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Spot the Difference

The enforcement of the Defence of the Realm Act at the outbreak of WWI made it an offence to publish divisive false reports or inflammatory press articles. Up until the Easter Rising, some republican newspapers such as the ‘Irish Bulletin’, ‘Éire Ireland’, ‘The Leader’ and ‘Irish Volunteer’ all benefited from relatively light enforcement. After the events of Easter Week, however, authorities in Dublin Castle insisted that all editors supply proofs of the newspaper to the censor before publication. It was in this climate on 11 November 1919 that ‘Irish Bulletin’, the official newspaper of Dail Éireann, was first typewritten. Chiefly circulated outside Ireland, this fiercely republican publication lost little opportunity to report on the activities of the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force (the so-called Black and Tans) and their impact on Irish public life.

To avoid raids by the authorities, the editors of the clandestine publication relocated the printing press on several occasions. A police raid at its Molesworth Street premises in March 1921 saw the loss of the press along with the subscribers list. Not content with attempting to suppress the paper, officers Hugh Pollard and William Darling printed and distributed fake editions of the circular. This crude attempt at counter-propaganda soon backfired – not, however, before initially fooling Éamon de Valera. The fake issue was characterised by incorrect numbering and poorly composed articles. The efforts were soon exposed, thereby enhancing the status of the genuine bulletin.


Irish Bulletin (Vol.4 no.61) Shelfmark: IN.20.71
Irish Bulletin (Vol.4 no.61) Shelfmark: IN.20.71

Among our newspaper collections are copies of a fake edition (Vol. 4 No.56) and the later genuine edition (Vol 4 No. 61), which includes a notice denouncing Pollard and Darling’s efforts. A reprint of ‘Irish Bulletin’ (1919-1920) was published by Aubane Historical Society in 2012.

Shane Mawe

Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections

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