The second half of the 19th Century was marked by the rise of competing nationalist movements and battles over home rule which decided the fate of British prime ministers.
Those seeking a constitutional route to self-government were rewarded with the restoration of home rule in 1914 – although this was soon suspended at the outbreak of World War I.
More than 200,000 Irish men fought for their King and country in the conflict, almost a quarter never to return.
It was against this turbulent backdrop that those who believed that armed struggle was the only way to achieve their ultimate goal of independence for Ireland asserted themselves.
The Easter Rising of 24 April 1916, which was brutally dealt with by the authorities after hopes of German assistance did not materialise, remains to this day the most symbolic manifestation of this fight.
The 1919-21 Anglo-Irish War which followed saw numerous atrocities on both sides, by a nascent Irish Republican Army (IRA), whose leaders included Michael Collins, and a British government whose authority was waning.
The agreement which eventually led to the 1922 partition of Ireland and the creation of the Irish Free State, remained a source of division for 70 years.
Michael Collins only outlived the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty by nine months, gunned down during the civil war that ensued, while David Lloyd George quit as prime minister a few month later.