The Army Comrades Association (ACA), later the National Guard, then Young Ireland[1] and finally League of Youth, but better known by the nickname The Blueshirts (Irish: Na Léinte Gorma), was a paramilitary movement in the Irish Free State in the early 1930s. The organisation provided physical protection for political groups such as Cumann na nGaedheal from intimidation and attack by the anti-Treaty IRA.[2] Some former members went on to fight for the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. (It had been dissolved before the civil war started.)

Most of the political parties whose meetings the Blueshirts protected would merge to become Fine Gael, and members of that party are still sometimes nicknamed "Blueshirts".

Army Comrades Association /
National Guard /
Young Ireland / League of Youth
AbbreviationBlueshirts, ACA
LeaderEoin O'Duffy
Key MembersThomas F. O'Higgins
Ernest Blythe
Ned Cronin
Merged intoFine Gael
Succeeded byNational Corporate Party
NewspaperThe Nation
Irish integral nationalism
Catholic corporatism
Political positionFar-right
ReligionRoman Catholicism
ColoursLight Blue
Party flag
Banner of the Blueshirts

Origins and early history

In February 1932, the Fianna Fáil party was elected to lead the Irish Free State government. On 18 March 1932, the new government suspended the Public Safety Act, lifting the ban on a number of organisations including the Irish Republican Army. Some IRA political prisoners were also released around the same time. The IRA and many released prisoners began a "campaign of unrelenting hostility" against those associated with the former Cumann na nGaedheal government. There were many cases of intimidation, attacks on persons, and the breaking-up of Cumann na nGaedheal political meetings in the coming months. In view of the increased activities of the IRA, National Army Commandant Ned Cronin founded the Army Comrades Association in early 1932. As its name suggested, it was designed for Irish Army veterans, a society for former members of the Free State army. The Blueshirts felt that freedom of speech was being repressed, and began to provide security at Cumann na nGaedheal events. This led to several serious clashes between the IRA and the ACA. In August 1932, Dr. Thomas F. O'Higgins, a Cumann na nGaedheal TD, became the leader of the ACA. By September 1932 it had over 30,000 members.[3]

Eoin O'Duffy becomes leader

O'Duffy Blue Shirt Movement fascist salute
O'Duffy with Blueshirts

In January 1933, the Fianna Fáil government called a surprise election, which the government won comfortably. The election campaign saw a serious escalation of rioting between IRA and ACA supporters. In April 1933, the ACA began wearing the distinctive blueshirt uniform. Eoin O'Duffy was a guerrilla leader in the IRA in the Irish War of Independence, a National Army general in the Irish Civil War, and the Garda Síochána police commissioner in the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1933. After Fianna Fáil's re-election in February 1933, President of the Executive Council Éamon de Valera dismissed O'Duffy as commissioner; that July, O'Duffy was offered and accepted leadership of the ACA and renamed it the National Guard. He re-modelled the organisation, adopting elements of European fascism, such as the Roman straight-arm salute, uniforms and huge rallies. Membership of the new organisation became limited to people who were Irish or whose parents "profess the Christian faith". O'Duffy was an admirer of Benito Mussolini, and the Blueshirts adopted corporatism as their chief political aim. According to the constitution he adopted, the organisation was to have the following objectives:[4]

  • To promote the reunification of Ireland.
  • To oppose Communism and alien control and influence in national affairs and to uphold Christian principles in every sphere of public activity.
  • To promote and maintain social order.
  • To make organised and disciplined voluntary public service a permanent and accepted feature of our political life and to lead the youth of Ireland in a movement of constructive national action.
  • To promote of co-ordinated national organisations of employers and employed, which with the aid of judicial tribunals, will effectively prevent strikes and lock-outs and harmoniously compose industrial influences.
  • To cooperate with the official agencies of the state for the solution of such pressing social problems as the provision of useful and economic public employment for those whom private enterprise cannot absorb.
  • To secure the creation of a representative national statutory organisation of farmers, with rights and status sufficient to secure the safeguarding of agricultural interests, in all revisions of agricultural and political policy.
  • To expose and prevent corruption and victimisation in national and local administration.
  • To awaken throughout the country a spirit of combination, discipline, zeal and patriotic realism which will put the state in a position to serve the people efficiently in the economic and social spheres.

Stanley G. Payne has argued that the Blueshirts "really was never a fascist organization at all".[5] Maurice Manning also did not consider them fascists, with their mixture of patriotic conservatism, militia activities and corporatism amounting "to no more than a kind of Celtic Croix-de-Feu".[6] Historians are divided on the extent to which the Blueshirts took a lead from Mussolini and his many imitators at that time.[7][8] Some of the Blueshirts later went to fight for Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War and were anti-communist in nature, however historian R. M. Douglas has stated that it is incorrect to portray them as an "Irish manifestation of fascism".

March on Dublin

The National Guard planned to hold a parade in Dublin in August 1933. It was to proceed to Glasnevin Cemetery, stopping briefly on Leinster lawn in front of the Irish parliament, where speeches were to be held. The goal of the parade was to commemorate Irish leaders Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins and Kevin O'Higgins. It is clear that the IRA and other fringe groups representing various socialists intended to confront the Blueshirts if they marched in Dublin.

The government banned the parade, remembering Mussolini's March on Rome, and fearing a coup d'état. Decades later, de Valera told Fianna Fáil politicians that in late summer 1933 he was unsure whether the Irish Army would obey his orders to suppress the perceived threat, or whether the soldiers would support the Blueshirts (who included many ex-soldiers). O'Duffy accepted the ban and insisted that he was committed to upholding the law. Instead, several provincial parades took place to commemorate the deaths of Griffith, O'Higgins and Collins. De Valera saw this move as defying his ban, and the Blueshirts were declared an illegal organisation.

Fine Gael and the National Corporate Party

In response to the banning of the National Guard, Cumann na nGaedheal and the National Centre Party merged to form a new party, Fine Gael, on 3 September 1933. O'Duffy became its first president, with W. T. Cosgrave and James Dillon acting as vice-presidents. The National Guard changed into the Young Ireland Association, and became part of a youth wing of the party. The party's aim was to create a united Ireland within the British Commonwealth, although its programme made no mention of a corporatist state.[9] The 1934 local elections were a trial of strength for the new Fine Gael and the Fianna Fáil government. When Fine Gael won only six out of 23 local elections, O’Duffy lost much of his authority and prestige. The Blueshirts began to disintegrate by mid-1934.[3] The Blueshirts floundered also on the plight of farmers in the Economic War, as the Blueshirts failed to provide a solution. Following disagreements with his Fine Gael colleagues, O'Duffy left the party, although most of the Blueshirts stayed in Fine Gael. In December 1934, O'Duffy attended the Montreux Fascist conference in Switzerland. He then founded the National Corporate Party, and later raised an Irish Brigade that took General Francisco Franco's side in the Spanish Civil War.[10]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Young Ireland was historically the name of a 19th Century Irish revolutionary movement. There is, however, no organizational continuity - and little ideological similarity - between it and the 20th Century movement.
  2. ^ R. M. Douglas, "Architects of the Resurrection: Ailtirí na hAiséirghe and the Fascist 'New Order' in Ireland, Manchester University Press, ISBN 0-7190-7998-5
  3. ^ a b Mark Tierney, OSB, MA "Modern Ireland", Gill & Macmillan, 1972 p 175-182
  4. ^ Maurice Manning, "The Blueshirts", Dublin, 1970
  5. ^ Stanley G. Payne, 'Fascism in Western Europe' in Walter Laqueur (ed.), Fascism: A Reader's Guide. Analyses, Interpretations, Bibliography (Pelican Books, 1979), p. 310.
  6. ^ Payne, p. 310.
  7. ^ here Archived 2009-10-31 at WebCite and here Archived August 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Archived 2009-10-31.
  8. ^ O’Halpin, E. (1999). Defending Ireland: The Irish State and its Enemies since 1922. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-820426-4.
  9. ^ Eoin O'Duffy: A Self-Made Hero, Fearghal McGarry, OUP Oxford, 2005, page 222
  10. ^ "Irish Involvement in the Spanish Civil War 1936-39". Retrieved 6 February 2014.


1917–18 Toronto Hockey Club season

The 1917–18 Toronto Hockey Club season was the first season of the new Toronto franchise in the newly organized National Hockey League (NHL). The team was intended as a 'temporary' franchise, operating without an official club nickname (the press would dub them the "Blue Shirts" or "Torontos", and in 1948 the NHL would engrave "Toronto Arenas" on the Stanley Cup as the 1917–18 winner) and without a formal organization separate from the Toronto Arena Company that managed the Arena Gardens. Despite this, the team came together to win the first NHL Championship, competing against existing teams that had transferred directly from the National Hockey Association (NHA). Toronto would go on to win the Stanley Cup by defeating the Pacific Coast Hockey Association champion Vancouver Millionaires – the first Stanley Cup for an NHL team and the second Cup for a Toronto team after the Toronto Blueshirts' victory in the 1913–14 season of the NHA.

Alf Skinner

Alfred "Dutch" Skinner (January 26, 1894 – April 11, 1961) was a Canadian professional ice hockey right winger. He won the Stanley Cup hockey championship in 1918 with the Toronto Arenas of the National Hockey League.

Blueshirts (Falange)

The Blueshirts (Spanish: Camisas Azules) was the Falangist paramilitary militia in Spain. The name refers to the blue uniform worn by members of the militia. The colour blue was chosen for the uniforms in 1934 by the FE de las JONS because it was, according to José Antonio Primo de Rivera, "clear, whole, and proletarian," and is the colour typically worn by mechanics, as the Falange sought to gain support among the Spanish working class. In Francoist Spain the Blueshirts were officially reorganized and officially renamed the Falange Militia of the FET y de las JONS in 1940.

Cully Wilson

Carol William "Cully" Wilson (June 5, 1892 – July 7, 1962) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. The right winger played in the National Hockey League for the Toronto St. Pats, Montreal Canadiens, Hamilton Tigers and Chicago Black Hawks between 1919 and 1927. He was also a member of two teams who won the Stanley Cup before the NHL came into existence in 1917, the Toronto Blueshirts and Seattle Metropolitans. SIHR list him as dying on July 7, 1962.

Wilson came from a family of Icelandic descent and was born as Karl Wilhons Erlendson to parents Sigurður Erlendson and Metonia Indridadottir. The family later changed its name to Wilson.

Cy Denneny

Cyril Joseph Denneny (December 23, 1891 – September 10, 1970) was a Canadian professional ice hockey forward who played for the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins in the National Hockey League and the Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association. His brother Corbett Denneny also played in the NHL.

Duke Keats

Gordon Blanchard "Duke, Iron Duke" Keats (March 1, 1895 – January 16, 1972) was a Canadian professional ice hockey centre who played for the Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association (NHA), Edmonton Eskimos of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) and the Boston Bruins, Detroit Cougars and Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was most famous for his time in the WCHL where he was named a First-Team All-Star by the league in each of its five seasons of existence. He won the league championship and appeared in the 1923 Stanley Cup Final with the Eskimos. Keats was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.

Eddie Lowrey

Edwin James Lowrey (August 13, 1891 – November 27, 1973) was a Canadian professional ice hockey centre. Lowrey played for Ottawa Senators, Toronto Ontarios, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Blueshirts, Hamilton Tigers and the Regina Capitals. Lowrey later became the coach of the University of Michigan ice hockey team.

Eddie Lowrey was the older brother of NHL alumni players Fred and Gerry Lowrey. Three other younger brothers – Tom, Frank and Bill – played with lower level teams in the Ottawa City Hockey League.

Eoin O'Duffy

Eoin O'Duffy (Irish: Eoin Ó Dubhthaigh; born Owen Duffy, 28 January 1890 – 30 November 1944) was an Irish nationalist political activist, soldier and police commissioner. He was the leader of the Monaghan Brigade of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and a prominent figure in the Ulster IRA during the Irish War of Independence. In this capacity he became Chief of Staff of the IRA in 1922. He was one of the Irish republicans who along with Michael Collins accepted the Anglo-Irish Treaty and fought as a General in the Irish Civil War on the pro-Treaty side.

O'Duffy became the second Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, the police force of the new Irish Free State, after the Civic Guard Mutiny and the subsequent resignation of Michael Staines. He had been an early member of Sinn Féin, founded by Arthur Griffith. He was elected as a Teachta Dála (TD) for Monaghan, his home county, during the 1921 election. After a split in 1923 he became associated with Cumann na nGaedheal and led the movement known as the Blueshirts. After the merger of various pro-Treaty factions under the banner of Fine Gael, O'Duffy was the party leader for a short time.

An anti-communist, O'Duffy was attracted to various anti-communist movements on the continent. He raised the Irish Brigade to fight for Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War as an act of Catholic solidarity and was inspired by Benito Mussolini's Italy to found the National Corporate Party. During World War II, he offered to Nazi Germany the prospect of raising an Irish Brigade to participate in the fight against the Soviet Union, but this was not taken up.

O'Duffy was active in multiple sporting bodies, including the GAA and the Irish Olympic Council.

Frank Nighbor

Julius Francis "Pembroke Peach" Nighbor (January 26, 1893 – April 13, 1966) was a Canadian professional ice hockey forward who played for the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey Association (NHA) and Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL, Toronto Blueshirts of the NHA and Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). An excellent defensive forward, his poke check, backchecking and bodychecking abilities thwarted enemy forwards' scoring attempts. For his somewhat high penalty totals, he was a clean player and one of the last 60 minute hockey players. For his contributions on the ice, Nighbor was the first player ever to be awarded the Hart Trophy and the first to be awarded the Lady Byng Trophy.

Greenshirts (National Corporate Party)

The Greenshirts were members of the fascist National Corporate Party (NCP) in Ireland in the 1930s. The NCP was founded by Eoin O'Duffy after he broke from the Fine Gael party in 1935. The Greenshirts were different from the better known Blueshirts, O'Duffy's followers before he left Fine Gael. Only eighty of the Blueshirts later became Greenshirts. It was an influence to a later fascist party, Ailtirí na hAiséirghe.

In 1936 O'Duffy led a volunteer Irish Brigade to fight for the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, and retired on his return in 1937. Without him, both the Greenshirts and NCP faded away.

Hap Holmes

Harry George "Hap" Holmes (February 21, 1888 – June 27, 1941) was a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender. As a professional, Holmes won the Stanley Cup four times, with four teams. He tied the record of his 1914 Stanley Cup winning Toronto Blueshirts teammate Jack Marshall, who also won Cups with four teams. No other player has duplicated this record.

Holmes played as an amateur for three season with the Parkdale Canoe Club of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) from 1908 to 1911, before joining the professional Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association (NHA) in 1912–13. Holmes won the first of his four Stanley Cups in 1914. Although being under contract to the Blueshirts, Holmes joined the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) for the 1915–16 season, winning his second Stanley Cup (1917) in his second season with the Metropolitans. For the 1917–18 season, Holmes ended up playing for the Torontos (the following year renamed as the Toronto Arenas) of the National Hockey League (NHL) through a series of loans by other teams. Holmes won his third Stanley Cup in his only full season with the Torontos. After playing two games in the 1918-19 season for the Toronto Arenas, Holmes would be recalled by the Metropolitans. Holmes played for the Metropolitans for the next six seasons, until the team folded. In the 1924–25 season, Holmes joined the Victoria Cougars of the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL/WHL). Holmes played for the Cougars for two seasons, winning the Stanley Cup for his fourth and last time. After the WCHL/WHL league folded, Holmes joined the Detroit Cougars of the NHL, playing with the Cougars for two seasons before retiring.

Holmes was a stand-up style goaltender; later on in his career, Holmes wore a cap when in goal to protect his head from objects thrown by spectators, as it presented a tempting target to them. Holmes coached minor-league teams after his retirement, notably the Toronto Millionaires of the Canadian Professional Hockey League (CPHL) and the Cleveland Indians of the International Hockey League (IHL). Holmes died on June 27, 1941, near Fort Lauderdale, Florida and was inducted posthumously into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

Harry Cameron

Harold Hugh Cameron (February 6, 1890 – October 20, 1953) was a Canadian ice hockey defenceman who played professionally for the Toronto Blueshirts, Toronto Arenas, Ottawa Senators, Toronto St. Pats and Montreal Canadiens. Cameron won three Stanley Cups in his career: his first as a member of the 1913–14 Toronto Blueshirts, his second as a member of the 1917–18 Blueshirts (Arenas) and his third as a member of the 1921–22 Toronto St. Pats (all predecessor clubs of the Toronto Maple Leafs).

Cameron was considered one of the first great rushing and scoring defencemen. He scored 88 goals in 121 games in the NHL. He was also famous for his "curved shot" similar to that of today's curved hockey sticks. Cameron was the first player in NHL history to achieve what was later called a "Gordie Howe hat trick", doing so on December 26, 1917 during a 7-5 defeat of the Montreal Canadiens. In later years, he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where he resided when he died in 1953. He was inducted posthumously into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963.

Jack Marshall (ice hockey)

John Calder "Jack" Marshall (March 14, 1877 – August 7, 1965) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. Marshall played for the Winnipeg Victorias, Montreal HC, Montreal Shamrocks, Montreal Wanderers, Toronto Pros and Toronto Blueshirts. Marshall was a member of six Stanley Cup championship teams for four clubs. He won his first Stanley Cup in 1901 with Winnipeg Victorias. He then joined the Montreal HC and won two more Cups in 1902 and 1903. He also won the Stanley Cup with Montreal Wanderers in 1907 and 1910. Marshall won his sixth and final Cup as a player-manager with the Toronto Blueshirts in 1914.

Marshall was the first player to win six Stanley Cup titles. He was also the first player to win the Stanley Cup while playing for four clubs. His teammate on the 1914 Stanley Cup winning Toronto Blueshirts, goalie Hap Holmes, tied the record in 1925 while backstopping the Victoria Cougars to a Stanley Cup victory. Marshall was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965.

Jack Walker (ice hockey)

John Phillip "Jack" Walker (November 29, 1888 – February 16, 1950) was a Canadian professional ice hockey forward who played for the Toronto Blueshirts, Seattle Metropolitans, Victoria Cougars, and Detroit Cougars.

List of New York Rangers general managers

The New York Rangers are a professional ice hockey team based in Manhattan, New York. They are members of the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). Playing their home games at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers are one of the oldest teams in the NHL, having joined in 1926 as an expansion franchise, and are part of the group of teams referred to as the Original Six. The Rangers were the first NHL franchise in the United States to win the Stanley Cup, which they have done four times (most recently in 1994). The team is commonly referred to by its famous nickname, "The Broadway Blueshirts", or more commonly in New York media, as simply the "Blueshirts". The team has had eleven general managers since their inception, not including Conn Smythe. Smythe built the first Rangers team but was fired prior to the start of the inaugural season.

National Corporate Party

The National Corporate Party (Irish: Páirtí Náisiúnta Corparáidíoch, PNC) was a fascist political party in Ireland founded by General Eoin O'Duffy in June 1935 at a meeting of 500. It split from Fine Gael when O'Duffy was removed as leader of that party, which had been founded by the merger of O'Duffy's Blueshirts, formally known as the National Guard or Army Comrades Association, with Cumann na nGaedheal, and the National Centre Party.The National Corporate Party wished to establish a corporate state in Ireland and was strongly anti-communist. Its military wing was the Greenshirts. The party raised funds through public dances. Unlike the Blueshirts, whose aim had been the establishment of a corporate state while remaining within the British Commonwealth in order to appease moderates within Fine Gael, the National Corporate Party was committed to the establishment of a republic outside of the British Empire with O'Duffy presenting his party as the true successor to the ideals of the Easter Rising. The party also committed itself to the preservation and promotion of the Irish language and Gaelic culture, something that would be echoed by a later fascist party in Ireland, Ailtirí na hAiséirghe.It failed to gain much support however, with the majority of Fine Gael members remaining loyal to that party and O'Duffy only securing a handful of loyal supporters for his group.O'Duffy left Ireland in 1936 to become involved in the Spanish Civil War, a fact which led to further decline in the National Corporate Party. The party was defunct by 1937.

Reg Noble

Edward Reginald Noble (June 23, 1896 – January 19, 1962) of Collingwood, Ontario, was a Canadian professional ice hockey forward and defenceman who played 17 professional seasons in the National Hockey Association (NHA) and National Hockey League (NHL) for the Toronto Blueshirts, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto St. Pats, Montreal Maroons, Detroit Cougars, Detroit Falcons and Detroit Red Wings. He was a three-time winner of the Stanley Cup, with Toronto and Montreal and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962. He was also the last active NHL player from both the NHL's inaugural season and the 1910s.

Toronto Arenas

The Toronto Arenas or Torontos were a professional men's ice hockey team that played in the first two seasons of the National Hockey League (NHL). It was operated by the owner of the Arena Gardens, the Toronto Arena Company. As the ownership of the National Hockey Association (NHA) Toronto Blueshirts franchise was in dispute, the new NHL league was started, and a temporary Toronto franchise was operated. The NHL itself was intended to only be a one-year entity until the NHA could be reactivated, although it never was.

For the first season, 1917–18, the team operated without a formal organization separate from the Arena Company and without an official club nickname. However, the press would dub the team the "Blue Shirts" or "Torontos" as they had done with the NHA franchise. After the 1918–1919 season, the Arena Company was granted a permanent franchise in the NHL, which evolved into today's Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto Blueshirts

The Toronto Hockey Club, known as the Torontos and the Toronto Blueshirts, were a professional ice hockey team based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They were a member of the National Hockey Association (NHA). The club was founded in 1911 and began operations in 1912. The club won its sole Stanley Cup championship in 1914.

The club became the center of a controversy among NHA owners leading to the NHA suspending operations and the owners forming the National Hockey League (NHL). The Blueshirts were replaced in the NHL by a new Toronto Hockey Club under the ownership of the Toronto Arena Company, the Blueshirts' former landlord. The Torontos' players were leased to the Arena ownership temporarily and competed in the NHL in 1917–18, winning the Stanley Cup. The Arena Company was then granted a permanent franchise for the 1918–19 season that evolved into today's Toronto Maple Leafs.

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