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Ulster Volunteers prepare for civil war
Carson reviews Ulster Volunteers in Newry earlier in his current tour of Ulster. Photo: Illustrated London News [London, England], 27 September 1913

Ulster Volunteers prepare for civil war

Dungannon, 2 October 1913 - On a tour of Ulster to inspect members of the Ulster Volunteers, Sir Edward Carson said in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone that he was no longer interested in addressing political audiences: ‘I want to address myself in the future to those who are prepared to fight.’

Sir Edward inspected members of the Ulster Volunteers at Cookstown, Strabane, Raphoe and Armagh, as well as at Dungannon where more than 1,200 volunteers paraded.

In the course of the tour, revolvers were occasionally fired off in salutation of his presence, while a series of drill- and target-firing competitions were gone through.

Across the towns visited on the tour, members of the Ulster Volunteers displayed their rifles, some with bayonets fixed at the top.

At Cookstown, he commended the men as being the ‘bravest of the brave’ and said that they would not be sold into ‘the bondage of a parliament of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Dublin’.

A page of a report (left) from Co. Armagh states that Carson attended a meeting in Armagh on 4th October at which about 1,700 attended. About 3,000 also marched and the County Inspector believes that the organisation’s numbers came close to 6,000. Click on image for full report.

The Inspector General’s Monthly Report for October 1913 (right) notes how UVF recruitment ‘has been brisk in response to the appeal of Sir Edward Carson, during his recent tour of inspection... Carson during his recent tour in six counties inspected 22,000 men on parade.’ Click to enlarge.

(Images: National Archives UK, CO 904/91)

In his speech at Dungannon, Sir Edward said that they had warned the government time and again that the only way to avoid huge civil commotion was to exclude Ulster. He told the Volunteers: ‘I know that a time is coming when the men on whom we are to rely are not the men who cheer, but the men who drill.’

He concluded: ‘Be ready for the final day. Be ready whenever it may come, and under heaven if we are prepared we will never be defeated.’

The volunteers were then addressed by General Sir George Richardson, who said that they were well-commanded and well-officered, and they must keep themselves fully fit.

If called upon, the General said, the Volunteers would be able to rely on ‘100,000 armed, well-drilled, well-disciplined men of Ulster ready to defend their allegiance to King George V and the flag they had the honour to serve under.’

The parade finished with the singing of ‘Rule Britannia’.

[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.