The Anglo-Irish Treaty signed on December 6, 1921 formally recognized Irish independence from England. The war of independence is generally considered to have run from January 21, 1919, when the Irish Declaration of Independence was issued, through the 1921 treaty signing. Looking back, the 1916 Easter Uprising was also a significant momentum builder. From the late 1800’s, however, Irish traditions played important roles in supporting the concepts republican rebels drew from.
Cultural and political associations formed with the express purpose of delving deeper into Irish history. They then shared their findings with the Irish people. Their activities are often termed the Irish Literary or Gaelic Revival. New publications, both in English and Irish, featured literary interpretations of traditional stories and nonfiction accounts of Irish history. The republicans frequently drew on the concepts, personages, events, and concepts they represented to exemplify Ireland’s uniqueness and long-standing political distinction from England. These societies and related publications were so important and potent that the English frequently banned them.
For example, the Gaelic League, or Conradh na Gaeilge, was founded in 1893. The English declared it illegal in 1919. The League published the Gaelic Journal for preservation and cultivation of the Irish Language, as well as An Claidheamh Soluis, the Sword of Light, a newspaper edited by Pádraig (Patrick) Pearse. Pearse had declared the Easter Uprising. The sword of light, the newspaper’s namesake, was famed in Gaelic myth. Appealing to national senses of righteousness and hailing to great heroes of the past such as Cú Chulainn were vital parts of the nationalist mission. Writings in English, such as Yeats’s The Wanderings of Oisin, were also crucial in spreading the message among non-Gaelic speakers.