In the 1790s a crucial battle for the mantle of the original Irish Volunteer movement of 1778-1784 was waged between the government and the United Irishmen.

This was to decide which would be the dominant political and military force in Ulster. In Belfast the struggle was at its sharpest as the radicals held the initiative at first. When the yeomanry were formed in 1796-97 the United Irishmen had to decide whether to seek to take over that body of men, or to turn out independently in rebellion.

Dr. Allan Blackstock, as the major historian of the yeomanry, is particularly well equipped to chart the uncertainties of this critical contest, the outcome of which helped determine the fate of the United Irish rebellion in 1798.

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