The Anti-Unionist Riot in Limerick (October 1912)

This post recounts the riot in Limerick on the night of 10th October 1912. It started in response to an Anti-Home Rule meeting being held in the Theatre Royal, on Henry Street, by the Unionists of North Munster. It also deals with the aftermath of the violence.

Advert for the Unionist Meeting, at the Theatre Royal, Limerick

An Anti-Home Rule Meeting, organised by the Unionists of North Munster was held in the Theatre Royal, Limerick at 4pm on October 10th 1912. This narrative is pieced together from reports published in the Limerick Chronicle (Unionist), and the Limerick Leader (Nationalist) newspapers.

The speeches were scheduled to start at 4pm but the theatre was filled well in advance, latecomers having to make do with standing at the back. A large crowd of protesters, mostly boys and girls at this point (their parents still at work) assembled outside.They sang Nationalist songs and jeered and booed the ticket-holders as they entered the Theatre. Notably this was done despite the fact that the Ancient Order of Hibernians disassociated itself from any protest at the meeting. They called for people not to protest “in word or action”. Citing the principles of free speech & toleration, they warned that any Hibernian “acting in antagonism” against the meeting would be a traitor, and that

[Aggressive actions against this meeting would] besmirch the proud name Limerick has won for itself.

These words had little effect. The A.O.H. and the Irish Parliamentary Party clearly had far less control of the nationalist narrative than they would have liked.

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