The Irish amateur military tradition in the British Army, 1854–1992

This work examines the ‘amateur military tradition’ in Ireland, essentially the framework in which part-time soldiers of the British Army existed, alongside their regular army counterparts, and how they interacted with wider society. In Ireland, this included the militia, yeomanry, Territorial Force (later Army), Officers’ Training Corps, Volunteer Training Corps, the Ulster Home Guard (UHG), and the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). It covers the period from the re-establishment of the Irish militia during the Crimean War until the disbandment of the UDR after the British Army’s ‘Options for Change’ paper in 1992. Due to Ireland’s peculiar position within the British military framework, a distinct Irish amateur military tradition developed which, in many respects, was different to the English, Welsh, or Scottish traditions. Additionally, two further traditions have been identified, distinctive to the Irish socio-political environment. Firstly, the re-emergence of the Protestant volunteering tradition, witnessed in Ulster as early as the seventeenth century, also found in paramilitary groups such as the Ulster Volunteer Force, and, secondly, a Catholic amateur military tradition, largely present in the Irish militia until the Edwardian period. Crucially, the work recognises a significant contribution of Irish men and women to activities within the British Empire during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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