3rd Year: Cumann na nGaedheal

A Cumann na nGaedheal election poster from 1923.
Main Page: Ireland After Independence

Cumann na nGaedheal (kuh-min na ngway-ul), which means "Party of the Gaels" was the party which formed the first government of the Irish Free State. They had been the Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin during the Civil War, but with that over, they renamed themselves and set to work rebuilding the new state after two bloody and damaging conflicts.

The leader of the Irish Free State was called the President of the Executive Council (it's since been replaced by the Taoiseach). The first President was W.T. Cosgrave, a 1916 veteran who had become leader of the Pro-Treaty side after the deaths of Collins and Griffith.

Cosgrave and Cumann na nGaedheal had a few difficult tasks ahead of them: they had to build up the economy, they had to keep good relations with Britain, and to establish law and order...

Continue to Éamon de Valera & Fianna Fáil 




  • Law and order: Kevin O'Higgins, An Garda Síochána, the IRA, the Army Mutiny.
  • Economy: Agriculture, the Shannon Scheme, the ESB.
  • Irish-British relations: The Boundary Commission, the Statute of Westminster.





Click here for exam questions you can be asked about this topic. (Higher and Ordinary)






UCC: William Thomas Cosgrave
W.T. Cosgrave
UCC has a short biography of W.T. Cosgrave, complete with a photo album showing his career.

The History of An Garda Síochána
The Gardaí website has a piece on their history, from their origins in the Royal Irish Constabulary to the change that was brought about by the first government, and after.

RTÉ News: Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Liam Cosgrave mark 85th anniversary of ESB in Co. Clare
Last July, W.T. Cosgrave's son Liam (who was Taoiseach from 1973-77) joined Taoiseach Enda Kenny in commemorating the 85th anniversary of the ESB and the Ardnacrusha Dam. Cosgrave was given a painting of his father. Click on the videos to watch him speak.

W.T. Cosgrave and the Foundation of the Irish State
This is an article about Cosgrave written for the Collins 22 Society, a Fine Gael-aligned group of people who support the ideas and legacy of Collins and of Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin/Cumann na nGaedheal. So, be especially aware of bias.

The Irish Times: From the Archives - The Army Mutiny
This edition of "From the Archives" by the Irish Times reprints a story on the Army Mutiny that the paper ran in 1924.

The Commonwealth Explained (YouTube)
While this video has nothing to do with Cumann na nGaedheal or the 1920s, it's useful if you're confused about what is meant by a "Commonwealth". The video explains it as it is today. Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949.