1913 Irish Republican Brotherhood


  • affiniated to Irish Volunteers
  • Irish Republican Army grows out of them
  • new departure in the wake of defeat of Home Rule bills
  • led the Easter Uprising
  • Ireland was ruled from Dublin Castle, administration immediately answerable to the Cabinet in London
  • represented in House of Commons but had only 1/6 of the votes
  • established in Colchester

Female Branch



Cumann_na_mBan__1_.jpgIn 1913, a number of women decided to hold a meeting in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin, for the purpose of discussing the possibility of forming an organisation for women who would work in conjunction with the recently formed Irish Volunteers. A meeting led by Kathleen Lane-O’Kelly (née Shanahan) on 2 April 1914 marked the foundation of Cumann na mBan.4 Branches,which pledged to the Constitution of the organisation, were formed throughout the country and were directed by the Provisional Committee.5 The first branch was named the Ard Chraobh, which held their meetings in Brunswick Street, before and after the 1916 Easter Rising.6


The constitution of Cumann na mBan contained explicit references to the use of force by arms if necessary. At the time the Government of Ireland Bill 1914 was being debated, and might have had to be enforced in Ulster. The primary aims of the organisation as stated in its constitution were to “advance the cause of Irish liberty and to organize Irishwomen in the furtherance of this object”, to “assist in arming and equipping a body of Irish men for the defence of Ireland” and to “form a fund for these purposes, to be called ‘The Defence of Ireland Fund’”.5


In addition to their local subscriptions (i.e. involvement in other nationalist associations or organisations), members of Cumann na mBan were expected to support the Defence of Ireland Fund, through subscription or otherwise.7 Its recruits were from diverse backgrounds, mainly white-collar workers and professional women, but with a significant proportion also from the working class. In September 1914, the Irish Volunteers split over John Redmond’s appeal for its members to enlist in the British Army. The majority of Cumann na mBan members supported the rump of between 10,000 and 14,000 volunteers who rejected this call and who retained the original name, the Irish Volunteers.89

Main Branch

Irish Volunteers

The Irish Volunteers (Irish: Óglaigh na hÉireann), sometimes called the Irish Volunteer Force123 or Irish Volunteer Army,456 was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912, and its declared primary aim was “to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland”.7 The Volunteers included members of the Gaelic League, Ancient Order of Hibernians and Sinn Féin,8 and, secretly, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). Increasing rapidly to a strength of nearly 200,000 by mid-1914, it split in September of that year over John Redmond’s commitment to the British War effort, with the smaller group retaining the name of “Irish Volunteers”. The Irish Volunteers fought for Irish independence in the Easter Rising of 1916, alongside the Irish Citizen Army, Cumann na mBan, and Fianna Éireann. From 1919 it took part in the Irish War of Independence, becoming known as the Irish Republican Army.

1913 Irish Republican Brotherhood

English Blood, Irish Heart ErikWeissengruber