In 1912 the Westminster Parliament in London passed the Home Rule Bill for Ireland, meaning that Ireland would have its own parliament and could make its own political decisions, to a certain extent of course. Unionists, usually Protestants and many descendants of those who had invaded the country under Cromwell, who desired continued rule of the country from Westminster, strongly opposed Home Rule, as they were loyal to Britain and saw the bill as a threat that could lead to a nationalist and Catholic-dominated country. However, the Bill ended up being suspended from being put into action by the start of WW1 anyway.
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was formed by Unionist leaders Edward Carson and James Craig, with the goal of defending British dominance in Ireland, by the use of force if necessary. Within a year it was estimated the UVF had a force of over 100,000 men, half of whom were armed with rifles. The Irish National Volunteers formed in response, arming themselves.
As Ireland was heading fast towards civil war, the First World War helped lead Ireland more towards independence from Britain. Unionists answered Britain’s call for the fight against Germany and the UVF merged into the 36th Ulster division of the British Army. (The original UVF were largely killed fighting in the trenches. A revived loyalist terrorist organization named this formed in UsefulNotes/NorthernIreland later during UsefulNotes/TheTroubles.)
As Britain concentrated all its efforts in the fight against Germany in WWI, Irish Nationalists saw a window of opportunity and by 1915 the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizens' Army started to plan a rebellion.
On Easter Sunday of 1916 the Easter Rising (as it came to be known) began with Patrick Pearse reading the Proclamation of the Irish Republic out.
The 1916 Rising lasted only a week, with Britain successfully regaining control of Dublin, after destroying much of the city. The 14 leaders of the uprising were captured, given quick show trials by military tribunals, and executed for high treason, an event that helped shaped Irish political opinions for years to follow.
The only surviving leader of the Rising was Sinn Fein Party leader Eamon De Valera–whom the British did not want to execute since he was a US citizen and angering the US could have jeopardized the chances the United States would come into World War I on the side of the Allies. He went on to become president of the Irish Republic. Support for Sein Fein dramatically increased due to the execution of the rebel leaders who fought for Ireland’s independence.
De Valera and other captured Irish rebels were released in 1918 after an amnesty. Immediately they threw themselves into fighting against conscription into the British Army (which had just been introduced to Ireland) and for the fall general election. Due to wide-spread popular support from outrage at conscription (a measure Unionists opposed also) and the mass internment of Irish people suspected of aiding the rebellion, Sinn Fein won in a landslide, winning 73 seats out of 105. With this mandate, on 21 January 1919 the Sinn Fein delegates formed their own parliament, the Dail Eireann (Irish Chamber), which elected a government including Eamonn De Valera as President of the Irish Republic and proclaimed their independence.
Fighting began the same day with a shootout between IRA members and police. The Irish Republican Army had been formed in 1918 under Michael Collins, which they had no control over (the IRA did not swear loyalty to them until August 1920), and the Dail was banned in August of 1919, with its entire cabinet being arrested (in fact only 27 of the 73 candidates elected were out of prison to attend when the Dail first assembled). The IRA went on to fight British forces by guerrilla methods, with great success. Collins pioneered urban guerrilla tactics which later movements used. In 1920, British WW1 veterans were sent in as auxiliary troops and police reservists. Becoming known as "Black and Tans" due to the color of their uniforms, they were notorious for brutality, and were disliked for it even by many British officers. Irish hatred for British forces on their soil was fueled even more when an 18-year old member of the IRA, Kevin Barry, was sentenced to death and hanged, even when he had not actually killed anyone. This served only to harden resistance, and the underground Irish government gained control of most rural areas, even setting up its own "Republican courts," that handled both civil and criminal cases. Although these were not empowered to pass death sentences on prisoners, IRA military tribunals that convicted people of collaborating with British forces could and did, along with with its mainly extrajudicial killings, especially of police officers, informants or intelligence agents. For its part, the British administration put to death 24 IRA members (including Kevin Berry) convicted of various offenses, and Munster was under martial law. As Irish coroner's juries repeatedly found that British forces had committed crimes against civilians, inquests were transferred to the military courts of inquiry, which whitewashed atrocities. Such abuses merely served to increase support for the Republicans.
In June 1921, Britain declared a truce, and peace talks began. British and Irish representatives in London met to discuss a treaty. After much wrangling in which full independence was rejected from Britain's side, a compromise was agreed-Ireland would become a self-governing dominion like Canada or Australia, called the Irish Free State, with a British Governor-General and requiring oaths of loyalty by all government officials (later to become a major issue). However, the 6 Protestant-majority counties in the north were allowed to opt out if they wished and remain part of Britain, which they immediately did. Previously the Government of Ireland Act 1920 had been passed to divided Ireland into two territories, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. In 1921 the first Parliament of Northern Ireland was opened at Stormont, along with the Southern one in Dublin. Northern Ireland was thus also born. This has often been referred to, somewhat inaccurately, as "Ulster", though the historic province contained 9 counties, but 3 Catholic-majority ones (Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan) became part of the Irish Free State).
The Treaty of Independence divided Irish Nationalists, including members of the IRA, with one half (led by Eamonn de Valera) viewing it as a betrayal, leaving part of Ireland in British hands, with Catholics persecuted by loyalist violence. Michael Collins, on the other hand, led the Treaty delegation and viewed it merely as a stepping stone for an independent, united Ireland (he also smuggled arms to Northern Ireland so the people there could defend themselves). He became the commander-in-chief of the Irish Free State Army, formed of IRA troops who supported him. A tragic, bloody civil war broke out, with former comrades fighting on both sides against each other. During an ambush in his native County Cork, Michael Collins was (intentionally or not, it is not clear) killed by anti-Treaty forces. Early the next year, the anti-Treaty forces surrendered, although the IRA remained. After WW2, in 1949 the Republic of Ireland was declared, fully independent from the British Commonwealth. UsefulNotes/NorthernIreland remained a source of UsefulNotes/TheTroubles, with cross-border involvement, until 1998.
!!The Irish Revolution in fiction:
* ''Series/BoardwalkEmpire'': Season 2 has Nucky dealing with the IRA, trading American firearms for Irish whisky. However John [=McGarrigle=] (the IRA leader Nucky conducts business with) is a CompositeCharacter of sorts, bearing a strong physical resemblance to Eamonn De Valera but being pro-treaty like Michael Collins [[spoiler: and getting assassinated as a result]].
* ''Film/MichaelCollins'': Mostly involving [[HistoricalDomainCharacter historical figures]], including the title character.
* The ''YoungIndianaJones'' featuring Indy getting caught in the Easter Rising en route to join the Belgian army and fight in WorldWarOne.
* ''Series/DowntonAbbey'': Branson has relatives who died in the Easter Rising. An Irish Nationalist and a socialist, he wholeheartedly and full-throatedly supports the revolution, much to the discomfort of some of the other servants and the Crawleys (particularly after [[spoiler:he marries Sybil]]). After Series 2 (in 1919) he departs for Ireland to take up a career in journalism, but he ([[spoiler:and a pregnant Sybil]]) is forced to flee back to Downton in Series 3 (in 1920) after one of his revolutionary activities goes horribly awry.
!!The Irish Revolution contains tropes such as:
* CoolGuns: The IRA were some of the very earliest users of the Thompson submachine gun.
** They were also well known for using the Mauser.
* CombatPragmatist: The IRA mimicked the tactics of the Boers to great effect. Justified in that conventional warfare had [[CurbStompBattle turned out to be a disaster]].
* EvilBrit: The Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries were well known to have caused many atrocities (see PoliceBrutality). Though, they weren't all British. Some were actually recruited from Ireland itself.
* LaResistance: The IRA.
* ImprobableAge: Many of the Irish leaders were remarkably young, at least by the standards of the time. Michael Collins famously was only 31 when he died and many of his peers were not much older.
* PoliceBrutality: The [[EliteMooks Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries]] were almost universally despised for their thuggery even by the RIC officers they were supposedly reinforcing, along with many in Britain who would not automatically have sympathised with the IRA. King George V himself told the wife of the Chief Secretary that he hated the idea of the Black and Tans.
* SpotlightStealingSquad: The Irish Citizen Army numbered less than 300 people and during the Easter Rising they were outnumbered more than three to one by the non-socialist Irish Volunteers yet to read some Irish writers like Seán O'Casey they did most of the fighting. In particular PopularHistory has it that most Dubliners in the fighting were in the Citizen Army ranks while the Volunteers represented rural Ireland but in reality the Volunteers doing the actual shooting were mostly from Dublin.