Books about the Irish Revolutionary period
The years 1912 to 1922 are the most significant in Irish history. This decade alone saw the Lockout, the Home Rule debates, the First World War, the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War.
A huge number of books have been published in recent times tackling various aspects of these game changing events. So many in fact that we thought we’d need the help of historians to sift through them and narrow down our choice a bit. So we sent them off to the bookshops and we also heard recommendations from book sellers themselves.
UCD historian, Diarmaid Ferriter and historian, Sinead McCoole who’s the curator of the Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina, Co Mayo joined us to talk about the books they chose. Their selections are listed below.
Sinead McCoole’s chosen books
Patrick Pearse a life in pictures (Mercier)
The images in this book tell the remarkable and unique story of Patrick Pearse, the leader of the 1916 Rising. They trace the story of his life from his childhood through to his various incarnations as barrister, writer, teacher and rebel. Gathered together for the first time, this collection of images and photographs offers a unique insight into one of the most significant figures in 20th century Irish history.
Revolution in Dublin by Liz Gillis (Mercier)
The period 1913-23 in Dublin encompassed the Lockout, the Home Rule debates, the First World War, the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War.
This book shows through fascinating photographs the story of the thousands of ordinary people who were involved in all these events, either as active participants, or those just trying to live through the upheaval. It gives a fascinating insight into the Dublin of the day and the lives of the people who lived there.
Revolution in Connacht by Cormac O Comhrai (Mercier Press)
During the years 1913-23 the people of Connacht saw a Republican uprising against British rule, Civil War, World War, a land war, sectarian violence and five elections. Hundreds of incidents occurred all over the province that had local, national and even international importance. Weaving information and photographs from a wide range of sources together, this book gives the reader an unparalleled insight into what life was like for those who fought for the Republic, those who fought against it and those who were caught in the middle
The Irish Times Book of the Rising by Shane Hegarty and
Based on contemporary witnesses, memoirs and later recollections, this
bestselling book recreates the actual course of events during that tumultuous week. It adds up to the most comprehensive and accessible account of Easter Week in print and has received praise in all quarters.
Franz S Haselbeck’s Ireland by Patricia Haselbeck Flynn (Collins Press)
Spanning six decades of major change, this selection is from almost 5,000 surviving images and documents, from the early 1900s to the 1960s.
Haselbeck’s subjects were varied and included early tourism, studio portraits, the Irish Volunteers, British military, the RIC, Garda Síochána, sporting events, street scenes and the construction of the Shannon Scheme where he was employed by Siemens-Schuckert..
The Flame and the Candle – War in Mayo 1919-1924 (Collins Press)
This is the story of Mayo men and women active during the War of Independence and the Civil War, a story largely untold or forgotten. It details the impact of the militarised RIC, agrarian unrest and the Republican courts, the Black and Tans, the IRA campaign, the Civil War, the National Army’s Claremorris Command and the anti-treaty Republicans
Tom Clarke – Life, Liberty, Revolution by Gerard MacAtasney (Merrion)
Tom Clarke was the architect of the 1916 Rising the old Fenian surrounded by a young generation of republicans whom he galvanised towards one of the most important events in Irish history. However, relatively little is known of this apparently quiet and unassuming man. Clarke is here brought to life through the letters he wrote to family and friends over a seventeen- year period. A complete context for the correspondence is presented here, with a biography containing much new information on Clarke’s early days, particularly the fifteen years he spent in English prisons. His romance with, and subsequent marriage to Katty Daly, their life in America and the decision to return to Ireland are all detailed. The political correspondence begins in 1899 and terminates with a short note written hours before his execution on 3 May 1916. The letters contained in this book enable the reader to view Clarke as he was in his own words.
16 Lives series (O’Brien Press).
16 Lives is a series of 16 biographies of the men executed as a result of the Easter Rising, 1916.
Revolution - A photographic History of Revolutionary Ireland 1913 -1923 by Padraig Og O Ruairc (Mercier Press)
This book gives the reader glimpses of what happened and what life was like during the Irish revolution through photographs of the time. Photographs played an increasingly important role as the Irish struggle for independence took hold, first as memorabilia after the Easter Rising, later as propaganda and were also of vital importance in the intelligence war fought between the IRA and the British. Includes previously unpublished photos sourced from private collections, the Irish Military Archives, Kilmainham Gaol and a variety of British military museums.
Diarmaid Ferriter’s books
The Republic: The Fight for Irish Independence, 1918-1923 by Charles Townshend (Allen Lane)
Charles Townshend's Easter 1916 opened up the astonishing events around the Rising for a new generation and in The Republic he deals, with the same unflinchingly wish to get to the truth behind the legend, with the most critical years in Ireland's history. There has been a great temptation to view these years through the prisms of martyrology and good-and-evil. The picture painted by Townshend is far more nuanced and sceptical - but also never loses sight of the ordinary forms of heroism performed by Irish men and women trapped in extraordinary times.
Fatal Path: British Government and Irish Revolution 1910-1922, by Ronan Fanning (Faber & Faber)
Historians have wished to see the events of this decade as an aberration, as an eruption of irrational bloodletting. And they have been reluctant to write about the triumph of physical force. Fanning argues that in fact violence worked, however much this offends our contemporary moral instincts. Without resistance from the Ulster Unionists and its very real threat of violence the state of Northern Ireland would never have come into being. The Home Rule party of constitutionalist nationalists failed, and were pushed aside by the revolutionary nationalists Sinn Fein.
Transforming 1916: Meaning, Memory and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Easter Rising (Cork University Press)
The fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising has been held responsible for everything from the outbreak of conflict in Northern Ireland to the alienation of an entire generation in the Republic of Ireland. This book examines the myths behind the most elaborate commemoration of the Rising to date.
Transforming 1916 explores the meaning and memory of the Easter Rising in 1966 and the way in which history operated in Ireland at a moment of rapid change. It looks at the commemorative process through parades, statues, pageants, television programs, exhibitions and documentary film; and considers the tensions present north and south of the border. It argues that the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising was not, in fact, an unrestrained celebration of Ireland’s past but represented instead an attempt by the Irish government to convey a message of modernization and economic progress. Transforming 1916 casts light on what 1916 means in Ireland and illuminates the politics of commemoration as the centenary of the Rising approaches.
A City in Wartime: Dublin 1914-18 by Padraig Yeates (Gill & McMillan)
In the years 1914 to 1918 Dublin was transformed by three forces. The first was the great lockout of 1913 and its consequences. The second was the effect of the first world war and the number of fighting men Dublin gave to the British Army, many of whom never returned or came back maimed or wounded. The third was the Easter Rising of 1916. Between them, these three major events left Dublin a very different city at the end of the period than it had been at the beginning. These were the years in which Dublin as we know it was shaped.
A City in Turmoil: Dublin 1919 – 1921 by Padraig Yeates (Gill & McMillan)
Dublin was the cockpit of the Irish Revolution. It was in the capital that Dáil Éireann convened and built an alternative government to challenge the authority of Dublin Castle; it was where the munitions strike that crippled the British war effort in 1920 began and it was where rival intelligence organisations played out their deadly game of cat and mouse. But it was also a city where ambushes became a daily occurrence and ordinary civilians were caught in the deadly crossfire. Restrictions on travel, military curfews and the threat of internment would ultimately make normal life impossible. In A City in Turmoil Pádraig Yeates takes up the story from the end of the First World War. He uncovers unknown and neglected aspects of the Irish Revolution and how, ultimately, many Dubliners found it easier to sympathise with the fight for the Republic than participate in or pay for it.
Whose Past is it Anyway?: The Easter Rising, the Ulster Covenant & the Battle of the Somme by Jude Collins (The History Press)
Ireland is on the cusp of what has become known as the Decade of Centenaries . In this book, we gain an insight into three of these centenaries the signing of the Ulster Covenant, the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme from across the spectrum of political allegiances and perspectives. Including interviews with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Fr Brian D Arcy, Niall O Dowd and Roddy Doyle amongst many others, this collection of discussions touches upon the ethereal nature of our history, and the constantly shifting sands upon which we build our shared past. But what emerges as a consistent theme throughout these conversations is the degree of understanding that can be offered for our future in reflecting on how these events continue to shape our reality.
F.S.L.Lyons, Ireland Since the Famine (Fontana Press 1971)
Ireland Since the Famine' is a full-scale study of the political and social history of Ireland from 1850 to the 1970s. The political evolution of the Irish nation forms the basis of the book: the state of the Union, the demands for Home Rule, the violence and the compromises ending in a divided Ireland, and the separate evolutions of Eire and Ulster.
But professor Lyons's study of Irish society also examines the conflicting forces of social change: the deep routes of religious division and its tragic consequences; the cultural climate that produced the nationalism of Pearse and the bitterness of Joyce; and the all-important economic factors, often overlooked by more traditional Irish historians.
Politics and Irish Life 1913-21: Provincial Experiences of War and Revolution by David Fitzpatrick (Cork University Press)
Originally published in 1977 this book was the first to examine the political experience of Irish people during the years of turmoil preceding independence. Centering on County Clare, the author draws upon personal recollections as well as numerous public and private archives, offering a unique survey of the social context in which the Irish revolution was forged.
The Diaries of Henry Charles Joly
This month marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the Irish aristocrat and revolutionary who died of wounds he received while resisting arrest on a charge of treason.
A lecture series which aims to give an insight into the FitzGerald clan and how they experienced life at Carton House in Co. Kildare is accompanying the anniversary celebrations.
Dr Ciarán Reilly of NUI Maynooth will be giving a talk on the lives of the aristocracy and the education of the children at Carton. He told us about the diaries of tutor Henry Charles Joly which paint an intimate picture of life at Carton House in the early years of the 19th century.
Times and Dates: Carton House Lecture Series
LECTURE 1 - Tuesday, 15 October
The Lord Edward FitzGerald Commemorative Lecture
Dr. Liam Chambers (Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick),
The Lives of Lord Edward FitzGerald 1763-1798.
LECTURE 2 Monday, 18 November
Dr. Ciaran Reilly (National University of Ireland, Maynooth),
'Fun and games at Carton': The education of the young FitzGeralds in the early nineteenth century.
LECTURE 3 Monday, 9 December
Christmas lecture followed by dinner in The Gold Salon.
Prof. Marian Lyons (National University of Ireland, Maynooth),
‘Garrett More FitzGerald, ‘the Great Earl’ (c. 1456-1513), architect of the Kildare Ascendancy: an assessment of his career on the 500th anniversary of his death.’
LECTURE 4 Tuesday, 4 February 8.00 pm
Prof. Christopher Ridgway (Curator, Castle Howard),
No Longer Swimming against the Tide? The Future of the Landed Estate in the 21st Century. Carton House, Castle Howard and other examples.
LECTURE 5 Tuesday, 11 March
Prof. Terence Dooley (National University of Ireland, Maynooth),
The loss of the FitzGerald fortune, 1903-1948.