An occassional blog dedicated to further exploring the historical context behind Downton Abbey, as well as encouraging debate over the historical context/interpretation of the programme as a whole. Beware of spoilers. Unless otherwise specified all graphics made are mine, with all screencaps coming from DowntonOnline.
Bloody Sunday (1920)
This was a particularly violent day during the Irish War of Independence.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) under the intelligence leadership of Michael Collins (pictured above) planned to assassinate upwards of fifty British intelligence personnel in Dublin. This number was reduced to thirty five by the time the murders were carried out on November 21, 1920. Included in this was the Cairo Gang, a group of high ranking british intelligence officers. Ultimately thirteen were killed in a series of coordinated attacks, including two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), the police force that acted as the British force in Ireland.
In retaliation, the RIC planned to seek out men responsible at a football match taking place at Croke Park. Arriving at the stadium, police claimed to see armed IRA members and began shooting. Some police claimed to be fired on first. These claims proved false, the men outside the stadium were merely ticket sellers.
The RIC moved into the stadium, shooting wildly by the admission of their own leaders. In the end, fourteen were killed and dozens wounded. Men, women, and children were among the dead and wounded. As a final act of violence, three Irish prisoners held by the British in Dublin Castle were supposedly tortured and killed.
The RIC quickly acted to cover up the incident at Croke Park, claiming that its police had been under attack and had been firing at known IRA members. The incident turned most Irish against the British and even some British were disgusted by the actions of the RIC. Two official British inquests found the RIC to be completely at fault, but these results were suppressed for another eighty years.