An t-Óglác is often described as a successor to the Irish Volunteer publication. The Irish Volunteer was known as the official organ of the Irish Volunteers, which aimed to provide guidance and to develop the Volunteer movement.
The first edition was published on the 7th February 1914 shortly after the foundation of the Irish Volunteers and from then on it was published by the proprietor of the ‘Enniscorthy Echo’, provided editorial approval was given by the Provisional Committee. It ceased publication on the eve of the 1916 Rising.
Following two years without an official publication, the concept of resurrecting a secret publication by the Executive was considered in July 1918. The new publication was for circulation among its members with the first issue published on 31 August 1918. An t-Óglác was also referred to as the old IRA’s newspaper during the War of Independence and contained the tagline ‘The Official Organ of the Irish Volunteer’. Michael Collins, while he was the Adjutant General and Director of Organisation, was a regular contributor to the magazine (which was required to reflect the policy of GHQ at the time). An t-Óglác played a significant role in GHQ meetings, with the editor required to submit articles and notes to the meetings for consideration. It was published twice a month initially and successfully managed to remain in circulation despite numerous raids and having to operate in secret to avoid complete closure.
The journal continued under the National Army with a revised issue in what is described as ‘the beginning of a new series’. The old edition was described as ‘a war time production and its format and contents were largely determined by the exigencies of the military situation’.
The newer edition’s aim was to act as a source of interest and instruction to all ranks in the National Army as described in the May 1922 edition:
‘In succeeding numbers interesting articles will appear dealing with all branches of modern warfare. These contributions will be designed to awaken intelligent inquiry into the various departments of modern military science, and to direct the attention of Volunteers to matters upon which they can easily become more informed by utilising the military school and barrack library. In addition, articles of national and cultural value shall be a feature of the journal, and, with the cooperation of the Divisional and Brigade Officers, it is proposed to chronicle matters of general army interest, such as promotions, field manoeuvres, social and athletic events’.