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The I.R.A. and its EnemiesViolence and Community in Cork, 1916-1923$
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Peter Hart

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208068

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208068.001.0001

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(p.202) 10 Volunteering
The I.R.A. and its Enemies

Peter Hart

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses why people joined the Volunteers and how some of the Volunteers became guerrillas, exploring the experiences, networks, and loyalties that shaped them. Volunteers regarded their political commitment as completely natural and their motives as self-evident, requiring little reflection. The political beliefs of the early Volunteers were not significantly different from those of their peers. Opposition to martial law, military recruitment, and conscription and dissatisfaction with the Irish Party were almost universal in Cork after 1916. For the majority of them, the decision to join was collective rather than individual and rooted more in local communities and networks rather than in ideology. Young men joined the organization together with family members and friendship groups. Such informal networks and bonds gave the I.R.A. a cohesion that its formal structure could never produce. On the other hand, Volunteer units also inherited the local rivalries, factionalism, and territoriality that went with these loyalties.

Keywords:   Volunteers, family, neighbourhood, local rivalry, informal networks

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