Volunteer force marches in Athlone
The Freeman's Journal reports that a second march by the Midland Volunteer Force was held in Athlone yesterday. Some twenty battalions gathered, and were supported by a number of bands and buglers. Those gathered declared their loyalty to the Crown, the Constitution and a United Ireland.
The men who took part in military manoeuvres and the march through Athlone town (which was wildly cheered by a large group of onlookers) were drawn from all classes, a range of professions and were both Protestant and Catholic. An English traveller who witnessed the parade remarked that he had recently seen Edward Carson’s Ulster Volunteer Force and that they were mere toy soldiers compared to the Athlone men.
It is estimated that 5,000 men took part in the day’s events, and at its close drill books, with instructions for parading, trench digging and rifle positions were freely distributed. The Athlone force represents the first military style opposition, in favour of Home Rule, to line up against Carson’s Ulster Volunteers.