The first local authority elections since the beginning of the First World War take place. Sinn Féin emerges as the largest party overall, winning 560 seats. The Labour Party, which co-operated with Sinn Féin in many areas, finishes second with 394 seats. The Unionists come third with 368 seats, 302 of which are in Ulster. The Nationalist Party (the former Irish Parliamentary Party) takes 238 seats.
The IRA launches a countrywide operation, destroying approximately 350 official buildings such as courthouses, tax offices and abandoned police stations. In Westmeath, the abandoned RIC stations at Mount Temple, Brawny, Creggan, Fore, Finea, Coole and Collinstown and elsewhere are burned down during 1920.
Athlone hosts a large public meeting in support of striking railway workers who have placed an embargo on the transportation of British military forces and munitions. Later, church gate collections are held across the south of the county to raise funds for the workers and their campaign of passive resistance.
The Dáil court system begins operating in Westmeath. According to the Westmeath Independent, the sitting in Moate is the ‘first important arbitration court held under the auspices of Sinn Fein’.
The rural elections for county councils, rural district councils and boards of guardians are held. Sinn Féin emerges as by far the most successful party, locally and nationally. Following the elections, the vast majority of local government bodies outside of the four north-eastern counties, including those in Westmeath, declare allegiance to the Dáil.
The RIC is supplemented with a new Auxiliary Division comprised of ex-British Army officers. The ‘Auxiliaries’ quickly earn a reputation for violence against civilians and businesses.
The Westmeath IRA attempts to take over the RIC barracks in Streamstown. The attack, which is the first attempt by the IRA in Westmeath to capture a manned RIC barracks, is repulsed. However, soon after, the RIC abandon the barracks.
The Restoration of Order in Ireland Act is passed at Westminster, allowing for the internment and court martial of civilians. The Act, which also contains regulations constraining freedom of the press, signals an intensification of the conflict.
Thomas Craddock, a sergeant in the RIC, is assassinated in Athlone by the IRA.
The Athlone Brigade of the IRA form a flying column, a mobile unit whose aim is to attack the Crown forces using guerrilla warfare. The flying column contains about fifteen volunteers, at least five of whom had formerly served in the British army.
Balbriggan in County Dublin is attacked by Black and Tans and Auxiliaries as a reprisal for the death of a local RIC head constable. Many properties in the town are destroyed and the reprisal is widely reported by international newspapers.
The IRA in Mullingar kidnap Resident Magistrate Maxwell Moore. He is quickly released unharmed but the Crown forces respond with mass arrests targeting known and suspected republicans. These arrests cause immense damage to the IRA in the locality.
The offices of the Westmeath Independent are attacked by a section of the Crown forces. They use incendiary devices in a failed attempt to burn down the paper’s offices.
The IRA in Athlone ambush a unit of British officers and troops travelling by boat on Lough Ree. A number of the soldiers are wounded.
The Westmeath IRA’s new flying column ambush a police convoy at Parkwood, near Moate. A Black and Tan is shot dead during the fighting. The Crown forces conduct reprisals in Kilbeggan, Horseleap, Moate and Athlone. In Athlone, they shoot and fatally wound Michael Burke, a former member of the town’s urban council.
The Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, dies in Brixton Prison, London, on the 73rd day of his hunger strike.
James Daly, a member of the Connaught Rangers regiment of the British army, is executed in Dagshai, India. Daly, who has a strong family connection to Tyrrellspass, is executed by the British army for his role in leading a mutiny earlier in the year.
A Volunteer named Seamus Finn and an Auxiliary named Sidney Larkin are killed during an IRA attack on a police convoy at Auburn, Glasson.
In Athlone, the Crown forces make a second attack on the Athlone Print Works. The building is burned to the ground. Over 100 workers lose their jobs and a number of newspapers, including the Westmeath Independent, are forced to shut down. The Westmeath Independent does not restart publication until February 1922.
Twelve suspected British Intelligence officers in various locations in Dublin are executed by members of an IRA unit known as ‘The Squad’, which is directed by Michael Collins. In response, members of the Crown Forces raid Croke Park during a Gaelic Football match between Dublin and Tipperary. They open fire on the crowd killing fourteen people.
The west Cork unit of the IRA under the command of Tom Barry ambush a patrol of eighteen Auxiliaries, killing seventeen.
Martial Law is proclaimed in counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary. By the end of the month it has been extended to counties Clare, Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford.
In an act of reprisal, Crown forces set fire to the commercial centre of Cork city, causing enormous damage.
The Government of Ireland Act, passed at Westminster, creates the states of ‘Northern Ireland’ and ‘Southern Ireland’, each with its own Home Rule parliament.
A man named James Blagriff, a resident of Glasson, is executed by the IRA's Athlone Brigade on suspicion of spying. Some members of the brigade, however, are not convinced that Blagriff is a spy. Approximately four or five ‘spies’ are executed by the IRA in Westmeath during the War of Independence.
Laurence and Alice Ginnell (Westmeath Examiner). Alice King (later Ginnell) was a skilled activist and political organiser for both Cumann na mBan and Sinn Féin while her husband, Laurence Ginnell, was one of Ireland’s most famous politicians. In June 1920, they travelled to the United States, on a Dáil mission to gain American support for Irish independence.