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Irish War of Independence

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The Irish War of Independence was fought by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) against the British soldiers who were trying to keep Ireland under British control.

The war was fought between 1919 and July 1921 when the fighting was stopped while a peace treaty was worked out.

It began because of the 1916 Easter Rising held in Dublin. The men who fought the British soldiers that day wanted Britain to move their army out of Ireland and for Ireland to be its own country.

These men were defeated and sixteen of the leaders were executed. This made Irish people angry. Many Irish people turned against British rule. These people were called Republicans. Republicans lived all over Ireland except in areas in Ulster where people called Unionists lived. The Unionists wanted to stay under control of the British Empire. In Dublin, the political party Sinn Féin won most seats in the Irish Dáil. They set up the IRA (Irish Republican Army) to fight the British soldiers in Ireland. The Dail was hated by the British government. The British wanted to destroy it.

In 1919 fighting started. By 1921, the IRA had beaten the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Ireland had no police. In London, the British government began to row over Ireland. The war went on until 1922 when Irish Sinn Féin leaders and British MPs made up a peace treaty. Most of Ireland was made its own country except in six of the nine counties of Ulster where Unionists still lived (they were a majority of the population in four of those six counties while nationalists were a majority in the other two). The area where Ireland was its own country was called the Irish Free State and the area that stayed under British rule was called Northern Ireland.