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The Sligo Champion changed its masthead in the issue of 14 March 1914

Poems included in the Sligo Champion 1914

In 1914 the Sligo Champion published almost twice as many poems as it had done the previous year. At least eleven of the nineteen poems published were responses to the changing political situation and/or the outbreak of war.

The MP for South Sligo, John O'Dowd, a well-known versifier had three poems included. The first of these, "In Memory of the Martyrs", is an attempt to ensure that the achievement of Home Rule is seen as a fulfillment of the aims of physical force nationalists of the previous century such as the Manchester Martyrs whose anniversary the poem commemorates.

O'Dowd's second poem, published in July, celebrates the achivement of Home Rule -  the bill had
had passed its third reading at the end of June - and associates the Irish Volunteers with this victory. In fact the Irish Party and the UIL did not support the Volunteers until mid-1914.  In June Redmond demanded twenty-five nominees on the Volunteers’ governing committee and this was accepted giving the Party effective control. O'Dowd praises Redmond and his two lieutenants, John Dillon and Joe Devlin with no mention of the original founders or leaders of the Volunteers such as Eoin MacNeill.  

The MP's third poem is an elegy for a fellow MP, Edward Peter O'Kelly (1846 – 1914), MP for West Wicklow. Kelly died on 22 July so O'Dowd wrote the poem and had it published with great speed. The poem is a standard public lament with no attempt to press home any political sentiments.

The "March of the Volunteers", written just before the outbreak of war, is a standard rousing martial song to the air of a well-known Irish march. Michael Kearns' "Song of the Volunteers", published on 5 September, was clearly written in response to Redmond's offer in the House of Commons after the outbreak of war that the Irish Volunteers would defend Ireland from invasion and enthusiastically supports that position. The outbreak of war clouds "Lough Gill" published in early September.

"John Redmond Boys Hurray!" on the other hand, published in October, is an appeal for all to support Redmond in his stance on the war -
"this is no time for bickering". It is a response to the growing dissatisfaction with the position taken by the Irish leader as a result of what was percieved as the delayed and ungenerous response of the British Government to Redmond's offer. The Sligo Champion was a strong supporter of the Irish Party and of Redmond during all this time.

Two other poems reflect dissatisfaction with the general attitude to the Irish attitude to the war. Tom Kettle was an Irish Party MP, a member of the Volunteers, an economist, journalist, barrister and writer and his adaptation of Kipling's poem criticises the slow response of the Government to Redmond's offers while the same Government is appealing for enlistment in Ireland. "The Higland Brigade" points out the number of Irish who had enlisted.

"Erin Arise" is a rousing call to the country but is not clear on exactly what is to be risen to. "The Connaught Rangers" is on the other hand an unambiquous appeal for more Irishmen,
especially those from "sleepy Connaught", to join the ranks. It repflects the growing official dissatisfaction at the lack of enthusiasm for enlisting among Irishmen especially those from rural areas.

Michael Kearns' "Sligo’s Christmas Greeting" is stubbornly positive, ignoring the war and claims that
"the dreary night is ended, And the dawn has come at last". He appeals to exiles to return to Ireland now that the Home Rule bill is passed. In the same issue, Theodore O'Hara's "The Bivouac of the Dead" is a grim reminder of the realities of the war.


24 Jan
24 Jan
14 Feb
28 Feb
18 Apr
23 May
11 July
08 Aug
29 Aug
05 Sept
12 Sept
12 Sept
10 Oct
10 Oct
14 Nov
05 Dec
26 Dec
26 Dec
26 Dec

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