O’Donovan Rossa Commemoration Irish Volunteer Exhibition

On Saturday July 11, 2015,the Irish Volunteer Commemorative Organisation will be staging an Exhibition and display at Reenascreena Village, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork.

The exhibition will take place at the Reenascreena National School. The exhibition will be from 2 to 6 pm.

Admission is FREE ,all are welcome !!

Reenscreena is the birth place of O’Donovan Rossa and we are very happy to commemorate this great patriot in his own place.


German Mauser 1871 Infantry Gewehr from the Asgard

Pat O’Hagan pictured with one of the mausers from the Asgard that were landed at Howth in 1914. This and several other mausers from the Asgard will be on show in 2016 in the Ambassador Theatre,Dublin.



Irish War of Independece 1916 Irish Volunteers Uniform

By James langton:

I held a piece of history in my hands this evening in the home of my very good friend Las Fallon. A friend of his named Daniel Fitzpatrick, of the Dublin Fire Brigade dropped by with the tunic worn by his grandfather Denis Fitzpatrick in 1916. Denis was born 17th of April 1900. Four Courts Garrison 1916. Member of ‘B’ Company, 1st Battalion Dublin Brigade IRA. Took part in reorganisation of Company after the Rising. Transferred as Captain, ‘E’ Company, 3rd Battalion, Scottish Brigade IRA, March 1919 to February1920, in charge of collecting arms and explosives in Stirlingshire. April 1920, returned to ‘B’ Company Dublin Brigade. Attached ‘B’ Company and Active Service Unit (ASU), Dublin Brigade. After Truce, he was commissioned in Free State Army. Resigned from Free State Army and returned to Irish Republican Army prior to attack on the Four Courts 1922. Took part in actions at Fowler’s Hall, Barry’s Hotel, and Dorset Street. Shot and seriously wounded. Served as Intelligence Officer and was involved in plan to tunnell into Mountjoy to free Republican prisoner’s. Captured and interned at Hare Park Camp, Curragh. Joined Dublin Fire Brigade 3rd March 1932. p103, Dublin Fire Brigade and the Irish Revolution by Las Fallon.



Irish Volunteer Commemorative Organisation Memorabilia on Display

This post comes courtesy of the Irish Volunteers commemorative organisation,


Hello all,

We have been asked to put up more pictures of memorabilia that we have on display around the country, please see the pictures below. These include Irish volunteer cap badges, Irish war of Independence medals ,1916 Rising medals , also firearms of the period. Do not forget that we will have a display and lecture on in cork city on July 8, see https://irishvolunteers.org/exhibitions-commemorations/

1916 Rising medal cased and volunteer badge
1916 Rising Armband
IRA broom handle” peter the painter” c 96 mauser with but extension
cumann na mban brooch and cap badge
door handle GPO 1916 rising
Irish Volunteers Dublin Brigade cap Badge
IRA Prisoners fund badge
IRA black and tan medal with comrac bar and volunteer badge

IRA thompson sub- machine guns
IRA Volunteers “peter the painter”
IRA webley revolver

irish volunteer belt buckle
Irish volunteer c 96 broom handle
irish volunteer cap badge white metal
Irish volunteer cap badge
Irish volunteer cap badges
Irish volunteer insignia
Irish volunteer rifle lee enfield
irish volunteer rifle
irish volunteer trefoil
limerick brigade cap badge
mayo brigade cap badge
tipperary brigade cap badge
irish volunteer rifle

Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation

The Irish War has been sponsoring the Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation, https://irishvolunteers.org/

This weekend, to mark the 1916 Easter week Rising,  the I.V.C.O. will be putting on a small display of Original Irish war of Independence items at the Metropole Hotel ,MacCurtain Street, Cork city on saturday April 23, 10 am to 4 pm.

The event takes place in the main ballroom and is part of the Munster Militaria fair.

We wish them luck and if you are in the area , please drop in.

The Irish War.

Weapons Of The IRA 3.rd West Cork Brigade

A contributor has recently sent us some photos of weapons used by the Irish Republican Army , third West Cork Brigade, we thank you very much.  The pistol is a Webley and Scott Ltd London & Birmingham, 6.3 mm automatic pistol.

The machine gun is a Lewis ,marked Animes Automatiques Lewis Belgium and Bimingham co Ltd proof marks.

Many weapons used by the IRA  in west Cork were captured from Crown forces and it can be well assumed that these weapons were captured at some of the famous ambushes in that area. I have no further details so please dont ask as these were sent in by sender unknown.

IRA weapons:

Lee Enfields , mausers , webleys, lewis and vickers were all used, along with a multitude of shot guns , mills bombs(grenades) , and numerous different types of pistols/revolvers. Some British Writers would have you believe they used hatchets too, no comment.

We believe they are a great addition to the site and would only ask that more reader would send in photos , documents or any other information.

IRA Pistol

third West Cork Brigade Pistol

IRA pistol Webley & Scot

IRA Lewis Machine Gun

Irish republican Army MG

Irish republican Army MG

close up Irish republican Army MG LEWIS

close up Irish republican Army MG LEWIS

close up Irish republican Army MG LEWIS

mechanism close up Irish republican Army MG LEWIS

mechanism close up Irish republican Army MG LEWIS




We hope you enjoy the great photos and please send us your own photos, documents or other information to  info@theirishwar.com

or go to the web site https://theirishwar.com/

British I.R.A. Volunteers 1921

British I.R.A. Volunteers 1921  . An article by padraig O Ruairc.

Very often the history of Irish Republicanism is presented in over simplistic black and white terms of Catholic Vs Protestant – English Vs Irish. Any one who has undertaken even the most basic study of Irish history from the 1700’s onwards will know that this supposed sectarian mould of Irish history (set by the British Governments strategy of divide and conquer) was repeatedly broken. We all know, (or at least should all know) that the leadership of the 1798 rebellion was far more about Protestants like Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy Mc Cracken and Lord Edward Fitzgerald than it was about Fr. Murphy of Boolavogue!
Like wise when looking at the Easter Rising – Irish War of Independence and later the Irish Civil War that people frequently broke out of the cultural and religious roles assigned to them. We have heard of ex British Soldiers like Erskine Childers and James Connolly leading the republicans or else Northern Presbyterian Ernest Blythe, Northern Quaker Bulmer Hobson, Northern Protestant Rodger Casement or Anglo Irish Protestant Constance Marcivictz taking up the republican cause.

But these examples British (and more specifically English) men who joined the republican struggle as ordinary I.R.A. Volunteers (not leaders) many of whom gave their lives for Irish Freedom will probably not be so well known to you.

Enjoy and remember this next time someone presents the struggle for independence as a simple black- white, right-wrong, English-Irish, Catholic- Protestant question.


Easter Week 1916, Dublin – Abraham Weeks
An English Jew from the East-end of London. Weeks was a militant socialist, trade unionist and member of the International Workers of The World better known by their nickname The Wobblies. Apparently he had come to Dublin to escape conscription to the British Army during WW1 and arrived at Liberty Hall, the H.Q. of The Irish Citizens Army on Monday the 24th of April asking to join the rebels stating That he had conscientious objection to fighting for capitalistic and imperialistic governments, but that he also had a conscientious objevtion to being left out of a fight for liberty. Weeks was nominally appointed as a member of the ICA and was attached to the G.P.O. garrison in O Connell / Sackville St. for the duration of the Easter Week rebellion. He was fatally wounded during the evacuation of the G.P.O. on Friday of Easter week and died the next day. (Not surprising really given that James Connolly to this day is the only Irish politician to have given an election address in Yiddish – See Manus O Riordan Connolly Socialisim and the Jewish Worker, Saothar 13 Printed 1988)
[For more see;- James Connolly, Liberty Hall & The 1916 Rising by Francis Devine and Manus O Riordan]

War of Independence and Civil War, Offaly – Charlie Chidlie
An Englishman who served in the British Army and was stationed in Crinkle Military Barracks, Birr Co. Offaly during the War of Independence where he was employed as military driver who chauffeured British Army Staff officers. Chidley deserted to join the I.R.A. and was able to give them valuable intelligence information. He remained with the I.R.A. through the remainder of the War of Independence, and took the republican side during the Civil War. He was captured by the Free State Army in Autumn of 1922 and interned.
[For more read; Coolacrease by Paddy Heney]

War of Independence, Cork – Peter Monahan.
A British Army soldier from Scotland Monohan was stationed in Cobh with the Cameron Highlanders. Just before Christmas of 1920 Monohan troubled by the actions of the British Forces in Ireland deserted from his regiment taking with him Tommy Clarke who was apparently less interested in the rights and wrongs of the military situation in Ireland and was just fed up of Army life. They made their way through Ringaskiddy abd headed west – apparently they got dioriented along the way and after wandering about cold and hungry for a few days they wound up in Kilmacsimon Quay a very small village between Bandon and Kinsale. Their presence had already been noticed by the local I.R.A. Volunteers when tho two deserters called at the family home of Liam Deasy (who was an adjutant in the I.R.A.’s west Cork Brigade) asking his mother for food and cigarettes -which she gave them.
Monahan and Clarke were then arrested by the I.R.A. who suspected them of being British spies and were intent on executiong them when Monahan revealed his republican sympathies and the fact that he had worked as a mining engineer in Scotland and had a good knowledge of commercial explosives. This proably saved their lives as the West Cork Brigades efforts at making landmines for use in ambushes and barrack attacks up to this point had all been successfull. Monohan joined the I.R.A. and made mines that were used in attacks on R.I.C. Barracks at Kilbrittan, Drimoleague and Inishannon.
On one occasion when Monohan was leading a small group of I.R.A. volunteers down a country road they met a local farmer driving a pony and trap. He struck up a conversation with Monahan and un hearing his Scottish accent assumed that the armed men with him were R.I.C. Auxialiaries ( believe it or not it was a common enough mistake to make to confuse the Auxies and I.R.A. during the war as neither side was properly uniformed, civilian trench coats and british equipment were used by both sides.) The farmer asked Monahan ;Is it safe for me to be talking to you sir? When Monahan replied that it was the man told them the whereabouts of an I.R.A. dugout he had stumbled across and continued ;Im not like the rest of them round here at all. The Very Reverend Mr. Lord is my man and I give him the information. You fellows should come round at night and ill show you round. Having unwittingly blown his cover and exposed himself as a spy the man was taken prisoner and executed that night.
Monahan was killed by British fire during the Crossbary Ambush of March 1921
[For more read Protestant Nationalists in Revolutionary Ireland by Leon O Broin or Republican Cobh and the East Cork Volunteers Since 1913 by Kieran Mc Carthy

War of Independence and Civil War, Kerry – Reginald Hathaway Stennings
Alias Walter Stephens, a 23 year old Englishman, a native of London, with an address of 39 King Edward Street, Slough, Bucks, England. He came to Tralee some time during the War of Independence as a member of the East Lancashire regiment of the British Army. During this time he deserted the British joined the I.R.A. and became very friendly with local republican leaders Edward Greaney and Aero Lyons. He remained a member of the I.R.A. after the truce and when the Civil war broke out he joined the Free State Army. However he quickly disappeared from barracks absconded with a rifle and a hundred rounds of ammunition in order to rejoin and rearm the I.R.A.! He was captured during the surrender of Pierses Flying Column and signed a form undertaking not to take up arms against the Free State under the alias of Walter Stephens.
He was taken prisoner along with James Mc Enry and Edward Greaney on the 18th of April 1923 at Clashmelcon caves and received severe physical abuse from his Free State Captors after his surrender.
He was executed by the Free State Army at 8 o clock on Wednesday the 25th of April 1923. He is buried in the republican plot at Rahela Graveyard Ballyduff, Co. Kerry.
For more read Tragedies of Kerry by Dorothy Mc Ardle of The Civil War in Kerry by Tom Doyle

War of Independence and Civil War, Cork – Ian MacKenzie Kennedy
Ian Graeme Baun MacKenzie-Kennedy or Scottie as he was inevitably nicknamed. Scottish Protestant – a well known figure in Ballingeary and in Irish-speaking circles during the War of Independence. MacKenzie Kennedy was born in 1899 and is believed to have hailed from Inverness-shire in the Scottish Highlands. He came from a distinguished family that was steeped in the military tradition. His father was a major and his uncle had been a major general in the British army. His brother was killed in action in France, and his mother keen for her son to avoid the same fate, took him to live in Ireland about 1916. The youthful MacKenzie Kennedy was a tall strapping young man in kilts was proficient in Scots Gaelic, and subsequently studied Irish.
Scottie and his mother initally lived in Killarney with the Honourable Albina Broberick, whose brother was the earl of Middleton. Albina gaelicised her name to Gobnait ni Bruadair and was an unrepentant republican. Later Scottie arrived in Ballyvourney looking for a place to stay in order to learn Irish and further his interest in Celtic studies. Creedons of Ballyvourney advised him to go to the famous Toureen Dubh in Ballingeary where he stayed for the next three years. The house belonged to the Twomey family and had a reputation for being full of laughter and boundless hospitality.
Despite his background Scottie was warmly accepted by the people of Ballingeary as a true Gael among Gaels, and soon the tiny valley among the hills thrilled to the skirl of his pipes. He is still remembered for his sunny, happy nature. A friend Geraldine Neeson, Cork City musician and journalist, gives the following description of him:
“He was a most attractive person whom we all liked very much. An extrovert with a consuming curiosity about people and their motivations. He had a sharp, frequently-used wit and a clear, infectious laugh, and was excellent company.”

Scottie seemed to love Ireland from the first and before long joined the Ballingeary based D Company, 8th Battalion of Cork No.1 Brigade of the I.R.A. His comrades best remembered him for the amusement he caused on so many occasions. His notion for a stovepipe cannon wound tightly with steel wire, to demolish barracks-doors with, might or might not have succeeded. Nobody wished to test it. The experemental sail he affixed to his bicycle was quite effective but a good deal more fun. His comrade Padraig Greene recounted the gunpowder episode.
“Scottie made a quantity of gunpowder and was preparing to test it – an operation in which he asked for my assistance. He had prepared the ‘boxing’, i.e. the cast iron tapering cylinder which goes into the nave of the wheel by plugging one end of it. With a measured amount of powder he wanted to estimate how far it would throw a 26 ounce steel bowl.
“He had all preparations made to do the test, but luckily for me, I was given another job that took me away from the house. Scottie took the ‘cannon’, poured in the powder, placed the bowl on top of it and then tamped plenty of paper on top of the bowl. He made one great mistake – he forgot to put paper on top of the powder before he inserted the bowl.
“When he started the tamping, metal struck metal creating a spark, and the whole thing blew up in his hands. His hands were black from grains of powder and the lintel over the window was cracked and so was the sill. Everyone in the house was in a state of shock when I returned.
“The following day, the Bean A’ Tigh told Scottie to remove the gunpowder into the ashes around the fire causing an explosion which covered the kitchen with ashes and cinders causing further uproar. Few people, other than Scottie would have been allowed to remain on in the house after these episodes. “Scottie’s only complaint was that part of his moustache was burned on one side.”

John M. Regan – The District Inspector of the R.I.C. based in Bantry in 1918-1920 recalled meeting Scottie in his memoirs on an occasion when his car had broken dowm in the vicinity of a local I.R.A. leaders home. With them came a man in a Scotch Kilt whom I recognised at once as a Scotsman of acultured type who had come to Ireland for one reason or other and ended up joining the I.R.A. He had been taken prisoner at Glandore and of course was also released. Just when were about to start he came to me and said, ‘D� yo�ave a revolver of mine. I tried to appear composed as I agreed and for something to say remarked that I had no ammunition to fit it. Upon which he informed me that if I gave it back to him he would get stuff to fit it all right. We left, apparently, the best of friends.

There is one other story about how he went to Killarney quite openly during the early days of the War Independence but before it had reached its real intensity. The town was full of British military and one day two swaggering officers armed fully absed him in the street and made some sneering remark about his cowardice in not not;joining up. Scottie reached out and grabbed one in either hand, banged their heads together, and threw them dazed up the street.

The writer Sean O’Faolain who was a comrade of Scottie’s, recollects him in his autobiography Vive Moi! from when he stayed in Dick Twomey’s of Tureen Dubh. “I slept there (in a hay barn) many a night beside a magnificent tall Scot, named Ian Bawn MacKenzie Kennedy, who had come over to Ireland to fight for the Irish Republic.”
Scottie was respected by his IRA comrades as was shown early in 1921 when he was entrusted with the arms fund totalling £85 and went to England at great personal risk to buy guns – he returned on March 24th with eleven new Webley 45 revolves hidden in a crate.

An underground foundry was constructed at Carrigbawn, to manufacture hand grenades and bombs.Local volunteers scoured the countryside for scrap metal, old pig troughs and plough shares. A year earlier Scottie had provided a “74/14/12” recipe for gunpowder to the officers. Scottie played the Flowers of the Forest on the bagpipes at Donall ‘ac Taidhg McSweeney’s funeral, at the old man’s dying request. He visited his mother at regular intervals in the Castle Hotel in Killarney, but she failed to persuade him to return to Scotland. Eventualy Scottie converted to Catholicism, having been influenced by the religious atmosphere of West Cork. No doubt his father a major in the British army was not pleased about his sons conversion to both Irish Republicanism and Catholicism and requested that if the British Forces in Cork captured his son he asked to be allowed to command the firing squad that executed him!

Throughout the Truce period and after the signing of the treaty Scottie remained a member of the I.R.A. and opposed the Treaty and cycled from Twomey’s house in West Cork to Cork city to oppose the advancing Free State Army. It was not long before Scottiee was to enter the fray. The following is based on an article that appeared Poblacht Na h-Eireann Scottish Edition) dated 21 October 1922. During the fighting in Rochestown, as the covering party of the IRA was evacuating to their second position near Douglas village, their lorry broke down at Belmont Cross. Three Volunteers jumped from the lorry and took up position in Belmont Cottage nearby to enable the rest of the party to get away under the protection of an armoured car. These were Scottie, Frank O’Donoghue and Moloney.
One party of Free State soldiers who charged the cottage was forced to retire leaving one of their number by the name of Flood, a Dublin man, dying on the road. Frank O’Donoghue rushed from the cottage to Flood’s aid, whispered an act of contrition into his ear, and the unfortunate Flood died grasping O’Donoghue’s hand. The republicans took one prisoner.
The cottage was later surrounded, and the three brave republican soldiers kept up an unequal fight against 64 Free State troops, killing 12, and wounding 15 according to the report. Only when the last bullet was fired did the battle cease. When further resistance was impossible, and having delayed the enemy until the republicans had taken up their position, the little party decided to surrender.
MacKenzie Kennedy opened the door and put up his hands in token surrender, but was shot dead as was Moloney. O’Donoghue was captured and taken prisoner.
Ian MacKenzie Kennedy was only 23 when he was killed on the 7th of August 1922. He was buried on the 12th of August in the republican plot in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork City alongside other soldiers of the Republic. There is a small plaque to his memory in Ballingeary and he is commemorated on the republican monument in Macroom.

Most of the research is my own except for information on Charlie Chidlie supplied by Philip Mac Comway and the piece on Scottie Mc Kenzie Kennedy which was taken from an article in the Irish Democrat newspaper by Stephen Coyle that I added to and edited after.

Does anyone else here know of any English or British men who served in the I.R.A. 1913-1923?

Irish Citizen Army Uniforms and Equipment 1916

An article by Padraig O Ruairc

Brief History of the Irish Citizens Army

The army rose out of the great strike of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union in 1913, known as the Lockout of 1913. The dispute was over the recognition of this labour union founded by James Larkin. It began when William Martin Murphy, an industrialist, locked out some trade unionists on August 19, 1913. In response, Larkin called an all out strike on Murphy’s Dublin United Tramway Company. Other companies, encouraged by Murphy, sacked ITGWU members in an effort to break the union. The conflict eventually escalated to involve 400 employers and 25,000 workers.This strike caused most of Dublin to come to an economic standstill and was marked by vicious rioting between the strikers and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, particularly at a rally on O’Connell street on August 31, in which two men were beaten to death and about 500 more injured. Another striker was later shot dead by a strike-breaker. The violence at union rallies during the strike prompted Larkin to call for a worker’s militia to be formed to protect themselves against the police. The Citizen army for the duration of the lockout was armed with hurling sticks and bats in order to protect worker’s demonstration from the police. Jack White, a former British Army Captain, volunteered to train this army and offered 50 pounds towards the cost of shoes to workers so they could train. In addition to its role as a self defence organisation, the army, which was drilled in Croydon Park in Fairview by White, provided a diversion for workers unemployed and idle during the dispute. After a six-month standoff, the workers returned to work hungry and defeated in January 1914. The original purpose of the ICA was over, but it would soon be totally transformed.
The Irish Citizen Army was totally reorganised in 1914. In March of that year, a demonstration of the Citizen Army was attacked by the police and Jack White, its commander, was arrested. Sean O’Casey then suggested that the ICA needed a more formal organisation. O’Casey wrote a constitution stating the Army’s principles as follows: the ownership of Ireland, moral and material, is vested of right in the people of Ireland and to “sink all difference of birth property and creed under the common name of Irish people”.
On Larkin’s insistence, all members were also required to be members of a trade union, if eligible. In mid 1914,
James Larkin left Ireland for America in October 1914, leaving the Citizen Army under the command of James Connolly. Whereas during the Lockout, the ICA had been a workers’ self defence militia, Connolly conceived of it as a revolutionary organisation – dedicated to the creation of an Irish socialist republic “The Workers Republic”. He had served in the British army in his youth and knew something about military tactics and discipline. Other active members in the early days included  Countess Markievicz ,Sean O’Casey, , Francis Sheehy-Skeffington. Sheehy-Skeffington and O’Casey left the ICA when it became apparent that Connolly was moving towards the radical nationalist group, the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

James Connolly was a convinced Marxist socialist and Irish Republican and believed that achieving political change through physical force, in the tradition of the Fenians, was legitimate.
Lenin would later describe the Citizen Army as being the first red army in Europe. This organisation was one of the first to offer equal membership to both men and women and trained them both in the use of weapons. The army’s headquarters was the ITGWU union building, Liberty Hall and they were almost entirely Dublin based. However, Connolly also set up branches in Tralee and Killarney in county Kerry. In October 1915, armed ICA pickets patrolled a strike by dockers at Dublin port. Attempts were made to set up Branches of the ICA in Limerick but were not successfull. (However in the Years 1919 and 1920 the remnants of The Citizen Army did organise small groups in Waterford, Cork and Monoghan)
Appalled by the participation of Irishmen in the First World War, which he regarded as an imperialist, capitalist conflict, Connolly began openly calling for insurrection in his newspaper, the Irish Worker. When this was banned, he opened another the Worker’s Republic. The British authorities tolerated the open drilling and bearing of arms by the ICA, thinking that to clamp down on the organisation would provoke further unrest. A small group of Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) conspirators within the Irish Volunteers movement were also planning a rising. Worried that Connolly would embark on premature military action with the ICA, Connolly was approached and inducted into the IRB’s Supreme Council to co-ordinate their preparations for the armed rebellion known as the Easter Rising.
The ICA never numbered more than 250 to 300 men and women nation wide. On Monday April 24, 1916, 220 of them (including 28 women) took part in the Easter Rising, alongside a much larger body of the Irish Volunteers. They helped occupy the General Post Office on O’Connell Street (then Sackville Street), Dublin’s main thoroughfare. Mallin, Connolly’s second in command, along with Markievizc and an ICA company, occupied St Stephen’s Green. Another company under Sean Connolly took over City Hall and attacked Dublin Castle. Finally, a detachment occupied Harcourt Street railway station. ICA men were the first rebel causalties of Easter Week, two of them being killed in an abortive attack on Dublin Castle. Sean Connolly, an ICA officer, was the first rebel fatality. A total of eleven Citizen Army men were killed in action in the rising, five in the City Hall/Dublin castle area, five in Stephen’s Green and one in the GPO.
Connolly was made commander of the rebel forces in Dublin during the Rising and issued orders to surrender after a week. He and Mallin were executed by British army firing squad some weeks later. The surviving ICA members were interned in Frongoch in Wales until 1919.
Many of them later joined the new Irish Republican Army (IRA) from 1917 on, but the Citizen Army remained in existence until the 1930s. According to some reports ICA units were involved in various IRA operations during the Irish War of Independence. However the ICA always maintained its Independence never fully coming under IRA control for example ICA members stationed at Liberty Hall were not informed about or asked to take part in the burning of the Customs House in May 1921 and were forced to watch the ensuing drama from the steps and windows of Liberty Hall directly across the road. During the fighting in Dublin that began the Irish Civil War in June 1922, some elements of the ICA (which by this time had about 140 members) were involved in the Anti-Treaty IRA occupation and defence of the Four Courts while others occupied Liberty Hall, the Trade Union headquarters
In the 1920s and 1930s, the ICA was kept alive by veterans such as Seamus MacGowan, Dick McCormick and Frank Purcell, though perhaps only as an old comrades association by veterans of 1916.
Uniformed Citizen Army men provided a guard of honour at Constance Markievicz’s funeral in 1927.
In 1934, Peadar O’Donnell and other left wing republicans left the IRA and founded the Republican Congress. For a brief time, they revived the ICA as a paramilitary force, intended to be an armed wing for their new movement. According to Brian Hanley’s history of the IRA, the revived Citizen Army had 300 or so members around the country in 1935. However, the Congress itself split in 1935 and collapsed shortly afterwards. Most of the ICA members joined the Irish Labour Party. The ICA’s last public appearance was to accompany the funeral procession of union leader James Larkin in Dublin in 1947.

Uniform of The Irish Citizen Army
Taken from R.M. Foxs Book – The Irish Citizen Army Page 68
“Until the uniforms came (in 1914), the rank and file wore Irish linen armlets of a light blue colour with the letters ICA on them, while the officers wore bands of crimson. When a consignment of belts, havoursacks and bayonets arrived the men were soon busy cleaning, polishing and oiling with enthousiasm. Big slough hats conpleted the turn out. … When the uniforms came the enthousiasm was greater than ever. They were of a darker green than those worn by the Irish Volunteers, and it became the custom among the Transport Union members to fasten up one side of the big slouch hats with the red hand badge of the Union.”

The mens uniform was of a good quality serge coloured a very dark grenn – almost exactly the same colour as the R.I.C. bottle green. The uniform had a high collar and had two brest pockets and two large box pockets. The buttons used were the “football” type compressed leather buttons in both dark and light brown. (These buttons were also standard issue on Cumann Na M-Bann uniforms and were used on Irish Volunteer and later IRA uniforms becoming more common post 1916 as the official brass “IV” buttons became harder to get. Theres an illustration below – Im alsp reproducing them if anyone needs any) The slouch hat was of the same very dark green colour. It was similar in style to the hats worn by the ANZAC’s in the British Forces and the Boer “Cronje” hat. The Cap badge of the Irish Citizens army was the Irish Transport And General Workers Union badge for 1913 The red hand of Ulster which sometimes had the letters ITGWU on it in raised detail. Ordinary ranks sometimes wore a shoulder title in block letters reading ICA.
The ICA belt was of the same pattern as the RIC belt with the Brass “Snake S” Bely Buckle. Those carrying rifles wore black bandoliers and all members carried a white linnen ammunition and kit bag. The trousers were the same dark green colour and matierial, but appart from one picture of Marcivictz wearing Puttees I have never seen a photo of any other member of the ICA wearing putees or leather leggings.

The womens uniform was of a similar dark green colour but was of a much coarser heavy tweed matierial. It had an open V – neck style collar. The following is a reference to it from Helena Maloneys Bureau of Military History statement. Countess Marcivictz was the most photographed female member of the ICA however she is usually pictured wearing a mans uniform – as explained below. Which gave the idea that ICA men and women both wore the same uniform.
Helena Maloney -“In his book Sean O Faoilain attributed vanity to Madame Marcivictz as the motive of her nationalist and military activitys, and stressed her fondness for uniforms. The truth was she had never bought a uniform – like many other members of the Citizen army except a Boy Scouts shirt which then cost 3/6 d, and a boy scouts hat. Her Citizen Army dress up to the week before the Rising consisted of a plain tweed costume with a sam browne belt and black turned up hat, similar to the men’s with a small bunch of cocks feathers. She went out to the rebellion in the uniform coat of Michael Mallin, who had got a new uniform. And he was so slim his coat fitted her perfectly.”
Women wore the same bandoliers and white kit bags as the men but sometimes wore sam browne belts rather than the “Snake S” buckle belts. Most women wore a skirt in the same colour but some such as marcivictz wore trousers underneath of just simply trousers. (Note women wearing trousers in 1910;s Ireland was exceptionaly unusual and broke entirely with accepted ideas of dress style and morality.

Officers Uniform
ICA officers essentialy wore the same uniforms as the ordinary member. Except that instead of the Block letter ICA shoulder title they wore a scrolled of italic pair of badges with the letters ICA on their collars as illustrated on the picture of Marcivictz below.The full photograph (Not Illustrated) of Marcivictz wearing Mallins old uniform shows that it had raised patches in a similar shape to I.V and British army officers uniforms but there were not outlined with lace like the I.V. and British uniforms. The ICA later adopted diamond shaped brass rank markings worn in pairs on the epaluttes. A post 1917 ICA uniform on display on the Ulster Somme Heritage centre Newton Ards has used Irish Volunteer brass “Trefoil” rank markings on the epaluttes in sunstitution for the official diamond shaped rank markings which were presumable not available. James Connolly had a uniform made for himself just before the Easter Rising and it is described in Ina Connolly Herons book “Portrait of a Rebel Father”

Citizen Army Boy Scouts
As well as founding Na Fianna Eireann countess Marcivictz also ran the ICA Boy Scouts Their uniform was similar to the Fianna except that they had red facings and wore blue neckerchiefs or scarves. The Irish National Guard a small breakaway group from trhe Fianna again with a slightly different uniform were also closely allied to the ICA Boy Scouts. Clan Na Gael Girl Scouts were founded after some branches of Na Fianna Eireann – “The Irish National Boy Scouts” refused to admit girls as members they also worked closely with the ICA. Below is a reference to the ICA Boy Scouts and their Uniform in Cork in 1920 from James Alan Busby’s Bureau of Military History Statement No 1628
“Late in 1918 or perhaps early in 1919 , a Fianna representative from Dublin came to Cork and created a split in our ranks. A rival group known as the Citizen Army Boy Scouts was started in Cork. At the same time we had a girls contingent attached to the Fianna known as the Clan Na Gael Girl Guides. The Misses Wallace ofSt. Augustine Street Cork, were amongst the leaders of the latter group. There was no difference in policy between the Fianna and the Citizen Army scouts. There was however a small distinction in the uniform, we wore a saffrom scarf while they wore a blue scarf. They had as far as I remember about forty boys at most in the organisation, but to the best of my belief it petered out about 1920.”

Weapons and Armament.
like the Irish Volunteers the ICA used a motley variety of weapons and were glad of anything they could get their hands on. Many of their cartridges and bombs/grenades were manufactured by members of the ICA in the basement of Liberty Hall. In comparison to the Irish Volunteers the ICA being a small force were far better uniformed arm armed. Photos {see below) of the army in training at Croydon Park Dublin show up to 70 men all armed with rifles. The most common rifle used was a german bolt action mauser. Contarty to many reports the ICA did not take part in the Howth Gunrunning of 1914 but some ICA members managed to steal “Howth Mausers” hidden by the Volunteers when they were confronted by the Kings Own Scottish Borders and RIC on their way back into the city that evening. Members of the ITGWU worked on the docks in Dublin and were later able to smuggle in quantities of mauser rifles for the ICA before 1916. Lee Enfield rifles were initaly scarce in the ICA up to 1916 but in the War of Independence they managed to find a source in a sympathetic British soldier who managed to smuggle out Lee Enfields from Portobello Barracks. Officers most commonly carried C96 Broom Handle mauser pistols and Countess Marcivictz is also photographes with a Webly ans Scot Long barrelled .45 revolver, though she used a mauser pistol in the rising itself. Officers would have used a variety of revolvers including colts and automatic pistols such as luger 9mm parabellums smuggled in from Germany.

Unlike Cumann Na m-Bann whose duties were usualy restricted to more traditional sexist roles of cooking, first aid and despatch carrying the women of the ICA carried weapons and were of equal rank with the men. Margret Skinnider an ICA member from Scotland and Countess Marcivictz both fought in the front line with rifle and revolver.

the Citizen Army carried a “Plough And The Stars” of “Starry Plough” flag It was a bluey-green field with an image of a plough in yellow, with a sword as a ploughshare that had the big dipper/ ursa major constellation of seven eight pointed silver stars imposed on it. The plainer starry plough of a plain blue field with seven five pointed stars still used by the Irish left was not used by the ICA until it was reformed by the Republican Congress in the 1930’s
The origional Starry Plough was flown from the imperial hotel in O Connell St. during the Rising. On St. Patricks day 1916 the ICA hoisted a plain green flag with a golden or yellow harp over liberty hall. The remnants of this are on display in Collins Barracks. A scroll was also unveiled across the front of Liberty Hall in 1914 after the outbreak of WW1 which read “We serve neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland!”

Final Note
Unlike the Irish Volunteers who were mostly Catholic (with notable exceptions Bulmer Hobson etc…) a fairly large section of the ICA were of minority religions. Marcivictz was Protestant as were Jack White and Dr. kathleen Lynne. Jack White later declared himself an Atheist and embraced Anarchisim during the Spanish Civil war. The first casulty of the 1916 rising was Abraham Weeks, attached to the G.P.O. Garrison (See Manus O Riordan – James Connolly, Liberty Hall and the 1916 Rising) Weeks was an English Jew and member of the International Workers of the World Union who came to Dublin from London in 1916 to avoid conscription to the British Army and to join the ICA.


Citizen Army Group Firing

The photos arent the greatest quality but you can click on them to enlarge. This photo shows two ordinary ICA members armed with rifles the one closer to the camers has the more typical mauser rifle. The captain kneeling and pointing is armed with a C96 broom handle mauser and is the group leader (female) closest to the camera. Note also she has a feathered hat similar to marcivictz and wears the ‘scrolled’ ICA letters on her collar not the Block ICA letters on the epaluttes worn by the others. She also has the officers Slade wallace pattern belt and is the only one wearing putees.

Citizen Army Captain firing C96 Broomhandle Mauser Pistol

This is a Citizen Army Captain or NCO firing a Broom handled mauser. The weapons wooden holster could be fixed to the guns handle and used as a stock transforming the weapon into a carabine. If you enlarge the inage you can clearly see the red hand ITGWU badge used to pin up the hat and the block letter ICA shoulder title

Two Members of ICA

The Captain on the left had his mauser in the wooden holster, and though he does not have the brass diamond shaped rank marking fixed to his epaluttes, the fact that his “Snake S” buckle type strap in the style of a sam browne and that he has a pistol rather than a rifle shows he is of senior rank. The Ordinary member wears the black bandolier and his belt does not have a cross strap. the white linen ammunition and kit bags are worn on opposite sides because of the ICA Captains cross strap and mauser holster – more normaly it would be worn in the fashion of the ordinary ICA member. These are old RUC uniforms that have been bought and doctored for the purpose at E 4o for tunic and trousers – not a small fortune! in re-enactment terms

Captain Jack White and Irish Citizen Army at Croydon House Dublin

You can see how well armed and uniformed the ICA realy were from this. The officer on the right closest to the camera is captain Jack White a vetern of the Boer war with the British army. The sword he is carrying is a British Army officers sword

Citizen Army on Roof of Liberty Hall

The men in uniforms are armed with mauser rifles – the most common weapon in the ICA. The uniformed man in the centre has the red hand badge clearly visible pinning up the side of his cap. The man standing behind with the revolver in civilian clothes is also a member of the force. Again if E4o is beyond your budget for a uniform civilian clothes courdruoy, tweed or even an old suit from oxfam with the addition of a made up ICA blue or red armband is cheaper still and perfectly accurate.

Origional Citizen Army Button

Taken from a womens ICA uniform in a private collection, note the dark green rough tweed matierial rather than the serge used in the mens tunics. The camera flash had brightened the colour but trust me its dark green. Im reproducing these buttons if anyone needs them other wise modern leather buttons are acceptable and cost little.

Countess Marcivictz in Officers Uniform

Note she is wearing an officers slade wallace belt, and if the resolution is good you can see the officers collar badges. This was Malins old uniform mentioned above. Photo taken about one week before the Rising.

Countess Marcivictz in ICA Boy Scouts Uniform

This photo was taken circa 1917 -1918 note how imprisionment and hungerstrike have worn on the countesses face, the wrinkles, blackened and broken teath and grey hair were all touched up when the photo was used to promote her for election. Compare to the above photo. Shows what these people realy went through for our freedoms? All the more reason why if we are going to re-enact the period we should do their memory justice. Any way she is wearing the ICA Boy Scouts uniform – quite similar in design to the Fianna Eireann one.

History of the Irish Volunteers

The Irish Volunteers

Irish (National) Volunteers, a militia founded 25 November 1913 at the Rotunda in Dublin They were founded as a direct response to the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force , founded 1912 )) , the UVF opposed Home Rule for Ireland and wished to maintain the union with Britain. To ensure that Home Rule would be resisted they were prepared to fight , hence the foundation in 1913 of the militant UVF.

. The Irish Volunteers was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912, and its declared primary aim was “to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland.” The Volunteers included members of the Gaelic League , Ancient Order of Hibernians , and Sinn Féin , and, secretly, the IRB. The Volunteers fought for Irish independence in 1916’s Easter Rising, and were joined by the Irish Citizen Army ,Cumann na mBan and Fianna Éireann to form the Irish Republican Army .


Home Rule for Ireland dominated political debate between the two countries since Prime Minister  William Ewart Gladstone  introduced the first Home Rule Bill in 1886, which was rejected by the House of Commons. The second Home Rule Bill, seven years later having passed the House of Commons, was vetoed by the House of Lords. It would be the third Home Rule Bill, introduced in 1912, which would lead to the crisis in Ireland between the majority Nationalist population and the Unionists in Ulster.

On 28 September 1912 at Belfast City Hall almost 250,000 Unionists signed the Solemn League and Covenant to resist the granting of Home Rule. This was followed in January 1913 with the formation of the Ulster Volunteers composed of adult male Unionists to oppose the passage and implementation of the bill by force of arms if necessary.


The initiative for a series of meetings leading up to the public inauguration of the Volunteers came from the Irish Republican Brotherhood(IRB). Bulmer Hobson, co-founder of the republican boy-scouts, Fianna Éireann, and member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, believed the IRB should use the formation of the Ulster Volunteers as an “excuse to try to persuade the public to form an Irish volunteer force”. The IRB could not move in the direction of a Volunteer force themselves, as action by known physical force men would be stopped, despite the precedent established by the Ulster Volunteers. They therefore confined themselves to encouraging the view that Nationalists also ought to organize a Volunteer Force for the defence of Ireland. A small committee then began to meet regularly in Dublin from July, 1913, who watched the growth of this opinion.They refrained however from any action until the precedent of Ulster should have first been established while waiting for the lead to come from a “constitutional” quarter.[8]

The IRB began the preparations for the open organisation of the Irish Volunteers in January 1913. James Stritch, an IRB member, had the Irish National Foresters build a hall at the back of 41 Parnell Square in Dublin, which was the headquarters of the Wolfe Tone Clubs. Anticipating the formation of the Volunteers they began to learn foot-drill and military movements. The drilling was conducted by Stritch together with members of Fianna Éireann. They began by drilling a small number of IRB associated with the Dublin Gaelic Athletic Association, led by Harry Boland.

Michael Collins along with several other IRB members claim that the formation of the Irish Volunteers was not merely a “knee-jerk reaction” to the Ulster Volunteers, which is often supposed, but was in fact the “old Irish Republican Brotherhood in fuller force.

“The North Began”

The IRB knew they would need a highly regarded figure as a public front that would conceal the reality of their control. The IRB found Eoin MacNeill the ideal candidate, Professor of Early and Medieval History at University College Dublin. McNeill’s academic credentials and reputation for integrity and political moderation had widespread appeal.

The O’Rahilly, assistant editor and circulation manager of the Gaelic League newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis encouraged MacNeill to write an article for the first issue of a new series of articles for the paper. The O’Rahilly suggested to MacNeill that it should be on some wider subject than mere Gaelic pursuits. It was this suggestion which gave rise to the article entitled The North Began, giving the Irish Volunteers its public origins. On 1 November, MacNeill’s article suggesting the formation of an Irish volunteer force was published. MacNeill wrote,

There is nothing to prevent the other twenty-eight counties from calling into existence citizen forces to hold Ireland “for the Empire”. It was precisely with this object that the Volunteers of 1782 were enrolled, and they became the instrument of establishing Irish self-government.

After the article was published, Hobson asked The O’Rahilly to see MacNeill, to suggest to him that a conference should be called in order to make arrangements for publicly starting the new movement. The article “threw down the gauntlet to nationalists to follow the lead given by Ulster unionists.” MacNeill was unaware of the detailed planning which was going on in the background, but was aware of Hobson’s political leanings. He knew the purpose as to why he was chosen, but he was determined not to be a puppet.


With MacNeill willing to take part, O’Rahilly and Hobson sent out invitations for the first meeting at Wynn’s Hotel in Abbey Street, Dublin, on November 11. Hobson himself did not attend this meeting, believing his standing as an “extreme nationalist” might prove problematical.The IRB, however, was well represented by, among others, Sean MacDermott and Eamonn Ceannt, who would prove to be substantially more extreme than Hobson. Several others meetings were soon to follow, as prominent nationalists planned the formation of the Volunteers, under the leadership of MacNeill.] Meanwhile, labour leaders in Dublin began calling for the establishment of a citizens’ defence force in the aftermath of the lock out of 19 August 1913. Thus formed the Irish Citizen Army, led by James Connolly, which, though it had similar aims, had no connection with the Irish Volunteers.

The Volunteer organisation was publicly launched on 25 November, with their first public meeting and enrollment rally at the Rotunda in Dublin. The IRB organised this meeting to which all parties were invited, and brought 5000 enlistment blanks for distribution and handed out in books of one hundred each to each ot the stewards. Every one of the stewards and officials wore on their lapel a small silken bow the center of which was white, while on one side was green and on the other side orange and had long been recognized as the colors which the Irish Republican Brotherhood had adopted as the Irish national banner.The hall was filled to its 4,000 person capacity, with a further 3,000 spilling onto the grounds outside. Speakers at the rally included MacNeill, Patrick Pearse, and Michael Davitt, son of the Land League founder of the same name. Over the course of the following months the movement spread throughout the country, with thousands more joining every week.

Organization and leadership

The names of those who were members of the governing Committee of the Volunteers from November 1913 to October 1914, exclusive of Redmond’s 25 nominees who only functioned between mid-June to mid-September 1914 were:

  • Honourable Secretaries: Eoin Mac Néill (Gaelic League (GL)), Laurence J. Kettle (Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), Ancient Order of Hibernians(AOH));
  • Honourable Treasurers: The O’Rahilly (GL, Sinn Féin (SF)), John Gore (AOH, IPP);
  • Members: Piaras Béaslaí (Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB)), Sir Roger Casement (GL), Eamonn Ceannt (IRB, GL, SF), John Fitzgibbon (GL, SF), Liam Gogan, Bulmer Hobson(IRB, Fianna Éireann (FÉ)), Michael J. Judge (AOH), Thomas Kettle (IPP, AOH), James Lenehan (AOH), Michael Lonergan (IRB, Fianna Éireann (FÉ)), Peter (Peadar) Macken (IRB, Labour leader, SF, GL), Seán Mac Diarmada (IRB,Irish Freedom), Thomas MacDonagh(IRB), Liam Mellows (IRB), Col. Maurice Moore (IPP, GL, Connaught Rangers), Séamus O’Connor (IRB), Colm O’Loughlin (IRB, St. Enda’s School (SES)), Peter O’Reilly (Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH)), Robert Page (IRB, Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)), Patrick Pearse(IRB, GL, SES), Joseph M. Plunkett(IRB, Irish Review), John Walsh (AOH), Peter White (Celtic Literary Society);
  • Fianna Éireann representatives: Con Colbert(IRB), Eamon Martin (IRB), Patrick O’Riain (IRB).

When the thirty member Provisional Committee was finalized, the addition of several new IRB members brought their total within the Committee to twelve. The IRB then specifically brought Liam Mellows to Dublin to strengthen the Fianna representation and they were eventually to recruit Pearse, Plunkett and MacDonagh, and thus hold over half the strength of the Committee[ This brought the IRB representation to 16 with the rest of the committee being represented by both Redmondites and Sinn Feiners, among others

The manifesto of the Volunteers, approved at the 25 November meeting, stated the organisation’s objectives were “to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland.” To train, arm, equip and discipline themselves for the above purpose while uniting Irishmen of every creed, party and class. Though the “rights and liberties” were never defined, nor the means by which they would be obtained, the IRB in the Fenian tradition construed the term to mean the maintenance of the rights of Ireland to national independence and to secure that right in arms.

The manifesto further stated that their duties were to be defensive, contemplating neither “aggression or domination”. MacNeill offered his opinion in the article The North Began that the Tory policy in Ulster, was deliberately adopted to make the display of military force with the threat of armed violence the decisive factor in relations between Ireland and Great Britain. If Irishmen accepted this new policy he said they would be surrendering their rights as men and citizens. If they did not attempt to defeat this policy “we become politically the most degraded population in Europe and no longer worthy of the name of Nation …” In this situation he said guarding our own rights is our first duty. They have rights who dare maintain them, but rights in the last resort, could only be maintained by arms.

MacNeill himself would approve of armed resistance only if the British launched a campaign of repression against Irish nationalist movements, or if they attempted to impose conscription on Ireland following the outbreak of the First world war such a case he believed that they would have mass support

The IRB was unable to gain complete control of the organisation, especially after the leader of the irish parliamentary party ,John Redmond, demanded that the Volunteers accept his own personal appointments to its Provisional Committee, which would effectively place the organisation under his control. While the moderates did not like the idea, they were prepared to go along with it in order to prevent Redmond from forming a rival organisation, which would draw away most of their support. The IRB was completely opposed to Redmond’s demands, as this would end any chance they had of controlling the Volunteers, but were unable to prevent the motion from being carried in Redmond’s favour.

Arming the Volunteers

Shortly after the formation of the Volunteers, the British Parliament banned the importation of weapons into Ireland. The “Curragh incident” in March 1914 indicated that the government could not rely on its army to ensure a smooth transition to Home Rule.] Then in April 1914 the Ulster Volunteers successfully imported 24,000 rifles in the Larne Gun Running event. The Irish Volunteers realised that it too would have to follow suit if they were to be taken as a serious force. Indeed, many contemporary observers commented on the irony of “loyal” Ulstermen arming themselves and threatening to defy the British government by force. Patrick Pearse famously replied that “the Orangeman with a gun is not as laughable as the nationalist without one.” Thus O’Rahilly, Sir Roger Casement  and Bulmer Hobson worked together to coordinate a daylight gun-running expedition to Howth , just north of Dublin.

The plan worked, and Erskine Childers brought nearly 1,000 rifles, purchased from Germany, to the harbour on the 26 July and distributed them to the waiting Volunteers, without interference from the authorities. The remainder of the guns smuggled from Germany for the Irish Volunteers were landed at Kilcoole a week later by Sir Thomas Myles.

As the Volunteers marched from Howth back to Dublin, however, they were met by a large patrol of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the British Army . The Volunteers escaped largely unscathed, but when the army returned to Dublin they clashed with a group of unarmed civilians who had been heckling them at Bachelors Walk. Though no order was given, the soldiers fired on the civilians, killing four and the wounding of a further 37. This enraged the populace, and during the outcry enlistments in the Volunteers soared.


The outbreak of world war in August 1914 provoked a serious split in the organisation. Redmond, in the interest of ensuring the enactment of the Home Rule Act 1914 then on the statute books, encouraged the Volunteers to support the British and Allied war commitment and join irish Regiments of the British New Army divisions, an action unsuccessfully opposed by the founding members. Given the wide expectation that the war was going to be a short one, the majority however supported the war effort and the call to restore the “freedom of small nations” on the European continent. They left to form the National volunteers, which fought in the 10.th and  16.th Irish Division, side-by-side with their volunteer counterparts from the 36 th Ulster Division. Unlike the latter, the 16th Division had no trained military Irish officers of its own, and were commanded by British officers, with the exception of Irish General William Hickie. The National Volunteers ceased to exist after the Armistice in 1918 when their battalions were disbanded in 1922 under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

A minority believed that the principles used to justify the Allied war cause were best applied in restoring the freedom to one small country in particular. They retained the name “Irish Volunteers”, were led by MacNeill and called for Irish neutrality. The National Volunteers kept some 175,000 members, leaving the Irish Volunteers with an estimated 13,500. This split proved advantageous to the IRB, which was now back in a position to control the organisation.

Following the split, the remnants of the Irish Volunteers were often, and erroneously, referred to as the “Sinn Féin Volunteers”, or “Shinners”, afterArthur Griffith’s political organisation Sinn Féin. The term began as a derogatory one, but soon became ubiquitous in Ireland. Although the two organisations had some overlapping membership, there was no official connection between Griffith’s then moderate Sinn Féin and the Volunteers. The political stance of the remaining Volunteers was not always popular, and a 1,000-strong march led by Pearse through the garrison city of Limerick on Whit sunday, 1915, was pelted with rubbish by a hostile crowd. Pearse explained the reason for the establishment of the new force when he said in May 1915:

What if conscription be enforced on Ireland? What if a Unionist or a Coalition British Ministry repudiates the Home Rule Act?
What if it be determined to dismember Ireland? The future is big with these and other possibilities.

After the departure of Redmond and his followers, the Volunteers adopted a constitution, which had been drawn up by the earlier provisional committee, and was ratified by a convention of 160 delegates on 25 October 1914. It called for general council of fifty members to meet monthly, as well as an executive of the president and eight elected members. In December a headquarters staff was appointed, consisting of Eoin MacNeill as chief of staff, The O’ Rahilly as director of arms,Thomas Ma Donagh as director of training, Patrick Pearse as director of military organization, Bulmer Hobson as quartermaster, and Joseph Plunkett as director of military operations. The following year they were joined by Eammonn Ceannt as director of communications and J.J. O’Connell as chief of inspection.

This reorganization put the IRB is a stronger position, as four important military positions (director of training, director of military organization, director of military operations, and director of communications) were held by men who were, or would soon be, members of the IRB, and who later become four of the seven signatories of the Easter Proclamation. (Hobson was also an IRB member, but had a falling out with the leadership after he supported Redmond’s appointees to the provisional council, and hence played little role in the IRB thereafter.)


The official stance of the Irish Volunteers was that action would only be taken were the British authorities at Dublin Castleto attempt to disarm the Volunteers, arrest their leaders, or introduce conscription to Ireland. The IRB, however, was determined to use the Volunteers for offensive action while Britain was tied up in the First World War. Their plan was to circumvent MacNeill’s command, instigating a Rising, and to get MacNeill on board once the rising was a fait accompli.

Pearse issued orders for three days of parades and manoeuvres, a thinly disguised order for a general insurrection. MacNeill soon discovered the real intent behind the orders and attempted to stop all actions by the Volunteers. He succeeded only in putting the Rising off for a day, and limiting it to about 1,000 active participants within Dublin and a further 2,000-3,000 elsewhere. Almost all of the fighting was confined to Dublin. The Irish Citizen army supplied slightly more than 200 personnel for the Dublin campaign.

The Rising was a failure in the short term, and large numbers of Irish Volunteers were arrested, even some who did not participate in the Rising. In 1919 the Irish Volunteers became the Irish republican army, swearing its obedience to the First Dail during the course of August 1920.

Irish Volunteers Cap Cork connection

A friend and collector has supplied us with photographs of a Cork Volunteers cap,very nice quality and condition. Many thanks to Daniel Hulin.

Irish Volunteer Uniforms

An article posted by Irish author and historian Padraig O Ruairc. Thanks Padraig.

Re-enactors have been asking me for some time about Irish Volunteers / I.R.A. uniforms and what is and is not accurate. This is a very big issue to cover as the uniform, appearance, personnel, weaponry targets and tactics of the Irish Volunteers / I.R.A. changed hugely between 1913 and 1923. (Basically we should look at the period as three different conflicts 1916 – The War of Independence – Civil War) Few republicans in the period ever owned a formal republican uniform ie, hat tunic belt etc. Usually they wore civilian clothing with a lapel button or badge, a uniform hat and a uniform belt with military equipment. Coupled with this is the fact that rebel armies rarely if ever manage to get any sense of uniformity in their uniforms. However uniforms were important in the period for propaganda reasons to those who saw themselves as being the legitimate army of Ireland – having a uniform gave them an extra sense of legitimacy. Most estimates place the number of uniformed republicans who took part in the 1916 rising as between 1/4 to 1/3 or the whole rebel forces.

I must stress that for the purposes of re-enacting the period it is far more important to have a good set of civilian clothes for the 1913 -1923 period and a licensed blank firing period weapon i.e. Lee Enfield or Ross Rifle re bored to 8-10 shotgun. 10 men with perfect nice green Irish Volunteers uniforms will be accurate for battle in 1916 – however no unit of the I.R.A. was that well uniformed in the War Of Independence – by then most republicans were far more comcerned with getting guns and ammunition not uniforms. So anyone re-enacting the period should start by getting the kit which is shown in Picture 1.

Irish Volunteers

Picture 1

This is by far the cheapest way to put an impression together as chords, tweed jackets, waistcoats and so on can be bought for practicly nothing in any charity shop. And if dosent take your fancy then every one has an old suit at home for weddings etc once its a dark colour, black, brown, grey, navy or pinstripe. However for those of you who are insistant about the Irish Volunteer uniform here it goes.

This is just the first article I intend to descride the uniform in a series of articles as follows.

1 The Official Irish Volunteer Uniform (Ordinary Ranks) 1914 – 1916
2 Officers Uniforms 1914 – 1916
3 War of Independence – I.R.A. Volunteers Uniforms
4 Badges, belt buckles and regional variations in uniform
5 Weapons and Equipment

Or something like the above any way. I will not be attempting to give the history of the organiseation in any detail.

1 – The official Irish Volunteer Uniform (Ordinary Ranks) 1914 -1916

“The Volunteer Uniform. Report By Uniform Sub-Committee, 12th August 1914.
Report;-Summary of work done.

Uniform Cloth; Having made exhaustive enquiries the sub-committee found that it was necessary to start ab initio. They found that no suitable uniform cloth was made in Ireland. They therefore obtained samples of a high class uniform serge from a well known English mill. From these they selected a grey green cloth of a very suitable colour for field work in Ireland. They then inquired from several Irish mills wether they could match this sample. The buisness was not keenly sought after as the mills were full of orders and the extent of the Volunteers requirements was somewhat uncertain. Finally Messers Morrough Bros. of Douglas Mills, Cork got special looms working and matched the sample. The sample they produced was submitted to experts and pronounced excellent. It was therefor decided to give the first order to the Morrough Brothers.

Design of Uniform

After having several samples submitted the sub committee decided upon the cut of the uniform. This was fixed as standard for all Irish Volunteers. The only variation to be permitted to the different regiments was in the manner of facings which were to be left to the discretion of the regimental committes or county boards. The uniform consists of tunic, two buttoned knickers and putees.


The headdress was decided upon for the Dublin regiment but was left undecided for the other regiments. A considerable body of opinion favoured soft hats but it was found impossible to get a suitable hat of Irish manufacture.


The Putee presented a difficulty as the well known spiral putee is protected by patents. A semi spiral was decided upon and a special light Irish Serge made to match the uniform. The caps are made of Putee cloth.

Buttons and badges

A design of Button and cap badge was decided upon and dies struck, and buttons made. The button design as submitted by your subcommittee was altered byyou and consequent on this change your sub committee find it will be impossible to protect the design. A Report on this subject will be laid before you. The badge will be protected.”
From Bulmer Hobson Papers N.L.I. MS. 13174 (1)

A photograph of this uniform (Picture 2) also dated 12th August 1914 appeared in the Irish Sword in an article by F. Glenn Thompson. Material – the cap, tunic and breeches were of a grey green serge.

Irish Volunteers Uniform

Picture 2

The cap is made in an almost russian or cossack style with a high stiff crown and very small peak. The peack and chinstrap were both in black leather. The buttons for the chinstrap were small with a flat syrface covered in black cloth. (Original Uniform Cap Picture 3)

Irish Volunteers Uniform Cap

Picture 3

The Tunic

The main body of the tunic was made of the grey green serge. However the tunic had very dark green shoulder straps/epaluttes and cointed cuffs. The tunic has a high collar like a modern shirt. On the front of the tunic were five large brass buttons with a harp decoration and the letters I and V on either side of it. (Picture 4 is an origional I.V. button – note how wide/fat the harp is. Ive checked the manufacturers markings on the back and they are the same as those on uniforms in Kilmainham Jail Museum)

Irish Volunteers Uniform Tunic and button detail

Picture 4

There were two brest pocket seach with a box pleat and two lower large pockets on the hips. The buttons on the pockets and shoulder straps were of the same harp &IV design but smaller in size than those on the uniform front. Each shoulder of the tunic was reinforced by a patch, just Like WW1 British Army uniforms. The back of the tunic was plain.


The trousers in the picture are straight and not in the bow legged jodhpurs style. Again they were made of grey-green serge.


Though not shown they were presumably brown or black.


The volunteer in the photo has a five pouch brown leather bandolier. A white canvas knapsack on a sling. The brown leather belt with brass buckle had a harp in the centre surrounded by the inscruiption Oglaign Na h-Eireann was the official pattern (More on this and pics in a later article). The rifle shown is a 303 Lee Metford Mk II with a leather sling which would have taken an 1888 Mark I pattern sword bayonet, worn in a scabbard and frog on the same side as the knapsack.

So this was the official Dublin Head Quarters approved uniform for ordinary volunteers. Very few volunteers would have had the financial resources and been in the position to buy from an approved supplier. Therefore many Volunteers would have gotten their sisters or wives to make their uniform resulting in a wide variation of cuts, colours and cloths all trying to copy and approximate the approved design. Though the standard and style of uniform varied greatly this was the uniform and equipment that most Volunteers aspired to have. And re-enactors should bear this in mind when ordering / making up their own uniform tunic.

Picture 5 shows a well equipped section of Irish Volunteers from the 4th Battalion Dublin Brigade taken in September 1915 when they were commanded by Eamonn Ceannt. Most of they all appear to be wearing the offical pattern uniform except that some have the darker green shoulder straps and pointed cuffs on their tunics whilst others thetunic, shoulder strapps and cuffs are all the one colour. They all seen to have bought the same type of rifle and equipment. However even in this well turned out group there is variation. The first volunteer back row standing on the left weard a Dublin Brigade FF-Drong Atha Cliath cap badge. The man standing beside him simply wears a uniform button in place of a badge on his cap and five of the men have no cap badge at all

Irish Volunteers 4th Battalion Dublin Brigade

Picture 5

Picture 6 is an illustration of an uniformed volunteer from an advert in “The Irish Volunteer” newspaper December 1915. While the tunic, belt, cap and equipment are the same as Picture 2 the approved design – the trousers are of the jodhpurs / riding breeches style.

Uniformed Irish Volunteer advertisement 1915

Picture 6

Picture 7 shows Irish Volunteer Gerald Keogh shot dead outside trinity college during Easter Week 1916.  Again he is wearing the approved uniform and cap.

Irish Volunteer Gerald Keogh Easter week 1916

Picture 7

Picture 8 shows a close up of a group of Irish Volunteers on parade. Note how no two are dressed exactly the same and there is a mixture of full uniforms and civilian clothes. Also note both Boer War and WW1 bandoliers were in use. They appear to be armed with Italian Varetti rifles.

Group of Irish Volunteers on parade

Picture 8

Picture 9 shows a Dublin member of the Irish Volunteers. The only piece of official uniform he is wearing is the cap. Its also interesting that he wears knee high socks over his trousers in place of putees or leggings.

Dublin member of the Irish Volunteers

Picture 9

In 1915 the uniform regulations were changed. These ordered that the shiny black leather peaks on the uniform caps be dulled or covered with cloth, and that the brass buttons be oxidised brown or replaced with leather buttons. The theory behind this is that the shinier parts of the uniform would attract a snipers attention on the battlefield.

Uniform regulations and styles changed rapidly again over the following years based on the availability and practicality of wearing uniforms in the years 1917-1921. I will cover this in later articles.