The North Roscommon By-Election of 1917, famously known as “The Election of The Snows” saw Count George Noble Plunkett elected as an Independent MP for North Roscommon.
Image: Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1915)
Count Plunkett was the father of 1916 Rising Leader Joseph Mary Plunkett
In late 1917 Count Plunkett merged his “Liberty League” with Sinn Fein and this weekend the party has scheduled a programme of events in Boyle to mark the anniversary. The recently refurbished Boyle Courthouse is the venue for the Count Plunkett Exhibition, which will be officially opened at 7.30pm. It will be followed by a lecture from Dr. Conor McNamara of NUI Galway. Mr. McNamara was the 1916 Scholar-in-residence at NUIG and is currently working on researching the 1916-1923 revolutionary period, in which Count Plunkett’s election was such a pivotal moment.
Following the lecture, at 9:30pm, a social will be held in the Moylurg Inn with music by Shane Cronogue.
On Saturday Boyle Courthouse will host the main event of the weekend a re-enactment of the 1917 Election Count. This will also include a talk by Honor O’Brolchain – Count Plunkett’s Great-Grand daughter and grand-niece of 1916 Easter Rising leader Joseph Plunkett. Bernadine Casserly will perform a number of songs and Sinn Féin Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald will give the keynote address. It will conclude with a re-enactment of Count Plunkett’s acceptance speech at the steps of the Courthouse, which will be followed by a torch-lit procession through the town.
On Monday February 6th 1917 Count Plunkett was declared elected with 3,022 votes, defeating Thomas Devine with 1,708 and Jasper Tully with 687. Shortly after being elected he announced that he would abstain from taking his seat in Westminster. His election is remembered on an engraved plaque on the front of Boyle Courthouse.
He was re-elected in the 1918 general election and joined the First Dáil, in which he served briefly as Ceann Comhairle.