Saddle soap and cigar smoke: A Question of Duty

Review: a short, deft, informed and informing take on the Curragh Incident 1914

Sat, Jul 5, 2014, 01:40


Book Title:
A Question of Duty: The Curragh Incident 1914


Paul O'Brien

New Island

Guideline Price:

In early 1914, the British army in Ireland received a mobilisation command ordering them to the loyal North. This was to ensure the implementation of the 3rd Home Rule Bill would happen with minimum fuss. But, presented in an uncompromising way, the Lancers based at the Curragh liked this order not one little bit.

Protestant Ulster was their kith and kin. Before long the unease spread throughout the service and the request, for what was subsequently depicted as a necessary security measure, was engendering a widespread recalcitrance. Additionally this defiance implied a threat to the cohesion of the empire. The big fear was that India would be encouraged further into anti-imperialism.

Paul O’Brien’s neat volume uses official documents, memorandums and memoirs to illustrate the developing panic of the situation. He portrays the imperial British officer class gasping in the air for their last hurrah. It’s a short, deft, informed and informing read with an almost tangible sniff of saddle soap, cigar smoke and cordite.