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3 October 2012

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Unionist centenary events – Historian Tom Hartley's recommended reading

1912: Sir Edward Carson, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, signs the Ulster Covenant

In the political life of our country, 1912 was a momentous year that ended with the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force


2012 is the centenary of the Review of Unionist and Orange Volunteers at Balmoral in Belfast, the expulsions of the Catholic workforce from the Belfast shipyards in July 1912, and the signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant in September 1912.

In the political life of our country, 1912 was a momentous year that ended with the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Listed below are ten books which may help the reader to better understand the historic and political context for 1912.  These books approach the topic from a variety of perspectives and give the reader a broad and detailed understanding of this period.

Generally, the starting point for setting the political context for that momentous year begins with the first Home Rule Bill in 1886.

The first book, Ulster’s Stand for Union, by Ronald McNeill, is unashamedly unionist propaganda. Having said that, it provides the reader with the sequence of events in this hectic period of political developments.

The next two books, A History of the Ulster Unionist Party (by Graham Walker) and The Ulster Unionist Party (by John Harbinson), provide a good understanding of the rise of Northern unionism, the formation of the Ulster Unionist Council and the politics that underpinned the formation and structures of unionism in the 20th century.

ATQ. Stewart’s The Ulster Crisis covers the period from 1912 to 1914. It remains a standard work for those who wish to study the detail of this period.

Carson’s Army (by Timothy Bowman) is a study of the Ulster Volunteer Force which looks beyond the image of a monolithic unionist army.

The Irish Republic (by Dorothy Macardle), The Indivisible Island (by Frank Gallagher), Holy War in Belfast (by Andrew Boyd), Arming the Protestants (by Michael Farrell) and The Orange State (by Michael Farrell) are studies of the period from a republican, labour and socialist perspective.

Order them from the Sinn Féin Bookshop or your local library.

Ulster’s Stand for Union – Ronald McNeill

A History of the Ulster Unionist Party – Graham Walker

The Ulster Unionist Party – John Harbinson

The Ulster Crisis – ATQ Stewart

Carson’s Army – Timothy Bowman

The Irish Republic – Dorothy Macardle

The Indivisible Island - Frank Gallagher

Holy War in Belfast – Andrew Boyd

Arming the Protestants – Michael Farrell

The Orange State – Michael Farrell

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Fascinating insights into

Irish revolutionary history now online

Every week over the next two years, An Phoblacht is making all the editions of The Irish Volunteer – the newspaper of the Irish Volunteer movement – available online exactly 100 years after they were first published

The Irish Volunteer — tOglách na hÉireann was first published on 7 February 1914 and every week until 22 April 1916, just days before the Easter Rising.

Acting as the official newspaper of the Irish Volunteers it outlined the political views of the leadership and reported on the and important events, such as the Howth Gun Running of 1914.

Included in its pages alongside political opinions and news reports are various advertisements for such items as revolvers, bandoliers and military uniforms from stockists across Ireland.

You can now read these fascinating insights into Irish revolutionary history with an online subscription to An Phoblacht for just €10 per year. This includes a digital copy of each new edition of the paper and Iris magazine, access to our digitised historic archives as well as copies of The Irish Volunteer.

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