The Irish Volunteers at Christmas (1914)

Formed in November 1913, the Irish Volunteers were, in part, a nationalist reaction to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).    The Volunteers, with Eoin MacNeill acting as a figurehead, although they were largely controlled by the secretive Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), who would later launch the Easter Rising in 1916.  Bulmer Hobson (1883-1969), educated at Friends’ School Lisburn, was an important instigator of the Volunteers.

The movement split in September 1914, with the majority joining the National Volunteers and signing up to fight in the Western Front, as part of the 10th and 16th Divisions.  The remaining Irish Volunteers continued to drill, campaign and agitate for Home Rule, eventually becoming embroiled in the Easter Rising.

The Irish Volunteer newspaper was setup in January 1914, and following the split of September 1914 the newspaper sided with Eoin MacNeill and the minority Irish Volunteers.  This snippet, posted by South Dublin Libraries, features an advert for Whelan & Co., Dublin.  The ill-equipped volunteers were to be gifted revolvers, air guns, rifles and outfits to support their on-going fight for Home Rule.

For more on the Irish Volunteers and Lisburn see our exhibition ‘Lisburn, 1912-1914’.