On 14 April 1922 a column of 200 men led by Rory O’Connor occupied the Four Courts, hoping to provoke an armed confrontation with British forces which were in the process of evacuating from Ireland following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty the previous winter which had split the IRA into two opposing factions. The occupation was a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the Provisional government who sought a smooth transition to a viable independent Irish state in the 26 counties of southern Ireland.
On 22 June Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson was gunned down by two IRA assassins and on 26 June, the Free State Army Deputy Chief of Staff General J.J. O’Connell was kidnapped by the Four Courts IRA garrison. Collins had also shipped guns issued by the British to arm the new Irish Army to Northern IRA units to defend themselves from loyalists.
Michael Collins, no…
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