Monaghan, 1912-1923

Terence Dooley

By 1912, a revolution had already taken place in Monaghan, a bloodless revolution that had resulted in the overthrow of one ruling elite to be replaced by another. What began in 1912 with the signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant, followed the next year by the founding of the Ulster Volunteer Force, might be considered from the Protestant perspective as an attempted counter-revolution. It was at the very least a determined effort to remain part of the British Empire, which for most Monaghan Protestants was their spiritual and ancestral home. Constitutional nationalists were not prepared to give up the gains they had made. Separatist nationalists wanted more and so for them the 1916 Rising represented the beginning of unfinished business. In this political maelstrom there were agrarian agitators who sought the final solution to the land question; 2,500 young men who went to war, one-fifth of whom never returned and the others to a very changed country; and paramilitaries who divided along sectarian lines providing an extra dimension to events of the period. Thus, between 1912 and 1923, Monaghan politics and society were transformed for a second time, not least of all by the imposition of the border with all the attendant social and economic problems partition brought. Because of Monaghan’s socio-religious demographic and its borderlands location, this book offers an intriguing insight to how the period 1912–23 played itself out at local level.