In the final lines of the September 1913 poem, Yeats wrote, "Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone. It’s with O’Leary in the grave." The rebel leaders shared these fears and, inspired by the rebellion of Edward Carson, they later emulated Carson's example.
Edward Carson helped to start the clock to the Rising of Easter 1916. Professor Patrick Geoghegan, Department of History, Trinity College Dublin said in the 45th part of the ‘Ireland in Rebellion: 1782-1916’ lecture series:
THE ULSTER RISING
Edward Carson helped to start the clock to the Rising of Easter 1916. Professor Patrick Geoghegan, Department of History, Trinity College Dublin said in the 45th part of the ‘Ireland in Rebellion: 1782-1916’ lecture series:
"Some nationalists have mischievously suggested that a statue of Edward Carson should be erected in Dublin, because they say that Carson helped to Brin about Irish independence because he brought the gun back in to Irish politics.Professor Michael Laffan said:
"Sir Edward Carson should be honoured as one of the founders of the Irish republic… There should be a statue to him. Without him there would be no Patrick Pearse, no Tom Clarke, no Easter Rising, no Free State, no Republic of Ireland."
Diarmaid Ferriter wrote in ‘The Transformation of Ireland: 1900-2000’:Diarmaid Ferriter, in ‘The Transformation of Ireland: 1900-2000', wrote:
Eoin MacNeill wrote:
The Report of the Royal Commission on the Easter Rising was published in July 1916, the Commission concluded:
Eamon Phoenix wrote:
"As Michael Laffan noted, they [Edward Carson and the Ulster Volunteers] had more in common with republican revolutionaries than with Home Rulers."Ronan Fanning in ‘Fatal Path: British Government and Irish Revolution’ wrote:
"Revolution is rarely ascribed to the Ulster Unionists’ successful resistance to the third Home Rule Bill. Yet, given their rejection of parliamentary authority as expressed between 1910 and 1914 through the government’s democratic mandate in the House of Commons, in the creation and arming of the 90,000-strong Ulster Volunteer Force, in the establishment of a provisional government in Belfast in September, 1913, and in the mutiny threatened by an elite corps of British Army officer … and endorsed by the British Conservative Party in March 1914, a revolution it undoubtedly was."Dr Eamon Phoenix said:
"So many of the streams that fed into that insurrection had their origins in the north of Ireland…
The 1916 Rising would not have been possible without Carson, the Ulster Covenant against Home Rule, the Ulster Volunteer Force with its message of using force to oppose an Irish Parliament in Dublin. Indeed without Ulster the 1916 Rising could not have happened and the course of history would have been very different."Michael Portillo said on Enemy Files:
"Ireland was pursuing a constitutional course and the Irish nationalists in parliament had formed a coalition with the Liberals, had produced Home Rule, which had passed all its stages, and had become law in 1914 and it’s a dark period in the history of the Conservative Party that a Conservative Party allied itself very publicly with what was … prospectively an armed rising against the Crown, against the will of parliament, as the Ulster volunteers armed themselves."Dr Richard McElligott lecturer in Modern Irish History at UCD wrote:
"Carson is often seen as the man who militarised modern Irish politics, by sanctioning the formation of the paramilitary UVF in January 1913 to resist Home Rule."
Jonathan Bardon said in his Covenant Lecture:
"All through the year 1912 loyalists had been drilling. This was not judged illegal since ancient statutes permitted the formation of militias to defend the constitution. The tragedy was that until then the gun had almost disappeared from Irish politics.
The Irish Republican Brotherhood, better known as the Fenian Brotherhood, had been reduced to a handful of elderly men with pints of foaming porter before them reminiscing about the old days of plotting and dynamiting.
Now the situation altered with breakneck speed. In January 1913 the Ulster Volunteer Force was formed with the aim of enlisting 100,000 men who had signed the Covenant.
The republican militant, Tom Clarke, wrote enthusiastically to Joe McGarrity, the Tyrone-born Clan na Gael leader in Philadelphia:
The Irish Times' obituary for Carson in 1935 read:‘Joe, it is worth living in Ireland these times – there is an awakening…Wait till they get their fist clutching the steel barrel of a business rifle and then Irish instincts and Irish manhood can be relied upon’."
"Lord Carson’s campaign against Home Rule proved to have been a disservice to the cause to which he was so passionately loyal. When he decided to army the Ulster Volunteers and when his lieutenants ran they guns in such spectacular manner on the Antrim coast, he hardly could have anticipated that his example would be followed very shortly by the political extremists in the South. He had hoped to keep Ireland in the British Empire – indeed, within the United Kingdom, and to use force, if necessary in pursuit of his ideal. The men who took their cue from him in the South were equally determined to remove Ireland from the Empire, and to use their guns against the British authorities. In the event, a wretched compromise was achieved. Ireland ran red with blood for two or three years, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, and partition became an accomplished fact. We do not believe that Edward Carson ever desired partition; yet he remained as its supreme architect. He defied that law in the North in order to strengthen the imperial bond; similar methods were employed in the South with precisely opposite aims, and the results are all too apparent to-day."Louis Redmond-Howard, in ‘Six Days of the Irish Repubic - A Narrative and Critical Account of the Latest Phase of Irish Politics’, wrote:
"The Ulster Volunteers still in arms, equally prepared to resist constitutional government, whether from Westminster or from Dublin, is the greatest Home Ruler of us all—or should we say Sinn Feiner?"
He also wrote:
"Then follow two significant quotations, one from the Irish Volunteer and the other from The Spark. The latter is an open boast of the efficacy of arms, and runs:
"A few thousand Irishmen, who took the precaution or providing themselves with lethal weapons of one kind or another, have, without contesting a constituency and without sending a man to Westminster, compelled the Westminster Parliament to admit publicly that it dared not pass any legislation which they, the armed men, did not choose to permit."
Eoin MacNeill's threat is hardly less significant:
"If our arms are demanded from us, we shall refuse to surrender them. If force is used to take them from us, we shall make the most effective resistance in our power. Let there be no mistake or misunderstanding on that point.... We shall defend our arms with our lives."
Now, whatever may be thought of such sentiments, there can be no doubt whence they originated, for they are sheer Carsonism through and through; and it was, as I have repeatedly pointed out, a pure stroke of luck that it was not Belfast's City Hall instead of Dublin's Post Office that was burnt to the ground.
This physical force element, therefore, the Sinn Feiners and Larkinites had in common with the Redmondites and Ulstermen: the fact that they actually were the first to put the principle into operation is no difference at all."Mrs. Hamilton Norway (Mary L.G. Norway) wrote in 'The Sinn Fein rebellion as I saw it' (1916):
"In pandering to Sir E. Carson's fanaticism and allowing him to raise a body of 100, 000 armed men for the sole purpose of rebellion and provisional government the Government tied their own hands and rendered it extremely difficult to stop the arming of another body of men, known to be disloyal, but whose avowed reason was the internal defence of Ireland! In Ulster the wind was sown, and, my God, we have reaped the whirlwind!"The fenian John Devoy wrote in his book, ‘Recollections of an Irish rebel… A personal narrative’:
"Edward Carson and his volunteers made good their right to publicly drill and carry arms — a situation such as had not existed in Ireland since the time of Grattan’s Volunteers."He also wrote:
"Men in Dublin imbued with the principles of Irish nationality, though of different political affiliations, recognized that if the English government permitted Carson’s volunteers to drill and carry arms openly, it could not estop Irish Nationalists from following Ulster’s example. Thus it happened that the Irish Volunteers were inaugurated on the 25th of November, 1913. Their avowed object was “to secure and maintain the rights and the liberties common to all the people of Ireland, without distinction of creed, class or politics.”
While the leaders of the I. R. B. were largely instrumental in bringing about the formation of the Irish Volunteers, they wisely decided that the Provisional Executive Committee of the organization should contain a large percentage of men who were not then in accord with the “extreme” policy. The former held their own interpretation as to what constituted “the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland”, and without emphasizing that interpretation they contented themselves for the moment with the opportunity to militarily organize and drill the young manhood of Ireland."Nora Connolly, daughter of James Connolly, wrote in her 1918 publication ‘The unbroken tradition’:
"Ever on the watch for a ripe moment to come out and work openly, ever longing for the day when military instruction could be given to the nationalist youth, they seized upon the fact that if the Ulster Volunteers were permitted to drill and arm themselves to fight the English Government so could they. And in November, 1913, they called a meeting in the Rotunda, Dublin, and invited the men and women of Ireland to join the Irish Volunteers, and pledge themselves “to maintain and secure the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland."Alex Kane wrote in 2016:
"But in the eyes of many republicans, both in 1914 and down through the decades, unionists got their way because of the threat of violence. So it was hardly surprising that an element of republicanism believed that a Rising was justified."John P. Hayden, Nationalist Member of Parliament for South Roscommon, said in May 1921 to Wilfred Ewart (John P. Hayden was for twenty-one years a Nationalist Member of Parliament for South Roscommon):
"[Edward] Carson… one of the greatest enemies of his country, let me say. It was Carson’s men who set the example of raising an armed force. Sinn Fein was delighted at the opportunity of following suit, and at one Sinn Fein meeting three cheers were given for the Ulster leader ! ‘If they, why not we?’ was the cry. Physical force to meet physical force!’ The difference is that Carson professed loyalty and prepared rebellion, while we declared ourselves rebels and took the risk. Ireland was furious at Carson being made Attorney-General."
The Irish News wrote in June 1946:
"English schoolchildren have been saved the perplexity of trying to reconcile ‘Ulster loyalty’ with the landing of German guns."Francis Sheehy Skeffington wrote in February 1916:
"Nevertheless, the Liberal Government allowed this open propaganda of rebellion, this aristocratically led and financed movement, to proceed unchecked. After two years of this, the Nationalists of the South awoke. After all, they said, we outnumber these Carsonites by about four to one. If they choose to introduce the factor of physical force, if they can employ it successfully to intimidate the English Government, so that its leading members say that the coercion of Ulster is “unthinkable,” then we, too, will cease to rely upon weapons of persuasion alone. We, too, will arm and drill, and will face the English Government with the only argument it appears to understand. And they formed the Irish Volunteers. That was in November, 1913."
"The Carson volunteers in Ulster gave us a perfect reason for being."Bulmer Hobson, the Belfast Quaker separatist, said:
"Ulster had opened the revolutionary door which the IRB must keep open."
John Redmond said:Read MacNeill's 1913 essay 'The North Began' here. Pearse wrote in 1913:
"If it ever came to force, which God forbid—and we all know it never will—but if it did come to force, two can play at that game."
"I regard the armed Orangemen of North-East Ulster as potentially the most useful body of citizens Ireland possesses… Arm. If you cannot arm otherwise than by joining Carson’s Volunteers, join Carson’s Volunteers. But you can, for instance, start Volunteers of your own."Michael Slattery of South Tipperary County Council wrote in a letter to the Irish Times, May 18 1916:
"In common with the overwhelming majority of the Irish people, we condemn the recent outbreak in Dublin, which we regard as the natural outcome of tactics adopted by Sir Edward Carson and his followers in 1914."V.S. Pritchett wrote in 1967:
"Once Ulster, back by British Tories, had raised their armed volunteers in the north, the raising and arming of Volunteers in the south was inevitable."
ROYAL COMMISSION REPORT ON THE CAUSES OF THE REBELLION (JULY 1916)
The Report of the Royal Commission on the Easter Rising was published in July 1916, the Commission concluded:
"It is outside the cope of Your Majesty’s instructions to us to enquire how far the policy of the Irish Executive was adopted by the Cabinet as a whole, or to attack responsibility to any but the Civil and Military Executive in Ireland; but the general conclusion that we draw from the evidence before us is that the main cause of the rebellion appears to be that lawlessness was allowed to grow up unchecked, and that Ireland for several years past has been administered on the principle that it was safer and more expedient to leave law in abeyance if collision with any faction of the Irish people could thereby be avoided.
Such a policy is the negation of that Cardinal rule of Government which demands that the enforcement of law and the preservation of order should always be independent of political expediency.
We consider that the importation of large quantities of arms into Ireland after the lapse of the Arms Act, and the toleration of drilling by large bodies of men first in Ulster, and then in other districts of Ireland created conditions which rendered possible the recent troubles in Dublin and elsewhere."
THE LOYALTY OF HOME RULERS
Eamon Phoenix wrote:
"Sinn Féin formed in 1905, argued that an independent Ireland could unite Orange and Green by retaining the Crown as a ‘personal link’ between Britain and Ireland… Even Pearse, then a cultural nationalist, supported the Home Rule Bill in 1912."
"Thousands of Irish soldiers, many of them nationalist, fought with the British army, suggesting a high degree of contentment with Ireland’s place within the Empire."John Redmond said August 5 1914:
"This undoubtedly is the greatest opportunity that has ever occurred in the history of Ireland to win the Irish people to loyalty to the Empire, and I do beg of you not to allow threats of any kind used to prevent you from taking the course which will enable me to preach the doctrines of peace, goodwill, and loyalty in Ireland."
"Nationalism, as known to Tone and Emmett, is almost dead in the country, and a spurious substitute, as taught by the Irish Parliamentary Party, exists. The generation now growing old is the most decadent generation nationally since the Norman invasion, and the Irish patriotic spirit will die forever unless a blood sacrifice is made in the next few years."Roger McHugh writing in an essay, ‘Thomas Kettle and Francis Sheehy-Skeffington’, said:
"Looking back at the sudden change from 1911, when Ireland seemed more disarmed and less inclined to physical force methods than ever in her history, to 1916, which saw her bloodiest uprising since 1798, we can see that the key-word is Carson."Garret FitzGerald said:
"[The 1916 rebellion] was planned by men who feared that without a dramatic gesture of this kind, the sense of national identity that had survived all the hazards of the centuries would flicker out ignominiously within their lifetime, leaving Ireland psychologically as well as legally, like Scotland, an integral part of the United Kingdom."
PS O’Hegarty wrote in 1924:John Dillon spoke here about the efforts travelled to neutralise armed separatism:
John Dillon said "the 29th September 1914 is the root and source of all the Irish trouble":
"At the outbreak of the European War the Irish people, swept off their feet by a wave of British propaganda…powerfully aided by the Press and the [Irish] Parliamentary Party…became anti-German and pro-British… The European War had shown Ireland to be less Irish and more Anglicised than ever she had been in her history; had shown Ireland to be three fourths assimilated to England."John Redmond said:
"My suggestions have been rejected, and my profound conviction is that if we had had the power and the responsibility for the Government of our country during the past two years, recent occurrences in Ireland would never have taken place."John Redmond said on October 6 1916:
"We have taken a leap back over generations of progress, and have actually had a rebellion, with its inevitable aftermath of brutalities, stupidities and inflamed passions."
"On the 29th September, 1914, a great meeting was held in Belfast. The Leader of the House will remember it was at a time of terrible crisis. The battle of the Marne was hanging in the balance; the fate of Europe was in doubt... Here is something of what was said at that meeting by the Leader of the House, at a time when the battle of the Marne was on, and the War was in a much more critical stage than it is to-day: You remember that the pledge I gave at Blenheim had a condition attached to it. The message I bring to you to-night comes not from any party leader, but from the whole of my party. Remember what was that pledge. It was a pledge of rebellion. Why are you complaining so much of the Sinn Feiners?"He also said:
"He said at Blenheim he would not encourage any civil war if as a result of a General Election Great Britain had decided against Sir E. Carson. But at Belfast, on the 24th September, 1914, [in Belfast] he withdrew that pledge, and, while this country was in its agony, he gave a pledge to the Ulster rebels that if they decided to rise in rebellion he and the whole Tory party would be at their back. Then, said the right hon. Member for Dublin University: I undertake that when we have beaten the Germans, and we undoubtedly are going to do that, we shall turn again and defend Ulster; we will beat Ulster’s enemies, I promise. Who are Ulster’s enemies? That is the way in which the right hon. Gentleman interprets his duty to maintain loyalty to the Crown. That was the time when he refused to stand on the same platform with the late Member for Waterford. He went on: I promise you that the so-called scrap of paper (the Home Rule Act) will be taken into consideration with all due respect as is due to a document of fraud and treachery and that the first Act of your provisional council— a council, let the House remember, which is still in existence: The first act of your provisional Government will be to repeal the Home Rule Act so far as Ulster is concerned."
"It is the first rebellion that ever took place in Ireland where you had a majority on your side. It is the fruit of our life work. We have risked our lives a hundred times to bring about this result. We are held up to odium as traitors by those men who made this rebellion, and our lives have been in danger a hundred times during the last thirty years because we have endeavored to reconcile the two things, and now you are washing out our whole life work in a sea of blood.
If it had not been for the action of John MacNeill you would be fighting still… he broke the back of the rebellion on the very eve of it, and he kept back a very large body of men from joining in.
I say I am proud of their courage, and, if you were not so dense and so stupid, as some of you English people are, you would have had these men fighting for you, and they are men worth having… ours is a fighting race… The fact of the matter is that what is poisoning the mind of Ireland, and rapidly poisoning it, is the secrecy of these trials and the continuance of these executions... I do not think Abraham Lincoln executed one single man, and by that one act of clemency, he did an enormous work of good for the whole country… why cannot you treat Ireland as Botha treated South Africa… victims of misdirected enthusiasm and leadership."
There is an uneasy relationship between modern unionism and its conception, the crisis of 1912-14.
Following the Covenant and the raising of a private army, the Nation said that Edward Carson should have been arrested, not laughed at. The liberal magazine argued that the Dublin unionist should have been prosecuted and removed from the Privy Council. Other Liberal papers took up the cause pondering whether Carson should be indictment under the Treason Felony Act of 1848, the Crimes Act of 1887 or the Unlawful Drilling Act of 1819.
"The confrontation between Irish unionists and nationalists had become such a part of popular discourse in Britain in early 1914 that this ad for films that had nothing to do with Ireland could expect to draw attention by using the names of Edward Carson and John Redmond as if they were prize fighters."James Craig said in July 1913:
"Sir Edward Carson had been sent from heaven."On September 23 1911, at a demonstration of Ulster Unionists that was organized by the East Down MP James Craig, the crowd of some twenty thousand were informed by the speaker, Dublin born Edward Carson MP, "that Home Rule may not be defeated by purely political means."
Carson said in 1914:
"Crawford, I’ll see you through this business even should I go to prison for it. You are the bravest man I ever met."Frederick Crawford, the architect of the gun running, had said in 1906:
"I predict that Home Rule will never be killed until we show any British Government which brings it forward that we will resist to the death, even with arms if necessary."
Carson told Craig in 1911:
"I am not for a game of bluff and, unless men are prepared to make great sacrifices which they clearly understand, the talk of resistance is useless."
Even Paisley said:
"The Covenant does not make for easy reading, and its pledge did not leave room for light-heartedness."Those who signed it made a bond to resist home rule, by force if necessary.
At Belfast city Hall on September 27 1912 Carson told the assembled crowd: "May this flag float over a people that can boast of civil and religious liberty."
On September 28 1912 Carson was the first of the Unionist leaders to sign the Covenant. The Northern Whig reported the events at Belfast City Hall in the following fashion:
"By 12:15 there was gathered round the flag-covered drumhead (the round table covered with the union flag) a body of men who represented a very large part of the capital, the talent, the genius and the energy of the City of Belfast. If the Covenant is treason, nearly all who makes for progress in this City will have to be impeached."By the end of Ulster Day, 218, 206 men had signed the Covenant and 228, 991 women had signed the parallel declaration for Ulsterwomen. A total of 447, 197 Ulster Unionists pledged to fight Home Rule.
Yet Éamon de Valera would say in America in 1921:
"The so-called Ulster difficulty is purely artificial as far as Ireland itself is concerned. It is an accident arising out of the British connection and will disappear with it."Carson moved to England in 1921. The man who had once sanctioned gun smuggling into Ulster became a Lord of Appeal and peer of the Empire. He was known as "coercion Carson" becoming a hate figure for Irish nationalists during the land wars of 1880s by his resolute defense ofIrish landlords.
Edward Carson, the unbending leader of Ulster unionism, was born in Harcourt Street, Dublin in 1854 and died in Kent in 1935. He was unionist MP for his alma mater Trinity College from 1892 to 1918. Then MP for the Belfast constituency of Duncairn only from December 1918 to May 1921. The leader of ulster unionism from 1910 to February 1921, he strongly criticised the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921) from a southern Irish Unionist perspective. Carson continued as a law lord, between 1921 and 1929, defending the interests of southern Unionists in the new Irish Free State. He retired from public life in 1929.
Edward Carson wrote:
"I fought to keep Ulster part of the United Kingdom, but Stormont is turning her into a second-class Dominion."Home rule would have reduced Irish representation in Westminster from more than 100 members to just 42. Charles Frederick D'Arcy, later Archbishop of Armagh, stated his Church’s reason for supporting the Covenant:
"We hold that no power, not even the British Parliament, has the right to deprive us of our heritage of British citizenship."Interestingly, Paisley added:
"100 years after his pen touched parchment, we salute the man who taught us all how to be true Irishmen and women."
Willie Redmond explained his role in the British Army:
"I speak as a man who bears the name of a relation who was hanged in Wexford in ’98 ― William Kearney. I speak as a man who with all the poor ability at his command has fought the battle for self-government for Ireland. Since the time ― now thirty-two years ago ― when I lay in Kilmainham prison with Parnell. No man who is honest can doubt the single-minded desire of myself and men like me to do what is right for Ireland. And when it comes to the question ― as it may come ― of asking young Irishmen to go abroad and fight this battle, when I am personally convinced that the battle of Ireland is to be fought where many Irishmen now are ― in Flanders and France ― old as I am, and grey as are my hairs, I will say, ‘Don’t go, but come with me’."Read John Redmond's Woodenbridge speech:
"The duty of the manhood of Ireland is twofold. Its duty is at all costs to defend the shores of Ireland from foreign invasion. It has a duty more than that, of taking care that Irish valour proves itself on the field of war as it has always proved itself in the past. The interests of Ireland, of the whole of Ireland, are at stake in this war. The war is undertaken in defence of the highest principles of religion and morality and right, and it would be a disgrace forever to our country, a reproach to her manhood, and a denial of the lessons of her history, if young Ireland confined their efforts to remaining at home to defend the shores of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, or should shrink from the duty of proving in the field of battle that gallantry and courage which have distinguished their race all through its history. I say to you, therefore, your duty is twofold. I am glad to see such magnificent material for soldiers around me, and I say to you: go on drilling and make yourselves efficient for the work, and then account for yourselves as men, not only in Ireland itself, but wherever the fighting line extends, in defence of right and freedom and religion in this war."
As Peter Robinson said in 2012, the nationalists wanted a Home Rule parliament to stay within the Union. He said:
"It is ironic that the one part of Ireland [the six counties of Northern Ireland] which in 1912 did not want a local Parliament, within the Union, was the only part of Ireland that ultimately got it."His radicalisation of Irish politics In the 1910s actually created the momentum for irish nationalist politics in the south." Joseph Devlin wrote:
"[Edward Carson,] that academic anarchist."
Bernard Crick, ‘In Defence of Politics’, 1962 wrote about the failure of English liberals to stand up to the belligerence and sedition of the alliance between Ulster Volunteers and English conservative-nationalists
"The one great threat to politics in Britain arose on the Irish question when, in 1913 and 1914, the Conservative Opposition not merely connived at sedition in Ireland, but helped suborn the army from its duty in the Curragh Mutiny when officers announced that they would refuse to enforce ‘Home Rule’ on Protestant Ulster. Britain at that moment was close to civil war, when the nationalism of Catholic Ireland was suddenly met by an equally intransigent, if temporary, English Conservative nationalism (a nationalism, at that moment, literally and clearly, unpatriotic)."The O'Rahilly who formed, stocked and drilled the IVF said on Easter Monday:
"Well, I've helped to wind up the clock -- I might as well hear it strike!" Another famous, if less quoted line, was his comment to Markievicz, "It is madness, but it is glorious madness."
Stephen Gwynn wrote:
"A very strong British feeling against Sir Edward Carson and his Belfast following had been generated by the expulsion of Catholics from the shipyards and in general by the advocacy of civil war. In October 1912 several notable men who had previously counted as Unionists—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Frederick Pollock, Sir J. West-Ridgway—all declared for Home Rule."Though Connolly said:
"[Socialists] do not think the old heart of the earth needs to be warmed with the red wine of millions of lives. We think anyone who does is a blithering idiot."Connolly wrote about the Larne gun running:
"Can anyone believe that if railway stations were seized, roads held up, coastguards imprisoned and telegraph systems interfered with by Nationalists or Labour men, that at least 1,000 arrests would not have been made the next morning? Evidence is difficult to get, they say. Evidence be hanged! If Nationalists or Labour men were the culprits, the Liberal Government would have made the arrests first and looked for evidence afterwards. And been in no hurry about it either."Aged 25 in 1907 James Joyce wrote an essay, 'The Last Fenian’:
"[Ireland’s physical force tradition] maintain (and in this assertion history fully supports them) that any concessions that have been granted to Ireland, England has granted unwillingly, and, as it is usually put, at the point of a bayonet."James Joyce wrote in 1910, 'The Home Rule Comet':
"The fact that Ireland now wishes to make common cause with British democracy should neither surprise nor persuade anyone. For seven centuries she has never been a faithful subject of England. Neither, on the other hand, has she been faithful to herself. She has entered the British domain without forming an integral part of it. She has abandoned her own language almost entirely and accepted the language of the conqueror without being able to assimilate the culture or adapt herself to the mentality of which this language is the vehicle. She has betrayed her heroes, always in the hour of need and always without gaining recompense. She has hounded her spiritual creators into exile only to boast about them."In 1912 he wrote in an essay 'The Shade of Parnell':
"By passing the bill for parliamentary autonomy on its second reading, the House of Commons has resolved the Irish question, which, like the hen of Mugello, looks newborn, though it is a hundred years old. The century which began with the transaction of buying and selling the Dublin parliament is now closing with a triangular pact between England, Ireland, and the United States.
It was graced with six Irish revolutionary movements which, by the use of dynamite, rhetoric, the boycott, obstructionism, armed revolt, and political assassination, have succeeded in keeping awake the slow and senile conscience of English Liberalism.
The present law was conceived, in the full maturity of time, under the double pressure of the Nationalist party at Westminster which has been jumbling up the workings of the British legislative body for half a century, and the Irish party across the Atlantic, which is blocking the greatly desired Anglo-American alliance."Wilfred Ewart wrote about Ulster in his 1921 book, ‘A Journey in Ireland’:
"Mullingar, politically, is one of the quietest towns in Ireland.
I learnt this from John P. Hayden, twenty-one years Nationalist Member of Parliament for South Roscommon, a leading resident of the town. An acute and nowadays dispassionate observer of current politics, Mr. Hayden was in some ways better able to estimate the aspirations and ambitions of his countrymen at Mullingar than had been William O'Brien at Mallow.
He spoke at any rate with the calm deliberation of a man who looks back upon the past with regret but without rancour. His point of view disclosed itself in the very first sentence of a long conversation.
"If I did not think the Irish people would be satisfied today with self-government within the Empire my whole life would be a lie."
I asked him kindly to diagnose the present state of the country.
"There can be no doubt Ireland is behind the Sinn Fein movement,” was his reply, “though five years ago the names of Eamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith, and Michael Collins were unknown, even to Irishmen. Nevertheless, I regard this as one of the most tragic periods in our history. It has been a history of mistakes. The roots of Irish discontent never really lay in poverty but in a desire for freedom that is the mistake England made. Nationalism linked the Land Question with the National Question the people to become owners. That is the mistake we made."
It was natural, perhaps that we should dwell on the past.
“Lecky’s 'History of Ireland* has made many a rebel. You say 'Ireland is slow to forget,’ but our wrongs are not righted, so we haven’t a chance to forget. Half a century of constitutional agitation for Home Rule has failed to obtain it. The General Elections of 74, '85, '86, '92, '10, and '18 all gave a clear Irish verdict for Home Rule, a verdict which has been endorsed by our own and foreign peoples in other lands. Isaac Butt called a Conference of Protestants and landowners, and defined Home Rule. Parnell kept down the physical force element and insisted on Constitutional methods. The present physical move- ment is purely patriotic and largely results from a conviction of treachery."
“What actually brought about the sudden change?”
“The bitterness of repeated disappointments and the formation of the Ulster Volunteers by Carson one of the greatest enemies of his country, let me say. It was Carson’s men who set the example of raising an armed force. Sinn Fein was delighted at the opportunity of following suit, and at one Sinn Fein meeting three cheers were given for the Ulster leader ! 'If they, why not we?’ was the cry. Physical force to meet physical force!’ The difference is that Carson professed loyalty and prepared rebellion, while we declared ourselves rebels and took the risk. Ireland was furious at Car- son being made Attorney-General. The most prominent abettors of drilling and importing arms were on the Bench!”
"Who do you consider to have been the best Chief Secretary since the beginning of the century?"
"Birrell. Birrell was the only Chief Secretary we’ve ever had who didn’t think he had a right to be here. He set to work to be the last of his tribe, and he very nearly succeeded."
"Balfour’s administration resembled Greenwood’s. But Balfour was respected."
"Do you think anti-English propaganda in the schools has had much to do with the present state of affairs?"
"Not in my experience. It certainly did not in my day."
"Or Bolshevism so-called?"
"Not with Sinn Fein. It may have supported the Irish Labour Party. Sinn Fein and Labour work hand-in-hand towards a separate ideal."
"Or religious differences?"
"There are no religious differences in the Midlands and South. Sir Hamar Greenwood’s statement to the effect that 'the minority have been shot in Ireland because they are Protestants is absolutely scandalous."
"The country is exceptionally prosperous at the present time?"
"People are better off than before the war, but enterprise is stopped and labour dearer than two years ago. The minimum wage for agricultural labourers has just been raised to 2 a week."
"What is your opinion of the present Administration?"
"Nobody trusts Lloyd George. Politically he is not straight. As for Greenwood, he’s preposterous."
"And the Government of Ireland Act?"
"No good in its present form. The Southern Irish see in it two things:
It divides the country on sectarian lines and imposes a huge tribute on us. Ireland, mind you, has to pay for all services, some of which she will not control herself, plus eighteen millions of money. If you say that we ought to pay our share of the Imperial War Debt, as Canada and Australia are doing, my answer is that the choice of war or peace was not left to us but it was to them.
Then, is it fair that six counties should have the same representation as twenty-six, as in the Council for all Ireland? Another extraordinary thing about the Act is that there should be a Senate in each Parliament nominated by the Crown in the case of the South and elected by the dominant party in the case of the North?"
"You condemn the Government’s present policy?
"The Black and Tan business has sunk deep already into the national mind. But Irishmen forget quickly if they are allowed to, and, given a generous settlement, the whole wretched affair would probably soon be forgotten."
"The Irish have a curious knack, though, of forgetting and remembering again a century or two later?"
"Only if recollection is forced upon them; only if their wrongs are constantly rising up and hitting them in the face. The Irish do not dislike the English so much as the English governing classes who havewrought all the mischief. But we hold the English people responsible for the present, disastrous policy."
"What do you consider the shortest way to peace?"
"A lot might be accomplished by the leaders coming together. You never find t'other fellow so bad as you imagine him. Create an atmosphere by a real offer."
"Is a man like Lord Derby welcome as a mediator?"
"Lord Derby is a good man. You can trust him."
"And what would you call a 'real offer*?"
"A definite offer of Dominion Home Rule should be made by the British Government and it would probably be accepted, though this is less likely than would have been the case four years ago."
"It may still be possible to bring Ulster into a Dublin Parliament. It could have been done at the close of the Convention early in 1918. The Ulster representatives might then have brought the North into the settlement by saying, 'We must give way. This thing is forced on us. We’ll make the best of Home Rule.’ But the eighteen Ulster members were only delegates, not plenipotentiaries, and had to carry all questions for decision to their leaders, who were outside the spirit and 'atmosphere’ of the Conference."
"In your opinion the demand for an independent Republic is not final, then?"
"Ireland would be content to remain within the British Empire if given a generous measure of self-government analogous to Dominion Home Rule."
There seemed no special purpose to be served by tramping through the grazing lands of Meath to Navan and Athboy, where I was informed people in the thinly-populated districts only want to settle down under a measure of Home Rule. My feet, moreover, were in a parlous state owing to the extreme dryness of the roads and the longish distances covered without much opportunity of hardening them.
I thus, on May 3rd, took train for the North-east, being entertained throughout the journey by one of those merry old Irishmen who per se proclaim “Ireland a nation.”
All the way he talked, laughed, and sang songs, telling one anecdote after another, telling of how he used to play the cornet in the local band, and of how his father had informed him (early) that “he’d a voice like a crow or a bridge falling.”
He related, too, with ardour the story of the intoxicated man from Portadown who found himself in a railway-carriage with a priest.
“To Hell with the Pope !” shouted the Ulsterman at the top of his voice.
The priest looked shocked.
“Why do you say that, my good man?” he gently remonstrated. “Do you know His Holiness, because I can assure you he is a very nice, kindly old gentleman, who never did anybody any harm.”
“Well, he’s got a damned bad name in Portadown!” was the reply.
"That’s your narrow-minded Northern bigots!” cried my companion, roaring at his own joke, “the men you’re going to meet."
Liam Kennedy wrote:
"The blundering of Ulster unionists allowed a tiny militarist group, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), to infiltrate the Irish Volunteers and catalyse a major revolt against British rule in Ireland. The end result was the partition of Ireland and the partition of the United Kingdom - hardly what Sir Edward Carson and Sir James Craig had set out to achieve."This strain of being "plus loyaliste que la loi" exists to this day. Peter Robinson said:
"To nationalists Edward Carson was the man who divided Ireland - to unionists he was the man who saved Ulster for the Union. Edward Carson was not merely another historical figure; he was the chief architect and creator of the Northern Ireland state - maintaining it, against the odds, as an integral part of the United Kingdom - a constitutional outcome that remains to this day."George A. Birmingham wrote in 1912 in ‘The Red Hand of Ulster’ an account of his own personal narrative of the events which led up to the final struggle of Ulster against Home Rule and of the struggle itself. Here’s an interesting note:
"It was the fashion in England and throughout three-quarters of Ireland to laugh at Belfast. Nobody believed that a community of merchants, manufacturers and artisans actually meant to take up arms, shoot off guns and hack at the bodies of their fellow-men with swords and spears. This thing, at the beginning of the twentieth century, seemed incredible. To politicians it was simply unthinkable. For politics are a game played in strict accordance with a set of rules. For several centuries nobody in these islands had broken the rules. It had come to be regarded as impossible that any one could break them. No one expects his opponent at the bridge table to draw a knife from his pocket and run amuck when the cards go against him. Nobody expected that the north of Ireland Protestants would actually fight. To threaten fighting is, of course, well within the rules of the game, a piece of bluff which any one is entitled to try if he thinks he will gain anything by it. Half the politicians in both countries, and half the inhabitants of England, were laughing at the Belfast bluff. The rest of the politicians and the other half of the inhabitants of England were pretending to believe what Belfast said so as to give an air of more terrific verisimilitude to the bluff. Conroy, guided by the instinct for the true meaning of things which had led him to great wealth, believed that the talk was more than bluff. Bob Power, relying on what he knew of the character of one man, came to the same conclusion."The Spectator Magazine wrote about Edward Carson and the probity of Ulster’s armed resistance to Home Rule in June 1920 (also here).