Sample Essay on the Anglo-Irish Economic War 1932-1938

Anglo-Irish Economic War

The Anglo-Irish economic war 1932-1938 was a retaliatory trade between the United Kingdom and the Irish Free State. The war lasted from 1932 to 1938. The war also involved imposition of trade restrictions by the British and Irish governments following the refusal of Irish government to reimburse land annuities. The annuities were derived from financial loans that the British Government granted to Irish tenants.

Two major aspects of the Anglo-Irish Economic War 1932-1934

There were two major aspects of the Anglo-Irish economic war including

  • Changes in the Irish Free State economy and fiscal policy following the world’s Great Depression and
  • Disputes surrounding the changing constitutional affairs or state of the Irish Fe State vis-à-vis the Great Britain

In 1932, there was a general election where Fianna Fail rose to power in the Irish Free State and saw Eamonn de Valera elected the Prime Minister. During the elections, the country did not fall into civil war as earlier predicted. Cosgrave gave up the right in a professional way without a fight.

De Valera adopted different policies that were specifically designed to cut all allies with the United Kingdom. He also abolished different land annuities in 1932. He also abolished the Dail’s Oath to the King of England the following year.

Similarly in 1933, he also reduced the powers exercised by the British governmental representatives in Ireland. This was later abolished in the year 1937.

According to Britain, land annuities led to most contention. Annuities were the amount of money that the Great Britain had given to Irish farmers on loan before the government of Ireland Act of 1921was passed. Farmers in the country had to agree on how to repay the amount.


Part of the agreement was that the Irish Free State would collect all debts and return the cash to the UK. However, the Irish government did not honor this promise and it kept the cash. Britain was furious and imposed a 20 percent tariff on trade with the Free State.

As a result of the tariff, the Irish Free State could no longer sell beef to Northern Ireland and to the Great Britain. Therefore, the Free State responded by imposing a tariff that prevented Britain from selling coal to Ireland.

Even with the tariff, Britain did not entirely rely on the Free State as the Free State did with the Great Britain. Irish economy was therefore crippled because of the tariffs. Five years later, in 1938, the two countries had to come with an agreement to settle the Anglo-Irish economic war 1932-1938.

The two countries agreed to end the war which had seriously affected the Irish economy. The Irish Free State was required to pay off annuities to the Great Britain. Britain also had to pull out of its naval bases in Ireland. Pulling out naval bases from Ireland was a very tough choice for the Great Britain bearing in mind that chances of a war breaking up were really high.

New laws were also introduced, a new Prime Minister was named and a new constitution was put in place to enhance good relations between the two countries. The Irish Free State was also to be renamed ‘’Eire’’.

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