My grandfather and many thousands of others were Redmondite volunteers. That is to say they were members of the 150,000 strong Irish Volunteers who drilled and trained and supported John Redmond MP in the quest for Irish Home Rule. In 1914, with the promise of Home Rule achieved (he thought), Redmond called upon the volunteers to enlist in the New British Army "for the sake of small nations". 140,000 followed his call and created the National Volunteers who fed the 10th(Irish) and 16th(Irish) Divisions, as well as infilling other under-strength regiments. My grandfather was posted with the Royal Welch Fusiliers, who were the garrison for Limerick, whilst his best friend was sent with the Royal West Surrey regiment and killed at Loos in 1915.
Redmond asked the War Office to create an Irish Brigade for his Volunteers. However, ever fearing the creation of an Irish Army, the War Office installed British officers in the Divisions and the Volunteer officers were returned to the ranks. This was the first betrayal. The Irish Divisions fought at Loos, the Somme, Paschendale and all the major battles of WW1 and the National War Memorial marks the 49,400 who died - a huge number from a working-age male population of under a million.
The proposed "Home Rule Bill", promised to Redmond, was shelved "for the duration", the second betrayal. The remaining 10,000 Irish Volunteers who had not transferred to the National Volunteers then allied themselves to the socialist Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly and it was they who rebelled in Dublin on Easter 1916 and formed the basis for the future IRA and the Anglo-Irish war. The rest is history.
After 5 years in the British Army, gassed at the Somme and sent home to die from malaria and dysentery at Gallipoli, my grandfather was demobbed in Limerick in late 1919 and left to find casual work as a labourer. In early 1922 he joined the new National Army of the Free State and rose to become a CQSM in the Military Police (being 5'11" tall probably helped!). He fought through the Civil War and left the army in 1926. He then became a manager at the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric dam on the Shannon before he succumbed to the effects of his experiences in WW1. He died, aged 60, having been bedridden for the final years of his life. Not all casualties of the war died in the war.......
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anam
Just because I'm paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get me