Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Department or Program Chair

Patricia Dougherty, OP, PhD

First Reader

Patricia Dougherty, OP, PhD


The Irish Republican Brotherhood (I.R.B.) and the Irish Volunteer Force (I.V.F.) altered Irish Nationalist tactics from Parliamentary supported Home Rule to a republican movement for Irish Independence. The actions of these secret societies between 1900 and 1916, during the Irish Revolutionary period,[1] are the reason that Ireland gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1922. The change from political negotiations by the ineffective Irish Parliamentary Party to the republican movement would never have happened without the Easter Rising of 1916. The centennial anniversary of this Easter Rising makes The Power of a Secret: Ireland’s Secret Societies and the Easter Rising pertinent to all those interested in Irish History.

Historians, such as Tim Pat Coogan, Richard English, and Keiron Curtis examined the individual personalities (Michael Collins, P.S. O’Hegarty, and Patrick Pearse) of Irish Nationalism, but never the involvement of the secret associations. This study of two main secret groups, I.R.B. and I.V.F., corrects this missing link of Irish Nationalism.

Sources used for research are the primary documents in Irish National Library, Irish National Archives, and University College Dublin, and secondary books about the Easter Rising and Irish Nationalism. The constitution of the I.R.B and I.V.F., as well as letters that were exchanged between members about the organization of their groups, was critical to the content of this paper. The power of a secret was never more vital than with the planning of the rebellion.

[1] The period in the 1910s and early 1920s when Irish nationalist opinion shifted from the Home Rule Movement – supporting the Irish Parliamentary Party to the republican Sinn Féin movement.


Secret Societies and their influence on Irish involvement in the Easter Rising.