This display covers two important documents that underpin the eventual partition of Ireland in 1921, creating the Irish Free State, which later became the Republic of Ireland and what became Northern Ireland.

The Solemn League and Covenant were signed on 28 September 1912 by 471k people, mainly Ulster Protestants. This meant that around 62% of the adult Protestant community in Ulster were against proposals by the Liberal Westminster government for home rule in Dublin.

In 1921, after the Irish War for Independence, Ireland was partitioned into the Irish Free State, which became a sovereign state, and Northern Ireland that was made up of the six counties in the North East of Ireland where Protestants were in the majority.

The Proclamation of the Republic was the text read out by revolutionaries at the General Post Office building in Dublin during the April 1916 Easter Rising, which was an attempt to overthrow British rule by force in Ireland and establish an independent Irish republic.

Though initially unpopular, the revolutionary cause in Ireland gained public support after the Rising. The political party Sinn Fein became the dominant republican group after the Rising and went on to win 87 of the 105 Parliamentary seats in Ireland during the 1918 General Election to the Westminster Parliament. The result demonstrated a strong democratic mandate for Sinn Fein’s objective of an independent Irish republic of which the central text was the Proclamation of the Republic.