A very interesting night on Wednesday at Monaghan County Museum, where the CaDoLeMo group that promotes orange bands and culture in the border counties of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan held a talk on the two rival sets of Volunteers that emerged in the early 1900s before partition. It was an appropriate setting as the museum is currently displaying the Walking the Colours exhibition, which I wrote about in April.
Quincey Dougan spoke about Monaghan unionists, in particular their contribution to the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force. For a more detailed look at the subject, you can find his article on the subject here. One of the flags included in the exhibition comes from the 2nd Battalion of the UVF in Monaghan, which Quincey explained had its headquarters in Clones under the command of Lt Colonel Madden of Hilton Park outside the town. After the outbreak of World War I, Madden was replaced by a prominent solicitor Michael Knight, also Grandmaster of the County Orange.
According to Dougan, in August 1913 it was listed as having just 408 men, but within 12 months it had became bigger than the first battalion with 1058 men enlisted. The main drill areas were Drum, which included Scotshouse, Corrygarry, Drum and Carn; Clones including Clones, Stonebridge and Drumully, and Ballybay which included Laragh and Aughnamullen. Newbliss had a section, as did Dartrey in the form of Doohat and Dartrey. The Castleblayney and Carrickmacross area was not listed on the original returns and appears to have been slow to organise, but by early 1914 it also had men drilling. The Mullyash area of East Monaghan had a large unionist presence, but its natural hinterland was the South Armagh town of Newtownhamilton and it appears that the area drilled with County Armagh.
The second part of the evening was devoted to the story of the Irish Volunteers in County Monaghan. The guest speaker was Professor Terence Dooley, NUI Maynooth, who comes from Killanny near Carrickmacross. It was fascinating to hear the story of three Monaghan nationalists who went on to become politicians, Thomas Toal of Smithborough, Edward “twister” Kelly and ? O’Rourke.