Ulster's Heroes


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36th Ulster Division Memorial Association

Apprentice Boys of Derry

Armagh Unionist Centenary Committee

Confederation of Ulster Bands

Democratic Unionist Party

Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland

Independent Loyal Orange Institution

Progressive Unionist Party

Ulster Volunteer Force Memorial Regimental Band Association.

Somme Association

Ulster Bands Association

Ulster Defence Union 1893

Ulster Unionist Party

West belfast Athletic and Cutural Society

Ulster's Heroes

Many people stepped up to the plate during the period 1892 - 2021 and ensured that we remained part and parcel of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  They are listed here in no particular order.

James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon 1871-1940

James Craig is rightly regarded by Ulster unionists as the founding father of the Northern Ireland state. More than any other leader, he mobilised the pre-war unionist resistance to home rule and then became the first premier of Northern Ireland, holding that office for almost twenty years. Craig was born near Belfast, the son of a self-made millionaire whiskey distiller. He attended school in Scotland before working as a stockbroker and serving in the second Boer War. Entering parliament as a Unionist in 1906, representing East Down, 1906-18 and Mid-Down, 1918-21, he quickly established a reputation as a promising backbencher. He was the architect of Ulster unionist resistance to home rule, 1912-14. His contribution was not as an ideologue or charismatic leader; his strength lay in his organisational ability. He arranged for Edward Carson to act as unionist leader, its public face, whilst he masterminded the campaign of resistance; he stage-managed Covenant Day (28th September 1912), supported and helped organise the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and helped persuade colleagues of the need to import arms prior to the Larne gun-running. Throughout this his overriding concern was to keep Ulster within the Union. Unlike Carson by 1914 he had embraced partition with enthusiasm rather than resignation.In wartime, Craig encouraged the UVF to enlist; he himself repeatedly failed his army medical. Between 1917-21, he held a succession of junior British government posts with distinction. He also helped influence the terms of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. It was partly due to Craig that a six county territory for Northern Ireland was chosen, rather than the nine counties favoured by English ministers and some unionists. Though reluctant to abandon a promising ministerial career at Westminster, he accepted the premiership of the six counties in 1921, and remained in office until his death in November 1940.

Craig overcame the military and political opposition which the new state faced, especially from the IRA campaign of 1920-22. He withstood the British government’s efforts during the Treaty negotiations to subordinate Northern Ireland to a Dublin parliament. In addition, he sustained substantial unionist majorities in successive elections for the devolved parliament (1921, ‘25, ‘29, ‘33, and ‘38) and secured his party’s domination of local government. But his successes were achieved at the price of a harsh security policy and the neglect of pressing problems. Craig made no sustained attempt to integrate the disaffected minority in the north and no energetic effort to halt or compensate for the decline of the regional industrial economy. Housing, health, and education provision were likewise neglected. Mainly because of declining health, Craig’s premiership was marked by his own increasing political disengagement and long absences from the province. In later years, he presided over the state in a casual, paternalistic manner. His ineffective wartime leadership, 1939-40 generated mounting criticism, even from within his own party. He died at home on 24th November 1940.


Edward Carson, Lord Carson of Duncairn 1854-1935

Edward Carson’s image is that of an intransigent unionist leader who helped raise the political temperature in Ireland and bring it to the brink of civil conflict. However, he himself felt a profound sense of unease about the measures then being taken by his supporters in Ulster.

Carson was born in Dublin, into a liberal professional middle class family and studied law at Trinity College. He was amongst the most successful lawyers of his generation. The reputation he acquired led to his election as Unionist MP for Trinity College (1892-1918), and to his becoming Solicitor-General for Ireland (1892), and for England (1900-05). Carson acted as Crown Prosecutor during the Irish land agitation, 1888-91, defended Queensberry in the first trial of Oscar Wilde (1895) and was involved in the ‘Winslow Boy’ case. In parliament his speech attacking the Second Home Rule Bill in 1893 was widely acclaimed; he had emerged by 1906 as one of the most prominent politicians in the United Kingdom

 In February 1910, Carson agreed to become leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party and in June 1911 accepted Craig’s invitation to lead the Ulster Unionists. He brought credibility and prestige to the movement. His objective throughout was to preserve the union between Britain and Ireland, believing it to be in the best interests of his fellow-countrymen; he was an Irish patriot, but not a nationalist. During the home rule crisis, 1912-14, he aimed to foment and use Ulster’s resistance as a means of blocking any granting of self-government to Ireland. Owing to his undoubted charisma, inspired oratory and unyielding image, he was hero-worshiped by unionists in the province of his adoption. Carson was deeply uneasy about the decision to establish an Ulster Volunteer Force and to run guns through Larne. However he accepted them as a means of applying additional pressure to the British government and so reaching the negotiated agreement he privately sought. By 1914, he had come to support Irish partition as a solution, fatalistically accepting that home rule was inevitable. By then his strategy had brought Ireland close to civil war.

 Though Carson remained as unionist leader up to 1921, in wartime he spoke in favour of all-Ireland political institutions and structures, which lost him support in Ulster. Moreover, his energies were diverted into other areas. He played a significant role in the removal of Asquith as Prime Minister in 1916. During the conflict he also served in the British government, successively as Attorney General, First Lord of the Admiralty and in the War Cabinet. In 1919 he eagerly returned to his legal practice and he accepted a peerage in 1921. The Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921) was strongly criticised by him, but from a southern Irish unionist perspective. He died in 1935 and is buried in St. Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. 'Northern Ireland provided him with a tomb, but not a home.


Colonel Frederick Hugh Crawford CBE


Many people believe that if wasn’t for the actions of Fred Crawford Northern Ireland would never have existed. Inevitably that makes Crawford a contentious figure. In a polarised community history is viewed as Orange or Green. Circumstances, opinions and interpretations change and Crawford made the transition from taking pride in being an Irishman to calling himself an Ulsterman. Fred always referred to his post 1920 homeland as Ulster despite the fact that he himself had pragmatically abandoned one third of the latter’s provincial counties.

Fred Crawford is effectively remembered as a consequence of a singular event – the gunrunning of April 1914 – and such is the indifference to that treasonable action that a respected academic stated that the event took place in November 1913. 

Crawford inherited many of the traits of illustrious ancestors who counted on inventiveness and vision, piety and charity, and both loyalty and rebellion amongst their genes.    There will be those who view Crawford as myopic, bigoted, truculent and obsessively loyalist; this work aspires to demonstrate that he was well travelled and courageous, devout and charitable, courteous and tolerant.

He lived in turbulent times facing an uncertain future. His role in the Ulster Volunteer Force was to obtain guns and ammunition to equip the volunteers across the nine counties of Ulster. His ingenuity and resourcefulness was essential as he set out across Britain and Europe to get the rifles etc that would ensure that the Ulster Volunteer Force would be taken seriously. 

It wasn’t for personal gain that Crawford set about arming the Volunteers but for Ulster. That standard should apply to ourselves in the 21st century.

Colonel Frederick Hugh Crawford CBE passed away on the 5th November 1952 and he was buried in the City Cemetery, Falls Road, Belfast.  

Read - Fred Crawford - Carson' Gunrunner by Keith Haines published by Ballyhay Books.



 Lieutenant General Sir George Lloyd Reilly Richardson KCB (1847–1931)

On 13 January 1913, the Ulster Volunteer Force was formally established by the Ulster Unionist Council. Recruitment was to be limited to 100,000 men aged from 17 to 65 who had signed the Covenant, under the charge of Lieutenant-General Sir George Richardson KCB.

During this time the unionists enjoyed the wholehearted support of the British Conservative Party, even when threatening rebellion against the British government. On 23 September 1913 the 500 delegates of the Ulster Unionist Council met to discuss the practicalities of setting up a provisional government for Ulster.

Lieutenant General Sir George Lloyd Reilly Richardson KCB (1847–1931) served in the British Indian Army until he retired in 1909. His father was Major General Joseph Fletcher Richardson. Sir George Richardson served across southern Asia, becoming a veteran of the Second Anglo-Afghan War and Boxer Rebellion, and later as commander of the Ulster Volunteer Force in Ireland.

He was born in 1847. In 1866 he joined the 38th (1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot; 1868, Hazara expedition; 1869, transferred to the British Indian Army; 1871, attached to the 18th King George's Own Lancers; 1879–1880, fought in the Second Anglo-Afghan War; 1881, Waziri expedition; 1890, Zhob Valley Field Force; 1892–1898, promoted to commander of the 18th King George's Own Lancers; 1897–1898, Flying Column, Kurram Valley, Tirsh expedition; 1900–1901, Cavalry Brigade, China. Lead the final assault on Peking during the Boxer Rebellion; 1902, Hyderabad Contingent; 1903, Agra Brigade; 1904–1908, Poona Division; 1909, retired from the British army.

Sir George Richardson's military career however didn't end with retirement from the British army. In 1913 he agreed to command the then newly formed Ulster Volunteer Force, created to fight Irish Home rule, and oversaw the Larne gun-running. Sir George Richardson died in 1931.

 More to follow.

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