The Irish Volunteers, or Óglaigh na hÉireann was founded as an Irish nationalist volunteer militia in 1913 by Eoin MacNeill. Formed as a response to the establishment of the loyalist Ulster Volunteers and to preserve Home Rule, the Irish Volunteers commanded at its peak almost 200,000 members, including members of the Gaelic League, Irish Republican Brotherhood, Sinn Féin and the Irish Parliamentary Party. Upon the breaking out of WW1 in 1914, many of the Volunteers would join the British Army to join in the British war effort, some more radical members however refused to take any part in the war effort. Despite official policy being that the Volunteers would only engage in physical force if the British attempted to disband and disarm them, members of the Irish Volunteers circumvented MacNeill’s authority and plotted the Easter Rising in conjunction with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and Irish Citizen Army. MacNeill’s countermanding order however greatly limited the number of Volunteers that would fight on Easter Week to around 1,250 volunteers. Following the Rising, the Volunteers would undergo reorganisation and would form the nucleus of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
The Irish Volunteer Fund (1913)