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depaor01

Percentage of Irish Catholics and Protestants joining up

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depaor01

Hi all,

I've been trying to find out, without much success, what percentage of Irishmen joining up were Catholic and what percentage were Protestant. An examination of casualties against census returns in my own and nearby Dublin parishes shows the vast majority were Catholic labourers.

I realise that the percentages would vary greatly depending on the part of the country, but a rough overall figure would be appreciated.

Thanks and regards,

Dave

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Don

  • Came across this list published in October 1916

Regards

Gerry

C and P.pdf

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depaor01

Keep an eye out for any wrong spelling of poor grammar now.

:thumbsup:

A mighty tome indeed! Thanks,

Dave

  • Came across this list published in October 1916
  • Regards
  • Gerry

Just the job Gerry,

Thanks a million,

Dave

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Airshipped

There were some considerable fluctuations over the course of the war, e.g.

The fall off in recruitment of Catholics and/or those of nationalist political persuasion over the course of the war would feed into the casualty statistics.

However, countering this trend is the profile of those enlisting with the flying services: the RAF and the Women's RAF (which continued recruiting extensively in Ireland in the 1918-1919 part of the 1914-1920 mobilisation period) contained a large number of Roman Catholics.

Bear in mind too that quite a number of those Irishmen recruited in Canada were drafted, and so it is not easy to make like-for-like comparisons with the early war volunteer units from Ireland.

From the information I have to hand re the flying services (RFC, RNAS, RAF, WRAF) the majority were Protestant. However, the profile of these bodies would not be representative of Ireland's participation in the war generally. One would need to compare the Irish-born of the Irish regiments, then add the very considerable number of Irish of the other regiments and of other Allied/Entente military services before coming to any sort of conclusions.

A couple of examples from the US naval flying services: Bennett Sergai, of Belfast's Jewish community, was killed in a flying boat crash at Killingholme, not with the RNAS but with the US Naval Air Service. Similarly, William Edward Kelly of Co Roscommon was killed with the US Naval air service at Lough Foyle, being swept out to sea and drowned.

It'd be extremely difficult to extrapolate meaningful data from using just the recruitment figures in Ireland.

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Murrough

From Prof.Keith Jeffrey "Ireland and The Great War"

We can break down the statistics by location and religion, though not quite for the whole war. The figures for recruitment by religion and province from August 1914 to January 1918 (which is the period for which we have more-or-less reliable figures) are as follows:

Province Catholics Protestants

Ulster 17,092 45,798 62,890
Leinster 25,357 4,989 30,346
Connacht 4,316 410 4,726
Munster 17,842 1,168 19,010

Totals 64,607 52,365 116,972

What these figures show, overall, is that more Catholics than Protestants (and hence we can assume more nationalists than unionists) joined up in Ireland during the First World War. Only in Ulster (nine counties) does the number of Protestants exceed the number of Catholics. But these figures are largely meaningless without some idea of the proportionality of enlistment, and the following table shows the recruiting response as a proportion of the religious group, again by province and again over the period from the start of the war to January 1918 (% of population first; % of recruits in brackets):

Province Catholic Protestant

Ulster 44 (27) 56 (73)
Leinster 85 (89) 15 (11)
Connacht 96 (92) 4 (8)
Munster 94 (93) 6 (7)
Ireland 74 (55) 26 (45)

What these figures show us is, as we might expect, that, overall, a higher percentage of Protestants joined up than Catholics. In Ulster, for example, where the population was just over half Protestant, nearly three-quarters of all the recruits came from that section of the population. But in the other provinces the figure was by no means so clear-cut.

While in Munster, the proportions of population and religion were more or less equal, in Leinster, which includes Dublin and which we have seen from the previous table supplied more recruits than any other province except Ulster, Catholics were slightly more likely to join up than Protestants. Thus, we cannot easily come to any simplistic conclusions about which group was more likely to join up than the other.

To put the numbers into some sort of context, we can relate the 200,000-odd to the total number of young men living in Ireland at the time. According to the 1911 census there were just over 700,000 men between the ages of 15 and 35 in Ireland. The great majority of the recruits fell between those ages.

We can say, therefore, that between a quarter and a third of the available young men in Ireland-a very strikingly high proportion-joined up to serve in the First World War"

There are no records for Irishmen that joined up or were drafted in Britain.

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Guest

Edit. Using the stats above on the per cent religious split in the population (74%/26%) with the Official data for estimated male population (2,184,193) and the religious split (55%/45%) in the official recruiting from GAR 1913-1919 (117,063) we get the following numbers:

3.88% of Catholic male population enlisted

9.23% of Protestant male population enlisted

6.14% weighted average of total male population enlisted.

There are some other Official numbers from the General Annual Reports of the British Army (1904-1913) that might help put this into context.

In the ten years prior to the War there had been a steady decrease of the number of men in the British Army born in Ireland. From 11.5% of the total Army in 1904 the proportions gradually sank as the Army also shrank to 9.3% of the Regular Army in 1913. This of course only records place of birth, not claimed nationality but might provide a useful reference point. It will not include men or Irish descent who were born in the rest of the United Kingdom. Similarly it will include men of non-Irish descent who were born in Ireland. Given the mass emigration from Ireland in the nineteenth century it is axiomatic that the former outweighed that latter by a considerable amount. To my knowledge there are no reliable stats on this simply because the Army bean-stealers didn't tabulate the religious categories within each national sub-group.

In parallel with this the per cent of Catholics in the British Army also steadily declined over the same decade from a high of 16.5% in 1904 to 14.8% in 1913. This correlation might suggest the two dynamics are related.

With regards to the Great War and recruiting, the official stats for recruiting in each home country varied considerably. The numbers were recorded as a per cent of population and as a per cent of male population between 4th Aug 1914 and 11th Nov 1918:

Percentage of Male Population represented by Enlistments:

England (excluding Monmothshire)..........24.02%

Wales (including Monmothshire) .............21.52%

Scotland...................................................23.71%

Ireland........................................................6.14%

Source: General Annual Reports of the British Army 1913-1919. Page 9

If Irish Protestants volunteered in higher proportions to Irish Catholics (as a percent of their respective religious communities) it stands to reason that the proportion of Irish Catholics enlisting as a percent of the male Irish Catholic population must be lower that 6.14%. Within the British Empire I believe only the male French Canadian community enlisted in lower proportions.

There are never-ending debates on what proportion of English born recruits were actually men of Irish descent (or Scottish for that matter). Some authors of the past 100 years have argued this mitigates part of the huge discrepancy in the numbers above. This view of course ignores the the main dynamic which is that Ireland alone of the home countries at the time did not have conscription. Australia (no conscription) had higher proportion of male enlistments than Ireland. I am sure most people will understand the deep underlying political issues in Ireland at the time and near civil war over Home Rule which pressured the British Govt to exempt Ireland from conscription. It caused outrage among English members of parliament who asked why Irishmen were manning the munitions factories while English conscripts were filling gaps in Irish battalions. It is a very thorny subject which ended in the slow and relentlessly cruel demise of the Irish battalions as they struggled to find recruits. Hansard (free online) has lots of fascinating debates held in the House of Commmons and House of Lords in 1916 on this subject.

A closely related debate is the 'Irish-ness' of Irish Battalions and the proportion of Irishmen or men of Irish descent serving in non-Irish Regiments. There have been one or two studies on this. The full data is simply not available and the studies have relied on SDGW data which itself is incomplete. Like all these debates it ultimately hinges on one of definitions of what makes someone Irish, or English or Scottish or Welsh. For example would an English-born Catholic of third generation Irish descent who was conscripted in 1916 be included in your data? I think it was the Duke of Wellington who said when turning down an Irish peerage (offered on account of him being born in Ireland) 'just because a man is born in a stable doesn't make him a horse' (there are other less palatable versions of this quote).

Your quest is very interesting but I suspect the path is fraught with low-wire entanglement of definitions. I would strongly recommend ignoring most of what has been written before and to try and source you own data. If you ever get to a hard conclusion I would be very interested to see the results. It is a fascinating topic. Good luck with your research.

Any mistakes are mine.

MG

Edit The GAR 1913-1919 records the estimated Male population in July 1914 in Ireland was 2,184,193 and adds as a footnote "It must be remembered that the male population of Ireland is composed of young men up to 18 years of age and of men over 50 years as a large proportion of the remainder emigrate to the United States and Colonies'

Ireland's male population was 92.9% of Scotland's (2,351,843) a country that produced over 4 times as many soldiers and 2.7 times as many volunteers. MG

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Murrough

If I read it correctly Jeffreys figures refer to the numbers of volunteers recruited from the island of Ireland,this does not factor in men of the regular army(consideraably more catholic than protestant)or reservists called up at the outbreak of war.

A cursory glance at Irish Regiments in SDGW show quite a few men who enlisted in GB but were born in Ireland,most likely they were economic migrants who had made Britain their home prior to the war, nonetheless I would classify them as Irish.

The quote attributed to Wellington regarding his Irishness, had, I thought, been put to bed, the quote was from Daniel O'Connell when he referred to Wellington. More a case of O'Connell denying the duke his Irishness than Wellington denying his Irishness.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Arthur_Wellesley,_1st_Duke_of_Wellington

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Guest

the regular army(consideraably more catholic than protestant)or reservists called up at the outbreak of war.

A cursory glance at Irish Regiments in SDGW show quite a few men who enlisted in GB but were born in Ireland,most likely they were economic migrants who had made Britain their home prior to the war, nonetheless I would classify them as Irish.

The quote attributed to Wellington regarding his Irishness, had, I thought, been put to bed, the quote was from Daniel O'Connell when he referred to Wellington. More a case of O'Connell denying the duke his Irishness than Wellington denying his Irishness.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Arthur_Wellesley,_1st_Duke_of_Wellington

Murrough

I may have misunderstood you last post, but it looks as if you are claiming the Regular Army was 'considerably more catholic than protestant'. It that is the case I have to politely disagree.

The British Army in 1913 was overwhelmingly Protestant according to official stats. The religion of men was recorded from 1881 onwards at least. The reference material is in the General Annual Reports. I have the copies from 1904 onwards. For 1913 the Regular Army was 228,421 of which 33,662 were Roman Catholics (14.7%) the rest were Protestants of various persuasions with the exceptions of 2,275 men and some women of other religions.

The Arm with the highest proportion of Roman Catholics was (unsurprisingly) the Infantry. In 1913 some 24.2% were RC. The Infantry was then 57.3% of the regular Army. The arguments don't hold for the reservists either. To be called up in 1914 a man would have had to have enlisted after 1902 based on the various terms of service (3 & 9, 9 &3 and 7 & 5). Thankfully we also have the religious breakdown for each year. It is a statistical impossibility that the Army, Army Reserve or Special Reserve or the TF (None in Ireland of course) could be 'considerably more catholic than protestant'. The underlying demographics simply could not support this claim. The Official report for 1913 for the Special Reserve (heavily represented by Irish regiments) has 17,538 RC of a total of 55,506. (31.6%)

The Regular Army in 1912 had 46,883 RCs of a total of 311,386 (15.05%). This was the RC peak of the period that reservists could have come from. Unless there was a mass religious conversion between 1902 and 1914 it is impossible for the Army Reserve to had anything above this proportion of Roman Catholics.

The BEF in 1914 went to war with about 56% Reservists. That would make the weighted average RC component of the BEF in Aug 1914 around 15%. The facts don't support the claim.

There are doubtless many thousands of Irishmen who lived outside Ireland and enlisted. The problem is that no-one knows exactly how many and because of this there are unsubstantiated claims of higher Irish enlistment than the official data suggests. I struggle to believe that Irishmen in England would enlist in greater numbers than Irishmen in Ireland. Certainly not in sufficient differentials to make a significant difference to the headline numbers. The arithmetic is a very steep challenge. To redress the 6.14% stat to anything near the numbers of the Scots or the English levels of recruitment (around 24% or four times greater), one would have to see somewhere in the region of the equivalent to 18% of Ireland's male population enlist outside Ireland. While there are some romantic hopes this is true there is not a shred of evidence for this. The idea that three times as many expatriate Irishmen enlisted as Irish domiciled men simply stretches the imagination somewhat. These arguments also make the tacit and convenient omission that there would be expatriate Englishmen, Scotsmen, Welshmen etc who would have enlisted abroad and boosted their official numbers. Given the massive population differentials and the massive recruitment ratio differentials there simply could not be enough expatriate Irishmen in the UK to redress that balance. It is a romantic idea not supported by any evidence that Irishmen enlisted in anywhere near the levels (as a proportion of population) as the rest of the UK. I wish it were true and I would love to be proved wrong.

As part of a long-running research project I have the data for every Irishman who died in the war (courtesy of the very excellent Geoff and his even more excellent Search Engine) - men who served in Irish regiments (all nationalities) and Irishmen (defined by birthplace of enlistment place) who served in non-Irish regiments. There is absolutely no evidence in the data -however far one might want to stretch the criteria - to support any claims that Irish recruitment came anywhere near that of the other home nations. The evidence, writ large is the fact that more Irish battalions were disbanded (proportionally) than any other home nation's battalions. If all these alleged expatriate Irishmen volunteered, (and the Army was asking for men in 1914-15 to fill Irish Service battalions of the overly ambitious Kitchener plan for Ireland) where did they go? The arithmetic is against the Irish Romanticists and so are the facts: To get the numbers comparable to other home nations we need the 6% to increase four-fold to 24% If four- times as many Irishmen joined as the official stats claim, why did the 1st and 2nd Bn Connaught Rangers have to merge in 1914? No other British Infantry paired regular battalion had to do this. Why did the Irish Kitchener battalions need thousands of English recruits to even meet initial establishment, why did the 10th (Irish) Div need to pull in English battalions and Indian Battalions and merge its Irish battalions and end up losing its Irish title? (the only 'nationally designated Div that did) et ad nauseam.

Ireland's contribution was remarkable, especially against the political background and issues over Home Rule. It is a fascinating case study and one that needs much more research but we must be mindful not to fall into the Ferguson trap; exaggerating claims of contribution and sacrifice (in his case Scotland's). It isn't necessary. Their contribution needs no embellishment and (I think) is acknowledged by most.

MG

Any mistakes are mine. Edited for the considerable number of typos.

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Airshipped

The stats for many Ulster recruitment depots do feature regularly in the local media, e.g. here's a copy of material for Omagh in the very late stages of the war:

http://ulster.failteromhat.com/recruitingomagh.htm

Although a RC majority catchment area you can see from the place-names of the 'Protestant' villages in Fermanagh and Tyrone that the profile of recruits at this stage of the war was overwhelmingly Protestant, e.g. look up these chaps in the Irish Census 1911 using their addresses. Note also that these men presented themselves for enlistment: many would not pass a medical. The unionist press had made a point of highlighting the quota needed etc in the absence of conscription, and so it may well be that several presented themselves out of a sense of duty but with no realistic prospect of being accepted.

Of course it'd be meaningless to compare late war recruitment of this nature with that of the early war years.

Other factors to bear in mind? Linen was a war industry, vital for aircraft manufacture. Agriculture in Ireland generally was the functional equivalent of a war industry. However, consider also the subsistence nature of agriculture in the "Congested Districts" of Ireland's Atlantic seaboard: the recruitment rate could never match urban areas like Dublin or Belfast.

Btw the Canadian Attestation Papers are available: alas the manner in which the metadata is structured leaves a lot to be desired.

https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/cef/001042-100.01-e.php

However, pick a random Irish surname and you'll probably find that between one quarter and one third are Irish born. Following up using the FamilySearch site you can then see from the Canadian Census data if the parents of the Canadian-born chaps were Irish, e.g. in some cases either one or both parents are Irish.

You can also use that latter source for US draft cards: the search facility allows for birthplace. Granted, only a percentage of those issued with a draft card were actually enlisted. However, it can be a good starting point when you want to check US casualty lists. Here's a search for Leitrim as a birthplace, e.g. a small county in terms of population:

https://familysearch.org/search/record/results?count=20&query=%2Bbirth_place%3Aleitrim~&collection_id=1968530

A quick click though the first 20-odd pages of that query results in 500+ Leitrim men. (It's a point that also holds true for Scotland, albeit to a lesser extent: a percentage of the eligible male population of working age had emigrated and had enlisted or been conscripted in the host country).

Re my previous post: although the flying services is unrepresentative of the population as a whole and although the NUI did not have a comparable OTC to those which operated in other institutions, there were nevertheless a significant number of early war RFC officers of a Roman Catholic background when one takes into account socio-economic profile. However, one other curiosity is the distorting effect of the RNAS Armoured Car Squadrons on the non-officer ranks of the RNAS: these recruited mechanics and engineers as Petty Officers, and had a disproportionate number of Ulstermen - not just relative to the population but also in absolute numbers, probably reflecting the industrial nature of their trades.

One danger is for any exercise of this nature to descend into some sort of political grave-robbing, in which Catholics or Protestants are assigned a label and claimed for a particular political point. The point in an earlier post re the term "Irish" is also worth considering, e.g. see histories of the Tyneside Irish and it's clear that although the recruits of these Irish families were English-born they were very much identified as being "Irish" by the local population there.

However, if there ever was a comprehensive list of the 240,000 Irish who enlisted it would probably still end up with an appendix containing a 75,000+ block of "Irish" of American, Australian, Canadian, English, Indian and South African birth. Inclusion/exclusion will never escape the political arguments.

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Murrough

Sorry ,it was just the Irish regiments I was referring to when it came to the religions of those who enlisted.Prof Jeffreys figures related to Ireland and I was alluding to the regular Irish regiments,it would be a quite a stretch for even me to think that there were more RC's that other religions in the Army in 1914 when RC's made up c.14% of the total population.

I for one,am in no way proposing that Irish levels of recruitment were close to the % of the other home countries, and I don't know of any "Irish Romanticists" who would even suggest a figure of 20%+ nor have I seen anyone else suggest such a figure.I merely suggest that the figure of 6% while statistically correct,is not an accurate reflection of the total amount of Irishmen who fought in WW1, it only Includes those resident in Ireland who did volunteer.

I am not sure where you saw unsubstantiated claims of higher Irish enlistment,but I have seen mention of the estimate that 10% of Irish males participated in the war,but I would be interested to know why you think others suggested a figure of 20%+.

A more apt comparison is the voluntary enlistment %'s(excluding conscription) for all the countries, I would also be interested in the levels of voluntary enlistments vis a vis urban and rural enlistments in the uk at the time.To look at rural voluntary enlistment in GB compared to Ireland( a primarily rural country) might be interesting.

BTW there are cases of Irish recruits going to non Irish regiments, I will dig out the references later.

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Guest

The point in an earlier post re the term "Irish" is also worth considering, e.g. see histories of the Tyneside Irish and it's clear that although the recruits of these Irish families were English-born they were very much identified as being "Irish" by the local population there.

However, if there ever was a comprehensive list of the 240,000 Irish who enlisted it would probably still end up with an appendix containing a 75,000+ block of "Irish" of American, Australian, Canadian, English, Indian and South African birth. Inclusion/exclusion will never escape the political arguments.

The Irish heritage of recruits for the Tyneside Irish is grossly exaggerated. What is the source of this claim? The histories provide no hard data other than unsubstantiated claims.The SDGW stats would not support these claims. as the War progressed the Irish characteristics rapidly decreased. After conscription in Jan 1916 the composition of battalions changed forever with very few exceptions in the Highland regiments. Again the romantic idea that Geordies with Irish heritage continually manned the 24th-27th Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers for 3 years has no foundation. Within 6 months of deployment in Jan 1916 (the same month conscription was introduced in Britain ex Ireland) these battalions were destroyed and resconstituted with conscripts (not volunteers). Conscripts went to where they were sent (as indeed did tens of thousands of Kitchener men much to their chagrin). If memory serves the 24th and 27th amalgamated in 1917 (sounds familiar?) which seems odd for a regiment that raised over 50 Battalions with one of Britain's largest pools of population. Presumably they had run out of expatriate Irishmen. The Tyneside Irish, Scots, Liverpool Irish, Scots etc were unable to sustain their 'national' characteristics. The evidence is in the hard data of the men who died - the largest sample we have. The rest is simply conjecture.

I would be fascinated to know the source of the 240,000 Irishmen figure - double that of the home recruited men. This is getting into the realms of the Scottish National War Memorial which records every man who was either Scottish by birth or had served in a Scottish regiment regardless of nationality. The latter data includes tens of thousands of non-Scots but regardless of this the grossly inflated figure has been abused by politicians and authors to 'prove' ridiculous claims over Scotland's contribution. There are over 10,00 double entries where men changed battalions. There are tens of thousands of non Scots who has the fortune to serve in a fine Scottish regiment but are now classified as Scotsmen. I fear something similar is happening in this revisionist history.

I suspect if one added up the Irish, Scots, Australians and other the sum of the parts would be greater than the whole. There would be no room in the totals to accommodate the English.

How does one really categorise an Irish-born Australian who served in a Scottish battalion? For sure he is counted three times in this desperate grab for numbers to inflate latent national claims on 'their' imagined national contribution.

My last argument would be: If the irish were so keen on joining up, why did the British Govt shy away from introducing conscription. Again the facts don't support the conjecture.

A more interesting debate is the formation of the 16th Irish and 36th Ulster so called political Divisions which, to keep within the OP had political/religious overtones. The British Govt's handling of the formation of these Divisions was rather challenging to say the least. The data on the manning levels shows huge swings as blocks of politically (and religiously) aligned men were arbitrarily shifted from one battalion to another to suit political means. A truly fascinating and unique part of British and Irish history. Also another way of demonstrationg that not all battalions, even Irish ones were dominated by Roman Catholics...

MG

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Guest

Sorry ,it was just the Irish regiments I was referring to when it came to the religions of those who enlisted.Prof Jeffreys figures related to Ireland and I was alluding to the regular Irish regiments,it would be a quite a stretch for even me to think that there were more RC's that other religions in the Army in 1914 when RC's made up c.14% of the total population.

Again I think we need to be more precise. There are battalions of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers that were overwhelmingly Protestant. I take your general point but by the time the 45% Protestant recruits are factored in (who incidentally had a significantly better track record in sustaining manning levels than the sparsely populated and politically challenged southern counties), I think the idea that Irish Regiments were predominantly Catholic is in aggregate simply not right. The Service battalions of the Connaughts, Leinsters RMF (6th and 7th merged) RDF (ditto) all took many hundreds of English recruits. The extreme example is the Connaught Rangers; merged regular battalions and only one Service battalion survived. Again the data supports this as Yorkshiremen (high population density) and Essex men (ditto) appear in substantial and disproportionate numbers in the SDGW.

There are some stark figures on the numbers of Irish battalions at the start, at the peak and at the end of the war, and how they compare to the rest. From memory there were less than 50 Irish battalions at the peak compared to over 1,761 battalions at the peak. Roughly speaking 3% of the total. (I will revert with the accurate data) at the end again from memory I think there were less than 15 Irish battalions. I will revert.

It is simply a matter of demographics and politics. There were simply not enough Irishmen to support these inflated claims (Cooper - History of the 10th (Irish Div) is one example of this inflation) and of those who were eligible, substantial proportions didn't have to serve (no conscription) and chose not to volunteer. For those that did volunteer (Catholic and Protestant) especially after conscription was introduced one can only stand in amazement and be thankful.

To me that is their contribution: that they chose to enlist at all.

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Murrough

I would be fascinated to know the source of the 240,000 Irishmen figure - double that of the home recruited men. This is getting into the realms of the Scottish National War Memorial which records every man who was either Scottish by birth or had served in a Scottish regiment regardless of nationality. The latter data includes tens of thousands of non-Scots but regardless of this the grossly inflated figure has been abused by politicians and authors to 'prove' ridiculous claims over Scotland's contribution. There are over 10,00 double entries where men changed battalions. There are tens of thousands of non Scots who has the fortune to serve in a fine Scottish regiment but are now classified as Scotsmen. I fear something similar is happening in this revisionist history.

I suspect if one added up the Irish, Scots, Australians and other the sum of the parts would be greater than the whole. There would be no room in the totals to accommodate the English.

How does one really categorise an Irish-born Australian who served in a Scottish battalion? For sure he is counted three times in this desperate grab for numbers to inflate latent national claims on 'their' imagined national contribution.

My last argument would be: If the Irish were so keen on joining up, why did the British Govt shy away from introducing conscription. Again the facts don't support the conjecture.

MG

I don't think anybody was keen to join up, but many did voluntarily,conscription was untenable and indeed by April 1918 the Government was attempting to set up a purely Irish Nationalistic formation which would have a wolfhound badge and Irish pipes to induce recruitment.

I believe one of the references for the c.200'000 ffigure comes from Prof Jeffrey.

"

Ireland and the Great War (1)

An essay by Prof. Keith Jeffrey

Between August 1914 and November 1918 considerably over 200,000 Irish served in armed forces engaged in the First World War. They fall into three main categories. In the first place a fair number were serving soldiers at the start of the conflict.

For example in August 1914, in the British army there were 28,000 Irish-born regular soldiers and 30,000 reservists who were immediately called up back to the colours. Secondly there were what were known as 'Kitchener's men', people who responded to the urgent call for volunteers made by Lord Kitchener, appointed Secretary of State for War in August 1914, and most dramatically represented in the world-famous 'Your Country Needs You' poster.

Between August 1914 and February 1916 (more or less when conscription was introduced in Great Britain, and just before the Easter Rising in Ireland) about 95,000 men joined up. Thirdly, there were those who joined up during the rest of the war, after the initial recruiting 'surge', up to November 1918. These men total about 45,000, including nearly 10,000 recruits in the last three and a half months of the war alone.

These figures do not include all the Irish people who joined up. They do not include officers, nor do they include all of the Irishmen in the Royal Navy, and they do not take into account Irishmen serving in formations raised outside the United Kingdom-in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, for example-or in foreign armies (most notably that of the USA), nor even those in non-military services like the Merchant Marine, which participated and suffered in the Great War.

I have four great-uncles from Ireland who served in the First World War. Each one of them emigrated to Canada before 1914, and each of them served with the Canadian forces (two perished), thus they do not appear in the statistics already quoted. This is surely not unique, and there must be many similar cases among families in our emigrant Irish society"

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I don't think anybody was keen to join up, but many did voluntarily,conscription was untenable and indeed by April 1918 the Government was attempting to set up a purely Irish Nationalistic formation which would have a wolfhound badge and Irish pipes to induce recruitment.

I believe one of the references for the c.200'000 ffigure comes from Prof Jeffrey.

"

Ireland and the Great War (1)

An essay by Prof. Keith Jeffrey

Between August 1914 and November 1918 considerably over 200,000 Irish served in armed forces engaged in the First World War. They fall into three main categories. In the first place a fair number were serving soldiers at the start of the conflict.

For example in August 1914, in the British army there were 28,000 Irish-born regular soldiers and 30,000 reservists who were immediately called up back to the colours. Secondly there were what were known as 'Kitchener's men', people who responded to the urgent call for volunteers made by Lord Kitchener, appointed Secretary of State for War in August 1914, and most dramatically represented in the world-famous 'Your Country Needs You' poster.

Between August 1914 and February 1916 (more or less when conscription was introduced in Great Britain, and just before the Easter Rising in Ireland) about 95,000 men joined up. Thirdly, there were those who joined up during the rest of the war, after the initial recruiting 'surge', up to November 1918. These men total about 45,000, including nearly 10,000 recruits in the last three and a half months of the war alone.

These figures do not include all the Irish people who joined up. They do not include officers, nor do they include all of the Irishmen in the Royal Navy, and they do not take into account Irishmen serving in formations raised outside the United Kingdom-in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, for example-or in foreign armies (most notably that of the USA), nor even those in non-military services like the Merchant Marine, which participated and suffered in the Great War.

I have four great-uncles from Ireland who served in the First World War. Each one of them emigrated to Canada before 1914, and each of them served with the Canadian forces (two perished), thus they do not appear in the statistics already quoted. This is surely not unique, and there must be many similar cases among families in our emigrant Irish society"

For starters Prof Jeffrey's 28,000 figure for the Regular Army Irish Born is 34.7% higher than the official returns for late 1913 of 20,780. The 30,000 figure for the Reservists is also questionable. The number for the Irish Infantry battalions which accounted for over 75% of the Irish establishment was only 15,000 so I am at a loss how he gets us to 30,000. .... but for arguments sake let's assume it is correct. Prof Jeffrey's total pre War comes to 58,000. I would argue that it would be an absolute maximum of 50,780 i.e. the number is inflated by at least 14% from the start and probably overcooked by another 10,000 or 17%. I shall revert with the hard data. This is how myths start.

Prof Jeffrey's other figures are at odds with the official stats too. Here are the official stats for Irish Recruitment:

Grade 1 Voluntary...................................................................117,063

Grade 1. Groups and Classes.....................................................5,004

Min of Nat Service 1st Nov 1917- 11th Nov 1918: Gen Svc:......10,845

Min of Nat Service 1st Nov 1917- 11th Nov 1918: Others............1,290

Totals.......................................................................................134,202

Some 67% short of his 200,000 total. Even if he is correct it still represents less than 10% of the Irish male population.

I note he does the double and treble counting of expatriates too and substantiates the numbers with minuscule data samples based on personal family experiences. From a statistical and academic point of view they are irrelevant and can not be scaled up. The tacit inference is that his family experience is typical (otherwise why mention it?) and implicitly every Irish family had multiple expatriate relatives who fought. If that is the case he needs to provide the evidence rather than the romantic conjecture. These are not robust arguments. He does not provide data of Irish Canadians when sample data is freely available and emigration data is available -just how many Canadians had an Irish birthplace? and how many were these as a percentage? They are similarly flawed in my view. This extrapolation of small anecdotal data to substantiate national claims is poor science. These are similar arguments Ferguson uses for the Scots.

I suspect rather like the unsuspecting J M Winter was to Ferguson, these numbers have been regurgitated by authors as 'facts' without the simplest of checks. It took less than a minute to work out his first figure is simply wrong by a factor of over one third. A truly staggering margin of error.

Lastly if one is to grab expatriates in an attempt to 'prove' a larger numerical contribution, one needs to do the same for all countries and show every country's inflated 'recruits' by way of comparison. One quickly discovers the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. I think time would be better spent on highlighting the contribution of the men we know served rather than trying to conjure up inflated numbers.

MG

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Murrough

No doubt the good Prof can defend himself, but I would doubt he was in the business of myth building, as to his alleged (romantic) conjecture,you are quite correct in stating that there are more precise resources and models available now to ascertain the amount of Irish in the other Commonwealth and US forces.These Irish should be included when historians/interested parties in Ireland are trying to calculate the number of Irish that did serve in WW1 and not just the figures for the British services.

A sad fact in Ireland is the high level of emigration over the centuries and emigration was still prevalent in the years before 1914, it is quite correct to include these Irish in calculations,there is no conspiracy or myth building there.Most just want an accurate picture.

Dr Terence Denman gives his figures for Irish participants in his book published in 1992, he gives a figure of nearly 135,000 volunteered and 50,000 serving in the reserves and regular army on the 4/8/1914.He does not speculate on the numbers in other forces or the numbers that joined in Britain.So now we have a total of approx 185,000, is it unreasonable to speculate that another 15-25,000 Irish joined up or were drafted in the other forces? the 200,000 figure for Irish who participated in WW1 would not be far off the mark.

I am not entirely familiar with Ferguson and the Scottish figures but were the calculations(casualty?) there not exaggerated by 100%, this is hardly the same scenario.

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Airshipped

I would be fascinated to know the source of the 240,000 Irishmen figure - double that of the home recruited men. This is getting into the realms of the Scottish National War Memorial which records every man who was either Scottish by birth or had served in a Scottish regiment regardless of nationality. The latter data includes tens of thousands of non-Scots but regardless of this the grossly inflated figure has been abused by politicians and authors to 'prove' ridiculous claims over Scotland's contribution. There are over 10,00 double entries where men changed battalions. There are tens of thousands of non Scots who has the fortune to serve in a fine Scottish regiment but are now classified as Scotsmen. I fear something similar is happening in this revisionist history.

Martin, that figure is very much a settled figure, e.g. see as far back as Keith Jeffrey's "Ireland and the Great War" in 2000, which gave a minimum as 210,000 and all the numerous revisions to this data by other sources over the years that have appeared in related articles.

(Btw in articles and publications I've written I tend for the minimalist approach to the term "Irish" but often acknowledge those of Irish parentage where relevant or necessary, e.g. in relation to a particular squadron).

However, if we want to take an ultra-minimalist figure for Irish recruitment, e.g. see David Fitzpatrick's "Militarism in Ireland" then perhaps consider that his 200,000 figure includes an estimate of just 4,000 for the flying services. My own research has disclosed a figure of in excess of 6,000 i.e. 50% higher. I don't for a minute suggest that the army or navy figures are underestimated by a similar amount but the tendency to disown Irishmen recruited in Great Britain or in other Allied/Entente/Empire countries is as disrespectful to these men as is the over-claiming by others.

Btw if you've a problem with 6,000 in the flying services you can PM me. (Some of the research has not yet been written up to a publishable standard but I've plenty of raw data). However, for general publicly-available sources that make nonsense of 4,000 do have a glance at the following PQ replies:

Major Newman, 24 October 1918 re the figure from June to October 1918:

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1918/1918%20-%201231.html?search=newman

Mr Boland, 18 November 1918 for the total serving in November 1918:

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1918/1918%20-%201362.html?search=boland

The RN figures tend to be quite erratic but that also applies to WWII (e.g. see Doherty's excellent research which has blown out of the water much of the official estimates in that regard).

As I mentioned in my previous post, the availability of online access to US and Canadian records allows for the facts to now be accessed by amateur historians researching a particular town or county of origin, or allows the professional historian to revisit previous assumptions and revise accordingly. To some extent we are at a starting point from which many myths will be exploded (and indeed, as you've pointed out, we can prevent alternative myths from emerging).

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Airshipped

Hi,

To help the original poster with the query, how about looking at the original census data of 1911 to assist with setting out the basic framework?

The Irish Census 1911 records a population of 4.4 million on the island of Ireland. Taking this entire figure as Irish-born (which is most certainly not) but taking this as an exaggerated baseline to lessen the count of Irish-born resident elsewhere, it can still provide an indisputable number.

Looking at England & Wales in 1911 there's an Irish-born figure of 375,325 quoted regularly, e.g. see the following links:

http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/census/SRC_P/8/EW1911GEN

and original appendix table:

http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/census/table_page.jsp?tab_id=EW1911GEN_M104&show=DB

Irish-born in Scotland? A figure of 174,715 according to the summary:

http://www.visionofireland.org/census/SRC_P/3/S1911OCC

However, let's squint a little and say "oh Newtownabbey? That's actually Newton Abbot, in Co Devon" or "Hollywood, North Down? That's a mistranscription: it's the North Downs of Kent". Lose some. Then take the related issue of "ah but Irish recruitment figures are double-counting: look at all the Micks resident in garrison towns in 1911". So perhaps for the near 600,000 Irish-born population of Great Britain we can cut it to 500,000 for recruitment purposes.

I suppose a line could be taken that "well, they're devilishly crafty, and would have all left Britain when conscription came" but then this has to be offset against "but they then were overcome by pangs of guilt and any British-resident Irish person returned to Ireland to enlist in an Irish regiment". No, it doesn't sound credible, but supposing we could cut the Irish-born of Great Britain by a further 100,000 on the basis of the foregoing. It still leaves us with 350,000 people, or about 7% of the Irish population (i.e. 350,000 of 5,000,000 Irish-born of the UK, whether resident in Great Britain or in Ireland) for whom we need to account in the recruitment statistics.

It's a messy subject. I dislike the elastic nature of the label "Irish" in certain circumstances, and I discount many thousands of Irish parentage in what I write, but I can see why it can be the subject of much honest misunderstanding, quite apart from the various political arguments over Irishness. To get away from the UK altogether do have a look at the freely-available American, Australian and Canadian sources: it'll add a wealth of information to your research efforts.

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depaor01

Thanks very much Airshipped for your contributions. You, Morrough and Martin Et Al have given me much pause for thought. My OP was aimed at getting ammunition to debunk the myth - for a school information pack - of a "Protestant Great War" that pertained for so long in Ireland.

Thanks again,

Dave

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Some interesting tables in the links. Thank you for posting them.

Here is the most optimistic scenario from the numbers contained in the Census data for 1911 (numbers are rounded up for the nominator and rounded down for the denominator in order to give the most optimistic scenario). If one takes the total Irish born male population of England Scotland and Wales we get 274,000. If we then take the men of eligible age for enlistment we get around 126,000. If we were to assume every Irish born male of eligible age living in England, Wales and Scotland enlisted in the Great War and add these to the official numbers of men recruited in Ireland of 134,000 we would get a total of 260,000. If we added the 274,000 expatriates back to the Irish male population 2,184193 we get an Irish born male population base of 2,458,000 living in the British Isles. The 260,000 would represent 10.6% of the population, a recruitment ratio still less than half that of England (24%), Scotland (24%) and Wales (22%).

Population Dynamics. One might increase the numbers slightly to factor in population growth between 1911 and 1914-18 but we would have to inflate both the nominator and denominator of the equation so it rather cancels out.Also the Irish population in England, Wales and Scotland had been declining for 50 years and continued to decline in the inter-decennial Census years between 1911 and 1921. It doesn't matter how far the data is stretched, there is no way of getting away from the fact that Irish recruiting - however one defines it- was way lower that that of the rest of the British Isles. Clearly the scenario illustrated above is extremely unlikely as we know 100% of Irish born expatriate males of enlistment age did not enlist. If one was to add all the Irish born Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders etc, we would also have to add the English, Scottish and Welsh expatriates to their respective recruitment pools.

The Decennial Census from 1881-1911 show a steady decline of Irish-born people in England and Wales. In 1891 there were 562,374 Irish-born residing in England and Wales. By 1911 the number had declined by a third to 375,35.The decline continued through to 1921. This may partly reflect the integration of the Irish within England and Wales where second and third generations of Irish families are born in England and Wales. What is particularly interesting is the concentration of the Irish communities.

Concentration of Irish Born residents. Back in 1901 38% of the Irish-born residents of England and Wales resided in Lancashire or Cheshire and 82% resided in just 12 Counties. It would be an interesting exercise to see if these county regiments reflected significantly higher proportions of Irish-born men in the SDGW data for 1914, 1915, 1916. In 1901 6.7% of Liverpool's population was Irish-born (9.1% in 1891). It is interesting to note that Hampshire of all the counties had the highest concentration. The report suggests this is correlated to the Naval dockyards. For England and Wales as a whole the proportion of Irish-born was 1.04%. In Hampshire the ratio was 2.14%. Bryan Cooper in his history of the 10th (Irish) Division when trying to explain the rather inconvenient inclusion of the 10th (Service) Bn of the Hampshire Regt in the 10th (Irish) Division claimed that the Hampshire Regiment had long ties with the Irish community. The SDGW data for this battalion does not support this theory. One one OR and one Officer in the SDGW data were recorded as Irish-born.

Wild Geese Chase.

Tyneside Irish. In Northumberland the Irish-born population was just 1.14% of the county's population. This county raised 41 new Battalions in the Great War including five Tyneside Irish Battalions. In theory if the Tyneside Irish were full of Irishmen, these five battalions' (12.2% of new battalions) casualty data would reflect this characteristic. If the Tyneside irish were exclusively of Irish descent it implicitly assumes that 1% of the population of Northumberland supported 12.2 % of the recruitment of the Northumberland Fusilers. It is a concept that stretches credulity. If we analyse this further and focus on the Service Battalions (four Tyneside Irish (Service) Battalions of 19 Service battalions = 21%) we are being asked to believe that one per cent of the Northumbrian population was fuelling 21% of the county's infantry expansion. Something that I think was very unlikely.

Edit (twice): In the CWGC data for the four Service Battalions of the Tyneside Irish, of the men who's place of birth is recorded only 3.0% are recorded as being born in Ireland; just 55 men of the 1,842 men The men came from just about every county in the British Isles reflecting the rather fluid movement of recruits post the start of conscription.

Edit 3: Liverpool Irish: 4.3% of CWGC data shows place of birth as Ireland of the 751 men where place of birth is known. This is interesting as Liverpool had the highest urban concentration of expatriate Irishmen yet the stats for Irish born men are only marginally better than the Tyneside Irish and London Irish but still extremely low.

Edit 4: London Irish: 2.6%of CWGC data shows place of birth as Ireland of the 661 men where place of birth is known.

Counter Arguments. The only counter-argument is that the men were allegedly 2nd and 3rd (or 4th?) generation Irishmen born in England and Scotland and Wales. If this was the case we would expect to see the evidence in the surnames. The surnames of the populations of England Scotland, Wales and Ireland in 1914-18 had very distinctive patterns to them and are very clearly different. Frequency analysis of surnames would expect very large Gaelic spikes in surnames beginning with the letters M for example (along with about 15 other unique characteristics). The Welsh have large spikes in the letters E and W (no surprise) and the Scots a gigantic spike in the letter M (no surprise). One strong characteristic of English surname samples is that surnames beginning with B, H, M, S and W occur in nearly equal numbers - something that does not happen with Irish surnames samples. High frequencies of surnames with the letter H is a particular characteristic of English samples that we do not see in Irish samples. There are a dozen other tell-tale characteristics of each national sample. Anyone familiar with frequency analysis of languages (used to help crack the Enigma at Bletchley Park in WWII) will be familiar with this quite simple technique. It is not rocket science. There are at least 20 unique characteristics to the starting letters of surnames in large samples of names from different countries. Each nation's surnames are like a fingerprint. Thankfully the surname 'fingerprint' data is available through the SDGW, CWGC and medal rolls. The data is 99.8% consistent.

Analysis of over 21,000 men who were born in Ireland and served in an Irish regiments shows that 19.5% had a surnames beginning with the letter M. A similar sized sample of men born in England who served in English regiments shows a 8.8% incidence of surnames beginning with the letter M. This is a huge difference. Blind samples of men purporting to be Irish or English can be compared to these control samples so find the closest fit. When the surname samples of London Irish, Liverpool Irish and Tyneside Irish are compared to these control samples there is an overwhelmingly high coincidence with the English surname patterns. The Gaelic spike in letter M is barely visible.

A recruit could be born in Ireland and therefore immediately qualify. The CWGC data indicates less than 3% of recruits in the Tyneside Irish were born in Ireland. For the 97% of Tyneside Irish recruits born outside Ireland there were other ways they could qualify;

1. At least one parent born in Ireland

2. At least one Grandparent born in Ireland

Inheriting Irish genes and inheriting an Irish surname through the paternal line have very slightly different maths. I won't bother you with the calc* here, but in a large sample of men qualifying under one of the two scenarios above we should expect 63% of the surnames to exhibit typically Irish characteristics. For example instead of having 8.8% of men with surnames beginning with the letter M (in a typical English sample) if the sample is big enough and the law of large numbers applies, we would expect 63%** more i.e see a 14.3% incidence of surnames starting with the letter M. We don't. The Tyneside Irish data shows an incidence of 10.4%. Higher than a pure English sample but still way off the 14.3% we would expect. Clearly there is evidence of some Celtic surname characteristics creeping in (they might be of Scots descent of course). The data simply does not support any theory that the majority of the Tyneside Irish were of Irish descent (within 3 generations at least). We see the same with the Liverpool Irish and the London Irish. It doesn't support the theory that they were in a large minority. In fact it is extremely difficult, faced with un-labelled data-samples of known Irish, known English and known London, Liverpool and Tyneside Irish to make draw any conclusion other that they were mostly Englishmen with no tangible Irish connections. All three sets of data exhibit characteristics that are significantly closer to the English samples than the Irish samples.

The only other refuge from this argument to explain the lack of Irish surnames is the idea that nearly all these men were descendants of Irish grandparents whose female offspring all married Englishmen. Statistically unlikely in the extreme. The most likely only sensible explanation is that these regiments and battalions were predominantly manned by non-Irishmen (mostly English) who had no connection to Ireland. [Please note this section has been heavily edited for clarity]

CWGC Data for Irish Infantry. Looking at the wider data for all the 30,778 men who died while serving in an Irish Infantry battalion, 95.2% of them have their place of birth recorded. 28.0% were not born in Ireland; 8,204 men. Of these 8,014 were born in England Scotland or Wales.

Edit 2: The shifts in the concentrations of Irish-born men in each year are quite revealing:

1914: 81.2% Irish born - reflects traditional recruiting patterns and availability of Irish Reservists.

1915: 69.2% Irish born - I suspect this dip reflects the topping up of Irish Kitchener battalions with English drafts.

1916: 76.4% Irish born - this is particularly interesting. Despite the lack of conscription Irish battalions remained predominantly Irish

1917: 58.7% Irish born - we begin to see the full impact of the Govt's inability to keep Irish infantry battalions manned with Irish recruits.

1918: 50.8% Irish born - Despite the disbandment and amalgamation of a number of Irish battalions, barely half the men in the last year of the war were born in Ireland.

[sample size: 30,777 of which 29,292 have country of birth recorded]

The Irish should be intensely proud of their contribution in the Great War. I think any attempts to exaggerate their commitment to the cause simply undermines their achievements.

In the specific quest to debunk the myth that it was a Protestant Great War in Ireland, I could think of no better data than the formation of the Irish Kitchener Battalions. The National Archives has some wonderful data and tables on their formation showing the many of thousands of men who joined the overwhelmingly Catholic Irish Regiments from the southern counties - The Service battalions of the Connaught Rangers, Leinsters, RDF and RMF etc. I will dig one out and post it.

MG

Heavily edited with additional info. All numbers from Govt sources (Census) and CWGC courtesy of Geoff's Excellent Search Engine.

* The simplest approach is that a recruits' parents could be born in Ireland or not born in Ireland and there are 4 scenarios each with a 25% probability;

1. Father born in Ireland

2. Mother born in Ireland

3. Both parents born in Ireland

4. Neither parent born in Ireland. This last category would be taken to the next step: qualification on the basis of having at least one grandparent born in Ireland.

The maths for having "at least one grandparent born in Ireland" is subtly different from having "one or more grandparents born in Ireland". For the latter there are 15 different combinations of one or more grandparents being Irish. Of these 8 combinations involve the paternal grandfather and an Irish surname being passed on to the next generation. Given men would have been recruited on the basis of all 15 scenarios, there would be a 52% chance (=8/15) of this sub-group having an Irish surname. ..So adding this all up:

1. Father born in Ireland - 25% probability. Irish surname passed on

2. Mother born in Ireland - 25% probability. No Irish surname

3. Both parents born in Ireland - 25% probability. Irish surname

4. Neither parent born in Ireland but one or more Grandparent born in Ireland (15 scenarios) - 25% probability. Within these a 52% chance of having an Irish surname

So the chances of having an Irish surname in a large pool of Tyneside Irish recruits born outside Ireland is 25% (scenario 1 above) +25% (scenario 2 above) + 13% (scenario 4 above: 25% * 0.52= 13%)

Probability of having an Irish surname is 25%+25%+13%=63%

** It is technically possible (but improbable) that all the men had Irish born fathers and all had typically Irish surnames. Similarly it is possible that they all had inherited their Irish genes through their mothers who had married Englishmen. Possible but improbable in my view. The possibility range for the recruits having an Irish surname would therefore lie between 100% and 0%. Clearly we do not have data on the breakdown of the four scenarios listed above. Without any other source I have assume equal probabilities of the four scenarios to get to my 63% figure.

If one made the equally arbitrary assumption that half the recruits qualified on the basis of their parent's place of birth and half on one or more of the grandparents' the overall probability would be 59%. The variation is not that great. In extremis, if we assume all were recruited on the basis of one or more of their grandparents the probability of having an Irish surname would be 52%. I think the range would therefore be somewhere between 52% and 63%.

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Murrough

Great work MG, if only I could be as precise and meticulous as your good self.What I am looking for is a reasonable estimation of the total numbers of Irish born men that took part in the Great War( all arms and countries).You quite rightly questioned the 240,000 figure but we seemed to have settled on a number c.200,000, (do you think this is an exaggeration?)

Regarding the English based "Irish " units I think the interested parties of today realise the Irish link is quite tenuous, you may be aware that on another thread there has been discussion about the correct number of Irish (for me that is Irish born)casualties in the war.Everybody knows the Irish Memorial records figure of 49,000 is woefully inaccurate,various estimates of 28,000-35,000 are now been suggested,hopefully more in depth study will come up with a more precise figure.In these coming years of centenary we owe it to the men who died or participated in the Great war.I don't think there is an attempt by today's parties to exaggerate but there has been perhaps laziness in accepting figures and commentary that was compiled previously.

I would like to add my own amateurish findings to the mix.I have had a look at the 5th Connaught Rangers on SDGW(Ancestry.com) an Irish service battalion who saw service in Gallipoli,Salonika,Palestine and F+F.

Total Casualties(KIA,DOW,Died) - 506.

Total casualties with a birth location - 485. (21 had no location of birth, some were officers, others were or's,)

Total number of casualties who were born in Ireland - 304 (approx 62% of casualties whose birth place can be determined)

Total number of Irish Born casualties who enlisted in England,Wales,and Scotland - 85 (approx 35% of Irish born casualties)this also includes 1 in India.There were quite a few men resident in Scotland who enlisted but this may be peculiar to this battalion.

Regards M.

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Murrough

I have no idea if 200,000, 260,000 or 360,000 is close because it depends on how one defines 'Irish'. I would suggest a tiered approach is best... Find the Irish born, then those (many thousands) whose birth place is not known and look at those men who enlisted in Ireland. It is the expatriate Irish that intrigue me as I struggle with the idea that the expatriates in England flocked to join up when their countrymen in Ireland were not doing so. Were they culturally different, more assimilated into England, swept along? Doubtless many were but there must also have been an element who had hard-core nationalist sympathies and resistance. From my reading of this part of history I understand that the nationalist were split -very polarised.... So I am assuming the Irish in England would be similarly split. The Census data is intriguing as its shows Irish born. What it does not show is the numbers of Irishmen born in England of Irish-born parents. One day someone with trawl the individual household returns and dissect the household data. There will be many thousands of households with parents born in Ireland and children born elsewhere. We see this in the family data of the Census returns for the British Army in India. Lots of Irish wives, born in Ireland with children born outside Ireland,. The data is there, it is just not in a format that can be searched in a massive spreadsheet.

The Census data clearly shows there were well over a hundred thousand of Irish-born men of eligible age living in England, Wales and Scotland and there is little doubt that many thousands joined. The problem is we simply do not know how many. If we assume a man born and residing in England who enlisted in Ireland, personally I think there is a good chance he was and expatriate Irishman, but I simply dont know how to prove or disprove the theory. The only tools we have are place of birth, residence and place of enlistment as well as some theoretical work trying to make the data reveal its secrets.

I am up to my eyes in data at the moment. I shall revert if I can think of anything sensible. I have done some interesting work on forenames rather than surnames. There is a similar (but different) relationship between first names and nationality as we see in the surname data. The frequency analysis overlays have overlap but do not have exact overlap, Where there are differences might suggest Anglo-Irish parentage. I am also looking at frequency analysis of the second letter of the large data sets - As the most simple and obvious example we would expect to find a very high incidence of the letter M followed by C in Scottish data. Given Irish data has a near 20% concentration in the letter M, It is worth exploring the next layer. My sense is that it could be very revealing and also help identify Scottish infiltration of Irish data sets for example. It is more complex in detail but I am sure you can get

Some quick examples: If we look at the group born in England (6,480 men) the forename Patrick has an incidence frequency of 0.82%. In the Irish-born group (21,088) the forename Patrick has an incidence frequency of 8.3%. It is ten times more likely to occur in an Irish-born group. There are dozens of other glaring differences between the recruits born in England and the recruits born in Ireland :

Michael: 0.8% and 5.7%,

George 6.1% and 2.3%

John 8.8% and 14.9%

There are names that only appear on one group and not in another. I suspect that if we were to break the units down into the predominantly Catholic and predominantly Protestant units we would see the data diverge even further. What this means is with a bit of work on a spreadsheet it should be possible to start profiling sub-groups in much more detail. Surnames, forenames, second names, combinations of names , coincidences of surnames and forenames, investigate how often the most popular names for each set match up with the most popular forenames and see if there are surnames and forenames that avoid each other and those that frequently appear together. This profiling will help create hard stats based on large data and hopefully help create reference points of known name and name-combination characteristics that we can use to test the subgroups against.

After messing about for an hour it is patently obvious that these groups are exhibiting very divergent trends in some areas. Why did the parents of the men born in England hardly ever use Patrick as a forename? If the two communities were culturally identical we would expect to see similar ratios of the most popular names such as Patrick. In the Connaught Rangers there are 175 men with the forename 'Patrick' from the Irish-born group. All other things being equal we would expect something in the region of 54 men with the forename Patrick in the group born in England. We see only 7. This example along with dozens of other examples might help us approximate what per cent of the group born in England were in fact of Irish descent. We just need to tease it out of the data.

I have Nicholas Perry's 31 page article on the Irish Battalions in the Great War. If anyone would like a copy ping me a PM with your email. It is probably the best article on the subject I have read. He is more than happy for this to be circulated. It is a very good read.

I have been crunching numbers on this subject for some time. If one looks at the proportions of Non-Irish in the CWGC data by Regiment and then by Battalions there are some very interesting patterns. In every Regiment the K1 Battalions had significantly higher proportions of Non-Irish born. The English-born dominated the Non-Irish data so I had a look at the % of English-born in each battalion. One interesting feature is that the K1 Service Battalions that formed the 10th (Irish) Div had very large proportions of Non-Irish born.

6th Leinsters........45.7%

5th R I Fus...........32.2%

6th R I Fus...........29.2%

6th RDF...............23.9%

7th RDF...............40.8%

6th RMF...............29.8%

7th RMF...............53.5%

5th RIRegt............43.0%

5th R Innis Fus.....45.8%

6th R Innis Fus.....31.9%

5th Bn C Rangers 26.8%

To put this into context the average for the Irish Line Infantry as a whole was 23.1%. More interestingly the battalions that were formed for K2 and K3 had higher proportions of Irish born men. Possibly something to do with the politicians holding back until the 'political' formations were approved. It is common knowledge that the 10th (Irish) Div took large drafts from English country regiments when they were struggling to make the numbers. There are very telling tables in WO 114 showing the formation of K1 and K2 and how the Irish battalions were lagging in the race to reach full establishment, so the numbers above are not that surprising, although the 7th RMF clearly was in dire straits.

The difference in aggregate levels of Non-Irish born in these K1 battalions to the K2 Battalions might give us a rough idea of the numbers of English in K1 Irish battalions and by extension allow us to estimate the numbers and proportions of Irishmen born outside Ireland who joined. I will revert with some numbers if the data is sufficiently robust.

The other notable feature is that the CWGC data provides data on former units. The English-born data is full of men who previously served in English Country regiments. Men born, residing, enlisting in England, joining English county regiments and then serving and dying in Irish battalions. Many in Gallipoli which clearly indicates English Kitchener recruits who were diverted and saw their first action with the 10th (Irish) Div rather than the English country regiments of their initial choice.

The data also shows quite clearly that the Irish Guards were the most 'Irish' (highest percentage of Irish born) , and that the 1st and 2nd Bns of the Irish Line Infantry typically sustained much higher levels of Irish born recruits than the Service Battalions - with the clear exception of the 2nd Bn Connaught Rangers.

MG

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The data is beginning to succumb to rigorous attack.

There are 7,145 unique surnames in the data of which around 3,000 are shared by both groups. I asked the questions of the CWGC data on the 29,292 men who died whilst serving in an Irish Infantry battalion whose birthplace is known:

1. What are the most common surnames of the 21,088 men who were born in Ireland?

2. How common are these names among the 6,481 men were born in England? And how does this sample compare to the Irish-born when adjusted for sample size (scaled up by 3.25 times i.e 21,088/6,481)

3. How common are these names in the sample of men who were born in England who had prior service in an English Regiment? Adjusted similarly

Murphy's Law.

Murphy is the most common surname among the men who were born in Ireland occurring 278 times in the sample. 13 men in every 1000 were called Murphy. The next most common Irish surname in the sample is Kelly with 11 men in every thousand sharing this surname. The surname Murphy occurs 27 times in the English-born sample. Adjusting the sample born in England to the same scale as the Irish born sample, this would (theoretically) be 88. This means that the surname Murphy occurs 3.16 times more frequently in the Irish-born contingent than the adjusted contingent born in England. If we take the contingent born in England and focus on the men who served in an English Regiment prior to serving (and dying) in an Irish Regiment the adjusted number is 58.

This means that the surname Murphy is 4.8 times more common in the Irish born contingent than the English-born contingent who had prior service in an English Battalion. This is a huge difference. The most common surname occurs fives times more frequently in the Irish sample than the English sample. The data is talking.

Using the same approach the top twenty most common surnames and the ratio of Irish-born to the sample born in England with prior English service is:

1. Murphy.........Irish sample is 4.8 times more common than the English sample

2. Kelly.............Irish sample is 7.4 times more common than the English sample

3. Byrne...........No incidence of Byrne in the English-born sample

4. Walsh...........Irish sample is 11.5 times more common than the English sample

5. O'Brien.........Irish sample is 10.3 times more common than the English sample

6. Doyle............Irish sample is 18.2 times more common than the English sample..

7. Campbell......Irish sample is 8.3 times more common than the English sample

8. Ryan............ No incidence of Ryan in the English-born sample

9. O'Neill............Irish sample is 16.5 times more common than the English sample

10. Murray.........No incidence of Murray in the English-born sample

11. Johnston......Irish sample is 3.9 times more common than the English sample

12. Moore..........Irish sample is 1.5 times more common than the English sample

13. Kennedy.......No incidence of Kennedy in the English-born sample..

14. Sullivan.........Irish sample is 4.9 times more common than the English sample

15. Smith............Irish sample is 0.3 times as common than the English sample

16. Brown...........Irish sample is 0.6 times as common than the English sample

17 Thompson.....Irish sample is 2.8 times more common than the English sample

18. Reilly............No incidence of Reilly in the English-born sample

19. Gallagher.....Irish sample is 13.4 times more common than the English sample

20. Smyth..........Irish sample is 13.4 times more common than the English sample

Which strongly suggests these two groups have very different heritage. Interestingly when the Tyneside Irish sample is compared the surname Murphy is 6.3 times more common in the Irish born samples of Irish Battalions than the total sample of Tyneside Irish.
Clearly a few samples are insufficient to be conclusive but the evidence so far seems to support the idea of quite different heritage. I will also look at the most common surnames in the sample born in England and see how common they are in the Irish-born samples.
Forenames
There are 2559 unique forenames in the Irish data. Taking the same approach I asked
1. What are the most common forenames in the Irish born and how do the frequency of these compare to the men born in England
2. What are the most common forenames in the men born in England and how do the frequency of these compare to the men born in Ireland
Some early clues:
Patrick, the fourth most common forename in the sample born in Ireland is 10.5 times more common than in the adjusted sample of men born in England.
George, the fifth most common forename in the sample born in England is twice as common than in the sample of men born in Iregland.
Frederick, the seventh most common forename in the sample born in England is 7.3 times as common than in the sample of men born in Ireland
Ernest, the thirteenth most common forename in the sample born in England is 15.5 times as common than in the sample of men born in Ireland
Alfred, the fourteenth most common forename in the sample born in England is 16.1 times as common than in the sample of men born in Ireland
Herbert, the eighteenth most common forename in the sample born in England is 10.6 times as common than in the sample of men born in Ireland
Harold, the twenty-second most common forename in the sample born in England is 16.1 times as common than in the sample of men born in Ireland
There are dozens of glaring differences in the data. When the surname and forename filters are overlaid, I suspect we will begin to understand the profiles of these men rather better than before. I shall revert with the forename analysis of the sub-set of men born in England who previously served in an English battalion. I suspect will will see more pronounced differences to those above.
MG

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Airshipped

Some very interesting data there Martin.

However, one potential issue that could skew data would be the pattern of Irish migration, e.g. we know that certain surnames occur more frequently in some parts of Ireland than others (e.g. the Murphy surname would have a disproportionate number from Munster). However, much Irish migration to Great Britain may not necessarily have been representative of the Irish population as a whole, e.g. consider the tendency for large-scale migration in the West of Ireland to the USA.

Btw the Irish-born population of the USA in 1911 was 1,352,251 according to the US Census data:

https://usa.ipums.org/usa/resources/voliii/pubdocs/1910/Vol1/36894832v1ch10.pdf

That's a huge figure, which casts a long shadow on the representativeness of the 575,000 Great Britain figure in terms of migrant profile. (A counter to this would be that internal relocation of the Irish-born population within the UK is not a comparable migratory pattern etc).

Btw the Irish-born population of Canada had declined to a mere 92,874 by 1911 according to their census. (Can't attach file but see scan from page). post-88270-0-91912800-1394403508_thumb.j However, I've encountered at least 200 who enlisted in the flying services, and that is by no means an exhaustive search. I'd imagine a glance at the various Irish surnames would produce several thousand volunteers and conscripts.

On the Tyneside Irish my point remains as per my earlier post: the non-Irish born population is still very much identified as Irish, e.g. the author John Sheen's "Irish" great granduncle John Connolly was not Irish born, neither was his "Irish" grandfather Walter Sheen Irish-born (and given the transformation of 'Sheehan' into 'Sheen' one of those many problematic cases when it comes to identifying Irish surnames, i.e. see also 'Scollen' and other mutations of Irish surnames). Even the Tyneside Irish Committee had a contrasting mix of variations on Irish surnames, e.g. "O'Rorke" a more phoneticized English version of the "O'Rourke" surname, although it made no difference to the fact that the majority of the committee were English-born "Irish". Similarly, Anthony Mullarkey, IRA commander, was English-born: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Self-Determination_League (I'm not even going down that rabbit burrow, e.g. the Irish-born St Henry Wilson being killed by two English-born IRA and British army veterans Reginald Dunne and Joseph O'Sullivan etc etc). There were Irish-born of surnames not commonly associated with Irish, e.g. Jack Erett etc. However, the overall 240,000 Irish-born figure still leaves this 75,000 plus of Irish parentage or immediate Irish ancestry for which there is some considerable tug of war as to whether or not they should be included as "Irish", as they have been in many memoirs and more official narratives.

For the original poster's question re the percentage of Irish Catholics and Protestants it depends on how far you want to cast the net for Irish-born people, e.g. Australia, India, South Africa etc. Being a country for which such a large percentage of the population born on its territory but actually residing elsewhere tends to make for a difficult cut-off. (Some steadfastly refuse to abandon Irish in American uniform in the same manner that many Poles would not distinguish between those in the Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian armies and the Poles in American uniform, particularly given the exploits of the Kosciuszko Squadron of the Polish Air Force in the Polish-Soviet War of 1920). You'll also find that many prominent Anglo-Irish families' offspring were born in England. One other messy factor is that an Irish next-of-kin address need not denote an Irish birth, e.g. Air Vice Marshal Eric Betts was Indian-born, but raised in Ireland. (His brother Conrad was also Indian-born, and was killed in WWI serving with the RAF). Irish ace Eddie Hartigan was US-born but Limerick-raised, one of those unusual cases of a family returning to Ireland from the USA. The FitzHerberts of Ballintyre were Uruguay-born but obviously had a prominent Irish next-of-kin address. The Irish aces William Earle Molesworth and Edward Dawson Atkinson were both Indian-born but the latter has an Irish next-of-kin address on his Royal Aero Club paperwork. Starting with the Irish of the UK (Great Britain and Ireland) would be the easiest from the point of CWGC data to analyse but the Canadian and US information is also freely-available, just difficult to work with and subject to the likelihood that one will pass dozens of Irish-Americans in the course of counting each Irish-born recruit or casualty and will still face the near-certainty that the Irish-American community make no distinction between the categories of "Irish" of that time.

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Thanks for your detailed post and the links to the US Census and the Canadian Data. These are very interesting. Given this is about Irish Catholics and Protestants I will start a new thread and consolidate my previous posts. Before I do that I will try and quickly address some of your points.

I take most of your points although I think there is a slight risk that some of the arguments are based on tiny samples*. I am hoping to use the largest samples.

1. Skew. I agree, but we have to remember that the Irish population was probably one of the most mobile populations in Europe in the preceding 50 years. It is possible to analyse Census data from every region of Ireland and data on different Regiments too.The experience with the Scottish data and Scottish battalions is that although there are regional variations (the further north one goes the stronger the Scottish characteristics in the data), the differences are relatively subtle and all regional sub-sets still retrain extremely strong Scottish characteristics. A blind sample from the Lowland Scots regiments could not be confused with anything other than a Scottish regiment. The same will doubtless occur in the Irish data. The biggest distortion will be Ulstermen of Scottish descent, so I have taken the analysis to Regimental level and (where religious concentrations are known) to the battalion level. At this stage one starts to lose the benefit of the law of large numbers.

2. US Census. Yes the Irish population is large, but if Irish expatriates in the US are to be included in the recruits, we need to add the 1.35 million Irish Americans to the denominator of the Irish population (or the proportion of males if we are calculation as a pe cent of male population). The maths is simple: unless expatriate Irishmen enlisted in higher proportions than those in the British Isles, the proportion of Irish enlistments from the global Irish population will not rise. The absolute number of enlistments will grow but the per cent of the overall population will not increase.

To reach the 22-24% we see in the UK data, there simply are not enough Irish Americans of eligible age. An Irish-born US population of 1.35m would be (roughly) 55% male making approximately 744,000 males, and if we assume the ratio of men of eligible age is similar to those expatriates in the UK, we get 342,000 potential Irish recruits. The most optimistic scenario for the UK based Irish is 10.6% of the Irish male population enlisted. For this ratio to stay the same we would need 74,400 Irish Americans to have enlisted which sounds feasible. That would make Irish enlistments around 334,0400 (260,00 + 74,400). That still only makes the 10.6% of (global) Irish male population. For the Irish number to reach the 24% of English male enlistments, we would have to see another 423,000 expatriate Irishmen join up from populations already factored into the denominator, which is more that the total known Irish born men of eligible age in the US. Also after accounting for 74,000 of the eligible 342,000 that would only leave 268,000. If we take this number away from the required 423,000 expatriate Irishmen it leaves us 155,000 short. The US** had the largest proportion of the Irish diaspora we are still short.

Applying the same ratios to the Irish Canadians (pop: 93,000) we get 52,000 males and just 25,000 of eligible age. We are beginning to run out of large sources of known expatriate Irishmen to get anywhere near the English proportions.Assuming they all joined, we need to add 25,000 to the nominator and 52,000 to the denominator.

So assuming all the Irish born Americans and all the Irish born Canadians of eligible age joined, that would add 369,000 (342,00 + 25,00) to the best case British scenario of 260,000 making 629,000. This needs to be compared to a larger male population base of 2,248,00 + 743,000 (US) and 52,00 (Canada) i.e. 3,043,000. The theoretical proportion that enlisted (best case scenario) is 20.6% and would assume that every Irish-born man of eligible age signed up in the US, Canada and the UK, and yet we are still short of the proportions of enlistment of any home nation based purely on their home populations. This of course did not happen but helps to illustrate the consequences of just 6% male enlistment in Ireland. No matter how we stretch the numbers, no matter how generous we are with the assumptions on known Irish-born males of eligible age the ratios will never meet those of the other home nations. Australia and NZ will not make a significant difference I believe.

It is worth remembering in these calculations that we have not even started to add the English expatriates to the English equation which would make a moving target. 519,000 English in Canada alone, 878,000 in the US etc. I will stick with my central thesis that Irish recruitment was significantly lower as a percent of population base when compared to the rest of Britain regardless of how it is calculated. I will revert with Canadian, Australian and NZ data.

3. Diaspora. Among 30,777 men there are only 28 men who were born (27) in Canada or enlisted (1) in Canada. The answers to the arguments on the Irish diaspora are in the armies of Canada, the US, Australia etc. Overall only 190 men of the 30,777 are recorded as being born outside Ireland (29,292), England (6,481)), Scotland (1,261)and Wales (272). Only 67 were born in India for example and 40 born in the US. These are tiny data points and suggest that if the Irish diaspora did enlist, it was in the armies of Canada, Australia, the US etc as they don't appear in anywhere near enough numbers to change the British data.

4. Tyneside Irish. I agree that men who qualified under the criteria of having an Irish parent or grandparent should be classified as Irish. I have included these: 97% of the Tyneside Irish were born in the UK and therefore in theory had to use these qualifiers. The data analysis suggest that nowhere near enough of them joined for the simple reason that post conscription the challenges of maintaining cultural identities of the Tyneside Irish were subordinated to other more important issues such as putting recruits where they were needed. The shifts in proportions are clear in the data splits for 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918 where we see dilution of national characteristics across a whole range of nationally identified units in the British Army. There are few exceptions outside some of the highland Battalions and the Guards.

5. Summary. I guess I am debating a number of points which I will carry into a new thread.

i. Irish recruitment as a proportion of population was significantly lower than the rest of Britain.

ii. Arguments that the diaspora of expatriate Irishmen redressed the balance do not stand up. In particular while the additional men can be approximated, the additional population base also needs to be added to the base of the calculation.

iii. Expatriate Irishmen, born in Ireland who lived and enlisted abroad should rightly be considered as Irishmen.

iv. Expatriate Irishmen, born outside Ireland of Irish parents or Grandparents and enlisted abroad should rightly be considered as Irishmen.

v. While tens of thousands of iii. and iv. above enlisted there were still not enough to reach the levels of recruitment (as a per cent of population) of the rest of the British Isles and not enough to sustain the Irish characteristics of Irish units.

vi. Irish units were in the main sustained by English, Scottish and Welsh recruits.

vii. In the final year of the War roughly 50% of men serving in Irish units were men with no Irish connections, something that is generally not recognised. The 50% of the non-Irish were dominated by English conscripts.

viii. The proportions of men with Irish heritage who served in the London Irish, Liverpool Irish and Tyneside Irish is exaggerated in popular culture. A significant minority, and possibly a majority of the men who served in these units, particularly after 1916 had no Irish affiliation.

ix. The subjective definition of what makes a person Irish will make all of the above difficult to resolve.

Any mistakes are mine.

MG

* Sheen occurs just 3 times among 30,777 names. Equivalent to 0.01%of the sample. I am not convinced one can extrapolate anything from such a small sample that is statistically meaningful. One more Sheen would skew this data point by 25%.

** The US entered the war in 1917 possibly late due to the 4.17 million Germans, Austrians and Hungarians living in the US

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