Meeting held in support of Irish independence

Event date(s)

1 May 1920

Description/importance

The Irish Self-Determination League was an organization for men and women of Irish descent living in England (and elsewhere) who wanted to support Irish independence. Founded in 1919, it was closely though covertly linked with the IRA. In public, however, the ISDL was a constitutional organization pursuing public propaganda and fund-raising campaigns. At its peak it probably reached about 38,000 members organized in some 300 branches, about a quarter of which were located in the north-east of England. Local branches often sponsored meetings with local Labour or Communist party organizations. The Irish republican movement in Ireland sent speakers, such as Darrell Figgis and Sean Milroy, for example, who attended a series of meetings in Liverpool, Wigan, Newcastle, and St. Helens in October 1919.

In his witness statement to the Bureau of Military History, local republican activist Gilbert Barrington described meetings addressed by a range of speakers 'attended by crowds of from 10,000 to 25,000'. The Irish case was stated at these meetings in uncompromising terms and was always received without interruption and, apparently, with interest. In fact, it was our usual practice to take a collection from the audience for such purpose as "Belfast Distressed Workers" or "Irish Prisoners' Aid". The response was invariably good and not confined to the Irish people in the audience. A remarkable instance of the impartial attitude of Durham miners was shown when a substantial sum was collected for one of these purposes at an open-air meeting outside the railway station at Annfield Plain … on the Sunday morning following the burning of the station the previous night and while the remains were still smouldering.'

Location/map point

Address

Further reading

Witness Statement 773 by Gilbert Barrington (December 1952), Bureau of Military History, National Archives of Ireland, Dublin; Keiko Inoue, 'Dáil Propaganda and the Irish Self-Determination League of Great Britain during the Anglo-Irish War', Irish Studies Review 6:1 (1988): 47-53; Mo Moulton, Ireland and the Irish in Interwar England (Cambridge, 2014).

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