It’s hard to escape talk of treaties at the moment, with all the usual suspects setting out their stalls in preparation for the upcoming referendum on the EU Fiscal Treaty. No need here to revisit the long, complicated, and often fraught, relationship the Irish electorate has had with treaties. Indeed, none to date have proved more contentious than that which marked simultaneously both our first tentative steps toward nationhood, and civil war.
One of our ongoing projects here at EPB is to catalogue the Samuels Collection of Irish printed ephemera. Collected by Arthur Warren Samuels (variously royal Lord Chief Justice, Solicitor General and Attorney General, to Ireland) during the political upheavals of early 20th century Ireland, it provides real insight into the public debates of that time. In particular, many of the pamphlets relate to that period between the signing of ‘The Treaty’ (Dec. 1921) with Britain, and the beginning of Civil War (June 1922). While the subject matter of the treaty debates has moved on, the themes, headlines, arguments and even some of the main players, remain strikingly similar. Emigration, sovereignity, and political responsibility are still the watchwords of the discourse. Of the interested parties, Sinn Féin is as vocal today as it was in 1922, and indeed still advocating a ‘no’ vote.
Would the following selection of headlines really look so out-of-place on any blog or broadsheet today?
See our online catalogue listings for the Samuels Collection, for more information.