Oct. 30, 2020

A Cartoon in Need of Comedy

A Cartoon in Need of Comedy
Irish Press Anglo Irish Trade War Cartoon

My Dad was born in 1925  on the eve of the Great Depression. In episode 6 of the podcast, I refer to the hardships likely faced by Dad's family during this period.

In February of 1932, Dad would have been six years old when Éamon de Valera and Fianna Fáil won the Irish General Election. Shortly after that victory, the newly formed government commenced negotiations to end the payments of land annuities to the British Government. These debts had been incurred as a result of a 19th century settlement which arose out of the Land War conflict. De Valera took the position that the Ireland was no longer required to pay these obligations as a result of the independence settlement.

Éamon de Valera (1882 - 1975)

Negotiations with the British Government on the issue broke down in October of 1932 and Ireland's refusal to continue payment resulted in the commencement of the Anglo Irish Trade War. Ramsay McDonald, the British Prime Minister, imposed a 20% tariff on Irish Agricultural products which caused great hardship in an Ireland already mired in depths of the Depression.

The Irish Press, which was founded by de Valera and unsurprisingly towed the Fianna Fail party line, was not above engaging in propoganda to bolster the Irish position. The cartoon above illustrates the impact of the Trade War on the British public, but it's likely that the Irish public bore the brunt of the impact as agriculture accounted for 90% of Ireland's exports at the time and Britain was the country's primary trading partner.

Ultimately the Trade War would be settled in 1938 on the eve of World War II, but likely not before many ordinary families, such as my Dad's felt the impact.