UNTIL SINN Féin swept the boards at the 1918 general election, winning 73 seats - the overwhelming majority - the Irish Parliamentary Party had been the dominant force in Irish politics.
That seismic election saw the IPP lose 68 seats, winning only six. Home Rule was no longer enough. The party was dissolved in 1922. Some of its members would go on to join Cumann na nGaedheal/Fine Gael, others would be involved in the conservative nationalist National League Party, which operated from 1926 to 1931.
A new book, The Legacy of the Irish Parliamentary Party in Independent Ireland, 1922-1949, which was launched in NUI Galway this week, is the first to examine the legacy of the IPP in independent Ireland. It is written by Dr Martin O’Donoghue, lecturer in Irish and British history at Northumbria University, and a graduate of NUI Galway, and published by Liverpool University Press.
While previous studies of the party have concluded with its dramatic fall in 1918, this study provides the first statistical analysis of the IPP heritage of each political party in the independent Ireland, using a wealth of archival material, contemporary and critical writings. It asks how former IPP followers reacted to the changed circumstances of independent Ireland; the evolution of the party’s public memory; while also shedding new light on how figures such as Charles Stewart Parnell, John Redmond, and Michael Davitt were remembered.