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On Sunday, January 16, 2022, the Republic of Ireland commemorated its centenary:

The handover by the British to the Irish Provisional Government in 1922 was a low-key affair and not as portrayed in the film Michael Collins, as the Irish state broadcaster RTÉ explains (emphases mine):

In 1922, the handover took place barely a week after the Dáil [Parliament] voted to ratify the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It was a low-key procedure behind closed doors in Dublin Castle.

The popular image of the handover, as depicted in the film ‘Michael Collins’ – a formal ceremony in the Castle’s Upper Yard, troops from both armies on parade as the Union Jack is lowered and the Tricolour raised, Michael Collins in uniform – is fiction. No such ceremony ever happened.

The British had no interest in providing images for the world’s media of their withdrawal, and the Irish had too much to do to waste time and men on a formal ceremony.

Instead, what took place was far more mundane.

There was even uncertainty in the days immediately before the Handover, as to what, if anything, was planned at the Castle.

Members of the incoming Irish Provisional Government, led by its Chairman Michael Collins, left their base in the Mansion House early on the afternoon of Monday 16 January. Their schedule called for them to be back at the Mansion House for a full Cabinet meeting at 4pm.

They left for Dublin Castle in three taxis.

Crowds had gathered in anticipation of something happening. Barbed wire barricades were taken down by the British Army, the world’s media filled the Lower Yard, alongside British Service personnel and the families of Castle officials.

The Irish party arrived ahead of schedule and went straight inside.

In the Privy Council Chamber, they were met by Lord FitzAlan, the Lord Lieutenant. He congratulated them, told them they were now duly installed as the Provisional Government, and the transfer of power would take place without delay.

A form of words was agreed to allow the new government begin work immediately, before the formal legal transfer of powers.

It was all over by 2.30pm. The new Irish Government Ministers returned to the Mansion House, for their scheduled Cabinet meeting. Which began exactly on time.

The Handover at Dublin Castle established two facts, that the British were on their way out of Ireland, and the Provisional Irish Government was now in power.

Congratulations to the Republic. Slainté for the next 100 years.

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