Dublin’s Loyal Volunteers

Published in Issue 4 (July/August 2014), Letters, Volume 22

I’m sure I’m not the only native of Dublin intrigued by Quincey Dougan’s article (HI 22.3, May/June 2014) on Dublin unionists arming and drilling in 1914 to take on the British Army in the event of Home Rule, and to shock and overawe whatever moral force a Home Rule parliament might have been able to deploy (since the proposed Home Rule Act specifically forbade it from raising an armed body). I’m also scratching my head over the description of such a proto-Freikorps as ‘Loyal’. Most of all, I’m impressed by the audacity of Mr Dougan’s telling us that on the outbreak of the Easter Rising of 1916, some of these militarists, who had by then joined the British Army, ‘assisted troops from the Curragh in suppressing the violence’!—Yours etc., 


Sir,—I found your article, ‘Dublin’s Loyal Volunteers’, very interesting, particularly in view of the stories being peddled by recent revisionist ‘historians’ of the dreadful discrimination that the Protestants of Dublin suffered under the new native government. I grew up during World War II in what I once heard referred to as the ‘Protestant quarter’ of Howth—the Hill. Our neighbours were fine decent people, but we were in no doubt as to where their true loyalties lay and it was not with Ireland. When the war started, the congregation of the Anglican church asked their rector, Canon Armstrong, to have the national anthem played after services. The following Sunday the organist struck up Amhrán na bhFiann. The congregation were incandescent with rage. Canon Armstrong, a good loyal Irishman, said, ‘You asked me to play the national anthem and I played the national anthem of this country’. Most of his congregation decamped to another parish and did not return for years. On VE Day some of these same people hung out Union Jacks on their houses. My late father told me, years afterwards, that there were two groups in the Howth LDF. One, of which he was a member, consisted of Old IRA men and the other of Protestants and former British soldiers. If hostilities arose between Britain and Ireland, the former group had plans to arrest and disarm members of the other group. In view of what had gone on among Dublin ‘loyalists’ some years previously I would imagine it would have been a wise precaution to take.—Yours etc.,

Durban, SA

Sir,—In his intriguing article on Dublin’s Loyal Volunteers Quincey Dougan refers to the considerable number who joined the 9th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and mentions ‘a William Crozier of St Stephen’s Green who applied for a commission in the 9th on the basis that he had drilled for eleven months with the Loyal Dublin Volunteers’. His full name was William Magee Crozier and, coming from a well-known Dublin legal family, he was a barrister. Educated at Repton, a Derbyshire public school, and Trinity College, Dublin, he had been a member of the officers’ training corps in both institutions. He played cricket for Trinity, taking part—unsuccessfully—in matches against Leicestershire and Cambridge University in 1895, the second and third first-class matches ever played by an Irish side. He achieved his wish and was commissioned as an acting second lieutenant in the 9th in 1915. The following year, now a fully fledged lieutenant, he went with the 9th to France as part of the 36th Ulster Division. Like so many others, he was killed at Thiepval on 1 July 1916.—Yours etc.,



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