In the Spring of 1931, an organisation of ex-members of the Irish Free State Army, the Army Comrades’ Association was established in Ireland under the leadership of Dr. T.F. O’Higgins. In August 1932 the Association opened its ranks to the public; in a few weeks it claimed a membership of 30,000 and eighteen months later, 100,000. In April 1933, shortly after the second general election in twelve months, had confirmed Mr. de Valera’s position as President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, the association adopted as a distinctive mark of its membership the wearing of a blue shirt. In July 1933 the ACA took a new name, the National Guard, and a new leader, General Eoin O’Duffy, who had been dismissed from the Commissionership of the Civic Guard the previous February.
The so-called Blueshirt movement occupied a central place in Irish politics for less than two years. To its supporters it was an association forced into existence by the circumstance that after the 1932 election the men who had establised the new Irish state and who had goverened Ireland for the previous ten years were denied freedon of speech by the mob violence of the IRA and Fianna Fáil supporters. Hereunder are photographs from the Whelan/Madden wedding in Croagh, Co. Limerick in 1934 which there was a Blueshirt Guard of Honour.