A Commemorative Plaque to Bulmer Hobson
On Saturday 19 September, the Castleconnell Historical Society will unveil a plaque to the Irish revolutionary, Quaker and publisher, Bulmer Hobson.
The event will happen in the garden of #1 The Tontines, Castleconnell, the house where Hobson died in his sleep on 8 August 1969.
Born in Belfast in 1883, Hobson was one of the key architects of the Irish revolution. In the decade before the Rising he worked tirelessly to organise republicans for independence. Besides his collaboration in the publishing of a string of advanced nationalist newspapers, including The Republic, Irish Freedom and the Irish Volunteer, Hobson played a leading part in the foundation of both Na Fianna Eireann and the Irish Volunteers.
In Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion (2006), Charles Townsend described him as ‘the IRB’s leading strategic thinker’ who ‘played a leading part – perhaps the leading part – in the mobilization of a credible Irish liberation movement in the decade before 1916.’ (19).
But on the eve of the Rising, Hobson sided with MacNeill and opposed the plans of Pearse and Clarke. To keep him out of trouble, he was held by the IRB under house arrest until the insurrection was well under way.
After 1924 his skills as both a printer and publisher transferred into a state job as Deputy Director of Stamping in the Office of Revenue Commissioners. From his office in Dublin Castle, he was responsible for the government’s printing requirements, notably passports, postage stamps, pension books, government forms and licenses and other ‘secure’ documents.
On his retirement in 1948, he went to live in Roundstone, Connemara, until the early 1960s when a stroke forced him to reside with his daughter, Camilla, and son-in-law in their family home in Castleconnell.
It was there that he compiled the chapters for his volume of memoirs Ireland Yesterday and Tomorrow (1968). To celebrate and remember his life there will be brief speeches from Bulmer Hobson’s surviving son-in-law, John Mitchell; the founding President of the Castleconnell Historical Society, Henry Nash; and the historian, Angus Mitchell.
Due to current government restrictions, attendance at the unveiling is restricted to members of the Hobson family and their closest friends.
Once the restrictions are lifted another public event is planned.
A clip of a John O’Donoghue interview done with Bulmer at the end of his life where he is sitting in the house in Castleconnell is *here* In this he is speaking about the Volunteers.
Historian Angus Mitchell gave a lecture on him at the Belfast Feile last month. You can access the talk *here*