The first crack in the British Empire

15 September 2020

This poem was written and performed by Joseph Healy celebrating the centenary of the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921. The war, which is well remembered in Ireland but mostly forgotten in the UK, was the first crack in the British Empire and inspired many others to lead liberation movements, including Gandhi, throughout the Empire on which the sun never set.

The war was also one of the first guerrilla campaigns of the 20th century and the IRA demonstrated that the military forces of a large imperial power could be thereby defeated. The Vietcong in the Vietnamese struggle against the French and later the US studied many of the tactics of Michael Collins and the IRA.


The Black and Tans were a militarised police force of British volunteers drafted in to quell the revolt and given carte blanche to terrorise both the IRA and the civilian population of Ireland. Many of them later served in colonial police forces in Palestine and Africa.

Our cultural group hopes to utilise all art forms to publicise current forms of oppression and to allow artists to express themselves in revolutionary and socialist art forms both visual, musical, and literary. We hope to hold our first meeting soon.

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