Meanwhile Nationalist Ireland was deep in its heart revolted by the way the Parliamentary Party was managing its affairs. They sought still to delude it with the cry that "the Act" was on the Statute Book and that all would be well. My experience of my own people is that once confidence is yielded to a person or party they are trustful to an amazing degree; let that confidence once be disturbed, then distrust and suspicion are quickly bred - and to anyone who knows the Celtic psychology a suspicious Irishman is not a very pleasant person to deal with. This the Party were to find out in suitable time. Meanwhile the young men of the South saw no reason why, Ulster being armed and insolent, they might not become armed and self-reliant. And accordingly, without any petty distinctions of party, or class, or creed, they decided to band themselves into a body of volunteers and they adopted a title sanctioned in Irish history - namely, the Irish Volunteers.

The movement was publicly inaugurated at a meeting held in the Rotunda, Dublin, on 25th November 1913, the leading spirits in the organisation being Captain White, D.S.O., and Sir Roger Casement, a Northern Protestant who, knighted by England for his consular and diplomatic services, was later to meet the death penalty at her hands for his loyalty to his own country. The new body drew its supporters from Parliamentarians, Sinn Feiners, Republicans and every other class of Irish Nationalist. The manifesto it issued stated: "The object proposed for the Irish Volunteers is to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland. Their duties will be defensive and protective and they will not attempt either aggression or domination. Their ranks are open to all able-bodied Irishmen without distinction of creed, politics, or social grade." And then it appealed "in the name of national unity, of national dignity, of national and individual liberty, of manly citizenship to our countrymen to recognise and accept without hesitation the opportunity that has been granted to them to join the ranks of the Irish Volunteers and to make the movement now begun not unworthy of the historic title which it has adopted." The president of the Volunteers was Professor John MacNeill, who had borne an honourable and distinguished part in the Gaelic League Revival. They declared they had nothing to fear from the Ulster Volunteers nor the Ulster Volunteers from them. They acknowledged that the Northern body had opened the way for a National Volunteer movement, but whilst at first they were willing to cheer Sir Edward Carson because he had shown them the way to arm, it was not long before they recognised that whilst extending courtesy to Ulster, their supreme duty was the defence of Irish liberty. For this they drilled and armed in quiet but firm determination. When Partition became part of the policy of the Irish Party, Mr Redmond and his friends had many warnings that the Irish Volunteers were not in existence to support the mutilation of Ireland. They proclaimed their intention originally of placing themselves at the disposal of an Irish Parliament, but not of the kind contemplated by the Home Rule Bill. The Irish Party saw in the Volunteers a formidable menace to their power, if not to their continued existence. They must either control them or suppress them. Mr Redmond demanded the right to nominate a committee of twenty-five "true-blue" supporters of his own policy. The Volunteer Committee had either to declare war on Mr Redmond or submit to his demand. They submitted. The Government, who were supposed to have instigated and inspired Mr Redmond's demand, were satisfied. The reconstituted Committee called the new body the National Volunteers.

But though the Redmondites got control of the Committee they did not succeed in curbing the spirit of the Volunteers. And besides there was in Dublin an independent body of Volunteers entitled the Citizen Army, under the control of Messrs Connolly and Larkin. This was purely drawn from the workers of the metropolis and was fiercely antagonistic to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which The Irish Workerdeclared to be "the foulest growth that ever cursed this land," and again as "a gang of place-hunters and political thugs."

It appears Mr Redmond's nominees gave little assistance in arming the Volunteers, but the original members of the Committee got arms on their own responsibility and, imitating the exploit of the Fanny, they ran a cargo of rifles into Howth. The forces of the Crown, which winked at the Larne gun-running, made themselves active at Howth. The Volunteers were intercepted on their way back by a military force, but succeeded in getting away with their rifles. The soldiers, on returning to Dublin, irritated at their failure to get the arms and provoked by a jeering crowd, fired on them, killing three (including one woman) and wounding thirty-two. "It was," writes Mr Robert Lynd, "Sir Edward Carson and Mr Bonar Law who introduced the bloody rule of the revolver into modern Ireland and the first victims were the Dublin citizens shot down in Bachelor's Walk on the eve of the war."

Hardly had the echoes of the Dublin street firing died down before the thunders of war were heard on the Continent. Germany had temporarily cut through the entanglements of the Irish situation, and from the island drama across the Irish Sea the thoughts of all flew to the world tragedy that was commencing with an entire continent for a battlefield.

If the situation created by the war had been properly handled, it could, with the exercise of a little tact and management and, it may be, with the application of a certain pressure upon Ulster, have been turned to magnificent account for the settlement of Ireland's difficulties and disagreements. The Home Rule Bill had not yet passed into law. Anything was possible in regard to it. Again, however - and with the utmost regret it must be set down - the wrong turning was taken.

Confronted with a common peril, all British parties drew together in a united effort to support the war. The Irish Party had to declare themselves. Mr Redmond spoke in Parliament with restraint and qualification, but he made a sensation, at which probably nobody was more surprised than himself, when he said that the Government might withdraw all her troops from Ireland; her coasts would be defended by her armed sons and the National Volunteers would gladly co-operate with those of Ulster in doing so. Mr Redmond might have bargained for the immediate enactment of Home Rule or he might have remained neutral. Instead he gave a half-hearted offer of service at home, "to defend the shores of Ireland," and forthwith Sir Edward Grey proclaimed, with an applauding Empire to support him, that "Ireland was the one bright spot." Yes, but at what a cost to Ireland herself! It is a fallacy, widely believed in, that Mr Redmond proposed a definite war policy. He did not. He did not at first promise a single recruit for the front. He did not put England upon her honour even to grant "full self-government" in return for Irish service. Admitted that the Home Rule Act was on the Statute Book; but it was accompanied by a Suspensory Bill postponing its operation, and the Government likewise gave a guarantee that an Amending Bill would be introduced to make the measure acceptable to Ulster according to the bargain agreed to by the Irish Party surrendering the Six Counties to Carson.

The Ulster Party, on the other hand, were determined to extract the last ounce of advantage they could out of the situation. They made no promises and gave no guarantees until they knew where they stood. When it was seen, after the war had been for a month running its untoward course against the Allies, that they had nothing to fear from Home Rule, they told the Ulster Volunteers they were free to enlist.

The official organ of Sinn Fein and The Irish Worker were against any Irish offer of service, but the bulk of Nationalist opinion undoubtedly favoured the Allied course on the broad grounds of its justice and righteousness. Mr William O'Brien sought to unite all Irish parties on a definite war policy. He held the view that "however legitimate would have been the policy of compelling England to fulfil her pledges by holding sternly aloof in her hour of necessity, the policy of frank and instant friendship on condition of that fulfilment would have been greatly the more effectual to make Home Rule a necessity that could not be parried, as well as to start it under every condition of cordiality all round."

But Mr Redmond and his friends missed the tide of the war opportunity as they missed all other tides. They were neither one thing nor the other. Mr Redmond spoke in Ireland in halting and hesitating fashion, publicly asking the National Volunteers to stay at home, and again made half-hearted speeches in favour of recruiting. Mr Redmond's supporters in Cork were not, however, as politically obtuse as he appeared to be, or perhaps as his associations with Mr Dillon compelled him to be. Through the writer they asked Mr O'Brien to set forth a plan of united action. Mr O'Brien did so in a memorandum which suggested that Mr Redmond should take the initiative in inviting a Conference with the Irish Unionists to devise a programme of common action for the double purpose of drawing up an agreement for Home Rule on a basis beyond cavil in the matter of generosity to the Irish Unionists, and, on the strength of this agreement, undertaking a joint campaign to raise an Irish Army Corps, with its reserves, which was Mr Asquith's own measure of Ireland's just contribution. Mr O'Brien was in a position to assure Mr Redmond, and did in fact assure him, that if he took the initiative in summoning this Conference, he would have the ready co-operation of some of the most eminent Irish Unionists who followed Lord Midleton three years afterwards. To this Memorandum Mr O'Brien never received any reply, and I have reason to believe that all the reply received by Mr Redmond's own supporters in Cork, who submitted the Memorandum to him with an expression of their own approval of its terms, was a mere formal acknowledgment.

I am confident that Mr Redmond's own judgment favoured this proposal, as it did the policy of Conference and Conciliation in 1909, but that he was overborne by the other bosses, who had him completely at their mercy and who had not the wisdom to see that this gave them a glorious and honourable way out of their manifold difficulties.

There were, meanwhile, differences at the headquarters of the National Volunteers over Mr Redmond's offer of their services "for the defence of the shores of Ireland," which was made without their knowledge or consent. They, however, passed a resolution declaring "the complete readiness of the Irish Volunteers to take joint action with the Ulster Volunteer Force for the defence of Ireland." The Prime Minister promised in Parliament that the Secretary for War would "do everything in his power after consultation with gentlemen in Ireland, to arrange for the full equipment and organisation of the Irish Volunteers." But the War Office had other views in the matter, and though a scheme was drawn up by General Sir Arthur Paget, Commanding the Forces in Ireland, "by which the War Office may be supplied from the Irish Volunteers with a force for the defence of Ireland," this scheme was immediately rejected by the War Office authorities who, in their efforts to gain Irish recruits - and I write with perfect knowledge of the facts - were guilty of every imaginable blunder and every possible insult to Irish sentiment and Irish ideals.

The Ulster Volunteers, on the other hand, were allowed to retain their own officers and their own tests of admission, and were taken over, holus-bolus, as they stood; were trained in camps of their own, had their own banners, were kept compactly together and were recognised in every way as a distinct unit of Army organisation. All of these privileges were insolently refused to the Nationalists of the South - they were for a time employed in the paltry duty of minding bridges, but they were withdrawn from even this humiliating performance after a short period.

Meanwhile an Irish Division was called for to be composed of Southern Nationalists, and with the Government guarantee that "it would be manned by Irishmen and officered by Irishmen." I had my own strong and earnest conviction about the war and the justice and righteousness of the Allied cause. I felt, if service was offered at all, it should not be confined to "defence of the shores of Ireland," but should be given abroad where, under battle conditions, the actual issue between right and wrong would be decided. I made my own offer of service in November 1914, and all the claim I make was that I was actuated by one desire and one only - to advance, humbly as may be, in myself the cause of Irish freedom. For the rest, I served and I suffered, and I sacrificed, and if the results were not all that we intended let this credit at least be given to those of us who joined up then, that we enlisted for worthy and honourable motives and that we sought, and sought alone, the ultimate good of Ireland in doing so. Mr Redmond's family bore their own honourable and distinguished part in "The Irish Brigade," as it came to be known, and Major "Willie" Redmond, when he died on the field of France, offered his life as surely for Ireland as any man who ever died for Irish liberty.

Faith was not kept with "The Irish Brigade" in either the manning or the officering of it by Irishmen, and the time came when, through failure of reserves, it was Irish more in name than in anything else, and when the gaps caused by casualties had to be filled by English recruits. A disgusted and disappointed country turned its thoughts away from constitutional channels; and the betrayals of Ireland's hopes, and dignity and honour, which had gone on during the years, were fast leading to their natural and inevitable Nemesis.