History and Goals of the Irish Citizens Army and the Volunteers
|The formation of the Irish Citizens Army was for
the purpose of protecting the workers belonging to the General Workers Union,
founded by James Connolly. In 1914, the workers strike ended, and the
Citizens Army was formed in order to "fight for Ireland" (Clarkson qtd. in Ward
71). The main goal of the Citizens' Army was to be
"dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism" (Grant and Woods,
"James Connolly and the Easter Rising"). While the Irish Citizens Army was
determined to fight for Nationalism, they were angered that the Volunteers might
have a different strategy in mind.
In 1913, the Volunteers were founded by Patrick Pearse and controlled by Eoin MacNeill. Patrick Pearse was determined to have a war consisting of a blood sacrifice (Finnegan 32). Right before the war, the Volunteers had a "successful gun-running exploit, landing arms in Howth, near Dublin, a few days before the war was declared" ("The Easter Rising"). However, MacNeill was very much opposed to the war. The Citizens Army had problems with the Volunteers due to their refusal to join the fight for Ireland.
|James Connolly, leader of
the Irish Citizens Army
founder of the Irish Volunteers
Why were the two forces in conflict with each
Before the Irish Citizens Army and the Volunteers were allies, they had opposing goals.. The Volunteers were in conflict with the war because they refused to participate in an army full of bloodshed.. However, the Citizens Army was determined to fight for Irish Independence. In 1915, the Volunteers and Citizens Army agreed to join forces when Connolly joined the IRB planning committee (Finnegan 32). It was at the IRB planning that Nationalism and socialism intertwined when Pearse, the nationalist, joined Connolly, the socialist (Finnegan 32).
The Easter Rising of 1916 united the forces of the Irish Citizens Army and Volunteers. No longer were they opponents, but they were allies coming together to declare war on the British. Members from the Citzens Army and the Volunteers came together to form the Military Council. On April 24, 1916, Patrick Pearse read a proclamation in honor of creating an Irish Republic ("The Easter Rising, 1916").
An excerpt from the Irish Proclamation of Independence
"IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the
dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood,
Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her
Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory" (Retrieved from http://www.iol.ie/~dluby/proclaim.htm).
-Read by Patrick Pearse April 24, 1916
*Through this proclamation, the goals of the Volunteers and Citizens Army are clearly defined. They had great determination and strength to uphold the powers of the British and claim victory. The two forces looked after other counties, but remained loyal to their Irish nation as they fought with great bloodshed in order to earn an Independence marked down in history.