A number of organisations were formed for this purpose, some of which, like the Irish Unionist Alliance, represented Unionist opinion throughout Ireland, and not in Ulster alone. Others were exclusively concerned with the northern Province, where from the first the opposition was naturally more concentrated than elsewhere. In the early days, the Ulster Loyalist and Patriotic Union, organised by Lord Ranfurly and Mr. W.R. Young, carried on an active and sustained campaign in Great Britain, and the Unionist Clubs initiated by Lord Templetown provided a useful organisation in the smaller country towns, which still exists as an effective force. The Loyal Orange Institution, founded at the end of the eighteenth century to commemorate, and to keep alive the principles of, the Whig Revolution of 1688, had fallen into not unmerited disrepute prior to 1886. Few men of education or standing belonged to it, and the lodge meetings and anniversary celebrations had become little better than occasions for conviviality wholly inconsistent with the irreproachable formularies of the Order. But its system of local Lodges, affiliated to a Grand Lodge in each county, supplied the ready-made framework of an effective organisation. Immediately after the introduction of Gladstone’s first Bill in 1886 it received an immense accession of strength. Large numbers of country gentlemen, clergymen of all Protestant denominations, business and professional men, farmers, and the better class of artisans in Belfast and other towns, joined the local Lodges, the management of which passed into capable hands; the character of the Society was thereby completely and rapidly transformed, and, instead of being a somewhat disreputable and obsolete survival, it became a highly respectable as well as an exceedingly powerful political organisation, the whole weight of whose influence has been on the side of the Union.
A rallying cry was given to the Ulster Loyalists in the famous phrase contained in a letter from Lord Randolph Churchill to a correspondent in May 1886: “Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right.” From this time forward the idea that resort to physical resistance would be preferable to submission to a Parliament in Dublin controlled by the “rebel party” took hold of the popular mind in Ulster, although after the elections of 1886 there was no serious apprehension that the necessity would arise, until the return to power of Mr. Gladstone at the head of a small majority in 1892 brought about a fresh crisis.
The work of organisation was then undertaken with greater energy and thoroughness than before. It was now that Lord Templetown founded the Unionist Clubs, which spread in an affiliated network through Ulster, and proved so valuable that, after falling into neglect during the ten years of Conservative Government, they were revived at the special request of the Ulster Unionist Council in December 1910. Nothing, however, did so much to stimulate organisation and concentration of effort as the great Convention held in Belfast on the 19th of June 1892, representing on a democratic basis all the constituencies in Ulster. Numerous preliminary meetings were arranged for the purpose of electing the delegates; and of these the Special Correspondent of The Times wrote: