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Mutiny in The Curragh!
The Curragh Camp, where as many as 100 officers are said to have resigned their commissions instead of going to Ulster Photo: National Library of Ireland, LCAB 02873

Mutiny in The Curragh!

Published: 22 March 1914

Reports from The Curragh state that up to 100 officers have resigned their commissions as a result of a decision by the War Office to send extra troops to Ulster.

The sensational development is said to have occurred after officers were presented with the choice of serving in Ulster, or tendering their resignations. This has been denied by Sir Arthur Paget, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in Ireland, but it is clear that a serious crisis is at hand.

Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Paget, who as Commander-in-Chief of the Army in Ireland, has had an anxious time lately. (Image: National Library of Ireland MS 9469)

Sources in The Curragh – the most important British military base on the island – say that orders were sent to the camp of Friday that the third Cavalry Brigade should immediately mobilise and proceed to Ulster. In response, almost every officer in the camp declined to obey the orders. They were led in this by Brigadier-General Hugh de la Poer Gough.

Sir Arthur Paget and fifty senior officers were reported to have met at The Curragh to discuss developments. No statement has been issued after that meeting, with officers saying they were bound in honour not to reveal the details of the consultation. It is understood, however, that officers who have family based in Ulster will not be asked to go on active service in the province.

Anti-military sentiment iwas not uncommon in Ireland at the time: these DMP reports describe some unruly scene at a Dublin picture house while a film on the British Army was being exhibited.  (Images: National Archives of Ireland CSORP 1914 4568)

In a statement on the events in Ireland, the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, said that the decision to move troops to Ulster was ‘of a purely precautionary nature’.

He continued: 'The intention was simply to give additional protection to the arms, ammunition and military stores which are scattered around the country and might become the object of a raid.’

Mr. Asquith sought to present the reported resignations at The Curragh as being the product of a misunderstanding: ‘There is a widespread impression abroad that the government contemplates instituting a general inquisition about the intentions of officers in the event of their being asked to take up arms against Ulster. No such action is intended, if only for the reason that the employment of troops against Ulster is a contingency which the Government hopes may never arise.’

Despite the Prime Minister’s statement, it is clear that a military crisis has now been laid on top of a political crisis.

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.