Originally Posted by Fuaranach
. . . Why did so few Irish Volunteers of that 170,000 actually follow Redmond's call to fight in WWI?
Couple of thoughts:
It's entirely possible that the very fact of a split in the volunteer movement disenchanted a signficant number of participants. I think it's probably a bit glib to assume that all those in the movement at the time of the split slotted neatly into one or other camp; some may have dropped out altogether, and others may have been only nominal participants on one or other side after the split.
A related point; I don't know the sources for the figures that say 10,000 in the Irish Volunteers; 170,000 in the National Volunteers. But it occurs to me that both of the organisations involved would have had an interest in "bigging up" the numbers of their adherents. Just sayin'.
The key issue in the split was not "will you, personally, serve?", but rather "what should our attitude be to the British war effort?" If we assume for a moment that there were 170,000 National Volunteers, many of those might have had the commitment to turn out for a weekly parade and drill, but not necessarily the commitment to quit their own jobs, leave their own families and go off to die in the deserts of Mesopotamia or the mud of Flanders.
I'm also guessing - no, I'm aware for a fact - that the enlistment standards for the Volunteers were, um, a good deal more relaxed than those for the British forces. Many volunteers might not have passed a British Army medical test, would have been over age (or under age) for recruitment or would otherwise have been disqualified.