Today in Irish History: 1922
Death from a heart attack of Arthur Griffith one of the most important players in Irish Independence. Griffith founded Sinn Féin in 1905 as an Irish nationalist party whose objective was “to establish in Ireland’s capital a national legislature endowed with the moral authority of the Irish nation”.
It was not until after the 1916 Rising that Sinn Féin became a major force in Irish politics winning a landslide majority of Irish seats in the 1918 General Election. Refusing to take their seats in the House of Commons, the party held the first Dail on January 21, 1919, proclaiming itself the rightful parliament of an Irish Republic. During the vicious War of Independence and in the absence of De Valera in America, Griffith served as Acting President (sometimes in Jail.) Griffith led the Irish truce negotiations in London accompanied by Michael Collins signing the Treaty in December 1921.
Suffering from overwork and strain after the long and difficult negotiations with the British government, and the work involved in establishing the Free State government, Griffith entered St. Vincent's Nursing Home, Dublin, during the first week of August 1922, following an acute attack of tonsillitis. He had been about to leave for his office shortly before 10 am on this day in 1922, when he paused to retie his shoelace and fell down unconscious. He regained consciousness, but collapsed again with blood coming from his mouth. Three doctors rendered assistance, but to no avail. The cause of death was reported as being due to heart failure. He died at the age of 50, ten days before Michael Collins' assassination in Co. Cork. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery four days later.
PHOTO: Griffith seen in July 1922, a month before his death.