Wow. This movie was definitely an experience. It really gave a new and more personal insight into the history of the Irish. The plot that it built around its story was very engaging.
I think what I liked most about the movie was how it showed the internal conflict of the Irish as they worked for political freedom. From the beginning there are differences in which actions should be taken and how they should be carried out within the group of Irish. This element is enhanced by the detail given to the relationship between Damien and his brother. Through these two, we see the constantly shifting desires of the Irish.
In the beginning, Damien believes in a more political route, using his intelligence rather than anger to fight for Irish freedom. This is in complete contrast with his brother, who is the "action-taker" and more militant of the group. As the story goes on, however, we see Damien take more of the militant role, resisting British occupation at all costs.
This especially reaches a pivotal point in the movie at the court case scene. The war has forced the men (Damien's brother's) to adapt their ethics, siding with the banker (or loaner) out of necessity for arms. Damien takes the opposite side. From this point on, the conflict between the two grows until they are basically at civil war with each other. This all culminates in Damien's execution.
There were several quotes that stuck out to me, but here are a couple that I think are most relevant to this post:
"I hope this Ireland we're fighting for is worth it" - Damien says this before he executes Reilly for treason, and this foreshadows his own death.
"You just killed a fellow Irishman" - after the political split over the treaty, the men find themselves at war with each other. This scene brought about questioning what the treaty accomplished, if anything, and who it was good for.