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Working for a sober Ireland
A view of the interior of the Cathedral in Monaghan Town where High Mass was celebrated as part of the Temperance celebrations. Thousands kneeled in prayer outside Cathedral during service. Photo: National Library of Ireland, LROY 03822

Working for a sober Ireland

15,000 people attend Temperance rally in Monaghan

Published: 2 June 1913

‘The people of Ireland should be sober from end to end and look with contempt on the man who over-indulged,’ the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Lorcan Sherlock, told a huge Temperance Rally in Monaghan Town yesterday.

The Lord Mayor told cheering crowds that he saw before him a new Ireland being constructed in the next twenty years and that the means to attain their own salvation was about to be thrust upon the Irish people: ‘Ireland will start in competition with other nations with a great deal of leeway to make up, and if we want to hold our own, it is not half-Ireland, or three-quarters Ireland, we want sober, but all of Ireland.’

Irish attitude to alcohol

The Irish attitude to alcohol is parodied in a 1911 edition of Punch, the British satirical magazine.
(Punch, 3 May 1911)

The Lord Mayor's words were cheered by the 15,000 people who had gathered from all 40 of the parishes of the vast diocese of Clogher which stretches across the counties of Monaghan, Louth, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and Donegal.

Contingents led by marching bands and banners had arrived in Monaghan from early morning. Some had come by special train and others by horse-drawn cars. A special mass was said at Monaghan Cathedral.

A further mass was then said in the grounds of the cathedral where thousands of temperance campaigners knelt and prayed. The ringing of the cathedral bells then signalled the start of a procession through the town and out into the countryside where – at Mullaghmonaghan – a succession of speeches were delivered amidst sparkling sunshine.

Fr. Theobald Mathew

Fr. Theobald Mathew, the 19th Century Catholic Temperance campaigner. Speaking at the recent temperance rally in Monaghan, local priest Fr. Aloysius, remarked that never since the days of Fr. Matthew had the determination and enthusiasm of temperance campaigners been so great.
(Fr Mathew Record, April 1913. Courtesy of the Irish Capuchin Provincial Archives)

The entire event was organized by a local priest, Fr. James McNamee, who proposed a resolution – adopted by all – ‘discountenancing the use of intoxicating drinks at wakes, funerals, sports, harvesting operations, and calling upon parents and others to inculcate Temperance principles in the youth of Ireland.’

Another local priest, Fr. Aloysius, told the gathering that never since the days of Fr. Mathew had the determination and enthusiasm of temperance campaigners been so great: ‘Ninety per cent of the cases of cruelty to children arose from intemperance. There are 24,000 lunatics in the asylums of Ireland, 79,000 paupers and the cost of the police every year is £1,406,860. If temperance advanced as it was advancing now they could dispense with all these institutions, and with the police force.’


Century Ireland

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