OCESH alumnus Dr Robin Adams launches a new book
Shadow of a Taxman is the first comprehensive study of how the underground Irish republican government was funded during the Irish War of Independence, 1919-21. It explores how the unrecognised Republic's money was solicited, collected, transmitted, and safeguarded, as well as who the financial backers were and what might have influenced their decision to contribute. The Republic's quest for funds took its emissaries as far afield as New York, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, and Melbourne, as well as virtually every parish in Ireland. By selling 'war bonds' to supporters, it raised £370,165 from 140,000 people in Ireland and nearly $6m from 300,000 people in the United States. These bonds promised a return to subscribers when British forces had left Ireland and an independent Irish Republic was internationally recognised.
Exploiting newly uncovered documents, Shadow of a Taxman reveals the identities of these subscribers, in both Ireland and America. Cross-referencing with census returns, intelligence reports, memoirs, and IRA membership rolls, it provides the first demographic analysis of non-combatant supporters of Irish independence on the eve of its realisation. It also shows how access to funds shaped the course of the Irish War of Independence and, ultimately, Irish republicans' negotiating position with the British government in 1921.
Robin Adams graduated from Oxford with a DPhil in Economic and Social History in 2019 and is now a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Centre for Economic History, Queen's University Belfast. His doctoral research was awarded the Economic History Society's Thirsk-Feinstein prize for best dissertation in economic or social history and the Economic History Association's Alexander Gerschenkron prize for best dissertation in economic history with a focus outside North America.