I went to Ballaghaderreen to endeavour to contact Michael Judge. At the railway station I met Fr. Gildea who greeted me. He remembered me from the time I lived in the district and had not returned there since I left it thirteen years before[Col15].
The beginning of the 20th century had seen the growth of a new kind of nationalism that appealed to young Irish men and women. This nationalism appeared in the form of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) founded in 1884, the Gaelic League, founded in 1893, and Sinn Fein founded in 1905. At first there appeared little threat to the established order. The Irish Parliamentary Party under John Redmond had recovered from the split caused by Charles Stuart Parnell’s involvement in a divorce scandal in 1880. Redmond had allied the Irish Parliamentary party with the British liberal party in an attempt to achieve Home rule for Ireland. Although control of finance and defence would remain with Parliament, Home Rule would give a significant amount of freedom to Ireland within the greater British Empire[Pri13]
Home Rule divided the Ulster Unionists and the rest of the country. Conflict between the UVF and the Irish Volunteers seemed likely with both sides importing guns. Then on the 4th of August 1914 the outbreak of the First World War put Home rule on hold until the war was over. As Britain got more imbedded in the war, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) emerged. This organisation was committed to establishing an Independent Irish republic. By 1914 this group had infiltrated most nationalist organisations, like the GAA, Gaelic League and the Volunteer’s which split over Redmond’s decision to support the war, on the promise of Home rule which might never be delivered. A minority of Volunteers, who rejected Redmond’s policy, became the nucleus of the new group hoping to achieve Irish independence[Pri13].