Until a few years ago I had walked by this almost every working day and never knew what event it was celebrating. One day, I decided to read the inscription.
25 November - The pro-Home Rule Irish Volunteers are formed at a meeting attended by 4,000 men in Dublin's Rotunda Rink.
On 19th November 1913, James Larkin and James Connolly established the Irish Citizen Army as a force to protect workers from the excesses of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. It had a membership of about 350, the majority being members of Unions.
The Irish Volunteers, Óglaigh na hÉireann, was founded on 25th November 1913 at a public meeting held in the Rotunda Rink in Dublin. It emerged in response to an article, ‘The North Began’ written by Eoin MacNeill in the Gaelic League paper ‘An Claidheamh Soluis’. The Volunteers included members of the Gaelic League, Ancient Order of Hibernians and Sinn Féin, and, secretly, the IRB and its ranks numbered up to 100,000 at one point.
At the time of WW1 the Irish Volunteers broke into two distinct bodies. The National Volunteers, under the direction of John Redmond, went to fight in the Great War; the Irish Volunteers, under the direction of men such as Patrick Pearse and Eoin McNeill, stayed in Ireland and went on to join forces with The Irish Citizens Army in the 1916 Uprising.
Founded in 1745 by Bartholomew Mosse, the Rotunda is the oldest, continuously-running maternity hospital in the world. Many devoted nationalists had worked inside the hospital and aided the Republican movement, Dr Kathleen Lynn and Bridget Lyons Thornton amongst them. In 1913 Rotunda Rink was the biggest hall in Dublin and it was located in the grounds of the Rotunda Gardens.