Cork is the first county of 20th-century Ireland by area and the second by population. The economy of Cork was diverse, although many of its sectors were declining by the turn of the century. As the crisis loomed in the north in May 1914, the Irish Party gained control of the executive committees in Dublin and Cork. With the coming of the Great War, Cork was possessed by the spirit of patriotic endeavour. The Kaiser was denounced in pubs and on street corners. However, The Great War divided the Volunteers and decimated their membership. As crime rose, the arrest rate for the Cork Royal Irish Constabulary fell after 1917. Police anger over government vacillation and lack of support merged with other grievances, such as low pay, poor conditions, and lack of promotion. The civil law had broken down and the ingredients of a guerrilla war were in place.
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