April 18, 1949 – Ireland Leaves the Commonwealth of Great Britain

On this day in history, the Irish Parliament officially became a republic, pursuant to the Republic of Ireland Act passed on December 21, 1948.

The Act was scheduled to come into force on April 18 which was the 33rd anniversary of the Easter Rising. (The Easter Rising was an armed insurrection by Irish republicans that began in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916 with the aim of ending British rule in Ireland. The British were able to suppress the Rising quickly, and most of the leaders were executed. This creation of martyrs only fed support for republicanism, eventually leading to a war of independence. The cause was aided immeasurably by the 1921 publication by William Butler Yeats of his poem “Easter, 1916” in which he wrote about the leaders who were killed):

I write it out in a verse –

MacDonagh and MacBride

And Connolly and Pearse

Now and in time to be,

Wherever green is worn,

Are changed, changed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.”

You can read the entire poem here.

On June 2, 1949, the British Parliament passed The Ireland Act recognizing Ireland and Northern Ireland as constitutional entities.

You can see the latest amended version of the Act here.

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