“It was a dull morning. A slight mist overhung the river and when the first observers reached O’Connell Bridge the familiar green dome of the attacked building was obscured. But from the south side of the river the sudden flash of the gun could be seen and down the wide alley of the Liffey come the crash of shell and bomb and the sustained rattle of the smaller arms.”
Weekly Freeman’s Journal 01 July 1922
On June 28th 1922, the Irish Civil War began. The National Army attacked the anti-Treaty troops who had occupied the Four Courts under Rory O’Connor since April. An intense battle between the two sides ensued. From the outset the National Army, had better weapons, albeit supplied by the British Army had the advantage over the anti-Treaty side. But the IRA held their own, for two days, until a massive explosion, ripped through the building, razing it to the ground, left them no choice but to surrender. In spite of the destruction there were relatively few causalities.
The cause of the explosion is contested in the historiography, though the GHQ Irish Army issued a poster the following day: “Public Records Office destroyed with all its historic documents through fire caused by Irregulars’ explosion of mine.”
“JJ (Ginger) O’Connell, former engineering student at UCD and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Free State Army, is captured by forces under the command of fellow UCD graduate Rory O’Connor and held at the Four Courts garrison. “
When Michael Collins issued his final ultimatum to the Four Courts garrison to leave the building, it not observed. The IRA unit under Rory O’Connor continued to hold out, knowing that an attack was imminent. The very next morning, June 28th the Free State Army launched their attack, commencing the first phase of the Civil War.
With the results of the Election on June 16th, tipping well in favor of the Treaty Michael Collins, was under a new type of pressure, as leader of the Provisional Government. As the election results did not sit well with hard-line Republicans, Collins knew all too well that renewed violence could and would erupt at any moment. On June 22nd an event unfolded in London that lit the fuse which ignited the Siege of Dublin and in turn the Civil War.
“Reginald Dunne and Joseph O’Sullivan, both IRA men, assassinate Sir Henry Wilson, security advisor to Northern Irish Prime Minister James Craig, outside his house in London. The British Government, believing the killing was the work of anti-Treaty republicans, pressures Collins to attack the Four Courts.”
Two members of the IRA were arrested and hanged for the killing. There was still 6,000 British troops remaining in Dublin, which the British Government threatened to send back into action if Michael Collins did not remove the IRA (by then considered irregulars) from the Four Courts. Anti-Treaty IRA member, Leo Henderson was arrested by the pro-Treaty forces and in retaliation, pro-Treaty officer, JJ Ginger O’Connell was taken. Read more. Micheal Collins, under immense pressure, gave the anti-Treaty forces holding out in the Four Courts one last chance to surrender and hand back JJ Ginger O’Connell.
On June 16th 1922 the public of Ireland went to the poles to have their say on the Treaty and the general politics of the new state.
It is unclear to where Emily voted, as she went between Achill and Dublin, the former was her official residence. What was clear was how she voted, against the Treaty. She made her feelings clear in a letter to the mother of her comrade, Michael Moran, who had died a few months before on active service: “For Michael’s sake vote against the Treaty, that Michael would have fought against. Remember for his sake.”(Read more about Michael Moran)
“The Irish general election is won by pro-Treaty Sinn Féin, who gain 58 seats to defeat anti-Treaty Sinn Féin’s 36. In advance of the election, Collins and de Valera had drawn up a pact to ensure that Sinn Féin representatives on both sides of the divide would not run in opposition to each other.”
On the night of of June 12th, 1922 Millie Figgis answered the door of her at her and her husband Darrell’s apartment on Kildare Street, Dublin. It was in the led up to the first general election of the new Irish State, which Darrell Figgis was running in as an independent candidate. He was also pro-Treaty, urging other candidates especially non Sinn Fein members, whom he had fallen out with earlier in the year to follow suit. His change of course enraged some republicans, who thought he had betrayed them.
When Millie opened the door a party of three men pushed roughly past her, setting upon her husband…
“Certainly. It has made me, if possible, all the more determined.” was his reply to a reporter, who asked if he intended to proceed with his election campaign after the traumatic incident. All in all the publicity around his bearding, garnered much public support, and played no small part in helping him obtaining over 15,000 votes. He won a seat in the constituency of South County Dublin as an independent candidate.