final overhaul when the post of president was created. The six ministers were

  1. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,
  2. Secretary of State for Home Affairs,
  3. Secretary of State for National Defence,
  4. Secretary of State for Finance,
  5. Secretary of State for Local Government,
  6. Secretary of State for Economic Affairs

A number of previous cabinet ministers, notably Constance Markiewicz, were demoted to under-secretary level. Countess Markiewicz was the first women elected to the British House of Commons. She never took her seat, but instead she sat as a member of the first Dáil

The Aireacht met as often as secrecy and safety allowed.

The Anglo-Irish Treaty


The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed on 6 December 1921. Then it had to be confirmed three times:

  • By United Kingdom, as a treaty between His Majesty's Government and His Majesty's subjects in Ireland;
  • By the House of Commons of Southern Ireland because this home rule parliament represented His Majesty's subjects in Ireland;
  • passed by Dáil Éireann because the Irish Republic's supporters say that it was an independent state and its parliament was sovereign;

House of Commons of Southern Ireland and Dáil Éireann were the same people, except for 4 pro-British members of the House of Commons.



  1. Official name in Irish
  2. Liam de Paor. On the Easter Proclamation: And Other Declarations (1997) ISBN 1-85182-322-0
  3. Under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920 the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was to be the chief executive of both Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. Later, when Southern Ireland was replaced by the Irish Free State, the Lord Lieutenancy was abolished and replaced by a Governor of Northern Ireland.



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