Internationals in the Irish Civil War

A part of Scottish life for 200 years, Scotland’s Irish community has also been part of the global Irish diaspora during that time. As such it has played a role in the transnational movements associated with the campaigns for various forms of Irish independence. This was vividly illustrated during the 1916 Rising when Volunteers travelled from the west of Scotland to join the rebellion.

This article is a short history of the revolutionary involvement of those members of the Scottish unit of the Irish Volunteers who fought in Dublin in 1916.

What follows below is a short history of the revolutionary involvement of those members of the Scottish unit of the Irish Volunteers who fought in Dublin in 1916, through the guerrilla campaign by the Irish Republican Army [IRA] against the British from 1919-21 and during the Irish Civil War that followed the split in the IRA over the Treaty with the British government.[2]

These sixteen are a small proportion of the roughly 250 Irish Volunteers in Scotland in 1916. This latter figure rose to around 2,500 by the time of Truce between the Republicans and the British in 1921.[3] According to Gerard Noonan roughly 250 members of the Scottish Brigade of the IRA fought in the Irish Civil War on the pro-Treaty side and five died. While roughly 50 fought on the Republican side.[4]

Of course, these figures are dwarfed by the numbers who fought in the Great War. Elaine Mac Farland states that 30,000 Glaswegian Catholics were in the British armed forces in 1916.[5] While GĂ©raldine Vaughan quotes a figure of 15,000 Irish Catholics from Scotland for 1915, that is before conscription had been introduced.[6]

Given that around a fifth of these men had joined Irish Regiments, and that these regiments were heavily involved in British efforts to supress the Rising, it is possible that there were more Glaswegian Catholics voluntarily fighting for the British than against them in Dublin in 1916. Stephen Coyle lists three Crown Forces fatalities of the fighting with Glasgow addresses.[7]