Above image: Minister Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media viewing the Anglo Irish Treaty 1921 at the National Archives, Dublin, September 2021.
Irish and British Treaties to be reunited 100 years after signing
The Anglo-Irish Treaty is one of the most significant historical documents held by the National Archives. Using the Treaty as a centrepiece, the National Archives will present an exhibition that marks its role as the official repository of the records of the State, one hundred years since its formation. The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archives opens up significant historical records, official documents and private papers for the first time, including the first public presentation side by side of copies of the Irish and British Treaty documents.
Using contemporary reportage, images and footage, The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archives locates the Treaty negotiations in the political context of the Irish revolution and a world turned upside down by the First World War and its aftermath. Beginning with the exploratory talks between Éamon de Valera, President of Dáil Éireann, and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George during the summer of 1921, it details the work of the Irish plenipotentiaries and their secretariat, by presenting the documentary record that they left behind.
The exhibition also chronicles day-to-day life in London for the men and women who made up the Irish delegation, from parties attended, dinners hosted and appearances at theatre and gala performances, to the tense final days and hours leading to the signing of the Treaty just after 2am on 6 December 1921. Finally, it documents the delegation’s return to Dublin, and the Dáil Éireann Cabinet meeting that pointed to the split in the independence movement which emerged over the terms of the Treaty, and the divisions that would lead to Civil War.
Speaking ahead of the opening, Minister Martin said:
“I am delighted to visit London later today to open this significant exhibition and mark this historic moment in our shared history. My responsibility, as Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, is to ensure that this complex period in our history is remembered with an appropriate, meaningful, proportionate and sensitive programme, which recognises the legitimacy of all traditions, and values mutual respect and historical authenticity. This exhibition is critical in furthering our understanding of the negotiations and the signing of the Treaty. I would like to thank the National Archives for developing this important display by placing the authenticity of the archival record at its centre and also the British Academy for generously hosting the exhibition.
“Praise is also due to the collaborations with our own Embassy in London involving the British Academy, the Royal Irish Academy and the National Archives (UK), with contributing material from the National Library of Ireland, the Military Archives, Dublin and University College Dublin. It is only by working together that we can share our different perspectives and enrich our mutual understanding. I also look forward to the exhibition opening in Dublin in December.”
Also speaking ahead of the launch, Ambassador Adrian O’Neill said:
“The arrival in London of the Irish delegation a century ago to begin negotiations on what would become the Anglo-Irish Treaty was a significant moment in the history of Ireland and the UK. I hope that by bringing this exhibition from the National Archives of Ireland to London, with the collaboration and support of these major Irish and British partners, we can offer people an opportunity to explore this period of our history and reflect on how it has influenced evolving relationships across these islands.”
This exhibition is presented as part of the Government of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 National Programme and the Embassy of Ireland London’s 2021 Centenary Programme.
The exhibition is presented by the National Archives and the Embassy of Ireland, London, in partnership with the British Academy and the Royal Irish Academy. The Exhibition opens at the British Academy on 12th October and will run until 23rd October.