Irish Republican Brotherhood
The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) played an important role in the history of Ireland. It was the chief group advocating armed revolt during the campaign for Ireland's independence from the United Kingdom during the latter half of the nineteenth century. It was formed around 1850 by James Stephens, and organised an abortive revolt in 1867. Although the IRB co-operated with Charles Stewart Parnell's Irish Parliamentary Party (which eschewed violent action) in the 1870s and 1880s, it also organised a dynamite campaign in English cities. Its members often referred to themselves as "Fenians".
Its counterpart in the United States of America was organized by John O'Mahoney and known as Clan na Gael, which would organize several invasions of British Canada from 1866 to 1871 in an effort aimed at exchanging control of Canada for Ireland's freedom.
Revitalised from about 1910, the IRB was the chief organising force between the Easter Rising of 1916, under the leadership of such men as Tom Clarke, Sean MacDermott, and Patrick Pearse. The IRB infiltrated the Irish Volunteers, and commandeered them to act as the military wing of the republican movement, against the wishes of the Volunteers' leadership. It was also a major influence during the 1919-1921 Irish War of Independence. Its president at that time was Michael Collins. The IRB accepted the treaty agreed by Collins with the British government as compatible with its aims and dissolved itself.
The Irish Republican Brotherhood was led by an eleven member Supreme Council, consisting of representatives from the seven districts in which the organization was active: the Irish provinces of Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connacht, as well as Scotland, North England, and South England. Four other members were co-opted, and together this council elected three of its members to the executive, which consisted of President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
The oath of the Irish Republican Brotherhood changed throughout the years, though the one probably most well known goes as follows:
In the presence of God, I,..., do solemnly swear that I will do my utmost to establish the independence of Ireland, and that I will bear true allegiance to the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Government of the Irish Republic and implicitly obey the constitution of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and all my superior officers and that I will preserve inviolable the secrets of the organisation.
- BBC – History – Wars – 1916 Easter Rising – Profiles – The Irish Republican Brotherhood