Gallery: Former president launches Mohill native's book ‘Leitrim, The Irish Revolution 1912-1923’

Leitrim Observer reporter

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Leitrim Observer reporter

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History was made last Friday, September 18 at the Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon when former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese conducted her first virtual book engagement when she launched Leitrim, The Irish Revolution 1912-23. The book, part of the Irish Revolution series published by Four Courts Press was written by Mohill native, Dr Padraig McGarty.
The book originated as part of Dr McGarty’s doctoral studies at Dublin City University and is the first comprehensive single volume history of County Leitrim during the revolution.
The wide ranging study details social, political, cultural and military developments in Leitrim from the introduction of the ill-fated third home rule bill in 1912 through the First World War, the War of Independence and Civil War.
“It’s a very special and great piece of work” said Professor McAleese
Congratulating the author and the publishers on the timely publication of the book, Professor McAleese said ‘Leitrim’s story is not small, it’s fascinating and incredibly well told’.
The book challenges the depiction of Leitrim as a ‘quiet county’ during the War of Independence by highlighting the pivotal role of campaigns of civil disobedience, boycott and intimidation by the local IRA against crown forces and officials.
During the 1919-1921 campaign the ambushes at Sheemore and Selton Hill are examined in great detail together with the widespread high levels of crown force violence against local populations across the county.
New information on the controversial Civil War killings by the National Army at Arigna in February 1923 of anti-Treaty republicans Seamus Cull and Paddy Tymon is also revealed in the book.
The author Dr Padraig McGarty stated that one of the most important messages from the book is the important contribution of Leitrim in the War of Independence. “Irish historians' overemphasis on political violence ignores the high levels of other modes of resistance that frustrated crown rule across Ireland” says McGarty.
Important aspects of the county’s history are highlighted including the 1918 general election campaign which witnessed the election of Manorhamilton’s James Dolan as Leitrim’s first Sinn Fein TD with 85% of the vote, the largest majority in Ireland at that time.
At the launch, Dr McGarty explained that the Irish Revolution series is not just about a conflict between two sides. Like other county publications in the series, the Leitrim study delves into the IRA, Sinn Fein, the Volunteers, the RIC, the Black and Tans and the British army, the Nationalists and Unionists, the Church, the role of women, and the Protestant population in the county. “There’s so many sides to this conflict,” McGarty explained. “In the Irish Revolution series, it’s all inclusive and even-handed.”
Gathering all of this and more information was undoubtedly a time-consuming task.
Due to the multi-faceted nature of the study, much of the research was carried out across Ireland and Britain – repositories like the Irish National Archives and the Military Archives in Dublin and the UK National Archives in Kew, London. “If I could pinpoint some of the important sources, I suppose the one that would stand out would be the RIC monthly inspector reports detailing the day-to-day incidents recorded by the RIC in Kildare during the period,” Dr McGarty said.
“In Ireland, all the major archives in Dublin provided excellent material, excellent details, including the National Library and the National Archives. UCD Archives and the Military Archives provided substantial details of the Civil War in the county and the files would have covered both sides in the conflict.
Leitrim County Library local studies collection provided invaluable material for the book.”
“Much of the archival material from the Military Archives is now online, such as witness statements. Many of the principal activists in Leitrim left witness statements, people such as Berney Sweeney, Patrick Hargaden and Margaret Brady.”
The book is available at local bookshops in Leitrim and nationwide from Friday, September 25. Signed copies of the book are available, with personal messages if desired, by emailing the author on pmcgarty1@gmail.com. The book is also available online at www.fourcourtspress.ie