At the dinner he sat next to a Liberal peer, a member of the late Government, who talked with him of Irish possibilities. Redmond did not know what the Government intended. He was told, now, that the Government had written a letter to him and to Sir Edward Carson setting out plainly an offer for the immediate introduction of Home Rule with the exclusion of the six counties.
Redmond said: “It is impossible that we should accept; nothing can come of it.” He was asked then what hope he saw. He answered, as he had for some time been saying in private, that the only chance lay in a Conference or Convention of Irishmen; but it must include everybody, and in no sense be limited to discussion between the Irish party and the Unionists. The Liberal peer expressed great interest and proved it in action. Next morning he was with Redmond by ten o’clock, and got his view in writing that it might be placed before the Cabinet, who were to meet at eleven to decide finally the terms of their letter.
As a result of this intervention, the letter, instead of containing a single proposal, offered two alternatives: the second was so oddly tacked on that many at the time said it read like a postscript. So, in point of fact, it was. That was the genesis of the Irish Convention.
His son, from whom I know this, said to me that more than once, when things were hopeful in the Convention, Redmond said to him, “What a lucky thing it was I went to that dinner!”
[Footnote 7: The Admiralty do not appear to have communicated their information to Dublin Castle.]
[Footnote 8: This might mislead. The exclusively Protestant character of the Ulster Division was not maintained in France, and it came to include many Catholic Irishmen in the rank and file and not a few among the officers—all in equal comradeship.—S.G.]
[Footnote 9: We had never been parties, for instance, to receptions of Prime Ministers from the overseas Dominions, even when they were our close friends and supporters.]
THE CONVENTION AND THE END