This website is a forum for political debate and the exchange of ideas. Unless indicated, the opinions expressed in any article, commentary, argument or review is solely that of the author and not necessarily that of the publisher.

 Home Page Reviews Ulster comment  Archives  International issues   Links   Conversation with Rabbi Schiller  FAQs   Open Forum  For Sale  Obituaries   Culture and Identity

The Armagh Brigade
Quincey Dougan.
Privately published, 2002. £5.00.

AS A SHANKILL resident, I know quite a lot about the history of resistance to ‘Home Rule’ (actually Dublin rule) in this part of the country. The Fernhill House museum has an impressive section devoted to the subject. Outside Belfast, though, I had little idea, at least not until I read The Armagh Brigade by Quincey Dougan.

The one thing I like about this book is the large number of photographs – most of which have never been published before.

Mr Dougan opens the book with a chapter on the origins of the ‘Home Rule Crisis’ at the turn of the last century. As early as 1911, Killylea Orangemen were drilling in anticipation of a military confrontation. In the midst of church services all over the county, large numbers of Co Armagh turned out on Ulster Day – September 28th 1912 – to sign the Ulster Covenant. The next step was the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force in January 1913. Sir Edward Carson inspected the Armagh Volunteers on a visit to the city in September of that year.

When the UVF was first formed, the Irish nationalist press treated it as a joke – ‘Carson’s comic opera army’. That changed after April 1914 when Major Fred Crawford succeeded in running guns to Ulster. The report of the Armagh Brigade’s mobilisation to arm its volunteers while outwitting the Royal Irish Constabulary is highly entertaining. From then on, the UVF were taken more seriously.

As is well known, the Ulster Crisis never came to a head. Events in Europe relegated it to a sideshow. By August 1914 the Central Powers of Germany and Austria were at war with Britain and her allies. The UVF was taken into the British army. The Armagh Volunteers became the 9th Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers.

There was, I’m delighted to say, some opposition to this move. Members of the Alans Hill section of the Hamiltonsbawn Company wrote to their CO, “… we signed the covenant to defend Ulster against a Dublin parliment (sic) and any of our commanders who asks us to leave Ulster or to fight for this notorious government is betraying Ulster.” This view was quite widespread in rural areas, but most volunteers did join up, only to be slaughtered in France and Flanders. Only seven of the original cadre of men survived to lay up the colours in Armagh cathedral.

The author intends to publish a fuller account of the Armagh Volunteers in the near future. Get this now and pester your bookshop for his next work. In the meantime check out his website at www.armaghbrigade.co.uk 

David Kerr

Copies of this book can be had for £5.00 including postage from Glenwood Publications, First Floor, 316 Shankill Road, Belfast BT13 3AB. Make cheques or Postal Orders out to Glenwood Publications.

 home page


Copyright © 1990 - 2007 Third Way Publications. All rights reserved.