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Count Plunkett victorious in North Roscommon by-election
The winner of the North Roscommon by-election Count George Plunkett. Photo: National Library of Ireland

Count Plunkett victorious in North Roscommon by-election

Roscommon, 8 February 1917 - The Irish Parliamentary Party has been dealt a huge blow as Count George Noble Plunkett has swept to victory in the North Roscommon by-election.

Count Plunkett ran against Jasper Tully (Independent) and TJ Devine (IPP). He received 3022 of the 5,403 votes cast, more than the other two candidates combined.

News of the victory has been met with scenes of jubilation. Across North Roscommon there were torchlight processions and church bells tolled. Everywhere the tricolor was waved, bands played and speeches were made ending in cheering and shouting. In Ballaghdereen, tar barrels were lit in celebration.

In a speech in Cortober, Arthur Griffith claimed that the blow struck by Roscommon would reverberate throughout America and the world. It is recognised by all sides that Count Plunkett’s victory rests entirely on the fact that he is the father of the late executed 1916 leader, Joseph Mary Plunkett.

In response to his victory, Sligo Corporation has passed a resolution in support of Count Plunkett and conferred upon him the Freedom of the Borough.

Resolution passed by Cavan district council condemning the arrest of three men in Belfast for rejoicing over the election of Count Plunkett. (Image: National Archive of Ireland, CSO RP 1917 5502)

‘Knockout blow’ for the IPP
All across the midlands of Ireland, local newspapers have described the result as ‘a knockout blow’ for the Irish Parliamentary Party.

Indeed, the Midland Reporter claimed: ‘The result puts the whole Redmond Party in the melting pot. In the west and midlands now the Party could not get a safe resting-spot for one of their nominations.’

Inspector General’s Monthly Report for January, 1917. In his report to Dublin Castle, the RIC's Inspector General considers the reasons for the election of Count Plunkett in Co. Roscommon. (Image: National Archives UK: CO 904/101)

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

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