Band of brothers from Drumshanbo feature in new Irish history book

McCormack brothers feature in a new Irish history book: The Rocky Road to a Republic

News Reporter


News Reporter

Band of brothers from Drumshanbo feature in new Irish history book

The McCormack brothers: Hugh, Arthur (the only one not interned), Bertie and John from Roscunnish, Drumshanbo - picture courtesy of Cormac O'Suilleabhain

County Leitrim had the highest number of internees per capita from 1925 -1950. Author Patrick Flanagan from Roscommon has been working for eleven years with acclaimed American author, Kathleen Hegarty Thorne in the production of a trilogy of landmark books concerning the Irish Republican Army during the first half of the twentieth century.

Echoes of Their Footsteps chronicles the day-to-day events throughout Ireland, accompanied by thousands of source references, hundreds of appropriate pictures and a few charts.

Half of the final volume, a hardback of almost 700 pages has just been completed and is ready to purchase.

Echoes of Their Footsteps: The Rocky Road To A Republic 1925-2950, is devoted to a litany of the men and women who were imprisoned or interned in the Free State, Northern Ireland and England during World War II, totaling over one thousand in all.
According to Mr Flanagan “County Leitrim had the highest number of internees per capita. There is no similar listing anywhere.”

One excerpt from the book features the McCormack brothers from Roscunnish, Drumshanbo.

Bertie, John and Hugh McCormack all spent time in prison for the republican cause. Here are some of the details from this fascinating book.

Bertie McCormack joined the IRA about 1934, and when Jimmy Joe Reynolds was killed on the border in 1938, McCormack became the O/C of Leitrim.

He worked on the English Campaign and was deported for his activities.

He was arrested in 1939 and placed in Arbour Hill, from which he was released via the MacBride writ of habeas corpus.

Freedom was short-lived. He was again interned on February 7, 1940 in the Glasshouse and transferred to the main camp in April, where he served on the camp council until headquarters' men came later in the year and took over the council in November.

In January 1941 he was fingered along with about fifty other men and placed in the Glasshouse where a “reign of terror” ruled.
On February 21, 1941 he was taken to Collins Barracks to stand trial for setting fire to the huts.

He received a three-year ticket into Mountjoy but twenty-seven months later was returned to the Curragh.

Just before Christmas of 1944, Bertie was released after which time he continued to be active in reorganising IRA units while building a business in Dublin.

He was a carpenter and joiner by trade. He also maintained involvement with the Army Council as well as standing on the Sinn Féin ticket in 1955.

Bertie McCormack died in October 1998 and is buried in Kilmashogue Cemetery.

His brother Hugh McCormack also joined the IRA about 1934, taken in by Leo Duignan.

He worked on the English Campaign but was deported, whereas Duignan had to serve ten hard years.

Hugh was arrested on June 2, 1940, taken to Carrick-on-Shannon in order to collect more men, and then driven straight to the Curragh. He was released four long years later on September 12, 1944.

Along with his brother Bertie and Leo Duignan, Hugh built many houses in Dublin. He was also an accomplished fiddle player.

John L McCormack brother of Bertie and Hugh was arrested on June 2, 1940, taken to the barracks in Drumshanbo, transported to Carrick-on-Shannon, where he met up with like-minded comrades.

All were loaded into lorries and taken to the Curragh, where he entered the camp in July.

He was granted a four-week leave to assist his mother and father in moving from their Co Leitrim home to Garlow Cross, Co. Meath.

Released from the Curragh in late summer of 1944 , John. never returned to Leitrim but instead settled on the family farm near Trim.

He was active during the Border Wars of the 1950s and served time in Mountjoy for such involvement.

The McCormack brothers feature along side many other Leitrim men in this new book.

Other Leitrim men featured in Volume III include, Leo Duignan from Aghacashel, Ballinamore men, Mick Ferguson, Michael Heslin, John Joe McGirl, and the Gilhooley brothers, Packy Dolan and Michael McIntyre from Drumshanbo.

Volume I of the book looks at the quest for Irish freedom 1913-1922, Volume II is based on the Irish Civil War 1922-1924 and Volume III is the Rocky Road to the Republic 1925-1950.

Kathleen Hegarty Thorne is also the author of They Put The Flag A Flyin.

This book along with the other volumes are available to purchase online from

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