Irish Volunteers

Des irish volunteers - Public domain
Des irish volunteers - Public domain

The Irish Volunteers are a militia founded in November 1913 to defend the Home Rule Act, a law designed to restore Ireland’s independence and self-government. It was created in November 1913, in response to the creation of an anti-Home Rule Unionist military organization: the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), an anti-nationalist militia composed of more than 200,000 men, whose aim was to counter any attempt at Irish independence.

History of the Irish Volunteers

After a year of activity in defence of Ireland’s interests, the Irish Volunteers experienced some dissension within the militia, with very distinct ideologies. In August 1914, the Irish Volunteers split into two entities:

The National Volunteers: they are trained by the majority of Irish Volunteers, and are commanded by John Redmond. They joined the British Army during the World War.

The Irish Volunteers: the minority keeps the name Irish Volunteers. They stay in Dublin following the watchword of neutrality, given by Eoin MacNeill, their leader.

The Irish Volunteers take part in the Easter rising of 1916 (despite MacNeill’s counter-order and non-participation). Their strategy developed around the capture of specific buildings, which they had to defend against British troops.

For its part, the Cumann na mBan, the women’s section, tries to appropriate food, medicine and to ensure the smooth running of the infirmary. In this way, they provide first-rate assistance to the Irish Volunteers. Countess Constance Markievicz is a member of this section, and takes part in some very violent hand-to-hand combat.

After the bitter failure of the insurrection, the Irish Volunteers continued their exactions until 1919, when they were incorporated into the Irish Republican Army or IRA, under the leadership of Michael Collins

That’s the end of the Irish Volunteers.