An tÓglach

Snapshot of Irish Volunteer Companies, 1918

You may be wondering why Military Archives have focused special attention on seemingly crudely bound formulaic receipt books? Closer inspection once you open the interactive books should reveal that these are no ordinary receipt books. The receipt books on view were opened and utilised by General Michael Collins as Director of Organisation and Adjutant General of the Irish Volunteers in 1918. These books record the affiliation of 689 companies and special units who affiliated with the Irish Volunteers between 18 February and 19 October 1918. The companies transmitted 10/ (shillings) to Collins in his office in Bachelor’s Walk in order to subscribe fully to a Scheme of Organisation that was issued by General Headquarters (GHQ), 5 February 1918. The scheme followed the endorsement of the Constitution of the Irish Volunteers and marks the beginning of a complete reorganisation of the Irish Volunteers. The lodgment of the 10/ affiliation fee in the name of the company and unit symbolised a company’s full compliance of the authority of General Headquarters and showcased their willingness to subscribe of all elements contained in the scheme. Through the affiliation and formalization of all Irish Volunteer companies, the authority of General Headquarters could be felt at company level. The strengthening of control and imposition of uniformity across the board through the working of the Scheme greatly assisted General Headquarters in the development of overall strategy.

As mentioned, Michael Collins in his role as Director of Organisation and Adjutant General of the Irish Volunteers had a direct responsibility for imposing the Scheme of Organisation. An tÓglach magazine, which was a vehicle for General Headquarters to communicate with the organisation at large, featured a regular column titled Organisation, which was used as a tool by Collins to reinforce aspects of the scheme and publicise amendments as they occurred. Each company affiliated with the Irish Volunteers automatically became subscribers to the magazine.

An tÓglach
An tÓglach

Analysis of the affiliation fee receipt

Each receipt contains a printed number. This number is typically a feature of paper receipt books (usually soft cover) which also include a sheet of carbon required to produce a carbon copy. The purpose of such a book is to receipt/acknowledge a transaction (usually financial). The printed number would have appeared on two leaves. What remains of the books displayed is the carbon copy of the furnished receipt. The sheet of carbon is long gone and it is highly probable that the original receipt (written and signed by Michael Collins) was transmitted back to the affiliated Company or Unit for retention within company records.

The important features of the receipt are

1. The printed number — the irregularity in the number sequence indicates that a number of books were in use by Collins at the time for the purpose of recording affiliation fees received. This number would have been seen on both the top receipt and carbon copy

2. Name of the company

3. Location of the company (if different from company name)

4. Signature of Michael Collins (as Officer in receipt of the affiliation fee)

5. Name of Irish Volunteer organizer (occasionally the affiliation fee was collected in person by a representative of the Director of Organisation)