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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.134) 7 Volunteers
The I.R.A. and its Enemies

Peter Hart

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the Volunteers of the I.R.A., looking at the type of people who joined and why. Most official British commentators regard the I.R.A. as being a bad lot recruited from the lowest classes. With the guerilla warfare and widespread killing, dirt was a constant theme of the descriptions. The Volunteers were considered dirty, ragged, and ‘a scrubby-looking lot of corner boys’. Most of the opinions against the I.R.A. were an outgrowth of deep-rooted prejudices: those of the English against the Irish, Protestant against Catholics, townspeople against countrymen, among many others. Upper-middle-class or upper-class people almost never joined the I.R.A. The belief that that these were ‘persons of no consequence’ was based not just on class, but on age as well. They were considered to be ‘young upstarts’.

Keywords:   Volunteers, dirt, I.R.A, countrymen, lower class

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