The inaugural sitting of Dáil Éireann on 21 January 1919 marked a moment when scores of newspapers across a disunited kingdom competed to capture what often is called “the first draft of history.”
From London to Dublin, Belfast to Cork, Derry to Kerry, reporters and editors struggled to identify the true significance of an unprecedented event. They also strove to forecast, somehow, its likely tide of consequence.
From one side of the aisle, Irish nationalist periodicals hopefully declared “a new epoch”. From the other, newspapers committed to the British status quo observed “futile and unreal” rebel pretensions.
Looking back a century later, it’s insightful to read how much observers on the day, whether republican or unionist in angle, struggled to discern the significance of the first fateful day of the First Dáil.