I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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A Month in the Summer

Dermot Meleady
Prologue The nationalist community, mainly Catholic in religion, had just witnessed the successful outcome of the forty-year struggle for Home Rule, the goal that had eluded Isaac Butt and Charles Stewart Parnell. The Third Home Rule Bill, having traversed three successive parliamentary sessions since its introduction in 1912, passed its final stages on May 25th. The Liberal government of HH Asquith, in alliance with the Irish Parliamentary Party led by John Redmond, guided the bill to victory. It provided for an autonomous parliament in Dublin, with a responsible executive, to govern all internal Irish affairs under the supremacy of the Westminster parliament. It now awaits only the king’s signature to become law. The Irish Party’s newspaper, the Freeman’s Journal, greeted the event as “Ireland’s Day of Triumph”; hundreds of messages of congratulation poured in from every part of Ireland and from the Irish diaspora in the US, Australia and New Zealand. However, a serious flaw nestled at the heart of this achievement, deriving from the attitude of Ireland’s second community. The expressed will of Ulster’s mainly Protestant unionists, concentrated in the northeast of that province, was to resist the imposition of Home Rule under a Dublin parliament dominated by Catholic nationalists. Such anti-Home Rule sentiment had the political support of Britain’s Conservative (Tory) Party, currently in opposition. Despite the signing by half a million men and women in September 1912 of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant, a massive peaceful demonstration of unionist resolve not to accept Dublin rule, Asquith expressed his government’s determination to press ahead with the legislation for all-Ireland Home Rule. Unionists responded with threats to resist, by force if necessary, any attempt to impose it on them. From early 1913, units of a new force, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), began to appear in towns and rural communities across Ulster, drawing recruits from all social classes. As enrolment grew, Sir Edward Carson, leader of Ireland’s Unionist Party and local unionist leaders addressed mass rallies. The UVF had been drilled to a high level of proficiency, but its parades with mock weapons excited the scorn of nationalists, who dismissed them as toy soldiers. The nationalist press professed to regard the unionist campaign as an elaborate bluff. The Freeman’s Journal coined the term “Ulsteria”. In the autumn of 1913, leading Liberals and some Tories began to discuss the possibility of compromise over Ulster. In secret talks with Asquith, Carson and the…



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