Forensic Fashion
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>Costume Studies
>>1916 Irish óglach
Subjectóglach 'volunteer' republican revolutionary
Culture: Catholic Irish
Setting: Irish revolution, Ireland 1910s-1920s
Evolution: ... > 1593 Irish ceithernach 1691 Irish ropaire > 1798 United Irishman croppy > 1867 Irish fenian > 1916 Irish óglach


* Cottrell 2006 p88
"The major legacy of the Troubles of 1913-22 is probably the proliferation of myths, half-truths and misinformation that grew out of them.  In the words of the historian Oliver Knox, 'There is no such thing as Irish history at all -- the past, the present and the future being the same thing, one and indistinguishable.'  Irish history has regularly been distorted to serve contemporary political needs.  Often what is remembered is not what happened, but what some wished to have happened.  By 'internationalizing' the struggle, Nationalists have been able to portray the conflict as one between an overbearing colonial power and a conquered and subjugated nation.
    "The reality is that Ireland was an integrated part of the UK, and by the end of the 19th century the country was beginning to share in Britain's prosperity.  It is true that there were awful slums in Dublin and poverty in the less-developed rural areas, but this was by no means a uniquely Irish phenomenon, as the same was true of most mainland cities and rural backwaters.  Irishmen had held high rank in the army and political establishments.  The Duke of Wellington, a Dubliner by birth, had even been Prime Minister.  Admittedly, most had been Protestants.  For Catholics it was not their 'Irishness' but their religion that was a hurdle to advancement.  It should be noted that the same was true for English, Scots or Welsh Catholics until the mid-19th century.
    "Among Nationalists, the IRA of this period is remembered in equally black-and-white terms as a guerrilla army that took on the might of the British Empire and won.  There is a tendency to draw a distinction between the 'old IRA' and its modern descendents [SIC] that blurs a few of the realities of the conflict.  Despite the claims of many a rebel song there were very few conventional engagements.  The few that did occur, like Kilmichael, tended to be blown up in importance, distorting the overall picture.  The IRA of the 1920s was just as capable of committing atrocities as that of the 1970s and Collins' Squad conducted an extremely effective assassination campaign."

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Llywelyn/Scott 1995
"In the aftermath of the Famine, Irish people began to dream of having their land back again, of being able to farm their own fields and keep their own crops.  Long-smouldering hatred of foreign dominance erupted in sporadic violence.
    "Now leaders arose in Ireland to challenge the power of the British establishment.  Societies such as the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Fenian Brotherhood encouraged nationalistic ideals.  The Land League was founded to force agrarian reform, concentrating on landlords who were notorious for their mistreatment of tenants.  But the triumphs of the Land League were not enough to satisfy the growing voices in Ireland that demanded real change.
    "A Home Rule bill intended to give limited self-government to Ireland was introduced in Parliament early in the Twentieth century.  Before it could be passed, organized opposition developed among the Protestants of Ulster, descendents [sic] of the earlier Cromwell plantations.  As it had been for a thousand years the struggle was over land, but this basic fact was disguised as a religious issue.
    "Claiming that Home Rule would mean Rome Rule, Ulster leaders actually began drilling soldiers in preparation for Civil War if Home Rule was granted.  In response, the British government amended the bill to allow six counties of Ulster to opt out if they chose, at least for an initial period.  This would mean partition of the island, which the majority of Irish people did not want.  Volunteers in the south promptly emulated the Ulster Volunteers and began organising a resistance movement with the aim of gaining freedom from foreign rule for the entire island.
    "The outbreak of World War I saw thousands of Irish soldiers recruited into the British army to fight and die for a land not theirs.  Meanwhile, the leaders of the Irish Volunteers began planning in earnest for revolution, taking advantage of the fact that England was occupied with war in Europe.
    "The Easter Rising began with Padraic Pearse, Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Volunteers, standing on the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin and reading a proclamation declaring 'the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland'."

* Cottrell 2006 p26-28
"Socialism, as well as Nationalism, was a potent force in pre-war Ireland and militant trade unionism gained a significant influence over its emerging urban working class in both Dublin and Belfast. The dock strike and Dublin lockout of 1913 were characterized by violent clashes between the police and strikers, and James Connolly, an Irish-Glaswegian ex-soldier, created the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) as a workers' defence force. The ICA, with its Marxist agenda, was never a large organization, and combined with Pearse's Volunteers to stage the Easter Rising. After the defeat of the Easter rebels the Volunteers and the IRB sat back, licked their wounds and reorganized for next time.
    "The British reaction to 1916 and the failure to achieve Home Rule undermined support for the IPP and increased that of Sinn Féin. Roughly translated as 'ourselves alone', Sinn Féin began life in 1905 as a pacifist Nationalist organization that favoured an Austro-Hungarian 'dual monarchy' solution to the Anglo-Irish question. Its founder, Arthur Griffith, was no pacifist but felt that violence was a spent force in Irish politics. Contrary to British opinion, Sinn Féin was not responsible for the Easter Rising. However, in its aftermath IRB men like Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins managed to informally link the Irish Volunteers to Sinn Féin to effectively become its paramilitary arm -- the IRA."

* de Breffny ed. 1977 p197 (Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, "The distressed society: The struggle for emancipation and independence, 1801-1918" p171-198)
"[T]he [Gaelic] League led to the revival of the oath-bound Irish Republican Brotherhood in the early 20th century.  The IRB, the custodian of the Fenian separatist tradition, had been badly buffeted since the décle of 1867 by internal disagreements on policy and personality issues, so that by the end of the 19th century it appeared to be fated to an unsung death.  However, in the early 20th century the IRB had a transfusion of new recruits, many of them disciples of the Gaelic League.  Idealistic young men like Patrick Pease, schoolmaster, writer and educationalist, joined with the veteran Fenian Tom Clarke in reviving the moribund IRB.  If by 1916 the Fenian phoenix was ready to rise from the ashes, it is hardly fanciful to say that it was the Gaelic League and its offshoots that fanned the dying embers back to life.
    "Yet despite the revolutionary potential of these various movements they were very definitely minority movements in the early Edwardian era, and so far as Irish political life was concerned they may fairly be described as fringe movements.  What brought them to the centre of the stage was the Home Rule crisis which exploded on the political scene in 1912 and which was to lead eventually to the rebellion of 1916 and to the extinction of the Home Rule party two years later."

* Cottrell 2006 p17
"By 1913 Ireland may have appeared relatively stable and prosperous province of the United Kingdom; however, beneath the surface it was a troubled island riddled with sectarian and political divisions. The pro- and anti-Home Rule factions threatened civil war through the UVF and National Volunteers, whilst the issue was made worse by several senior army officers who threatened to resign if they were ordered to suppress the Unionist opposition to Home Rule. To compound the issue, the Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP) formed its own militia, the Irish Citizen Army (ICA), raising in the eyes of the Castle fears of some sort of Bolshevik uprising. It would seem that as long as every Irish political party had its own paramilitary organization, any form of political change was faced with the threat of violence. Meanwhile, the IRB continued their systematic infiltration of Nationalist societies and cultural organizations, biding their time. Ultimately the Home Rule crisis was overshadowed by the outbreak of war in 1914. In the end it proved to be nothing more than a stay of execution."

* Cottrell 2006 p42
"Although fewer than 64 rebels had been killed or wounded during the [1916 Easter] Rising, and only 15 out of the 112 sentenced to death were actually executed, the British had effectively decapitated the IRA Volunteers' command structure.  Redomnd's death in March 1918 hastened the decline of the IPP whilst Sinn Féin's aggressive propaganda campaign combined with the British preoccupation with the First World War allowed a new generation of hard-liners to step forward into the vacuum that had been left.  The new men -- De Valera, Collins, Brugha, Mulcahy, Boland and their ilk -- were veterans of 1916 who shared a ruthless determination to end British rule by any means necessary.  On 12 July 1917 the Irish Independent prophetically warned that their attempts to win independence would merely bring 'dire misfortune and untold horrors, and ruin and devastation, and the demon of civil strife'."

* Cottrell 2006 p46
"A dozen or so local Volunteers ambushing a small group of policemen in a quiet country lane seems to be typical of IRA operations. These were local men who often knew the policemen they were ambushing and, more significantly, were probably known by them as well. Some of these ambushes resembled highway robbery, with masked men holding up bicycling 'Peelers' in order to steal their weapons, whilst others degenerated into vicious close-quarter gun battles that the outnumbered policemen usually lost."

* National Museum of Ireland -- Decorative Arts & History > The Irish Wars
"The aftermath of the First World War saw national borders re-drawn and calls for independence grow around the world. In Ireland, nationalists resumed their struggle with the British forces, now widely seen as an army of occupation. Acting as the military arm of the newly-proclaimed Irish government, they embarked on a campaign of harassment and guerrilla activity.
      "The defeat of the British led to a divisive Civil War, as former comrades fought for different visions of a post-war Ireland." ...


*Joye online
"After centuries of failure in obtaining weapons the Irish Volunteers had a huge success on 26 July 1914 when the Asgard, the yacht of Erskine Childers, then a famous writer, sailed into Howth, north Dublin, with 900 Mauser rifles, which were quickly unloaded in 30 minutes and distributed to waiting Volunteers and boys of Fianna Eireann. The landing was a response to the very successful landing of rifles earlier that year in April by the Ulster Volunteer Force, which landed 216 tons or 35,000 German, Italian and Austrian rifles at Larne. The Howth gun-running, although on a smaller scale, was heralded as a great success and the rifles where quickly hidden despite the efforts of the police and the army to intercept the Volunteers. The next day the remainder of the rifles were landed at Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow. In total, 1,500 rifles were landed along with 45,000 rounds of ammunition.
    "The Mauser rifles, which quickly became known as the Howth Rifle, were designed by Peter Paul Mauser and it was the first cartridge rifle adopted by Prussian Army in 1872. It was a revolutionary design for 1870’s but by 1914 the German Army was using the more modern Mauser Gewehr 1898 rifle. Padraig Pearse admitted shortly after the landing that the Mauser’s were of an 'antiquated pattern, without magazines, and are much inferior to the British Service Rifle'. Indeed, Darrel Figgis who purchased the rifles with The O’Rahilly in Hamburg, described the Mauser ideal 'for our purpose, cheap and undeniably effective'. The Mauser was an effective weapon, although technically obsolete, firing a larger bullet than the British Lee-Enfield. However, for the volunteers many of whom had never fired the rifle before Rising it had ferocious recoil as Tom Walsh learned: 'In the excitement I did not heed the lectures and did not hold the gun correctly. The result was that [the first time I fired it] the butt hit me under the chin and knocked me out'. 
    "Prior to the Rising the organisers were conserving the use of ammunition, and this meant a lack of firing experience for Volunteers with military rifles. Shooting clubs were established using smaller .22 rifles and target rifles but these do not prepare you for a revolution. The other disadvantage of the rifle was its low rate firepower, only firing 4 or 5 rounds a minute as it did not have a magazine. Soldiers in the British Army at the time were trained to fire 15 bullets a minute with their Lee Enfield rifles which had 10 round magazines. Finally, the Howth rifle created a lot of smoke and created a large boom noise when it was fired, unlike the Lee Enfield Rifle which meant it was easy for British Army to spot rebels firing the rifle. The landing of the rifles was, however, a public relations success for the Volunteers. Tom Clarke took his rifle to Limerick the following day and on arrival in Limerick he marched with it on his shoulder from the station to John Daly's home and presented it to his old friend and prison comrade.
    "The antique Howth rifle was the main rifle of the Rising but there was also an assortment of other weapons. In fighting a rebellion this was a problem as John P Dungan explains in his book A History of the Irish Army, 'without standard weaponry, collective training and concentration of force it was unlikely that guerrilla warfare, no matter how skilfully waged, could achieve military victory in the field'. Ernie O’Malley went further in describing his experiences during the War of Independence when he described the variety of rifles and muskets in one Brigade area covering 200 years as follows: 'British long and short Lee Enfield’s, police carbines, Lee Metfords, single shot Martini-Henris, Sniders, Remingtons, Winchesters, German, Turkish or Spanish Mausers, French Lebels, American Springfield’s, Japanese patterns, Austrian Steyers and Mannlichers, old flintlock muskets, muzzle loading Queen Anne’s'.
​   "The 6 garrisons during the Rising had a similar variety of weapons, each one requiring a different type of ammunition and training. Shotguns were also used during the Rising and special bayonets were adapted for them. However, the shotgun had very limited impact in the battles as did the few pikes brought to Royal College of Surgeons and Dublin Castle. Of course, the 1916 Rising was planned with the expected arrival of weapons from Germany. The SS Aud, was to land weapons in Kerry on Good Friday but was intercepted by the Royal Navy. The rifles on the ship were captured Russian rifles, as Germany was not able to provide Mausers due to the need equip their own Army. Altogether there were 20,000 Mosin-Nagant rifles with ammunition and about 10 machine guns on board.
    "Prior to the Rising, if you could afford to, you could buy revolvers and automatic pistols in a sporting shop. Patrick Pearse had a number of pistols as did Countess Markievicz and these are now in the National Museum of Ireland collections. Popular among the Volunteers was the Mauser 96 pistol designed in 1896 by Peter Paul Mauser. It excited interest because it introduced the concept of a wooden holster that could be attached to the pistol grip to convert it into a carbine. The Mauser 96 was the first really successful military automatic pistol which a very powerful 7.63mm bullet and it had 10 round magazine. One of its earliest and enthusiastic users was Winston Churchill who fought as a Lieutenant at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898, and wrote about 'the large magazine capacity and the rapidity of fire'.
    "In Ireland the Mauser Model 1896 and the later Model 1912 are commonly known as 'Peter the Painter' and this is due to the Siege of Sydney Street on 18 December 1910, in which Winston Churchill, then Home Secretary, played a role. The previous day, three Eastern European anarchists, armed with Mauser 96 pistols, had shot dead three City of London Police Officers after they failed to rob goldsmith H.S Harris in London. One of the anarchists was Peter Piakoff, better known as 'Peter the Painter', he later died during the siege when surrounded by police officers and a section of the Scots Guards, the anarchists died when the building was set on fire. Within the museum’s collections there is the 'Peter the Painter' used by Lt Michael Malone at Haddington Road during the 1916 Rising against the Sherwood Foresters."

* Cottrell 2006 p42
"Between 1916 and the winter of 1918 the IRA concentrated on stealing much-needed arms and ammunition from the British, and teaching its members how to use them.  This policy was driven by a serious lack of modern military weapons, and the IRA had to rely upon shotguns, hunting rifles and handguns commandeered from farmers adn private households.  These weapons were well suited to close-quarter assassinations.  But neither conveyed the correct martial image nor were suitable for engaging in conflict with the Crown's forces.  The IRA knew that the numerous sparsely manned RIC barracks scattered across rural Ireland 'at some crossroads', according to the infamous David Neligan, presented them with a possible source of weapons, but it would be January 1920 before they felt confident enough to conduct a systematic campaign against them."

* Royal Armouries Leeds souvenir guide 2022 p6
"During the First World War, the American Colonel John T. Thompson sought to invent a 'submachine gun' that would serve as a 'trench broom' to 'sweep' the enemy from the trenches. Thompson's prototype was delayed until 1919 by his service in the US Army and no peacetime government wished to purchase it. Instead it appealed to those on the other side of the law: his first customer was the Irish Republican Army."


* National Museum of Ireland -- Decorative Arts & History > The Irish Wars
"Initially few of the Irish Volunteers had uniforms -- each volunteer was expected to acquire a uniform and buy his own rifle. Only in August 1914 did the Irish Volunteers issue a design for a uniform, similar in style to that worn in the British Army." ....

* National Museum of Ireland -- Decorative Arts & History > The Irish Wars
​"[....]  Most IRA fighters wore everyday clothes, making it difficult for the police and British army to distinguish them from civilians.   An IRA man could hide a pistol under a coat as he moved into position for an ambush."


* Hurley 2007 p148
"​Smachtín -- a small ailpín or a baitín, sometimes had its end hollowed out and filled with molten lead for extra hitting power.  In addition, the knob sometimes needed iron ferrules on it to be kept together after it (the butt end) had been drilled and loaded with iron.  When iron was added to it, this cipín ailpín was called a larga carnaí or 'iron-tipped cudgel'; a smachtín or smachtín ceann luaidhe, literally a 'lead-ended cudgel'.  It was also known as a 'loaded butt' or 'loaded stick'.  Sometimes the end of a baitín or horsewhip could be prepared this way as well, and sometimes the smachtínbaitín and ailpín, could also have nails or other metal prongs protruding from them, making them a kind of mace or mátan.  Common name variation: smachtínsmachtín ceann luaidhecleith ailpín (loaded stick/loaden butt, lead-ended cudgel, knobbed stick)."

* Hurley 2007 p181
"[S]ome cipíní were hollowed out at the end and filled with molten lead to increase the weight and therefore the force in the striking power.  This kind of a stick was called a 'loaded butt' because the upper, knobbed, 'butt' end, was loaded with lead.  When hardened, this molten lead could cause devastating blows, and this supports the idea that they were streamlined knobbed cudgels, designed for a closer and probably more deadly, style of combat."