Quote American Doughboy
As you have said about the Germans seeing an invasion of Britain from a closer point, the same thing occured when the Irish joined forces with Napoleonic France in the Napoleonic Wars of 1803 - 1815 and begun the La Legion Irlandaise which was an Irish legion formed in the French Army and saw action in Spain, Holland and Portugal.
Unquote American Doughboy
Sorry, Dough. Wasn't me!
However, go back to 1798 when the United Irishmen rising took place. The UI were led by Wolfe Tone who had been strongly influenced by the French Revolution. 1798 was known as 'the year of the French' and the United Irishmen enlisted French support in their attempt to overthrow the grip of the British Crown.
What is not widely known is that the Presbyterian community of North East Ulster were among the most devoted 'United Irishmen'. This was because they were not part of the 'Established Church' i.e. the Anglican Church of Ireland. Various roles in society were denied them and thus they were ready and willing to lend their pikes and muskets to the fight against what they regarded as a tyrannical government by Britain.
Sadly for future generations, the unity of 'Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter' was short-lived. In Wexford, the United Irishmen went on a sectarian killing spree which culminated in the slaughter of their very allies .. the Presbyterian minority.
Not surprisingly, when news of this unfortunate massacre became widely known, it made a huge impact on the once revolutionary Presbyterians who from that point on joined with the Anglicans to bolster the British presence in Ireland.
Massacre and counter-massacre are a sad fact in Irish history and I can fully understand how the Catholics of Wexford made the leap from 'all inclusive revolution' to taking a chance to revenge themselves on what they regarded as an alien people with an alien religion.
In the aftermath of 1798, the Fencible forces of the British Crown imposed a harsh penalty on all the people of Ireland who had dared to rebel against the Crown.
On an ancient fortification opposite the house where I was brought up, the United Irishmen of Ballymena were hung. drawn and quartered ... a horrific method of execution.
The Napoleonic period which you describe has another interesting little historical point which is known to only a few.
It was at this point in time that the term 'Croppy' came into the political language of Ireland. Basically, most people today are of the belief that 'Croppy' was a derisive term for Catholics, coined by Protestants.
Thus you had songs like 'Croppy Lie Down' being written and sung by the pro-British community. To this day, Irish Republican political activists still use rhetoric like 'The Croppies won't be lying down any more!' to signify that their supporters are ready and willing to pursue the Republican agenda.
The truth is that 'Croppy' was a derisive term for the hairstyle adopted by Bonaparte and other leading figures in the French revolution. Thus, those who had consorted with the French Revolutionaries and who had tried to copy their sartorial as well as politicial style were known as 'Croppies.'
Here endeth the lesson!!
And , for what it is worth. I too believe that Collins, if he had not been murdered, may well have had a very positive influence in creating respect and achieving reconciliation between the two traditions in Ireland. he would most certainly have done a better job than Eamon De Valera.