Father Nevin and The Irish Volunteers

Witness Statement

Fr Eugene Nevin's evidence

Bureau of Military History

Preaching at Mount Argus. Dublin, on Sunday week (March 1916) when a large number of Irish Volunteers were present, Father Eugene Nevin of the Passionist Order spoke as follows:

“I cannot refrain from expressing the feeling of pleasure I experience on seeing such a fine body of young men here this morning all members of the Irish Volunteers Clarum et nomen venerabile. Yes, to the mind of every true Irishman the name has honoured and glorious associations and I am confident from what I have heard and from what I see before me now that if the necessity or the occasion arises the honoured principles and associations of the men of 1782 will be fully and nobly maintained by the men of today. What a pity your formation has been delayed so long; delayed until the present great upheaval when all Europe’s Empires, Kingdoms and States have been cast into the melting pot, and what will be evolved for us out of the steam and smoke of battle, he would be a wise one who could tell. But now that you have been formed, I think and indeed am quite certain every young man in the country of military age and capacity should be in your ranks. You deserve every encouragement and support, for after all is said and done – and a great deal has been said – recent events have I think shown us clearly enough that it is only an organisation which commands respect by reason of its numerical strength and discipline and determination that counts for anything.

The Ulster Volunteers of the other day is a standing proof of that, and shall I also say, the power of such an organisation to inflict injury is one of the best reasons for its existence?

Well my dear friends and brothers, my mission is not one of war but that of peace – peace which hath its victories no less renowned than war – The Irish Volunteers of 1782 had not to strike a blow at all. They won by their splendid organisation and their firm determination, what I am sure every one of you here today is willing to fight and die for – Irish Freedom.

Dear Friends the shadow of a great betrayal is over the land. I do not like to say hard things but, though the truth is sometimes bitter, it had better be said it’s always wholesome. We, all of us, have witnessed an infamous act of treachery to which the history of a civilised or uncivilised country can furnish no parallel.

Your duty is to blot out that disgrace and contradict that infamy. You can do it. You can do almost anything by organisation. Something surely ought and must be done. Hence I say in the surrounding gloom that has come down upon us consequent of our betrayal the one bright spot in Ireland today is the parade ground of the Irish Volunteers.

Therefore be zealous members and strict adherents to the rules of your Brigade. Strict discipline, subjection to command are absolutely necessary and without them no army is of any use whatever. And above all be true to the principles and practices of your Holy Faith. Catholics and Irish are to the mind of many synonymous. The Irishman who is true to his Faith should be a good Irishman. Love of country is akin to our love of God, and he who does not love his country in good report and evil report is a poor specimen of a Catholic. It is my dear friends by steadfastly adhering to the practices of your Holy Faith and the rules of your organisation that you will obtain the purpose for which you are banded together, perhaps too after the manner of the Volunteers of 1782.”

Two days later Fr Nevin received a letter from Eamonn Ceannt.

This page was added on 01/04/2016.

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