The term Irish Republican Army was used first by one of the two
Fenian wings (The Fenian Brotherhood in America, which was the American
side of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, split soon after the American
Civil War) during the invasion of Canada by Fenian forces, in 1886.
The title Irish Republican Army was also used, in a spoken form,
during the 1867 rising in Ireland (organised by the Irish Republican
Brotherhood). James Connolly, leader of the Irish Citizens' Army
prior to the 1916 rising and commander of all republican forces
during the rising ordered that there was no longer 'Volunteers'
or 'Citizens' Army' anymore but the Army of the Irish Republic (or
Irish Republican Army).
It is wrong opionion that the IRA had been developed from the Irish
Republican Brotherhood. The two organisations maintained their separate
existence until the extinction of the Irish Republican Brotherhood
sometime in the 1930's (or possibly do still maintain their separate
existence according to some unsubstantiated rumours). The fact that
the IRB was a seperate organisation is illustrated by the decision
made by Michael Collins in 1921 that each member could make up his/her
own mind regarding the treaty and the suggestion at the end of the
Civil War that the IRA surrender its arms to the Irish Republican
Brotherhood and so not surrender them to the Irish Free State.
Like Sinn Féin, however, it split over the post-war settlement
that established the Irish Free State and brought about the partition
of Ireland. A smaller faction, under the guerrilla leader Michael
Collins, accepted the settlement and became part of the Army. The
larger faction under Eamon De Valera, then called the Irregulars,
fought the Irish Free State government in the Irish Civil War of
Although it surrendered in 1923, the IRA continued to recruit and
train members and periodically to engage in acts of sabotage. It
was outlawed in 1931 and again in 1935.
After Ireland withdrew from the Commonwealth in 1948, the IRA turned
its attention to removing British rule from Ulster (Northern Ireland)
and establishing a unified Irish republic. In the 1950s the IRA
conducted a limited campaign in the border areas to the north, which
included occasional attacks on army barracks and police stations.