26 November 2014: Meath archaeological and historical society lecture on Irish Volunteers, St. Mary’s (Church of Ireland), Navan, Co. Meath


Members of the Irish Volunteers on parade (National Library of Ireland)

On Wednesday 26 November Meath archaeological and historical society held its annual ‘Decade of Centenaries’ lecture, which was delivered by Ruth Illingworth and was entitled ‘National Volunteers and Irish Volunteers in Meath’. The lecture took place in St Mary’s Church of Ireland Hall, Navan.


On the outbreak of the First World War the Irish Volunteers in Meath, as elsewhere, split between the followers of John Redmond and Eoin MacNeill, with the majority following Redmond as the National Volunteers, with only a rump remaining with MacNeill as the Irish Volunteers. But against the backdrop of the war and the suspension of Home Rule, the National Volunteers in Meath faded away while a new generation of young nationalists moved into the ranks of the Irish Volunteers. Ruth Illingworth’s lecture looked at the two volunteer organisations in Meath in the period between the split in the Volunteer Movement and the beginning of the Easter Rising, to examine the reasons why the National Volunteers declined and their rivals eventually triumphed.


Ruth Illingworth has written widely on Mullingar and Westmeath history. She is president of the Westmeath historical and archaeological society and was a member of Mullingar Town Council from 2004 to 2014, serving as Mayor of Mullingar in 2009-10.


From Century Ireland: Earl of Fingall resigns as inspector of Meath Volunteers.

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