1913 - Wynn's Hotel
This historical meeting changed the course of Irish History and we are very proud to be able to say it took place in Wynn’s Hotel. In our Saints & Scholars Lounge you will see a plaque erected to commemorate this event alongside another to show the first meeting of Cumann na mBan.
In January 1913, the British House of Lords had rejected a Bill which proposed Home Rule for Ireland. Nevertheless, it seemed that the agitation for Home Rule which had begun forty years earlier must soon bear fruit. Those in the North who were bitterly opposed to any weakening of the 'Union of Great Britain and Ireland' had established an armed force - 'The Ulster Volunteers', and were threatening rebellion if an all-Ireland Government were set up in Dublin. Nationalists began to realise the need for action to defend their rights.
A newspaper commentary on the political situation in Ireland by Professor Eoin Mac Neill of University College Dublin, himself an Ulsterman, was rejected by many as a call to arms. The suggestion that Mac Neill should take the lead in the establishment of an Irish Volunteer force is said to have been made by a Belfast Quaker, Bulmer Hobson. Hobson, a political journalist working in Dublin, was the local head of the Irish Republican Brotherhood - a secret organisation which aimed at the establishment of an Irish Republic. The O'Rahilly, a man of independent means, who was very active in the Gaelic League, after discussions with Mac Neill and Hobson, invited a small group to meet in Wynn's Hotel on 11th of November 1913. At the meeting, under Mac Neill's chairmanship, it was decided to establish an Irish Volunteer force. Of the small group who attended, four died as a result of 1916 - Pearse, Ceannt, Mac Diarmada and The O'Rahilly. Though he did not become a member of the Provisional Committee in 1913, Sir Roger Casement was one of those who inspired Eoin Mac Neill at this time. Within a few hours of the holding of the meeting in Wynn's, detectives from Dublin Castle called on the manager of the hotel to warn him not to allow further meetings of this kind on the premises. This warning seems to have been ignored. A provisional committee representative of all degrees of nationalist opinion was established immediately. The committee met in Wynn's Hotel on several occasions to plan the public inauguration of the 'Irish Volunteers', whose aim it would be "to secure and maintain the rights and liberties of all the people of Ireland." On the 25th of November, 1913, Ireland's modern army was established by acclamation at a huge public meeting in the Rotunda Rink which stood in the grounds now occupied by The Garden of Remembrance, Parnell SQ.
Even with all the disruption and chaos in the City The Clarence Hotels Company Ltd showed a net profit for the year of 1913 to be £3,292 2 9. The Companies auditors at the time were Messrs. Craig, Gardner & Co.
In August of 1913 Dublin also experienced one of the bitterest labour disputes ever seen in Ireland or Britain, it was referred to as the ‘Lockout’. James Larkin, whose statue can be seen close to Wynn’s Hotel on Dublin’s O’Connell St, formed the Irish Transport and General Workers Trade Union – his aim was to win improvements in working conditions and wages for skilled and unskilled workers via negotiation and strikes. William Murphy, owner of the Dublin Tram Co., vowed to sack or ‘lockout’ any worker who became a member of this Trade Union. The Lockout lasted 6 months after which most workers for the sake of their starving families returned to work and closed membership with the Union.
*On the 11 November 2013, Wynn's Hotel celebrated the Centenary of the 1st ever meeting of the Irish Volunteers which was held in the Hotel on 11 November 1913. Guest speaker on the night was Eunan O’Halpin Trinity College Dublin.