Before the introduction of the cigarette to Ireland in 20th century it was common for men and women to smoke clay pipes. The long-stemmed pipes were commonly passed around at wakes and consequently became known as ‘Lord ha’ mercy’ pipes. The short-stemmed pipe was favoured by the working class as it was short and light. These were known as ‘dúidíns’ in Ireland, ‘cuttys’ in Scotland and ‘nose warmers’ in parts of England.
The clay pipe was often used to express political or social allegiance – being decorated with the Irish national emblems: harp and shamrock. The words ‘Home Rule for Ireland’ also feature prominently indicating certain political ideals of the time. Home Rule was a policy devised by Isaac Butt in the 1870s with the aim of establishing a parliament in Dublin, separate from London, to legislate for Irish affairs. On 18 September 1914, the Government of Ireland Act, which provided for Home Rule, was finally passed in Parliament but was suspended for the duration of the Great War. John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, believed that support from Ireland would speed up both the end of the war and the introduction of Home Rule. With that, he pledged the support of the Irish Volunteers to the war effort. Between 1914 and 1918, 150,000 or so Irish men enlisted in the British Army. Ireland never achieved Home Rule – the legislation was superseded by the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922 following the War of Independence and the establishment of the Irish Free State.
Museum Reg. Comerford House Collection