Ireland the Early 20th Century

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  • History: The Full Story

In 1914, a world war began. It was known at the time as The Great War and it was later called World War 1. It lasted until 1918. Britain took part in this war and many Irish men fought in the British army in the trenches of France. At that time, all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and was ruled from the parliament in London.

There were members of parliament from Ireland too, such as John Redmond who was the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. This party wanted Home Rule for Ireland. They wanted Ireland to have its own parliament in Dublin and be ruled from Ireland not from England.

Home Rule

Not everyone agreed with Home Rule. In Ulster, the Unionists, led by Edward Carson, were totally opposed to it. They saw Home Rule as ‘Rome Rule’ because a parliament for Ireland would have a Catholic majority. The Unionists set up an army, the Ulster Volunteers, and forced the British Government to change the Home Rule Act to exclude the Ulster counties.  

In the south, two other armies were formed. One army, the Irish Volunteers, was set up partly to oppose the Ulster Volunteers and partly to fight for Irish independence from Britain. Another army, the Irish Citizen Army, was led by James Connolly.  

The Home Rule Act was passed in 1914 but it was delayed by the outbreak of World War 1. The Irish Parliamentary Party asked their followers to wait until after the war for a parliament to be set up in Dublin. John Redmond asked Irish people to join the British army.