Bulmer Hobson


Born. Hollywood, Co. Down , son of a Quaker from Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, and a suffragette Englishwoman; educated Quaker School, Lisburn; started Ulster Debating Club for boys and later set up Protestant National Society with William McDonald; joined Tír na nÓg branch of Gaelic League, 1901; sec. of Antrim County Board of GAA; started boys’ organisation Na Fianna Eireann, Belfast 1903; joined Irish Volunteers, 1904; expanded to national association with Constance Markiewicz in 1909; co-founder Ulster Literary Theatre, with David Parkhill, contrary to Yeats’s discouragements when they travelled to Dublin in 1902, opening with his verse drama, Brian of Banba (7 Dec. 1904) and Purcell’s The Reformers; with Joseph Campbell and others, fnd. Uladh (1st issue. Nov. 1904);

Joined Cumann na nGaedheal, and started the more radical Dungannon Clubs with Denis McCullough, an IRB organiser, Belfast March 1905, issuing To the Whole People of Ireland, Manifesto of the Dungannon Club (1905); fnd. the Republic (1906-07); merged with the Peasant in Dublin; invited to American by John Devoy to introduce Sinn Féin; amalgamation of Dungannon Clubs with Cumann na nGaedheal; vice-president of Sinn Féin; edited short lived County Dublin Observer; collaborated with F J Bigger on ‘United Irishmen’ series (producing only a volume on William Orr); Defensive Warfare, a Handbook for Irish Nationalists (West Belfast Branch of Sinn Féin 1909); resigned from Sinn Féin over policy issues, 1910; started his Freedom clubs, and edited Irish Freedom for the IRB, 1911-May 1914;

Chairman of Dublin centre of IRB, and member of the Leinster executive; later Supreme Council of IRB; became gen. sec. of Irish Volunteers, on the secession of the National Volunteers, 1913, persuading MacNeill to serve as Commander-in-Chief through intercession of The O’Rahilly; organised the Howth gun-running with Thomas MacDonagh, July 1914; supported the demand of John Redmond for half the seats of the Provisional Committee of the Irish Volunteers; believed that general mobilisation of Volunteers would follow on attempted conscription for the Front; dismissed from The Gaelic American by John Devoy; forced to resign from Irish Freedom and from the Supreme Council of the IRB, 1914; informed of plans for the Rising by J. J. O’Connell and Eimar O’Duffy, and notified McNeill; joined McNeill in actively opposing 1916 by circulating countermanding orders;

Held under ‘arrest’ by IRB members but released after the start of the Rising; formed publishing house of Martin Lester and produced the books of Eimar O’Duffy, et al.; withdrew from politics after the rising, and worked for afforestation, social credit, Gate Theatre, &c. Chief Sec. of Revenue Commissioners’s Stamp Department, Dublin Castle, 1922; ed. Saorstat Éireann Official handbook (Dublin 1932); retired 1948 , and settled at Roundstone, Go. Galway, and later lived in Limerick; participated in the discussion of 1916 in W. R. Rodgers 1950s broadcast series, published as Irish Literary Portraits (1972); d. Aug. 1969;