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The Anglo-Irish and the Great War

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Guest

The Anglo-Irish and the Great War seems like a potentially interesting subject in its own right. The difficulty is unpicking this thin strand from the rather intricately woven linen of Irish History. By Anglo-Irish I mean the English (mainly) and Protestants (mainly) who lived in Southern Ireland and had Unionist sympathies. This is not about Ulster or Ulstermen, rather those Unionists who lived in Southern Ireland. Does anyone know if there has been a book or a thesis written along these lines; one that plots the fates of the Anglo-Irish families from pre-war Southern Ireland through recruiting, service and the aftermath of the Great War and then into the maelstrom of the Irish Civil War and beyond. My understanding is that some Anglo-Irish families survived through this most challenging part of history.

 

I expect many of the families' names will appear in the Officer ranks of the Irish Kitchener Battalions in the 10th and 16th Divisions and the various Cavalry Regiments with Irish connections. To avoid confusion. I already own just about every unit history on Irish units and formations. I am looking for something that is less military and more about the social history of the families and their society and how this related to Ireland. I am also interested to understand how they were perceived by the Nationalists as well as the English political elites. 

 

 

Edited by Guest

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voltaire60

 A large topic. The Ascendancy is a cottage industry all of its own- It is virtually impossible to dip into any Ascendancy family without it criss-crossing with many others (and the English Aristocracy as well-just try figuring out Cavendish/Devonshire ties through Castle Hacket) ).These ties of kinship are especially pronounced across very extended Ascendency networks.  For an earlier period, the works of R.B. McDowell (Brendan) McDowell set the background and show the intricacy of family connections.- Brendan was essentially a Dublin society gossip-and Ascendancy gossip perpetuates for generations

 

       One indispensable book is "Burke's Landed Gentry " for Ireland ( I have a feeling 1902 is the last edition)

(And please look up the delightful anecdote about an eldely Ascendancy roue in St James when "Alex" came in during the war-in Max Hastings "Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes)

 

     A peripheral counter-image would be the attitude and activities(if anything much) of the traditional Irish hereditary chiefs during the war- The O'Connor Don, The O'Gorman Mahon,etc)-They turn up during the various Parnellite and Home Rule episodes but the war is a bit of a blank 

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corisande

"By Anglo-Irish I mean the English (mainly) and Protestants (mainly) who lived in Southern Ireland and had Unionist sympathies "

 

You probably need to add "middle class" or "land owning class " to that. as there were a lot (more than most realise ,) of Protestant working class in Southern Ireland

 

I cannot recall any book specifically on the subject, but if you read some of the accounts of the Protestant murders in Cork during the War of Independence, you will get an idea of what was happening to that class. Can I also add that this is a "sensitive" subject and we really do not need to get involved in the politics

 

The majority of killings tended to revolve around whether a person was killed because they were a "Protestant and a Unionist" or whether they were killed because they were "a spy" or because "all Protestants were spies". Whole forests have been felled to produce books giving both sides points of view. I give a short selection that go some way to explaining the situation, which was much more serious in Cork than in other counties

 

Execution by Sean O'Callaghan

The IRA and its Enemies by Peter Hart

Massacre in West Cork by Barry Keane

Spies , Informers and the Anti Sinn Fein Society by John Borgonovo

A Hard Local War by William Sheehan

 

There are a number of books written about the Republicans in Cork at that time, which I could add, but they tend to be more on the war against the British, with little said about the Protestant Unionist that became "collateral damage". My book collection has overflowed the bookshelves and has assumed a life of its own in other corners of the house

 

I am trying to avoid raising a political hare here and would suggest we confine the discussion to your original question

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Guest

Thank you Corisande. I appreciate that discussing the Anglo Irish in this period is always likely to stress-test political boundaries. I suspect it is nigh impossible to discuss the social history of this group without delving into the socio-political history. I guess in some ways they were defined by politics, or at least the consequences of political decisions going back to Cromwell. If memory serves there is a Statue of Cromwell outside the Houses of Parliament which probably tells us all we need to know about the relative positions. of London and Dublin during the transition. 

 

The murders of this sub-group seem to be well documented and doubtless the books you listed will touch on many of these aspects (thank you). I am very interested in understanding how vulnerable this group felt in the immediate pre-Great War period, given Civil War seemed almost inevitable and was arguably only headed off due to the outbreak of the Great War. The Anglo-Protestants might have felt slightly insecure during this period. Some must have kept diaries. I assume many would have been from the educated professional classes rather than being landowners (I assume land was largely the preserve of the Aristocracy). So, I am curious to learn more about the attitudes of, for example, Anglo-Irish businessmen or professionals whose sons eventually joined up to do their duty. I am sure there are many other examples one might consider... 

 

Slightly off core topic; the Anglo-Irish Aristocracy. Gerald Gliddon's book The Aristocracy and the Great War has a chapter on Southern Ireland. He highlights that 19 Peerage families contributed to the war effort in Northern Ireland, and twice as many in Southern Ireland. All told there were 57 Irish families in the Peerage. Despite this, due to lack of space in his book, he only touches on 15 families He also provides the following reference: Twighlight of the Ascendancy - M Bence-Jones

 

Martin

 

 

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Guest
4 hours ago, corisande said:

You probably need to add "middle class" or "land owning class " to that. as there were a lot (more than most realise ,) of Protestant working class in Southern Ireland

 

 

Some other definitions of the Anglo-Irish I have stumbled on while trawling for reference books.

 

"A protestant with a horse"

 

"feeling English in Ireland and Irish in England.."

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spof

Martin

 

When someone asks me about social history I immediately think - newspapers.

 

Before radio and TV they were THE means of communication to 'the masses' Larger events may be covered by British papers like the Times but more local happenings will be covered by more local papers e.g. rallies and meetings for whatever purpose, small places relating stories (good and bad) of the soldiers etc. The British Newspaper Archiive has a limited selection of Irish papers for this time period which may give you some pointers. Apart from a standalone subscription, it is usually bundled with an FMP subscription so if you don't have one, your local reference library may.

I can think of 2 or 3 people who have spent a lot of time dealing with Irish newspapers so hopefully they'll see this thread and add the advice to it.

 

Glen

 

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museumtom

The Irish newspapers drastically reduced the coverage of the war after the Easter Rebellion in 1916. It was plain to see they were playing safe. The following years shows more reporting on IRA , and Civil War activities and less on the Great War.

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corisande

Martin


If you are looking at the pre-war period, you could start by looking at John Redmond - link on Wikipedia.   and on History Ireland (which has its own take on Redmond)

 

He was the leader of the pre war nationalist  Irish Parliamentary Party.

 

Redmond's appeal, however, to the Irish Volunteers to also enlist caused them to split; a large majority of 140,000 followed Redmond and formed the National Volunteers, who enthusiastically enlisted in Irish regiments of the 10th and 16th (Irish) Divisions of the New British Army, while a minority of around 9,700 members remained as the original Irish Volunteers] Redmond believed that Imperial Germany's hegemony and military expansion threatened the freedom of Europe and that it was Ireland's duty, having achieved future self-government:

 

Cartoon critical of Redmond's commitment to offer the Irish Volunteers for the European war. (Irish Worker)

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voltaire60

Martin- May I similarly recommend any of the writings of the British historian Charles Townshend?   His doctorate/monograph on "The British Campaign in Ireland 1919-1921" (Which I suspect you may already have)  is a model of military research and mastery of the sources- his long term interest is the history of "political violence" in Ireland- His book on that subject is excellent-as is his history of Ireland in the Twentieth Century- bland title, very well-researched and gets away from partisan political narratives. Lots of copies on Tinternet for not very much.

    Townshend doesn't get bogged down in either the Irish nationalist historiography, nor the A.T.Q.Stewart end of the market- the Northern Protestant end- Nor is it "British centered" His work is not an apologia for anything British but very good on the problem solving aspects of insurgency/politically motivated low-level warfare.

     I have not seen his later small book on terrorism but it must be a good bet

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Guest
On 5/26/2017 at 13:12, spof said:

Martin

 

When someone asks me about social history I immediately think - newspapers.

 

Before radio and TV they were THE means of communication to 'the masses' Larger events may be covered by British papers like the Times but more local happenings will be covered by more local papers e.g. rallies and meetings for whatever purpose, small places relating stories (good and bad) of the soldiers etc. The British Newspaper Archiive has a limited selection of Irish papers for this time period which may give you some pointers. Apart from a standalone subscription, it is usually bundled with an FMP subscription so if you don't have one, your local reference library may.

I can think of 2 or 3 people who have spent a lot of time dealing with Irish newspapers so hopefully they'll see this thread and add the advice to it.

 

Glen

 

  Glen Thanks. A useful pointer. I think it might be particularly useful area for the pre-war years at least. My understanding is that the Irish Times was owned by an Anglo-Irish family.

23 hours ago, museumtom said:

The Irish newspapers drastically reduced the coverage of the war after the Easter Rebellion in 1916. It was plain to see they were playing safe. The following years shows more reporting on IRA , and Civil War activities and less on the Great War.

 

Noted with thanks...The pre-war period might still be a rich source. 

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Guest
4 hours ago, corisande said:

Martin


If you are looking at the pre-war period, you could start by looking at John Redmond - link on Wikipedia.   and on History Ireland (which has its own take on Redmond)

 

 

Thanks

Are you the author of the article on the History Ireland link?

 

I have a broad interest in all this, however I am currently very focused on the Anglo-Irish in Southern Ireland rather than the Nationalists (apologies if I was not clear- my error). I am reasonably read on Redmond, Carson etc Although I suspect interpretations of both movements  (and their splinter groups) are highly controversial and often in disagreement. I am trying to get below the hard surface of the Anglo-Irish society in the pre-war years, during the war and the post-war years. For me the Great War years are easier to research as the documentary trails is good, however I am hoping to get one layer below the political leadership into the thoughts of the broader diaspora of the Anglo Irish aristocracy, upper classes and middle classes - probably the classes that Officered the many Irish Militia and (after 1907) the Irish Special Reserve. There must have been scores of families in the so-called Big Houses (and smaller ones) who were not necessarily at the forefront of politics by found themselves thrust into the complex world of Ireland and the Great War through circumstances. Doing duty in a part of the country which had divided opinions of serving, and opinions that changed over time. I suspect the thoughts of the Anglo-Irish one level below the political elite it is an area that has not received much attention from authors. If the medal roll and ODGW data is any guide I suspect their sons joined almost to a man and suffered the human catastrophe that was the common currency of British Army infantry subalterns. They might have been one of the most unlucky cohorts in British society in 1914. My speculation.

 

Separately - did Trinity have a published roll of honour?

 

MG

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corisande
19 hours ago, QGE said:

 

 

Martin

 

AS I gradually understand what exactly you are looking for, I do not think I can help with any references. But I think maybe I can offer an insight into why none are forthcoming from forum members.either

 

It may be that "Anglo Irish" is an "English" perception of a group or class in Ireland. I grew up in Northern Ireland, and it is an expression that was never used. I suspect that it was not used in Southern Ireland, but was used in England.. If that were the case, then what you are looking for probably would not exist

 

Almost by definition (and there are obvious exceptions) the landowning class was Protestant (and therefore almost always Unionist).

 

[edit]   To clarify, I understand the term "Anglo Irish" applied to the group of earlier landowners who had been assimilated at the time of the Cromwellian new English landowners, but not in relation to the 1910 landowners [/edit]

Edited by corisande

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2 minutes ago, corisande said:

 

Martin

 

AS I gradually understand what exactly you are looking for, I do not think I can help with any references. But I think maybe I can offer an insight into why none are forthcoming from forum members.either

 

It may be that "Anglo Irish" is an "English" perception of a group or class in Ireland. I grew up in Northern Ireland, and it is an expression that was never used. I suspect that it was not used in Southern Ireland, but was used in England.. If that were the case, then what you are looking for probably would not exist

 

Almost by definition (and there are obvious exceptions) the landowning class was Protestant (and therefore almost always Unionist).

 

 

 

Thanks. Very interesting. Do you have any thoughts on how the "Protestant Ascendancy" was described by Nationalists in the South at any stage during the pre-war period? I had assume (incorrectly) That "Anglo Irish" was common vocabulary. Clearly an English construct going by your observations. Bowen's comments that they "felt more Irish in England and more English in Ireland" would align with your observations too. 

 

As part of my research I have just bought Abandoned Mansions of Ireland and Abandoned Mansions of Ireland II which I hope might reveal some detail on the families that once lived there. Hopefully this might lead to some connection with the Great War.There are 95 "Big Houses" (I think that is the correct vernacular) listed between the two volumes perhaps suggesting that Gliddon's list of 57 Aristocratic Irish families is only part of the story. 

 

Taking just one Southern Irish Regiment as an example of the scope; the Royal Munster Fusiliers 1914 Star medal roll lists 56 Officers (all 2nd Bn) and the 1914-15 Star medal roll list another 218. Some of the many books I own on the Irish units suggest that the Southern Irish K1 and K1 battalions were overwhelmingly Officered by Protestants, despite the fact their Rank and File were overwhelmingly Catholic. If is the case* It would suggest at least 100 and probably many more for the RMF alone. If this is extrapolated across the other Southern Irish regiments, one begins to get a feel of the demands on the families of the Protestant middle classes in the South would run to several hundred at least.

 

MG

 

* I am treading carefully here as some Irish military history is swathed in inaccuracies

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staunton
6 hours ago, QGE said:

 

Thanks. Very interesting. Do you have any thoughts on how the "Protestant Ascendancy" was described by Nationalists in the South at any stage during the pre-war period? I had assume (incorrectly) That "Anglo Irish" was common vocabulary. Clearly an English construct going by your observations. Bowen's comments that they "felt more Irish in England and more English in Ireland" would align with your observations too. 

 

As part of my research I have just bought Abandoned Mansions of Ireland and Abandoned Mansions of Ireland II which I hope might reveal some detail on the families that once lived there. Hopefully this might lead to some connection with the Great War.There are 95 "Big Houses" (I think that is the correct vernacular) listed between the two volumes perhaps suggesting that Gliddon's list of 57 Aristocratic Irish families is only part of the story. 

 

Taking just one Southern Irish Regiment as an example of the scope; the Royal Munster Fusiliers 1914 Star medal roll lists 56 Officers (all 2nd Bn) and the 1914-15 Star medal roll list another 218. Some of the many books I own on the Irish units suggest that the Southern Irish K1 and K1 battalions were overwhelmingly Officered by Protestants, despite the fact their Rank and File were overwhelmingly Catholic. If is the case* It would suggest at least 100 and probably many more for the RMF alone. If this is extrapolated across the other Southern Irish regiments, one begins to get a feel of the demands on the families of the Protestant middle classes in the South would run to several hundred at least.

 

MG

 

* I am treading carefully here as some Irish military history is swathed in inaccuracies

 

Would agree with this re the 10th (Irish) Division's newly commissioned officers reflecting material available from sources such as the Dublin University OTC and those who had received some pre war training in this regard (ie no RC University or School in Ireland had an OTC).  Even the later 16th (Irish) Division junior officers are quite a mixture with fewer Irish Protestants but still disproportionate to their share of the population. While we do have statistics on the breakdown of Irish OR recruits by religious background, this is not the case for early war commissions so this analysis has to be built up from the individual level. This is an area where a disproportionate Southern Irish Protestant contribution existed - it would just be nice to have it statistically verified as it is still 'hidden'.  One interesting factor is that the Irish in the pre war army were 32% Protestant, significantly above their 25% share of the 1911 population. One does not have the impression that this is reflected in the infantry (only the RIR had a majority Protestant Recruiting District in Antrim and Down) so this overrepresentation was presumably more evident amongst cavalry, technical Corps and Officers. As the RMF get a mention, interestingly, their pre war officers seem to have had an above average RC proportion regardless of nationality.   

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Guest
On 5/28/2017 at 19:21, staunton said:

 

Would agree with this re the 10th (Irish) Division's newly commissioned officers reflecting material available from sources such as the Dublin University OTC and those who had received some pre war training in this regard (ie no RC University or School in Ireland had an OTC).  Even the later 16th (Irish) Division junior officers are quite a mixture with fewer Irish Protestants but still disproportionate to their share of the population. While we do have statistics on the breakdown of Irish OR recruits by religious background, this is not the case for early war commissions so this analysis has to be built up from the individual level. This is an area where a disproportionate Southern Irish Protestant contribution existed - it would just be nice to have it statistically verified as it is still 'hidden'.  One interesting factor is that the Irish in the pre war army were 32% Protestant, significantly above their 25% share of the 1911 population. One does not have the impression that this is reflected in the infantry (only the RIR had a majority Protestant Recruiting District in Antrim and Down) so this overrepresentation was presumably more evident amongst cavalry, technical Corps and Officers. As the RMF get a mention, interestingly, their pre war officers seem to have had an above average RC proportion regardless of nationality.   

 

 

Staunton. Thanks for your thoughts.

 

You mention stats on Irish OR recruits by religion - I would be grateful for the source if possible.

Ditto the stat that the Irish in the pre-war ARmy were 32% Protestant - can I ask the source of the stats?

Ditto the breakdown by Regiment - implied by the stat on the RIR - can I ask the source of the stats?

 

The only stats I have seen to date are either made up by authors such as Cooper (10th (Irish) Div) and regurgitated by subsequent authors, or the pre-war stats available in the General Annual Reports of the British Army (GARBA) which provides Nationality and Religion for the Regular Army and by Arm, but no breakdown at regimental level. ...so I would be very interested in tracing the source data that you mention. 

 

Separately the 25% figure - is this protestants as a % of Irish serving in the Army and is this;

Regulars or

Regular + Reservists (Army Reserve and Special reserve) or 

Regular + Reservists (Army Reserve and Special reserve)  + Territorial Force

 

The reason I ask is that the Irish as a % of the Army is a figure that most authors get wrong by a factor 50% (overestimated) as they usually omit the Reserves and the TF  - the latter group represented 34% of the Army in 1913 and of course had very few Irishmen as a % of the total. By my calcs the Irish-born as a % of the British Army in 1913 were no more than 7.2% against a 1911 Census benchmark of 7.5% - slightly under-represented - contrary to what some authors would have us believe. As one example in his book "Wherever the Firing Line Extends" author Ronan McGreevy in his introductions states;

 

"The percentage of Irishmen in the British Army continue to decline as the [19th] century progressed and Irish depopulation continued. In 1890 the Irish represented just over 15 per cent of the British Army, but Catholics constituted 18.7 per cent of the same Army, many of them Irish emigrants or their descendants..."

 

The trouble with this statement is that GARBA shows hard data for the Army which demonstrates that the Irish were no more than 9.4%. of the British Army in 1892 (the nearest data I have to hand. The calculation is out by a factor of 1.6 times. McGreevy's figure only appears to include the Regulars, Reserves and Militia (the figure is 14.9% for 1892). It omits the Imperial Yeomanry and the Volunteers which (combined) accounted for 36.5% of the Army or close to a quarter of a million men. Aside from the London Irish and Liverpool Irish, it is difficult to find enough Irish diaspora in English, Scots and Welsh Volunteer Battalions (later the TF) to make sufficient adjustments to get a figure anywhere close to 15%. It is a very common error in books that touch the Irish service in the British Army, and one that makes me extremely cautious of any stats on this subject. 

 

Lastly the Irish regiments generally had the worst recruiting records and retention records in the Line Infantry in the decade before the Great War.They recruited fewer and retained fewer which rather challenges the ideas promoted in some publications that

 

"The Irish recruit was regarded as healthier, better nourished and sturdier than his city-based English, Scots or Welsh equivalent. He was less likely to be turned down for military service. He could bear more hardship". *

 

It is racially based hyperbole like this that continues to distort perceptions of the reality. Of those Irish recruits who should have made it to the Reserves they had the lowest retention rates in the whole Infantry. At the bottom of this pile were the Connaught Rangers who had less than half the number of Reservists than the best recruited (English) line infantry regiment. 

 

Edit. In fact the loss ratio among the Irish was recorded (see below). As a random example, in 1908 2.71% of Irish recruits were discharged for medical disability within 3 months of enlisting compared to just 1.62% of English recruits and a UK average of 1.90%. GARBA has data on every Regimental Recruiting district. Within the Irish regimental districts No. 12 District Southern Irish including RIR,Connaught Rangers, Leinsters, RMF and the Metropolitan area of Cork loss ratios of 2.21%, 2.81%, 3.41%, 5.08% and 3.44% - all significantly higher than the English average. It is worth remembering that these are the recruits that passed the initial medical. The facts don't support the hyperbole. 

 

Edit 2. The data is also at odds with the claim that rural Irish recruits were more robust than the city based English recruits. The 7th Foot (Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regt) had a loss ratio of just 0.56% more than three times lower than the Southern Irish regiments. Liverpool was 1.52%, Newcastle 1.69% etc... 

592c0081a2021_Irishrecruitingmythology.jpg.620ab6c7fae564d1208ba726590896a6.jpg

 

Martin G

 

* Quoted in McGreevy's "Wherever the Firing Line Extends" citing Graham Davis "In Search of a Better Life: British and Irish Migration" p. 17. 

 

 

Edited by Guest
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Jervis

Of course it is incorrect view re: Irish recruits being healthier, but it may have been a contemporary view of urban/ rural recruits as opposed to Irish-English comparison. According to the Tyneside Irish by John Sheen, Lt General Parsons of the 16th Div. turned down the opportunity to incorporate the Tyneside Irish to the division stating he wanted no "slum birds" and preferred "the clean, fine, strong, Hurley playing country fellows of the RMF, Connaught rangers, Royal Irish" (regiment?). 
Notable he omits the Royal Dublin Fusiliers from his list - which would have more than it's fair share of "slum birds". 

 

 

 

Edited by Jervis

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18 hours ago, Jervis said:

Of course it is incorrect view re: Irish recruits being healthier, but it may have been a contemporary view of urban/ rural recruits as opposed to Irish-English comparison. According to the Tyneside Irish by John Sheen, Lt General Parsons of the 16th Div. turned down the opportunity to incorporate the Tyneside Irish to the division stating he wanted no "slum birds" and preferred "the clean, fine, strong, Hurley playing country fellows of the RMF, Connaught rangers, Royal Irish" (regiment?). 
Notable he omits the Royal Dublin Fusiliers from his list - which would have more than it's fair share of "slum birds". 

 

 

 

 ...and the Leinsters. I suspect more 1914 hyperbole; in this case from Parsons to create a myth of Irish fighting prowess. He clearly had never been to the Newcastle Quayside after midnight. I cant think of any formations that could match the 10th (Irish) Div or 16th (Irish) for mythology, misinformation and misunderstanding. The Irish within British military history in the Great War is like Churchill's view of Russia: "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma".

 

Parson's view also ignores the undeniable fact that a substantial proportion of these 'Irish' formations - particularly the 10th (Irish) Div -  were not in fact wholly Irish. Cooper, author of the 10th (Irish) Div at Gallipoli stretches our imaginations when justifying the 10th Hampshire Regt (part of the 10th Div) claiming they included expatriate Irishmen. It is utter nonsense. They were Englishmen born and bred, descended from Englishmen almost to  a man. Hampshire had one of the lowest ratios of expatriate Irishmen (ex Dockyards) in the whole country. This has been explored on other threads.

 

The "slum birds" of the Tyneside Irish appear to have fought as well as any other unit. They were of course mostly English which is probably the real reasons why Parsons resisted their integration into the 16th (Irish) DIv. There are parallels with Bean's (OH Australia) view of the slum bred English compared to the Adonis-like Australians. More mythology as at least 25% were British born. 

 

The preservation of National identity finds all sorts of vicarious champions beyond the borders of the home Nation. Many of them are more ardent than the indigenous population in their desire to fly the national flag. 

Edited by Guest

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Jervis

I don't believe Parson was the man you think he is. Parson's was certainly not a promoter of Irish Nationalism or "national identify" nor do I see him as attempting to create a myth of Irish fighting prowess. I think he was just an old fashioned snob. 


Parson's was first and foremost a military man. He detested the politicisation of the 16th div and what he saw as interference of Irish nationalist politicians - such as the proposal to incorporate of the Tynside Irish into the 16th Div. He equally detested the politicisation of the 36th Div. Parsons was a member of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy. (This is a term in common use in Ireland). He was protestant and a unionist who signed the 1912 Ulster Covenant. I'd be very surprised if he made any racial distinction between slum dwellers in Newcastle or Dublin and if he did I believe I guess it would pale in comparison to his view on social class. Parson's made disparaging comments in relation to the calibre of recruit from the Irish national volunteers and he flatly refused to put unqualified Irish national volunteers (Catholics) into officers position despite political pressure. Which has left him with accusations of sectarianism. Parsons practiced equal opportunities when it came to hurling insults. 


Parson's hometown was Birr (formerly Parsonstown - founded and named after his ancestor) which coincidentally was the home depot of the Leinsters. So as you point out it is very odd that he would not include the Leinsters in his list of "fine fellows". Maybe it is because - due to proximity - the Leinsters had a sizable proportion of Dublin recruits - many of these from the city slums.
 

4 hours ago, QGE said:

Parson's view also ignores the undeniable fact that a substantial proportion of these 'Irish' formations - particularly the 10th (Irish) Div -  were not in fact wholly Irish.


I have not seen any comment from Parson's which contradicts this. If you have one can you share it please. 

 

4 hours ago, QGE said:

 Cooper, author of the 10th (Irish) Div at Gallipoli stretches our imaginations when justifying the 10th Hampshire Regt (part of the 10th Div) were in mostly expatriate Irishmen. It is utter nonsense.


I have not read Cooper's 100 year old book. I believe it has been largely discredited due to the inaccuracy of the information in the book. Being written in 1917 while suffering from alcoholism, probably does not help with historical accuracy.  I would not waste time on it. 

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9 hours ago, Jervis said:

I don't believe Parson was the man you think he is. Parson's was certainly not a promoter of Irish Nationalism or "national identify" nor do I see him as attempting to create a myth of Irish fighting prowess. I think he was just an old fashioned snob. 


Parson's was first and foremost a military man. He detested the politicisation of the 16th div and what he saw as interference of Irish nationalist politicians - such as the proposal to incorporate of the Tynside Irish into the 16th Div. He equally detested the politicisation of the 36th Div. Parsons was a member of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy. (This is a term in common use in Ireland). He was protestant and a unionist who signed the 1912 Ulster Covenant. I'd be very surprised if he made any racial distinction between slum dwellers in Newcastle or Dublin and if he did I believe I guess it would pale in comparison to his view on social class. Parson's made disparaging comments in relation to the calibre of recruit from the Irish national volunteers and he flatly refused to put unqualified Irish national volunteers (Catholics) into officers position despite political pressure. Which has left him with accusations of sectarianism. Parsons practiced equal opportunities when it came to hurling insults. 


Parson's hometown was Birr (formerly Parsonstown - founded and named after his ancestor) which coincidentally was the home depot of the Leinsters. So as you point out it is very odd that he would not include the Leinsters in his list of "fine fellows". Maybe it is because - due to proximity - the Leinsters had a sizable proportion of Dublin recruits - many of these from the city slums.
 


I have not seen any comment from Parson's which contradicts this. If you have one can you share it please. 

 


I have not read Cooper's 100 year old book. I believe it has been largely discredited due to the inaccuracy of the information in the book. Being written in 1917 while suffering from alcoholism, probably does not help with historical accuracy.  I would not waste time on it. 

 Jervis. Thanks

 

Any chance of the references for the statistics you quoted? They are critically important in this debate. 

 

"[Newcastle] Slum birds" was a quote, referencing Sheen quoting Parsons. I was merely questioning it. I didn't suggest he was an Irish Nationalist (in the political sense) but he clearly had some racial (read 'National') preconceptions and biases over the alleged martial suitability of rural Irish domiciled recruits compared to recruits of (alleged) Irish heritage from English cities ; in this case Newcastle. None of his ideas are supported in the available hard stats. We see similar nonsense in the Scottish narratives which incidentally had the highest fallout rates among recruits in the decade prior to the Great War. The Tyneside Irish would be likely be second generation and English born of Irish parents given Irish-born as a per cent of the English population in Northumberland and Durham peaked in 1861 and declined thereafter. Culturally their 'Irish' credentials would have been intact. As John Sheen has nmentioned on this Forum, being Catholic in Durham and Northumberland in 1914 largely meant being of Irish (immigrant) heritage. 

 

I wonder why Parsons made these comments and resisted the integration of the Tyneside Irish into the 16th (Irish) Div - a formation that withered on the vine due to its ultimate inability to recruit. Contrast this with Newcastle and Durham and the Northumberland Fusilers which raised over fifty Battalions during the War and the Durham Light Infantry  (42 Battalions)  each second only to the London Regiment. The history of the Irish formations later years is often glossed over. None survived in any shape by the end of the War simply due to two factors: limited population and lack of conscription.

 

In simple terms the Clauswitzian 'Total War' that the UK faced was limited by population. The Army still clung to the idea that recruiting districts defined in 1881 reflected their ability to recruit for territorially based regiments. The asymmetry between recruiting districts (largely based on ceremonial county boundaries) and population was quickly exposed, which is why more Englishmen served in Irish Regiments that the most authors care to acknowledge. The Irish fighting prowess is a myth, as is the misplaced idea that Irish formations represented Irishmen. They were substantially propped up (numerically) by unwilling conscripts from the North of England (starting as early as Sep 1914) who had no historical connection with Ireland. Very few authors on this subject care to acknowledge this fact. The Irish contribution to the Great War needs no exaggeration yet most authors on the subject seem to have an agenda to inflate the numbers and grossly inflate Ireland's contribution. 

 

Martin G

Edited by Guest

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Jervis

I didn't think I provided any stats. But please see Terence Denman's - Ireland unknown soldiers for info on Parsons. 

 

 

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Guest
8 hours ago, Jervis said:

I didn't think I provided any stats. But please see Terence Denman's - Ireland unknown soldiers for info on Parsons. 

 

 

 Jervis. Apologies. I was confusing you with Staunton re stats. Will amend. MG

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voltaire60
13 hours ago, QGE said:

The Irish contribution to the Great War needs no exaggeration yet most authors on the subject seem to have an agenda to inflate the numbers and grossly inflate Ireland's contribution. 

 

     Martin-as you will have it to hand-Just what was the percentage loss to Ireland (26 and 6 county versions) compared to other parts of the UK??  Most interested in your bits about "slum" Irish  and "home" Irish.

    I note the myth of Ireland's contribution started early on- there are an awful lot of Londoners of "Ireland's National Roll". Let's hope that Tom's forthcoming work will get us some good well-researched stuff on the true position. It has always struck me that Irish counties should be gauged against similar rural/urban mix counties from elsewhere in the UK rather than just a ranking of straight percentages. Whenever I have journeyed to Ireland, North or South, I am struck by it's strong similarities to other  areas of the UK- that Belfast, for instance, is very similar to many another 19th Century industrial city of the North of England- Much of rural south of Scotland and Wales could be the west of Ireland. With regards to the West of Ireland- surely one must factor in that similar types of society ought to generate similar responses to the war in terms of recruitment,etc???

    Now, another thing- RDF suggests that a significant part of Ireland's war recruiting was "townies"- and that, taken with the influx of mainly Londoners through the war-that  Ireland,like England, was a "townies" war. Another myth about heartland "Irish" nationalism.

   I hope to have a small go at just how much Irish labour was taken into wartime industries. As I have suggested before, that the lack of conscription in Ireland was worked around by the Board of Trade and Ministry of Munitions planners- Irish labour coming in allowed more call-up of the marginal English. Just how these labour flows worked before the war and how they adjusted during the war is a complete unknown to me. One aspect that I would like to find out more of- Irish labour over here in England- dispensations to return to Ireland for short periods. Part of the Irish influx was because of differential harvest times, which allowed Irish workers to come over for the English harvest and return for the later Irish one. Ireland was till vital for it's food production during the war, so how the British Government managed Irish labour flows and adapted pre-war systems may prove interesting.See if I can find some statistics for this at Kew

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voltaire60

Tom-  Fantastic stuff

     One small technical question:  Does your data go up to the CWGC deadline in 1921 as well?  

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