Irish Free State

Irish Free State

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08/12/1921 (of event)






35mm, film, intertitles

black and white


National Film and Television Archive


British Film Institute

Rights Holder

British Film Institute

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The treaty was signed at 2am on 6th December 1921. The name Irish Free State remained until 1937 when it changed to Eire. In 1948 it again changed to the Republic of Ireland.


After extensive debate in the Dáil it was decided that a five man delegation, led by Arthur Griffith and including Michael Collins would be sent to engage in negotiations in London. Collins did not relish the prospect, commenting ‘to me the task is a loathsome one. If I go, I go in the spirit of a soldier who acts against his better judgement at the orders of a superior officer. Collins said that he wasn’t sure if the treaty delegation was ‘being instructed or confused’ during its discussions with Lloyd George, adding ‘the latter I would say’. In a personal letter to Kitty Kiernan on the matter of signing the Treaty, Michael Collins reveals an optimistic hope for the settlement. Writing on the morning of 6 December (the agreement had been reached in the middle of the night) he poignantly states ‘I don’t know how things will go now but with God’s help we have brought peace to this land of ours – a peace which will end this old strife of ours forever’. Collins was not so optimistic about his own future, realising he 'just signed his own death warrant'. Eight months later, Collins was shot in an ambush in Co. Cork.

Shot List

'Topical Budget. Irish Free State. After centuries of strife Britian adds a contented New Dominion to the Crown.', 'At 2 o'clock in the morning - after a day and a night where there seemed no hope - the Dail Eireann delegates agreed to an arrangement whereby all Ireland except Ulster - becomes a Free State', 'The standing of the Irish Free State will be similar to that of our other Dominions, owning allegiance to the King. Ulster may join the new State if she wishes.', 00:34 'The men who signed for Dail Eireann. Mr Arthur Griffith left, Mr RC Barton centre'. RC Barton was a member of the Irish Cabinet and attended the Peace Conference in England. There is an unidentified man right.


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