Casement’s Irish Brigade and U-boats around Ireland

Wednesday, 13 November, at 8.00pm in the Officers’ Mess, Custume Barracks

Talks by Dr Pat McCarthy and Guy Warner

Some of those who joined Casement’s Brigade, pictured in Germany (National Museum of Ireland)

Summary In October 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, Roger Casement travelled to Germany with two objectives: to obtain an agreement that, in the event of a German victory in the war, Germany would fully recognise Ireland’s independence; and to recruit an Irish Brigade from among captured British troops to fight for Irish freedom. He was successful in the first endeavour but not in the second, although 56 men did join his ‘Irish Brigade’. Pat McCarthy’s lecture will tell the fascinating story of how these men were recruited and their experiences in Germany. Pat will also explain what happened to those men after the war.

Speaker Pat McCarthy, a native of Waterford city, holds a PhD and an MBA from UCD. He worked for many years in the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector. He is the author of The Irish Revolution 1912-23, Waterford (Four Courts Press, 2015), Waterford and the 1916 Rising (Waterford city and county council, 2016), and The Redmonds and Waterford, a political dynasty 1891-1952 (Four Courts Press, 2018). He is currently a Research Associate in the School of History and Geography, Dublin City University and is working on a history of the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Ireland.

Summary Guy Warner’s talk is based on his book U-Boats Around Ireland. In 1914 Ireland was a naval backwater with only one base of any size – Queenstown (Cobh) in Co Cork. However, by the end of the First World War, there were eighteen naval bases in Ireland, with thousands of personnel, hundreds of ships of all sizes and dozens of aircraft. Ireland had become a crucial theatre of the war, fundamental to the campaign against the deadly menace that was Germany’s fleet of U-boats. If Germany had stopped or even seriously disrupted the flow of merchant vessels, then Britain’s ability to wage war or feed its population would have been seriously, perhaps completely, undermined. As well as examining the growth in Royal Navy anti-submarine activities and the roles of key personnel, Guy also examines the importantance of rapidly developing technology during the war.

Speaker Guy Warner is a historian and author living in Carrickfergus. He has written over 30 books and several hundred articles for magazines in Ireland, the UK and the USA. He has featured in TV and radio broadcasts and acted as a consultant to the RAF, as well as a range of museums, universities and other public bodies.

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