Recruitment & Conscription in Waterford

Waterford responded to the call from John Redmond for recruits and both Waterford City Council and Waterford County Council supported the recruiting efforts.

On 25th May 1915 the Chairman of Waterford County Council stated that he had a communication from Count Edmund de la Poer in reference to forming a Recruiting Committee for the County. The Council decided to request that Count de la Poer as His Majesty's Lieutenant for the County form the Committee and that they would co-operate. On 30th November 1915 Mr. G.F. Sparrow appeared before the Council and explained the policy and aims of the new Department of Recruiting for Ireland. It was proposed by Mr. Greene, seconded by Mr. O'Gorman and resolved:

"That this meeting of the Waterford County Council having heard the statement made by Mr. Sparrow on behalf of the New Department of Recruiting for Ireland, hereby approves of its methods and endorses its policy, recognising as it does the gravity of the present International situation and the need for every available man to be made aware of his individual responsibilities to the County. The County Council also calls upon all employers in the County to facilitate voluntary recruiting, whenever possible, by guaranteeing to keep open the positions of their employees in the event of their joining the army".

On 1st December 1914 it was resolved that the Mayor, High Sheriff and the corporation attend in state at the review of the National Volunteers by Mr. John E. Redmond M.P. at Limerick on Sunday 20th December. On 7th December 1915 it was proposed by Councillor Hearne, seconded by Councillor Hyland and resolved by Waterford City Council at the request of Mr. Sparrow that the High Sheriff and Alderman Hackett be appointed to act on the recruiting committee now being formed in the City.

Many in Waterford City and County responded to these recruitment drives and joined the British Army. The service of some of these men was recognised in the magazine "Irish Life" which contained a supplement called "Our Heroes" which included photographs and brief biographies of Irish soldiers and officers in the British Army who were either killed in action or mentioned in dispatches for acts of bravery. South Dublin County Libraries has created an online database of these biographies as part of the Decade of Centenaries 1913-1922. Search "Our Heroes" database.

Waiting for Orders
Staff in the local authorities also joined up to serve and in response for government calls for organisations and businesses to support anyone enlisting, staff were granted a leave of absence with their jobs held for their return. In some cases staff were paid part of their salary in their absence.

  • On 1st October 1914, MF Casey, Clerk in the County Surveyor's Office was granted a leave of absence due to war duties and was granted a half salary during his absence.
  • On 15th October 1914, James Flynn a contractor with Waterford County Council and a naval reservist in Carbally, Dunmore East was called up for active service and payments were to be made to his sureties in his absence.
  • On 2nd November 1915, a letter was received by Waterford City Council from Private John Maddocks and others applying for half pay, this was referred to the Street Committee for a decision.
  • On 1st August 1916, Miss Bridie O'Connor, a Tuberculosis nurse, was granted 12 months leave of absence for Military Service.

  • While the City and the County Councils were supportive of efforts at voluntary recruitment, they heartily condemned any attempts to introduce conscription. On 3rd August 1915, the City Council resolved that the resolution from the Committee Rooms, 41 York Street, Dublin, signed by J. Kelly, Hon. Secretary regarding conscription "be consigned to the waste paper basket".

    On 23rd April 1918, Waterford County Council resolved:

    "That this Special Meeting of the County Council of Waterford hereby declares on behalf of the People of the County Waterford their unalterable and determined opposition to the imposition of compulsory military service in Ireland against the wishes of the Irish People, and further that only an Irish Parliament should have authority in such a manner, and for the application of Ireland of the principle of self determination which it is persuaded the British People are fighting for in this war. We also endorse the action and subscribe our names to the solemn pledge to resist conscription approved by the hierarchy and the people's political leaders".

    Among the records of the City Council are three notebooks containing a petition against the introduction of conscription. You can search the list of names and addresses on the petition, please note, in some cases the names and addresses were not clearly written and not sufficiently legible to transcribe.

  • A Petition Against Conscription to the British Army during the First World War
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