Cumann Seandalaiochta agus Staire Phort Lairge

Monday, March 18, 2024

Upcoming Lecture : Playing at War? by Dr Shane Browne Friday 22/03/2024

 “Playing at war”? The Waterford National Volunteers, 1914-1917

A lecture by Dr Shane Browne to the Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society

The Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society 2023 – 2024 lecture series continues at 8 pm on Friday, March 22nd in St. Patrick’s Gateway Centre, Waterford (Eircode X91 YX61) when historian Dr Shane Browne, will deliver a talk titled “Playing at war”? The Waterford National Volunteers, 1914-1917.

Born from a split in the Irish Volunteers in the autumn of 1914, the National Volunteer movement was one of the largest uniformed paramilitaries operating in Ireland during the First World War. A pro-Home Rule organisation, this citizen army was loyal to John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) since 1900. An overlooked organisation in the historiography of Ireland’s revolutionary period, this lecture will examine the Waterford city branch of the National Volunteers.

Drawing on newspaper sources and the organisation’s extensive archival collection at both national and local level, this lecture will investigate the rise and fall of the Waterford National Volunteers, outlining the aims of the movement and the reasons behind its ultimate decline. Across Ireland, the force could boast a paper strength of over 160,000 members in the wake of the split, with the Waterford National Volunteers numbering an estimated 1,000 men at this time. Significantly, the Waterford City National Volunteers had around 200 rifles in their possession, underlining the transformation that had occurred in Irish politics between 1912-14, when the politics of the gun had taken precedent over constitutional methods.
Importantly, what will be outlined in this lecture is that volunteering was part of public life in Waterford city for a time, with men and women taking part in a wide range of military and social activities between 1914-15. Areas we pass everyday were hubs of Volunteer activity, such as the Courthouse on Catherine Street where drilling took place on Sundays, or the former Presentation Convent on Hennessy’s Road, which was used as a headquarters by the Waterford City National Volunteers. The volunteering phenomenon even impacted upon consumers, with shops such as Hearne & Co. selling military attire.

Of course, the story of the National Volunteers is one of decline. Thus, this lecture will detail the reasons behind that decline, paying particular attention to the role John Redmond played in the movement’s demise in Waterford. Notably, numerous men dropped out of the Waterford National Volunteers because they were ridiculed for ‘playing at soldiering’ when the tide turned on the IPP leader for his pro-war stance.

Dr Shane Browne graduated from UCD with a PhD in December 2021. Thesis title, ‘“Defence not defiance”: loyalty, party and organisation, the National Volunteers, 1913-20’. Currently working with University College Dublin School of History as a Module Coordinator on the MA module ‘Practicing Public History’, as well as with UCD Archives on the project A History of the Irish Revolution in 100 Documents. Shane's research interests include the study of conflict, paramilitarism, associational culture, and veteranship.

********************* FORTHCOMING LECTURES **********************
The Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society’s 2023 – 2024 lecture series continues in February and March in St Patrick’s Gateway Centre:
26/04/2024 Prof. Terence Dooley will deliver a talk titled The Irish Land Commission and its archives: why they should be opened to the research public
22/04/2024 Dr Edel Bhreathnach will deliver a talk titled Ardmore, Lismore and Waterford: a tale of three competing medieval churches.

********************* ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING **********************
The Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society’s AGM will be held in St Patrick’s Gateway Centre at 8pm on April 12th, 2024.
The committee would like to encourage any members who are interested in joining the committee to contact any of the current committee members.

The on-going success of the Society depends on enthusiastic members volunteering a small amount of time each month.
The Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society, Ireland.
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