17/5/1918 Sinn Féin leaders arrested as Britain strikes against “German plot” #1918Live

Ireland is in a tumult thanks to British plans to introduce conscription. Nationalist parties Sinn Féin and the Irish Parliamentary Party have joined forces with the Catholic Church and organised labour to oppose the measure.

Despite the opposition and warnings from senior figures in the local administration, London is determined to bring conscription to Ireland; such is the desperate need of new recruits to make good the losses suffered in the German spring offensives. Lord French (previously the British commander on the Western Front) has been appointed Lord Lieutenant in Ireland. A member of the Anglo-Irish gentry, French is convinced that firm measures will bring the lower orders to heel.

Some of the British suspect a German hand in the unrest in Ireland. Joseph Dowling, captured after a U-boat landed him in the west of Ireland, has spun a tall tale about Sinn Féin leaders being in league with Berlin and preparing for a German invasion of the Emerald Isle. Lord French himself is sceptical, as are others, but Dowling’s story finds a receptive audience in London. The British decide to nip this plot in the bud by rounding up the Sinn Féin leaders before they can get up to any further mischief.

Now the British strike. Ireland wakes up this morning to learn that more than 70 leading members of Sinn Féin have been arrested, including Éamon de Valera, Constance Markievicz and Arthur Griffith. The British hope that this bold step will decapitate the troublesome party and bring an end to the unrest in Ireland.

image source:

Some of the arrested Sinn Féin leaders (Ireland’s Own: The German Plot)

12/4/1918 A curious incident in the west of Ireland

Joseph Dowling is an Irishman who had served in the British army before the war and then, as a reservist, was recalled to the army in 1914. In September of that year he was captured by the Germans. In 1915 he joined the Irish Brigade that was being organised by Roger Casement to fight for Irish freedom. Today for mysterious reasons he departs in a rubber dinghy from a U-boat that has transported him to the west coast of Ireland. Dowling may have hoped to slip ashore anonymously but he is arrested on his way to Galway. Giving a false name, he claims feebly to have been shipwrecked but the police are unconvinced. They arrange for his transfer to London for interrogation.

image source:

Joseph Dowling (Joseph Patrick Dowling, A member of Casement’s Irish Brigade)