New publication marking the Centenary of the 1920 Local Elections

Cover of Democracy and Change: The 1920 Local Elections in Ireland
Image: Local Government Archivists and Records Managers in association with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
Excerpt from the Minute Book of Wicklow County Council 18th June 1920 - listing successful candidates in the 1920 Local Elections
Courtesy of Wicklow County Archives
Excerpt from Wicklow County Council Minute Book 18th June 1920 - oath of loyalty to the new Dail Eireann following landslide Sinn Fein victory in the 1920 local elections.
Image: Courtesy of Wicklow County Archives
Robert Barton (1881-1975)
Courtesy of
Sinn Fein campaign poster, local elections 1920 Wicklow, urging women to vote for Robert Barton
Courtesy of National Library of Ireland

This year marks the centenary of the local elections of 1920 (urban authorities in January and the remainder in June) which were pivotal in the history of local government in Ireland. In the context of the Decade of Centenaries, it is important to mark these events because of their significance for the struggle for independence and the enduring place of proportional representation in our political system.

Local Government Archivists & Records Managers

Working with the Local Government Archivists and Records Managers, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage recently commissioned the production of a booklet to commemorate the 1920 local elections. The booklet contains images and information on areas such as the political climate at the time, the War of Independence, local government reform, rural and urban district councils, county and city councils and both 1920 local elections. It also provides an insight into the highs and lows of 1920 -1925, as well as the role that women played in the 1920 local elections.

Wicklow elections

Similar to all counties, the 1920 local elections in County Wicklow saw the election of a new generation of county councillors who were overwhelmingly supporters of Sinn Féin and Labour. Of the 20 candidates elected for Wicklow County Council that year, 14 were Sinn Féin, 3 Sinn Féin/Labour, 2 Farmers’ Association and 1 Nationalist. The council acknowledged the authority of Dail Eireann and undertook to give effect to all its decrees.

Robert Barton – a notable figure in the election

An extensive landowner and former British army officer, Robert joined the republican
movement after witnessing the ill-treatment of the 1916 leaders in Dublin. As TD for West Wicklow, he was elected Minister for Agriculture at the first Dáil sitting in 1919. Arrested in February 1919 for making seditious speeches, he was elected as chairman of Wicklow County Council in June 1920 during his detention. Re-elected to the Dáil in 1922, he was imprisoned later that year for his activities in the Civil War. He lost his seat in the
general election of 1923 and was released from prison in December 1923. He did not seek election again, but held a number of public appointments thereafter.  For more on Barton see “Robert Childers Barton and the First Dáil”

The booklet is available to download as a pdf (English & Irish language versions) below or a limited number of printed publications are also available.  Please email with your name and address should you wish to receive a printed booklet in the post. 


Local Government Archivists and Records Managers in association with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
Cartlannaithe agus Bainisteoirí Taifead Rialtais Áitiúil i gcomhar leis an Roinn Tithíochta, Pleanála & Rialtais Áitiúil

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