Irish Citizen Army

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The Irish Citizen Army, or ICA, was a small band of trained volunteers for the defense of workerís rights. The army rose out of the great strike of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union in 1913. Called the Lockout of 1913, the strike fought for the recognition of this labor union founded by James Larkin. It began when William Martin Murphy, an industrialist, locked out some trade unionists on August 19, 1913. The conflict involved 400 employers and 25,000 workers. This strike caused most of Dublin to come to an economic standstill. After a six-month standoff, the workers returned hungry and defeated. This defeat and the harsh treatment given to the strikers by the Dublin Metropolitan Police, convinced James Connolly and others that it was necessary to organize the workers to defend themselves. The Irish Citizen Army became James Connollyís personal army of highly trained socialists. Captain Jack White, responsible for the training of this army, offered 50 pounds towards the cost of shoes to workers so they could train. This organisation was one of the first to offer equal membership to both men and women and trained them both in the use of weapons. The army based themselves around the union building, Liberty Hall. The founders of this army were: Jack White, an ex-British Army captain, James Larkin, a labor leader, and the socialist James Connolly, who believed in physical force as was the tradition of the Fenians. Other active members included Sean O'Casey, Countess Markievicz and Michael Mallin.

The army never numbered more than 250 men. On Monday April 24, 1916, only 220 men marched in the Easter Uprising, along side a much larger body of the Irish Volunteers. They helped occupy the General Post Office on O'Connell Street (then Sackville Street), Dublin's main thoroughfare. Connolly was executed by British army firing squad some weeks later.

Uniforms: The uniform was dark green with a slouched hat. As many members could not afford a uniform, they wore a blue armband, with officers wearing red ones.

Missing image

Their banner was the Plough and the Stars. This was flown by the Irish Citizens Army during the 1916 rising.


The design changed during the 1930s to that of the blue banner above.


  • Irelandís Independence 1880–1923 by Oonagh Walsh
  • Six Days to Shake an Empire by Charles Duff
  • The Imagination of an Insurrection: Dublin, Easter 1916 by William Irwin Thompson
  • A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle

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