The War of Independence in Galway, 1920-21

New book from the Galway City Museum - downloadable

posted by Hilary Kiely

Galway City Museum’s new book, The War of Independence in Galway, 1920-21 is a highly-illustrated, bilingual, 222-page publication, featuring a foreword by Prof. Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh and detailed tables of those who died in Galway during the War of Independence and of Galway-born people who died in other parts of the country during the conflict. Courtesy of Galway City Museum, you can download your own PDF copy, free of charge, here:


In 2021 and 2021, Brendan McGowan – Education Officer at Galway City Museum – researched and wrote a series of articles for the Museum to mark the centenary anniversary of events that took place in the city and county during the Irish War of Independence. The conflict, which lasted from January 1919 to July 1921, was a political and military conflict between the newly-formed Dáil Éireann (‘assembly of Ireland’), the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan (‘league of women’), which strove to establish and maintain an independent Irish Republic, and the British Government and Crown forces, which sought to suppress the revolution and keep Ireland within the United Kingdom.


Though revolutionary tensions had been simmering in Galway throughout the first half of 1920, the conflict truly erupted on 19 July when Irish Volunteers ambushed an RIC patrol at Gallagh, near Tuam, killing two police constables. In response, the RIC sacked the town of Tuam in one of the first major reprisals against the civilian population to take place during the War of Independence. A month later, on 21 August, Irish Volunteers attacked a party of RIC at Merlin Park, near Galway, killing one police constable. The RIC responded by sacking the village of Oranmore. The city was also caught in the conflict. On 8 September, violence erupted on its streets resulting in a ‘night of terror’ that left three young men dead, two Irish Volunteers and a Black and Tan. The conflict intensified in the months that followed, resulting in a cycle of violence and counter violence, and an ever-increasing death toll that included combatants and civilians. Overall, in the twelve months from July 1920, fifty-four people died in Galway as a result of the War of Independence.

Now, thanks to support from Galway City Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Galway City Museum has published the articles in book form. It is a limited edition and is not for general sale, but will be available in hardcopy format from libraries across Co. Galway by the end of May. Copies have also been lodged with Irish university libraries and national institutions, and well as with the British Library; Oxford’s Bodleian Library; Cambridge University Library; the National Library of Scotland, and the National Library of Wales.

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