Irish soldiers encouraged to join German brigade
1916/2016: a miscellany
Roger Casement: although not named in the article, he was responsible for attempting to recruit into the German Irish Brigade
February 5th, 1916
A Times reporter who interviewed exchanged prisoners of war found that many Irish among them had been induced to join the “German Irish Brigade”.
The reporter was on hand to meet 104 British prisoners who had been freed by the Germans in return for some of their own men being released. The Irishmen had been told to “strike a blow for Old Ireland”.
The invitation to join the German Irish Brigade was received “with indignation”, according to one returning Irishman who was interviewed.
The reporter stated: “His reply was that this had nothing to do with things as they were today, that he had taken an oath to serve his King and country, and that he would rather die than break it.
“The Germans removed their sergeants from them in order, the Irishmen thought, the more easily to influence them. They also procured about 50 traitors, my informant told me, not all of them Irishmen, and that was all they could muster out of about 2,000.”
Though not named in the article, the man responsible for attempting to raise the German Irish Brigade was Roger Casement (pictured). Only 56 men joined it.
From The Irish Times: “The Irish (Sinn Féin) Volunteers were active on Saturday night in Dublin. About 11 o’clock a large number of them, uniformed and carrying rifles with bayonets, gathered in Blackhall Place where there is a volunteer hall. From that hour until 2am on Sunday morning they took part in what appeared to be a representation of street fighting. This operation aroused the people of the neighbourhood and many police assembled in the districts. It is reported that an altercation took place between one of the volunteers and a policeman who accused the former of having pointed his rifle at him.”
The festival, formerly known as The Kate O’Brien Weekend, has been held annually since 1984 in honour of the life and works of the Limerick-born novelist and playwright Kate O’Brien. Other contributors to the three-day festival include Niall Mc Monagle, poet and editor of Poetry Now; Dr Tom Clonan, lecturer in DIT’s school of media and author of Blood, Sweat and Tears; novelist Catriona Lally; Theo Dorgan, poet, novelist and broadcaster; soprano Claudia Boyle; Sara Baume, short story writer and essayist; Thomas Lynch, poet, writer and winner of the American Book Award; Mike MacDomhnaill, poet and short story writer; and artist Pauline Bewick. limerickliteraryfestival.com.