The attempt by Ireland to gain recognition of its independence by way of an appeal to the Versailles Peace Conference is one of the many neglected aspects of the ‘revolutionary decade’ of 1912-23.
There are two easily-identifiable reasons for this state of affairs. The first is simply that the appeal did not succeed, and that Ireland was denied such a hearing – and as failures tend to be forgotten, so the endeavour was consigned to the margins of the record of these years. That this happened very quickly was due to the second reason – the guerrilla war conducted by the IRA against Crown forces during the War of Independence, and the brutal British response to same. It is, however, vital to remember that as far as the republicans were concerned, this violent path to self-government was not the preferred one; rather was it, at best, an unplanned response to the failure at Versailles. It is, therefore, important that the background to, and reasons for, this failure be examined.