‘All Creeds, Classes and Parties’
If Irish politics in 1913 was not for the faint of heart, then nowhere was that more evident than Cork City. Over the course of months, Nationalist Ireland had been in turn electrified by the possibility of Home Rule, enraged by the intransigence of Unionism and then militarised by the creation of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in the North. Determined not to let the Orange faction have the final say, talk was of a counter-army, one that would ensure Home Rule stayed on the table.
When theory became practice in Dublin with the public inauguration of the Irish Volunteers, on the 25th November 1913, onlookers in Cork began working to become more than just spectators. To this end, bundles of cards were circulated about the city and surrounding area, bearing the following invitation:
Leanfam Go Dlath Chlu Ar Sinnsir.
Ticket of Admission to PUBLIC MEETING
to be held at 8:30 o’clock in the
CITY HALL, CORK,
On Sunday night next, 14th December, 1913,
To Form a Cork City Corps of the
Professor Eoin MacNeill, B.A., Dublin and Local Speakers will address the Meeting.
Volunteers embrace men of all Creeds, Classes, and Parties.
Only Citizens ready to join should attend, as capacity of hall is limited to 1,500.
J.J. Walsh (GAA)
Liam De Roiste (Gaelic League)
Diarmaid Fawsitt (IDA)
Maurice O’Connor (UCC)
Muscail Do Mhisneach A Bhanbh
The initials after the names might have raised a few brows, for “no one in the group had any delegated authority from their respective organisations to act on the Committee or promote the meeting,” recalled one contemporary. In particular, with regard to the self-appointed representative of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), whose name topped the list on the invitation, “the County Board afterwards hotly debated J.J. Walsh’s action to which some of its members strongly objected.”
Which was all in a day’s work for James Joseph (J.J.) Walsh, whose aim from the start was to get things done, the sensitivities of others be damned. Disgusted at both the passivity of Ireland under British rule and the slovenly standards of the GAA in Cork, he decided to correct both errors with the same answer. “I happened to be one of those who realised the potentialities of the GAA as a training ground for Physical Force,” as he put it in his memoirs.
By organising as many Hurling and Gaelic Football Leagues as he could in Co. Cork, Walsh was able to breathe new life into the national sports, while squeezing out the competition: “War was declared on foreign games which were made to feel the shock so heavily that, one by one, Soccer and Rugby Clubs began to disappear.”
With one coup down, Walsh aimed for a second: securing by election the post of Chairman of the GAA County Board. Now he was free to mould the Association for Cork in his own energetic image. Finishing GAA duties at one or two in the morning and then arriving at seven for work at the Post Office became the norm in his life, but the rewards were worth it in his view: “By such super-human efforts was the manhood of the Rebel County being licked into mental and physical shape for the historic events to follow.”
Walsh was clearly not one to sell himself short. With the Irish Volunteers in the air, the Physical Force methods Walsh aspired to were one step closer to becoming a reality – what else, then, was Walsh to do but help make the Volunteers as much a success in Cork as he had done with the GAA?
A Bloody Baptism
To the surprise and delight of the inauguration organisers, when they arrived at Cork City Hall at the designated date and time, the building was packed wall to wall, with more attendees filling the galleries above and others forced to stand outside for want of space. The call to arms had clearly hit a collective nerve, though nothing was ever entirely straightforward in the political snake-pit that was Cork.
Liam de Róiste had earlier warned of the possibility of trouble being attempted at their meeting, but Walsh was dismissive. Taking the lead, he opened proceedings with a lengthy speech. Diarmaid Fawsitt followed by reciting the manifesto of the Dublin Provisional Committee, whose Chairman, Dr Eoin MacNeill, spoke next, first in Irish – its revival and usage being a passion of his – and then English.
So far, so good; there had been but one heckler, which, in Corkonian terms, made for a positively sedate affair.
The mood in the hall chilled somewhat when MacNeill raised the subject of the UVF. Did more than raise, in fact – he praised it. By taking up the gun, he said, Unionists had shown the rest of Ireland the way. The fact that the Ulster Volunteers had done so in direct opposition to the rest of the country seems to have escaped him.
It certainly did not escape the rest of the room.
When MacNeill proposed three cheers for Edward Carson and the UVF, some of his audience had had enough. Standing up in an angry wave, they booed and hissed, all the more when others tried hushing them. From the platform, Walsh appealed for calm, only to be rushed by the wilder members of the crowd, who climbed on the stage, waving sticks or throwing chairs about, one of which struck Walsh on the head, felling him, before order could be forcibly restored, the rioters ejected and the meeting resumed, though MacNeill wisely refrained from speaking again.
He had had it lucky compared to Walsh. “Smothered by blood, some good companions had me removed to the South Infirmary,” Walsh related in his memoirs. Though he missed the rest of the proceedings, it had all given him much food for thought.
While it was lamentable that “many on the platform scuttled on the approach of trouble, and left the principles to their fate”, the fact that others had held their ground was encouraging, as were the scores of enrolment forms, passed around at the end of the inauguration and sent back to the stage once filled in. “Such was the blood-baptism of the Volunteers in what up to then we were pleased to call Rebel Cork.”
Prestige and Personalities
That they had got to that point at all was a minor miracle, a triumph of persistence and graft against suspicion and conformity. “It may not be inappropriate to mention that prior to 1916, Cork City and County was a hot-bed of parliamentary factionism,” Walsh recalled. Hostile blocs rallied around the totemic figures of John Redmond and William O’Brien, the former as head of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), the latter a local maverick with a formidable backing of his own.
“The clash arose over some vague, undetermined contentions elevated into high principles.” Looking back with a jaundiced eye, Walsh had only contempt for the pair of them, Redmond for his shoneen ways, and O’Brien as an unabashed egoist. Otherwise, “beyond prestige and personalities, there were no factors of consequence at issue.
Whatever the factors, the consequences could be real, and frustrating, enough. When the idea of the Irish Volunteers was first mooted in Cork, de Róiste was astonished at the reticence of the others in the Celtic Literary Society:
Their view was that it was a matter for Mr. Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party. I wrote to a prominent public man, a O’Brienite supporter, who I believed to be a good nationalist and an independent-minded man. His reply was a letter full of party bitterness and denunciation of the Redmondites.
Cork’s grandees seemed united only in their hatred of each other. With official channels either closed or more trouble than they were worth, de Róiste, Walsh and other like-minded souls sidestepped them to form their own bloc, gathering in the rooms of the Cork Industrial Development Association to chart how best to move forward. They were a diverse collection, as a list of names and descriptions provided by de Róiste for posterity makes clear:
Maurice Conway, a supporter of William O’Brien…Maurice O’Connor, a student at University College Cork (later state solicitor); Seán Jennings, a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians; Sean O’Fuill, a supporter of Sinn Féin (at the time a wholesale newsagent); Denis O’Mahony, former member of the Celtic Literary Society, but later a supporter of the Irish Parliamentary Party; Diarmuid O’Donovan, a member of the Gaelic League.
As the four names on the invitation card and the credentials after them would indicate, the standing of these individuals were cultural and educational – the GAA, Gaelic League, IDA and UCC – rather than political. This is not to say that they were societal outsiders, ‘the men of no property’ as lauded by Wolfe Tone – Walsh was Chairman of the Cork County Board of the GAA, after all. But, if Walsh neglected to advertise that particular position on the invitation, then that was perhaps because he was swimming against the tide: his efforts to use the GAA as a launch pad for the Volunteers coming up against the rest of the Board and their reluctance to get involved. For all his past success at proselyting, there were limits as to how far he could bring people around to his own radical beliefs.
Nonetheless, Walsh was “an energetic man,” as described by de Róiste, and proceeded to write to Dr Eoin MacNeill, inviting him to do in Cork what the professor had begun in Dublin. His success at securing MacNeill’s promise to attend was contrasted with the local outreach efforts: two prominent men in Cork, both adherents of the IPP, consented to de Róiste’s request to join the embryonic Provisional Committee being drawn up, only for the pair to pull out.
Another disappointment was John J. Horgan, a solicitor and member of the National Directory of the United Irish League, a grassroots organisation allied with the IPP. De Róiste met him at the Imperial Hotel in the hours before the meeting in Cork City Hall, the latter in the company of no less than Sir Roger Casement who, like MacNeill, had come from Dublin to lend his support. In contrast, Horgan, while privately expressing sympathy for the new movement and its aims, declined to speak on the platform that night, thinking it indiscreet for a man of his political responsibilities to do so.
“So, he did not come” – or so de Róiste believed.
Harry Lorton, who would go on to enlist in the Cork Volunteers, was watching from the galleries in City Hall when the ruckus broke out. As the stage was stormed:
I saw John Horgan get upon a chair and shout, “Come on, boys,” waving towards the platform with a blackthorn stick which he carried. I rushed downstairs and up to the platform. I pulled Horgan down.
“Cheers for John Redmond!” was a war-cry de Róiste heard on the lips of one of the disruptors. Little wonder, then, that many of the meeting’s organisers were convinced that the trouble had not been the result of overheated passions, brought to the boil by an unwise remark from MacNeill, but a calculated flaunting of muscle by the gatekeepers of the status quo.
Friends and / or Foes
Trouble notwithstanding, the Cork Volunteers had been established; success aside, the tribalism continued, not so much like a dog returning to its vomit as the Biblical adage goes, but a dog that never left. It was the only barrier he could never surmount, Walsh lamented, during his role as organiser for the Volunteers.
His first tour took him through West Cork, with Bandon, Dunmanway, Bantry, Skibbereen and Clonakilty along his itinerary:
At Bantry there was the unique spectacle of no less than three potential armies. At the entrance we met and addressed the O’Brienites. In the middle of the great square were a few Sinn Feiners, while at the other end we addressed the Redmondites. It was a tiring experience, but compensation was in store in Skibbereen where we were played into the town by a brass band.
Even better was the distinctive green-grey uniform of the Volunteers making its fashion début, with Walsh wearing his for the first time – the first such appearance in Co. Cork, he believed – as part of a midnight review of the Clonakilty corps. Looking the part of a soldier as well as acting it was a publicity putsch in itself.
As momentum slowly, if steadily, built up, the Cork City company, consisting of about fifty members, established a routine march every Sunday afternoon, beginning in the Cornmarket and then through the rest of the city. The spectacle attracted considerable attention, albeit not always of an appreciative kind: “Invariably we were stoned by the citizens.”
Even so, they made enough of an impression for their opponents to reconsider their standoffishness:
After some time the Redmondites got the hint to come along. Their example was soon followed by the rival political party [the O’Brienites]. We were now in a position of having great masses of men to lick into military shape, and as a consequence little progress in training was being made.
‘If you can’t beat them, join them,’ was the IPP’s attitude…and then, once on board, take over.
With more Redmondite recruits came demands for Party representation on the Provisional Committee, whose members acceded by co-opting four more colleagues, each of them handpicked by the IPP. Relations between the old and new leadership remained cordial enough for a joint enterprise in gun-running to be ventured on the 4th August 1914. Past attempts elsewhere in Howth and Kilcool had succeeded; now Cork was to have a go in Skibbereen, where Volunteers were ordered to travel by train.
The night before, on the 3rd August, Harry Lorton – who had rushed to the stage in City Hall during the violence, and now sat on the Provisional Committee – was in the Fisher Street Hall when Tom Barker, a journalist from the Cork Examiner, entered. He had, Barker said, important news to give to the Chairman or the Secretary of the Committee, which were Walsh and Tomás MacCurtain respectively.
Though Walsh was not home when Lorton knocked, the latter was able to track down MacCurtain for Barker to pass on his message on behalf of John Redmond: the plan for Skibbereen the next day was cancelled. Lorton knew enough to understand that the anticipated guns were not coming after all. When he was finally able to relay this to Walsh, the Chairman was visibly disappointed.
Worse was to happen.
Walsh was not present when Captain Maurice Talbot Crosbie, one of the Redmondite nominees on the Committee, announced at the Cornmarket parade his offer to the British Government: to put the Cork Volunteers at the behest of the War Office in the increasingly likely event of hostilities breaking out in Europe. This was presented by Crosbie as a fait accompli and, not surprisingly, the rest of the Committee concluded that the Colonel had no right to make a unilateral decision, let alone one of such magnitude.
But, of course, it had not been unilateral on Crosbie’s part, far from it – everything said by him or any of the other IPP adherents came straight from Redmond’s mouth. When war was declared all over the Continent, and Britain joined, none but he had greater opportunity to make a difference for Ireland.
As Walsh envisioned:
Had the Leader of the Irish Race, at home and abroad, declared the independence of his country when the war broke out in August 1914, as we did in 1918, he would have rallied behind him the thirty millions of Irish scattered all over the globe, and the British fables of Freedom, Civilisation and Christianity would have been blown sky high at the very outset.
For a certainty, under such circumstances, America would not have dared to enter the war on the side of Britain, and equal certain would have been Britain’s defeat. In either event we would have, in all probability, have secured the independence of our country.
Instead, Redmond threw the weight of the Irish Parliamentary Party, and with it the strength of Nationalist Ireland, behind the British war effort, with “a levity amounting almost to treachery in disposing of the blind loyalty reposed in them by their countrymen.”
After almost three decades, when Walsh put pen to paper for posterity in 1944, it was still a source of amazement and disgust for him. He was to have the last laugh when, in the 1918 General Election, a mere four years after Redmond’s fateful decision, one made at the height of his prestige, Walsh rode the wave of the new power in Ireland over the old:
Liam De Roiste and myself got the amazing total of twenty-two thousand votes each in Cork City. Sinn Féin swept the country from end to end. Its opponents were nowhere.
But vindication and the IPP’s electoral annihilation lay in the future. When Redmond delivered his speech in Woodenbridge, urging Irishmen to enlist for King and Country, the Irish Volunteers, in keeping with Ireland overall, were firmly in his corner.
Cork was no different. In a showdown in the Cornmarket, before the city and country units assembled and arranged, Walsh held the line for the original non-political policy, as did de Róiste and Fawsitt, all Committee members since the start. Arrayed against them were John J. Horgan, and Colonel Crosbie, both Johnnies-come-lately, but with a stronger hand in the struggle for hearts and minds:
The first four speeches passed without incident, though I may remark here that I made on that occasion one of the few good public speeches in my career. Then an impassioned appeal to the Redmondites from one of the lesser speakers caused the ranks to break, and from then forward pandemonium reigned.
The seriousness of the situation will be better appreciated when it is recalled that the majority of the thousands lined up carried arms and that discipline existed only in name. The Redmondites were now ready for anything and whole companies moved towards the platform, brandishing their deadly weapons.
Without any doubt the weak elements standing for Sinn Féin on the platform and elsewhere would have been cut to pieces were it not for the timely intervention of Captain Crosbie.
It was the inauguration meeting in Cork City Hall all over again: a seething horde against the thin green line on the stage, their safety hanging in the balance. Crosbie’s rescue was not surprising, as it was he who had driven Walsh through West Cork on his first tour as an organiser, despite his support for the IPP; Crosbie – in a most un-Corkovian manner – was not one to turn political disagreement into mortal enmity if he could help it (perhaps not incidentally, he was not from Cork, being a Kerryman).
Crosbie’s assistance in the Cornmarket enabled Walsh to restore some semblance of order, though it was touch and go. He was to remember “that brief interlude was possibly the most exciting that I have ever experienced” – no small statement from a man who survived the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War in succession.
But, if the harm to his physical well-being had been avoided, the damage to the Cork Volunteers had not. By the end of the episode, the majority had left to side with the IPP, while to the rump went the toil of rebuilding the movement into a force worthy of the name again.
Walsh would not be around to help this time, his efforts having caught the notice of the British authorities. The morning after the drama, he was visited by police detectives, who had come all the way from Dublin Castle to inform him that he had until the end of the day to leave the country.
‘A Virulent Enemy’
Brooding on the injustice inflicted on him, Walsh found a way to strike back, even from his legally-mandated place of exile in Bradford, England, via a vitriolic letter to the Cork Corporation upon hearing of its consideration to bestow the freedom of the city on the Lord Lieutenant. This broadside worked better than he could have imagined:
Two days later, the Postmaster of Bradford [Walsh’s employer]…called me to his office and began by expressing amazement that his staff should have sheltered such a virulent enemy. There is no need to go into details. I was literally kicked out there and then. Without hesitation I at once faced for home and, strange to say, it never dawned on the British to prevent my return.
Walsh returned to his home county a hero, with a public reception greeting him at Glanmire terminus, organised by his former Committee peer, Diarmaid Fawsitt. Walsh got as far as Mallow before his arrest off the train by British soldiers to deliver him before a judge, “who now enjoys more than one lucrative post in this country,” Walsh added in his memoirs, his off-the-page eye-roll practically high enough to reach the ceiling.
If the Bradford Postmaster had inadvertently done Walsh a favour, then so did this fortunate judge, when he offered him the choice of residing at either Co. Down or Dublin. In picking the latter, Walsh now had the chance to be part of the event that would change, change all utterly – to borrow a line from W.B. Yeats – but he could be forgiven for not being appreciative at the time. Two police detectives would unfailingly trail him every time he stepped outside, making Walsh as popular as the plague, all of which wore on his nerves.
Circumstances looked brighter when Walsh opened a tobacconist on Blessington Street, and he fell in with the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) American Alliance:
It boasted of a membership of about thirty, and met to exchange views every Sunday morning. Many of its members…were also attached to the Volunteers. This was my only direct or indirect contact with the Volunteer movement while under police observation in Dublin and up to Easter Week.
When the big moment came on Easter Monday, Walsh was as bewildered as anyone over the conflicting orders. Even as the crack of gunfire reached where Walsh and the rest of his Volunteer battalion waited in Fairview, they remained as they were, lined up and in formation, ready for anything…if they only knew what to do. Finally, their commanding officer gave them leave to go, with instructions to reassemble in two hours’ time, at 3 pm.
The Hibernian Rifles
Walsh made his way back to Blessington Street, still in his uniform and with his rifle on his shoulder, passing people either afraid or just confused by the swirling rumours. After a quick lunch:
The idea struck me to mobilise my colleagues of the Hibernian Organisation. I got in touch with Mr. Scallan [sic], the Secretary, and within a couple of hours we had rounded up twenty of its thirty members. At six o’clock, Scallan and myself handed our little company over to James Connolly, at the GPO. From this forward we were known as the Hibernian Rifles.
At least, this was how Walsh presented it in his autobiography. When reviewing the book for the Bureau of Military History (BMH), John Scollan, the aforementioned Secretary, would express doubt on a number of points, such as whether an officer of the Irish Volunteers had the authority to dismiss anyone once mobilised for the Rising, at least without permission from GHQ.
Scollan also contradicted Walsh’s depiction – while making allowance for the effect three decades has on the memory – of the Hibernian Rifles as coming into being, almost spontaneously, at the start of the Rising; in Scollan’s amendments, the group had been around since 1915, with Walsh no less its Vice-Commandant, subordinate only to Scollan as Commandant. The two men had gone together to see Eoin MacNeill, as Chief of Staff of the Irish Volunteers, at his house on Herbert Park Road to discuss a possible partnership between their two militias. Scollan said nothing about whether the talks were fruitful, but the Hibernians Rifles were clearly intending to be proactive.
Quite a different account, then, to Walsh’s, though it must be added that Scollan was commenting purely for the sake of the historical record, and not to criticise a man he praised as “a good patriot, a gallant, generous and charitable man.”
Other contemporaries would agree that the Hibernian Rifles had been in existence sometime before the Easter Rising, and not just in Dublin. James McCullough was secretary for the Hibernian Rifles in the town of Blackwaters, Co. Armagh, and knew of other branches in Armagh city and Dundalk, Co. Louth. He arranged for a delivery of guns from Scollan in Dublin in August 1915; however, the British soldier paid to pilfer them from his barracks was caught and the gun-running fell through.
Despite their participation in the Rising, the Hibernian Rifles were a relatively obscure group, as much then as today, not even warranting a mention in the Proclamation of Independence beside the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army. Nonetheless, some accounts of them and their contributions do exist, the most comprehensive being Scollan’s in his BMH Statement.
Laying the Groundwork
The AOH American Alliance, which sent Scollan to Dublin from Derry in 1911 as its National Director, had no connection with the mainstream AOH, nor sympathy with the latter’s pro-Redmond stance, deciding, instead of relying on constitutional means for Irish independence, to set up “an organisation of a military nature,” as Scollan phrased it. This initiative began in 1912, predating the Irish Volunteers as an armed Irish Nationalist group.
Scollan said little about the ideology behind either the AOH American Alliance or the Hibernian Rifles, only that the latter “was a semi-public organisation open to all religions of all natures”, and possessed of a democratic inclination, judging by how “each Company elected its own officers and Non-commissioned officers. This was on the American model.” Attempts to procure rifles betrayed military aspirations, though broom handles had to act the part during drills more often than not, and the small size of offshoots in places such as Derry, South Armagh, Dingle, Cork, Belfast and Castlebar – no more than thirty or thirty-five members each, Scollan believed – barred anything too ambitious.
Further stifling growth were defections to the more successful Irish Volunteers. Unsurprisingly, the two home-grown armies eyed each other warily, true to the Irish inclination to disunite in a common cause. “We remained a distinct and separate organisation from the Irish Volunteers,” so Scollan described:
A big proportion of our members did not want any connection or co-operation with the Volunteers. In fact we did not want them and they did not want us.
This was despite his and Walsh’s outreach attempt at MacNeill’s house in 1915. They were on better terms with the Irish Citizen Army, and it was through James Connolly that Scollan learnt of plans for a national uprising. By 1916, the Hibernian Rifles had overcome its limitations enough to boast of a large hall at 28 North Frederick Street, in which a number of rifles were stockpiled, and even a newspaper that it printed.
Scollan gives little detail about Walsh’s role in all this, besides his rank as Vice-Commandant, and it is left to other sources to flesh out the part Walsh played in the lead-up to Easter Week. Patrick O’Connor attended the North Frederick Street hall as part of the AOH American Alliance, whose numbers he put to be around a hundred. O’Connor made no mention in his BMH Statement about the Hibernian Rifles, and might not even have known of their existence as a separate membership, but he was willing to fulfil his duties as outlined by Walsh during his induction:
These were to find out as far as possible the strength of military garrisons and their activities in Dublin city. My chief source of information was obtained from ordinary soldiers with whom I had drinks in various public houses. The information obtained would be given verbally by me to J.J. Walsh.
O’Connor had no idea if any of the others in the AOH American Alliance were performing the same sort of espionage work or to his level. Walsh, in any case, was grateful for anything received and “expressed great pleasure at the information that I gave him from time to time.”
Clearly, then, Walsh was more involved in planning the Rising than even his memoirs let on, at least at a ground level. He was trusted sufficiently for the underground leadership to use his shop in Blessington Street as a drop-off point for sensitive material, though perhaps not trusted too much. When Seán Mac Diarmada and Kitty O’Doherty, the Quartermaster for Cumann na mBan, stopped by to leave some dispatches, sometime before the Easter Week of 1916, Walsh engaged them in conversation. He was particularly keen to expound on his idea of importing small quantities of munitions in wooden boxes all along the coast.
Mac Diarmada was fuming by the time he stepped out, according to O’Doherty: “He said people like J.J. Walsh could ruin us with talk like that, he wished they would keep their mouths shut.”
Another difference between Walsh’s and Scollan’s accounts is that the former has the Hibernian Rifles summoned up to help in the Rising at the last minute, while, in Scollan’s, they were already waiting on the Monday in the North Frederick Street hall. No orders accompanied the news that the Irish Volunteers had seized the General Post Office (GPO), but Scollan decided that if there was a fight on, the fight was on.
Not all were so gung-ho, as only half of the sixty men present opted to follow their leader. Under instructions from Connolly, once he was made aware of his new allies, the remaining thirty or so Hibernian Rifles reached the GPO by evening, and committed themselves to the enterprise by breaking and then barricading the upper-storey windows. Tuesday morning saw the Hibernian Rifles sent out to Parliament Street. Climbing on to the roof of the Exchange Hotel, they traded rifle-fire with British troops in City Hall at the other end of the street. An enemy attempt to storm the Exchange was met with further volleys, downing some assailants, at the cost of one Rifleman, Edward Walsh, disembowelled when hit in the stomach.
Two more were lost, taken prisoner during the retreat from the Exchange, back to the GPO later that day. While the Hibernian Rifles had acquitted themselves well, the excursion was something of a missed opportunity, as Scollan bemoaned:
En route we passed the Telephone Exchange and I never could understand why it was not taken as it only had a small guard of British soldiers. The British afterwards paid tribute to the assistance this was to them in quashing the Rebellion.
Walsh showed a similar interest in information warfare. On the Tuesday, without waiting for instructions, he took advantage of the GPO’s telegram room. Having worked before as a telegraphist for the Cork Postal Service, he needed no introduction on using the machinery. Posing as a GPO superintendent, Walsh was able to glean how the rest of the country stood – to his dismay, the answer overall was ‘quietly’. With exceptions like Galway and Enniscorthy in Co. Wexford, the Volunteers had not risen in rebellion as they were supposed to. All Walsh could do in response was break the hard truth to the rest, as well as attempt some second-hand rallying:
In each case, and in the hope that the news might reach the local Volunteers, I painted a picture of the bloody and successful rebellion in the capital. In this way Connolly, Pearse and their associates knew how matters stood in the country on the opening day…the information I was able to convey represented the facts of the situation as they subsequently turned out to be.
Not everyone appreciated his candour. When the no-nonsense Michael Staines entered the telegram room, he was aghast to hear Walsh creating:
…consternation by telling the men that neither Cork nor Kerry were out. I told him it was foolish to spread such a report and, as he did not agree with me, I reported it to Pearse, who gave instructions that I was to tell him that he must cease or be shot, although I don’t believe it was ever intended.
Walsh was almost shot for real on the Wednesday, when Connolly dispatched him and another man in a car to the Royal College of Surgeons with a message for the rebel garrison there. Crossing O’Connell Bridge exposed their vehicle to British rifles from the northern end of Trinity College, and it was only by the other man jinking wildly that the pair escaped with just a bullet-hole in a cushion. More shots greeted them from the enemy-occupied Shelbourne Hotel when they stopped at the College, and again from Trinity on the return drive to the GPO, but the two men made it back unscathed.
Individual strokes of good fortune, however, could not add up enough to outweigh the accumulated bad: the confusion on the Sunday that resulted in the majority of Volunteers retiring before the rebellion had even begun, the squandered chances to seize vital sites like the Telephone Exchange and Trinity College, and the failure to prevent the British from encircling Dublin, bringing to bear artillery that the rebels could never match.
With much of the city centre ablaze, the GPO became untenable, and so the decision was made to evacuate. Even then, Walsh did his best; if Staines had been displeased before at his effect on morale, now he endeavoured to make up for it. His old friend from Cork, de Róiste, was to meet someone who had been in the GPO and retained a vivid impression of Walsh:
“You know”, said he, “’twas hard to prevent J.J. from making speeches. When the Post Office was blazing, with flames rising up behind him, just before we left the place, J.J jumped up on a sorting table and made a speech to cheer us up. ‘Twas a great sight and we cheered.”
Walsh’s leather lungs and penchant for oratory would come in handy for his public career but, for now, survival was the priority. Pulling out of the GPO, the men took refuge in the row of abandoned houses on Moore Street. Looking out from the windows, they could see the splayed bodies of civilians, a white flag still in the hand of one, and, further on, the British-held barricade at the end of the street. The only way out was through this, and so the rebels mustered behind the front door of their refuge, steeling themselves to creep out into the yard and then dash towards the target.
Walsh was among them, deferred to as the man in charge. Someone was loosening the door-bolt as quietly as he could, as if the slightest whisper could alert the British machine-guns waiting for them outside, when another officer, Diarmuid Lynch, appeared. One witness:
…overheard him asking Walsh if Commandant Pearse was aware that we were about to go into action and J.J. said that he thought not. He was then told to hold back until Commandant Pearse was informed.
Much to everyone’s relief, new instructions came: they were to wait until the cover of darkness. By the time that came, the Rising was over: Pearse issued the order to surrender, and the last hold-outs of the Irish Republic were marched down Sackville (now O’Connell) Street, past the dead and dying, to the Rotunda Hospital, to be lined up by British soldiers and identified by police detectives.
The bulk of the prisoners, those not intended to be executed, at least not right away, were then herded towards Kilmainham Jail, Walsh being among then. By then:
After the experiences of the past week many of us felt more dead than alive. We were reduced to that state of exhaustion when death seemed almost welcome.
Walsh had recovered sufficiently to fall on his knees in profuse prayers of gratitude after a British officer visited him in his cell to state that his sentence of death…had been commuted to penal servitude, that pause in the officer’s mouth feeling as long as a year to a nerve-wrecked Walsh.
He had just shared a fifteen-minute court-martial with Willie Pearse, Seán McGarry and John McGallogly. Still in uniform, Walsh argued that, as an ordinary Volunteer – the Hibernian Rifles by now discarded – he could not be held responsible for the decisions of his superiors. Whatever the truth of his rank and culpability, his defence evidently worked, for he was not among those removed that night to the prison yard, Willie Pearse included.
“There are some missing,” Walsh observed as the remaining inmates were gathered the next morning. He had apparently slept through the sounds of the firing-squad.
“You may thank your stars you are not missing, too,” replied the Sergeant in charge.
In and Out / Highs and Lows
Unlike James Connolly, Patrick Pearse and Willie Pearse, this was not the end of Walsh’s story, far from it. He would never fight as a soldier again, instead serving in a different sort of combat. “Between Easter Week and the Truce, apart from numerous police-stations and military barracks I did time in no less than twelve civil prisons, including two of the convict category,” Walsh noted in his review of this period. “It was a pretty generous experience for one lifetime.”
While less dangerous than the streets of Dublin during Easter Week, it required a similar sort of fortitude:
The times were very trying. For my own part, life was completely insecure over the period 1914 to 1924. It needed a good physique and a steady brain to make it bearable at all, during those long and exhausting years.
Highs punctuated the lows. When Walsh and the remaining prisoners were released in August 1917 as part of a general amnesty, they returned to an Ireland that hailed them as heroes. A few months after the reception in Dublin, so rapturous that Walsh had feared being crushed by the adoring crowds, he was addressing a meeting in Cork City Hall, dressed in the same arrow-studded garb he had worn in prison, now displayed as a badge of honour.
Cork City Hall had been the same building in which Walsh and the rest of the Volunteer Committee had launched the Cork Volunteers. The reaction then had included a riot and a chair to his head. Now he was at the fore of another new movement, except this time he did not have to worry about being stoned in the streets when parading, or pushed aside by sharp-elbowed Redmondites. Irish resistance to British rule was stronger than ever, and the authorities hastened to match it head-on.
“The only way to speak to John Bull is through the barrel of a gun,” Walsh told an audience in Cavan during a political rally in 1918, and was promptly arrested.
And thus began three years alternating between in or out of one jail or another. Sentenced to five years, Walsh took part in a hunger strike in Mountjoy Prison, as did others, in solitary with Thomas Ashe. Walsh survived the harrowing force-feeding process of his mouth forced open for a rubber tube to be inserted; Ashe did not, and the public outcry resulted in Walsh and the other strikers being released…for a few months in Walsh’s case, until another seditious speech sent him back to Mountjoy.
If exile to Dublin in 1915 had allowed him to make his revolutionary premiere in the Rising, then Mountjoy provided another stage for the spotlight, namely the spectacular breakout on the 29th March 1919. A rope-ladder was tossed over the wall, allowing no less than twenty prisoners in the exercise-yard to clamber up and over to where Dublin Volunteers were waiting to hand each of them a bicycle and a slip of paper with an address to which to ride.
On the Run
A Mutt-and-Jeff comedy ensued when Walsh – a tall man at nearly six feet – was given a bicycle some inches too small for him, while the diminutive escapee directly ahead, Piaras Béaslaí, had one several inches too big. Nonetheless, with no time to waste, as described by Michael Lynch, one of the Volunteers on the scene:
J.J. got up on the bicycle, hit the handlebars with his knees and swerved along the road. He bumped up on the path at a publichouse, almost rolled around a policeman who stood with his mouth wide open, bumped on the road and then sauntered on like a duck. Both of them made their way up Drumcondra.
Even climbing the rope-ladder, minutes before, had veered on the slapstick. Beaslaí had hesitated upon reaching the top of the wall, obviously not eager to jump down, even with an outstretched blanket waiting for him. Walsh, scrambling up behind him on the rope-ladder, had to shove him over with the top of his head:
“Get down to hell out of that!” said J.J. Piaras landed on the flat of his stomach into the blanket, and he had barely time to extricate himself when J.J. was in it too.
“J.J. Walsh told me afterwards how humorous this episode really was,” Lynch wrote.
Perhaps a sense of humour was as essential as a good physique and steady brain. Despite being a TD for Cork since the 1918 General Election, Walsh remained in Dublin, sharing the dangers there with the other personnel in the underground government; one of whom, Robert Brennan, was to collect several anecdotes of Walsh’s chutzpah during these years on the run. In one, Walsh, upon seeing a couple of British Army lorries outside the house he was due to reside, stopped his bicycle to ask a policeman on duty what was happening.
The policeman replied that a hunt was on for someone but he did not know who, to which his inquirer declared: “I’ll tell you. They are searching for J.J. Walsh of Cork and that’s me.”
And, with that, J.J. Walsh of Cork peddled away before the other could react.
On another occasion, Walsh answered the door of his latest abode, to find two other gentlemen from the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) asking for J.J. Walsh. Walsh told them that the person in question was inside, by the fireplace, and walked out, making his escape for yet another time, while the other two walked in obliviously.
“This was typical of J.J.,” Brennan recalled wryly.
And that was how life went, lucky one day, in a cell the next, until the Truce of July 1921 put the war on hold. With the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921, the revolution was faced with an opportunity for peace that some wanted, others did not. As TD for Cork Borough, Walsh shared in the responsibility of deciding whether to ratify the Treaty and, on the 3rd January 1922, he arose from his seat in the National University – the setting for the debate – to address his colleagues in Dáil Éireann and give them his opinion.
His opening suggestion, that the chamber adjourn for lunch before he began, sent a spasm of horror through some of his listeners as to what that implied about the length of the impending rhetoric. Two hours, at least, feared one of the journalists present. But Walsh was merciful, keeping his speech to a relatively brisk half-hour.
Debating the Treaty
Perhaps this restraint from excessive verbiage was due to his, as he put it, “bluntness and directness, which has made me unpopular with a great majority in the Dáil.” When there were dissenting cries of “No! No!”, Walsh expressed relief, though his subsequent holier-than-thou presumption probably caused some to reconsider their feelings of goodwill towards him:
Now, my friends, I have, unlike other people, made it my business to visit my constituency in the interval since the adjournment over Christmas. The City of Cork has played a not unimportant part in the events of the last four or five years; and though I have not counted heads, nor taken a vote of the people, I will honestly as a plain, honest man, say that I feel that nine out of every ten people in Cork City are in favour of the ratification of this Treaty.
And thus so was he. Others in the room were following their conscience in taking the opposite stance but, really, what precedence did the scruples of individuals have over the lives and liberties of the populace, on whose behalf they, as elected representatives, had gathered in the first place?
As for unity, a subject much aired and pored over already:
The Cork City electorate in the Municipal Elections of 1920 only voted 50 percent for the Republican candidates – slightly over 50 per cent – twenty-eight or twenty-nine candidates. If we were to ask the people of Cork to vote for or against the Treaty we would have 90 percent voting for it. That is a unity that this country, neither for a Republic nor at any other stage of its history, ever enjoyed.
Another hotly-held topic was the Oath of Allegiance, on which his own view was “elastic”: if a British soldier offered him a rifle in return for swearing fidelity to the Crown, Walsh would take both, and then take the Oath again if it meant ammunition to go with the weapon. It was a case of pragmatism over principle, for “war knows no principles, and you who have lived through the last half-dozen years will not deny the truth of that statement.” Even what he took exception to most about the Treaty was based on something physical: the British retention of the three stipulated ports in Cork and Donegal. But, still, “nobody has told me how we are to rid ourselves of that. The British Army and Navy alone dominate the situation.”
Which was the crux of the matter: for all the talk of an Irish Republic, which would supposedly be torn from them in the event of the Treaty and the continuation of Ireland in the Empire, was not the country already under Imperial domination?
Let us consider the position we are in today. We have in this country been forced, under an ideal Republic, to utilise the Postal and Telegraph service of the British Government. We have been forced in order to get claims endorsed to go into their law courts, to carry their soldiers, police and sailors on our railroads. We have come here under a British Act of Parliament, and we meet here today with the consent of the British Government. That is the position, and you call yourself a Free Republic.
Compared to this stark reality, what use was the ideal of an Irish Republic, for that was all the opposition offered: an ideal. Instead, consider the case of the Boers in South Africa, who likewise had fought the might of the British Empire, to the achievement of nothing but unconditional surrender:
And what do you find today? You find the hitherto divided states sealed up into a solid Boer bloc in South Africa, one solid force in a position to re-assume the Republican ideal at any time they like.
Similarly, the Germans in the Great War, not even four years past, had submitted in the face of complete destruction, and had already succeeded in unburdening themselves of much of the Versailles Treaty, another imposed ‘agreement’ which, in time, was shown up to be toothless. It was all about playing the long game:
If we proceed on the assumption that we are military tacticians – I don’t claim to be a military tactician – I have done very little fighting in my life but, as an ordinary civilian, I will put it this way to the military tacticians. We found ourselves in 1914 with a dozen strong entrenchments separating us from complete victory.
In the interval, we have brought down eleven of these impediments, and we find that by rushing the twelfth and last one that it means our annihilation, our defeat and demoralisation, and instead of those of us who are voting for the Treaty – instead of submitting ourselves to that demoralisation, we are entrenching here; we wait for reinforcements and we wait for supplies and, at an opportune moment, we march on.
Walsh finished with a joke and a dig at the Anti-Treatyites: once, when he was holidaying in the United States, he was standing on the bank of the Niagara River, pondering the best way of crossing. There was a bridge some way up, but did a better means exist, he asked a local. Well, if by better, he meant the shortest, Walsh was told, jump in then and swim.
“That is what the opponents of this Treaty are proposing to the people of Ireland,” Walsh concluded.
Life Under Siege
Whether Walsh’s speech made a difference, his vote, when the debates were done and it was time to decide, helped do so. The Treaty was ratified, drawing one war to a close…and setting the scene for another. The boom of artillery guns, hard at work against the Four Courts, was already audible around Dublin when it was decided that, in June 1922, the various Ministers in the Provisional Government should decamp to state buildings for the duration of the struggle to bring the anti-Treaty faction to heel.
Arthur Griffith slept in the Cabinet room, while George Gavan Duffy hosted Walsh and Ernest Blythe – the Postmaster-General and Minister for Local Government respectively – in his office, the three men sleeping on the floor on mattresses that were rolled up in the mornings and left in the corner with their bedclothes. As civil war dragged on, past its estimated length of a week or two, Walsh and Blythe bonded, while Gavan Duffy became the odd man out, in the Provisional Government as well as a roommate.
Had he known of the consequences of the conflict, Gavan Duffy started to say, he would never have agreed to help start it. Equally annoying was his insistence on the legal rights of captured Anti-Treatyites; Walsh and Blythe, in contrast, were of a rougher mentality, neither afraid to step on toes, even in the pursuit of humour, as Walsh displayed in his own particular style, to Blythe’s amusement:
One Sunday immediately after the O’Connell Street operations [July 1922] J.J. and I were going out for the day. Gavan Duffy said he would go out with us. J.J. very portentously advised him not to go, saying that after all he and I [Blythe] had done nothing but, as members of the Government, to authorise the operation then in progress, whereas Gavan Duffy had, in addition, signed the Treaty, so that while we might be allowed to pass through the city without being fired at, no one on the other side could see Gavan Duffy without boiling up in a rage and pressing a trigger.
Gavan Duffy gamely laughed along, but this jest, along with all the others – Walsh found him too tempting a target – did little to dissuade him from resigning his post. The others were not aggrieved to see him go; unlike their fair-weather former colleague, they were in it for the long haul.
Living besieged in the Government buildings became the norm, with partitions set up in the laboratories of the Board of Works as temporary bedrooms that felt less temporary by the day, and food from local restaurants brought to the antechamber of the Cabinet room as an impromptu dining-hall. If such bunker-like conditions were constrained, they were at least bearable. Humour helped alleviate the stress, and Walsh and Eoin MacNeill – two men whose paths had crossed over the years – sparred over who could provide the best.
To an anecdote Walsh told of someone jabbing Mary MacSwiney with a pin to test the rumour of a wooden leg and getting no reaction, MacNeill quipped that MacSwiney was set to ‘stump’ the country in the next election. On another occasion, MacNeill sketched some possible designs for new stamps for Walsh’s consideration as Postmaster-General: they were of Walsh and Tim Healy, two Corkonians who despised each other – as Corkonians are wont to do – the former down on one knee to kiss the latter’s ring.
“J.J. took the joke in good part,” Blythe assured the readers of his BMH Statement, “but did not agree to the recommendations which we all made that the design should be accepted” – more’s the pity, perhaps.
From Poacher to Gamekeeper
As Postmaster-General, Walsh was a natural selection – few others in the Treaty debates would have thought to cite the postal service when making a point about the state of the nation. As far back as Walsh’s 1915-6 exile in Dublin, Griffith had made note of Walsh’s interest when in the ‘Ship’ pub in Abbey Street together. “There goes our first Postmaster-General of the Republic,” Griffith had said.
Turning a bar-room joke into public policy years later was oddly fitting, given the chaotic circumstances the new state was born into. Also serendipitous was the choice of P.S O’Hegarty as Postmaster-Secretary. He and Walsh had been old friends and postal co-workers back in Cork, and had even applied at the same time to do a tuition course at King’s College, London, for training as a Supplementary Clerk, the cream of the professional crop. O’Hegarty passed the application but Walsh did not, rejected on the grounds of his ‘grossly insubordinate record’.
Walsh took it hard at the time, but “on reflecting on the verdict in later years, I had to concede that the viewpoint had something to commend it.”
Being a rebel outside the system does not necessarily translate to liberal permissiveness once inside, as the Postal Strike of September 1922 bluntly demonstrated. Indeed, the problem, Blythe complained, was that the previous regime had set too good an example: “No strike would have taken place if the British Government had remained in power here and had refused to make concessions.” While Blythe conceded the inadequacy of pay and conditions for Post Office employees, “the strike took place because there was a new Irish Government in power, which seemed weak and likely to yield.”
If so, then the strikers had badly underestimated the new powers-that-be, particularly their Postmaster-General. While some in the Cabinet, such as Joe McGrath, favoured a quick and conciliatory resolution, Walsh approached the situation like a commander marshalling his troops, almost as if he took the ‘general’ part of his title literally. “We used to be amused at J.J, who spent every morning doing the round of the other Ministers and gingering them up for fear that they should weaken and make a settlement which would be equivalent to a Government surrender,” Blythe recalled.
The ‘Mailed’ Fist
‘Surrender’ was as far from Walsh’s mind as it had been when bracing for a charge of the barricades on Moore Street during Easter Week or hauling himself up a rope-ladder to escape Mountjoy Prison. Ruffling him further was the sense of betrayal, fused with the anger of a man who had suffered for a cause while others watched from the stands:
The Post Office staff, which had never dared say “boo” while the British were here, took strike action before we had time to get into our stride. We could scarcely help feeling aggrieved at what we considered a stab in the back, and in particular, observing that though the Postal Workers’ Organisation covered the thirty-two counties, the strike was confined to the twenty-six.
The twenty-two years that had passed by the time Walsh penned his memoirs, in 1944, had clearly not mellowed him. Such wounded self-righteousness made repression easier to justify: “On our side Volunteers [soldiers] were fitted out on motorcycles, with the necessary arms for their protection. They worked admirably, and as the weeks passed by, our forces everywhere gathered strength and more and more offices were opened for public business.”
This brisk description does not quite do justice to what happened. When talks between the Provisional Government and the Postal Workers’ Organisation, ongoing since February 1922, broke down for good in September, and picketers mustered at various postal points in Dublin, soldiers from the National Army were called in. Shots were fired over the heads of strikers in Crown Alley, while constables from the DMP – the same body which had hounded Walsh and his colleagues while they were on the run – arrested around ninety strikers in College Green and Amiens Street.
Nearly all were released before the day was out but, lest that be seen as leniency on the Government’s part, more troops, backed by two Lancia armoured cars – a familiar sight in Dublin during the British suppression – raided the headquarters of the Postal Strike Committee in the Moyalta Hotel on Amiens Street. Nonetheless, the pickets continued in Dublin and elsewhere – as did the hard-edged response. Strikers in Limerick were assaulted without warning, on the 27th September 1922, by soldiers in plainclothes, beating men and women alike with knuckledusters and the butts of revolvers.
By the end of the month, the strike was done, the result being a complete defeat for the strikers. The Government’s sole concession was a promise not to victimise returning workers, and this was over Walsh’s strenuous objections, who wanted examples made. Considering the number of postal staff soon dismissed or demoted for their participation in the strike, and the promotion of others who had continued to work throughout, it would appear that Walsh ended up having his vindictive way.
When Countess Markievicz caricatured Walsh, it was as The man of ‘letters’ with the ‘mailed’ fist, the appendage in question clenched around a hapless victim. While making allowances for wartime propaganda, and if one can forgive the pun, it is not an entirely unfitting depiction, one which Walsh might even have approved.
In concluding this chapter of his life, Walsh adopted the tone of a conqueror staring down on the bowed heads of a subject people. “The strike collapsed, and the leaders threw themselves on the mercy of the Government,” he gloated. “That they were treated leniently may or may not have been wise, but at this critical junction to smash such a well-organised strike was a salutary lesson to that general indiscipline which just then seemed to run riot through the land.”
And a salutary lesson, as well, to anyone who thought to tangle with James Joseph Walsh of Cork.
 Walsh, J. J., Recollections of a Rebel (Tralee: The Kerryman Ltd., 1944), p. 23
 Lorton, Harry (BMH / WS 77), p. 2
 Walsh, pp. 16-9
 De Róiste, Liam (BMH / WS 1698, Part I), pp. 124-5
 Walsh, p. 24
 Ibid, p. 25
 De Róiste, pp. 121-2
 Ibid, p. 124
 Lorton, p. 2
 De Róiste, p. 125
 Walsh, pp. 26-7
 Lorton, pp. 4-5
 Walsh, pp. 32-3
 Ibid, pp. 31-2
 Ibid, p. 24
 Ibid, pp. 27-8
 Ibid, p. 26
 Ibid, p. 28
 Ibid, p. 33
 Ibid, pp. 34-5
 Ibid, pp. 36-7
 Scollan John Joseph (BMH / WS 341), pp. 2-3
 Ibid, p. 4
 Ibid, p. 5
 McCullough, James (BMH / WS 529), p. 4
 Scollan, John Joseph (BMH / WS 318), pp. 2-6
O’Connor, Patrick J. (BMH / WS 608), p. 3
 O’Doherty, Kitty (BMH / WS 355), p. 8
 Scollan, WS 318, pp. 6-8
 Walsh, pp. 37-8
 Staines, Michael (BMH / WS 284), p. 14
 Walsh, p. 38
 De Róiste, Part II, p, 143
 De Burca, Feargus (BMH / WS 694), pp. 22-3
 Walsh, p. 39
 Ibid, p. 41
 McGallogly, John (BMH / WS 244), pp. 13-4
 Walsh, p. 52
 Ibid, p. 55
 Ibid, p. 45
 Ibid, pp. 47-8
 Lynch, Michael (BMH / WS 511), pp. 164-6
 Brennan, Robert (BMH / WS 779, Part III), pp. 118-9
 De Burca, Padraig and Boyle, John F. Free State or Republic? (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2002), p. 39
 ‘Debate on the Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, signed in London on the 6th December 1921: Sessions 14 December 1921 to 10 January 1922’ (accessed on the 11th March 2018) CELT: The Corpus of Electronic Texts, pp. 186-90
 Blythe, Ernest (BMH / WS 939), pp. 148-9
 Ibid, p. 151
 Ibid, pp. 172-5
 Noyk, Michael (BMH / WS 707), p. 10
 Walsh, pp. 10-1
 Blythe, p. 166
 Ibid, p. 167
 Walsh, p. 62
 Walsh, p. 63
De Burca, Padraig and Boyle, John F. Free State or Republic? (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2002)
Walsh, J.J., Recollections of a Rebel (Tralee: The Kerryman Ltd., 1944)
Bureau of Military History Statements
Blythe, Ernest, WS 939
Brennan, Robert, WS 779
De Burca, Feargus, WS 694
De Róiste, Liam, WS 1698
Lorton, Harry, WS 77
Lynch, Michael, WS 511
McCullough, James, WS 529
McGallogly, John, WS 244
Noyk, Michael, WS 707
O’Connor, Patrick J., WS 608
O’ Doherty, Kitty, WS 355
Scollan, John Joseph, WS 318
Scollan, John Joseph, WS 341
Staines, Michael, WS 284
Brennan, Cathal, ‘The Post Strike of 1922’ (Accessed on 28/08/2020) The Irish Story
‘Debate on the Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, signed in London on the 6th December 1921: Sessions 14 December 1921 to 10 January 1922’ (Accessed on 20/08/2020) CELT: The Corpus of Electronic Texts