On Saturday 10 November 2018 a History Ireland ‘Hedge School’ debate on ‘The 1918 general election—political earthquake or same old same old?’ took place as part of the Allingham Arts Festival in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal.
The December 1918 general election is regarded, with good reason, as a political earthquake. With a massively expanded electorate, including women over 30, the Irish Parliamentary Party, the dominent force in nationalist politics since the 1880s, was almost wiped out and replaced by Sinn Féin, whose MPs refused to take their seats in Westminister. Instead they assembled in Dublin’s Mansion House and declared themselves to be the first Dáil Éireann. Within a year the War of Independence would be in full swing. But was this sequence of events inevitable? Did it reflect a radical shift in the views of the electorate? How did the election play out at local level, particuarly in Donagal. To discuss these and related matters History Ireland editor Tommy Graham was joined by Brian Hanley (Edinburgh), Brian Walker (QUB), Pauric Travers (BAI), Margaret O’Callaghan (QUB).