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The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918

by John Borgonovo

Publication Year: 2013

At the beginning of the First World War, Irish separatists in the city of Cork were marginalised and without political power. By the war’s end, they had supplanted the local elite and launched a bloody war for independence. Using Cork as a case study, this book considers how the First World War brought about political revolution in Ireland, examining: wartime failures of constitutional nationalism; anxieties over food shortages; explosions in trade unionism; the effects of government repression; rising expectations for self-determination; the creation of a mass independence movement; and strident opposition to military conscription. For the first time, the Irish Revolution is viewed through a First World War prism, yielding results that will surprise students of both subjects.

Published by: Cork University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

A Note on Language

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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. 1-5

On 4 September 1921, the Cork Harbour Board commissioners attended their weekly meeting at the Cork Customs House, to be followed by an elaborate luncheon. The commissioners included many of the city’s most prominent commercial leaders, primarily railway directors, shipping agents and large merchants. ...

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I. Cork Political Life prior to Easter 1916

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pp. 6-24

In 1916, Cork city was Munster’s principal commercial centre and the third largest city in (pre-partition) Ireland. The city borough had a population of 76,632 and about another 20,0000 people lived in the suburban ‘liberties’.2 ...

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II. Cork and the First World War, 1914 to Easter 1916

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pp. 25-39

On 4 August 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany. During the ensuing days in Cork, crowds crushed into the train station to see off hundreds of reservists called up for active service. A newspaper reporter observed that ‘in the working class quarters of Cork, there is scarcely a home that has not been affected’.2 ...

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III. The Rising and After

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pp. 40-58

In Cork, the Easter Rising planted a seed in many young minds that eventually blossomed into physical-force republicanism. Apolitical draper’s assistant Florrie O’Donoghue was one of those affected. ...

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IV. ‘Thoughtless Young People’ and the Cork City Riots of 1917

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pp. 59-73

In the months following the 1916 Easter Rising, anti-government unrest grew. Throughout 1916 Cork citizens assertively raised funds for the INAVDF, while recruits joined the Irish Volunteers.2 Authorities repressed republican demonstrations during the first half of 1917, which increased tensions between Sinn Féin supporters and police. ...

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V. The Republican Front: Sinn Féin, the IRB, and the Irish Volunteers in 1917

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pp. 74-95

Energised by the Easter Rising, Cork’s republican community developed a mass movement in 1917 that ultimately seized control of city politics in 1918. Organising, as one veteran recalled, ‘in a loose but effective way’, republicans experienced a rapid and almost organic growth of the Irish Volunteers, IRB and Sinn Féin.1 ...

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VI. Twilight of the Mollies: The Decline of the Irish Party in 1917

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pp. 96-119

The Irish Party in Cork city remained a strong and multifaceted organisation in 1916. The United Irish League served as its political apparatus, with five branches operating in the city. Redmondite officials ran Cork Corporation and other public bodies, pursuing an Irish Party agenda whenever possible. ...

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VII. Cork Women, American Sailors and Catholic Vigilantes, 1917–18

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pp. 120-138

The streets of Cork experienced waves of protests and disturbances in 1917 and 1918. Police blamed young independence activists, labour radicals, and ordinary street rowdies for Cork’s numerous riots, brawls and assaults. ...

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VIII. Gender, Nationalism and Cork Cumann na mBan, 1916–18

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pp. 139-153

Cork Cumann na mBan played a key role in the evolution of the independence movement from 1916 to 1918. Though it initially served as an auxiliary to the Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan assumed new responsibilities, primarily managing fundraising and the care of political prisoners. ...

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IX. Cork Labour, Economy and the ITGWU

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pp. 154-167

After years of internal discord, the Cork labour movement reunited in late 1916. Its new driving force was the militant ITGWU (Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union), which advanced rapidly in 1917 and 1918. The ITGWU made little headway during the first year and a half of the world war, ...

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X. Preventing Another Black ’47: The Cork People’s Food Committee 1917–18

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pp. 168-185

Reflecting on his First World War leadership, David Lloyd George wrote, ‘The food question ultimately decided the issue of this war.’2 Though wartime Great Britain escaped the bread riots experienced by other combatants, a food shortage crisis emerged in Ireland during late 1917. ...

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XI. Insurrection: The 1918 Conscription Crisis

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pp. 186-212

Separate strands of wartime unrest fused following the passage of the Military Service Bill in April 1918. The conscription threat in Ireland produced an unequivocal challenge to British authority, the eclipse of constitutional nationalism, and the triumph of the radical republican movement. ...

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XII. The Victory of Sinn Féin: The 1918 General Election

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pp. 213-229

During the final months of the war, it became increasingly clear that Prime Minister Lloyd George intended to call a general election shortly after the Armistice. In Cork, the timing of the campaign generated optimism among republicans, fear in Redmondites, and indecision among unionists and trade unionists.2 ...

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pp. 230-234

On behalf of the Irish people, John Redmond unofficially declared war on the Central Powers in 1914. Had the conflict ended with a quick British victory, Redmond’s decision would have been a political triumph. However, the war dragged on four more years, ultimately toppling Redmond along with a Hapsburg emperor, Ottoman pasha, German kaiser, and Russian tsar. ...


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pp. 235-248

Notes and References

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pp. 249-316


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pp. 317-328

E-ISBN-13: 9781909005839
E-ISBN-10: 1909005835
Print-ISBN-13: 9781909005822
Print-ISBN-10: 1909005827

Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1