Formation of the Irish Volunteers

An exhibition in the Museum’s Prospect Gallery to mark the foundation of The Irish Citizens Army (19th, November 1913) and the Irish Volunteers (25th November, 1913).

On 19th November 1913, James Larkin and James Connolly established the Irish Citizen Army as a force to protect workers from the excesses of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. It had a membership of about 350, the majority being members of Unions.

The Irish Volunteers, Óglaigh na hÉireann, was founded on 25th November 1913 at a public meeting held in the Rotunda Rink in Dublin.  It emerged in response to an article, ‘The North Began’ written by Eoin MacNeill in the Gaelic League paper ‘An Claidheamh Soluis’. The Volunteers included members of the Gaelic League, Ancient Order of Hibernians and Sinn Féin, and, secretly, the IRB and its ranks numbered up to 100,000 at one point.

At the time of WW1 the Irish Volunteers broke into two distinct bodies. The National Volunteers, under the direction of John Redmond, went to fight in the Great War; the Irish Volunteers, under the direction of men such as Patrick Pearse and Eoin McNeill, stayed in Ireland and went on to join forces with The Irish Citizens Army in the 1916 Uprising.

This exhibition focuses on the foundation, history and personalities of both movements. It was a tumultuous period in Irish history and is brought to life in the exhibition through a series of artefacts, many of which were donated by families following a ‘Valuation’ day staged by Glasnevin Trust last September, original film clips and informational panels. These artefacts will be seen by the Public for the first time ever.

Amongst the highlights of the exhibition are:

-                A German Mauser Rifle, manufactured in 1870, landed at Howth, July 26th, 1914, aboard the Asgard, by Erskine Childers as part of a major consignment of arms for the Irish Volunteers. The rifle, whose stock had been cut off to allow female members of the Volunteers smuggle it beneath their clothes through the streets of Dublin, was retrieved from Sean O Casey’s house on the East Wall Road.

-                Film clips, images and artefact from the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa.

-                Roger Casements personal bible from 1915

-                An inscribed shell which was being carried by Roger Casement when arrested at Banna Strand in 1915

-                A letter from Patrick Pierce to Joseph Mary Plunkett requesting a literary contribution for the St Enda’s College magazine

-                Letters from Thomas McDonough to Joseph Mary Plunkett

-                The original Volunteer’s tunic of Dinny  FitzPatrick

-                Relevant pieces from the Great 1913 Lockout Tapestry, including an images of the Fintan Lalor Pipe band and  James Connolly.


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