The spring tide of Irish nationalism – how Ireland was lost in the 1918 conscription crisis

The introduction of compulsory military service here during World War I damaged British governance in Ireland and the Irish Party and boosted support for Sinn Féin and the Irish Volunteers, writes Dr William Murphy

15th April, 2018
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Eamon de Valera addresses a large anti-conscription rally in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, in April 1918 Pic: RTÉ Archives

The historian of revolutions, Charles Tilly, has pointed out that, in general, revolutionary movements find it easier to mobilise popular support against a perceived threat or injustice rather than in favour of a vision or an ideology.

Ireland’s revolution offers considerable evidence to sustain this idea. Unionists were able to mobilise the Ulster Volunteers when the Third Home Rule bill immediately threatened the Union, while nationalists were motivated to counter-mobilise because that Home Rule bill...

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