Opinion: Remembrance and Reconciliation: Heroes in the Irish War of Independence

The Kilmichael Memorial in County Cork
The Kilmichael Memorial in County Cork

Donald Masterson on healing the wounds of the  Irish independence struggle.


As Ireland enters the first years of its decade long centenary observances, the nation has much to celebrate. Although the Celtic Tiger has been tamed, Ireland, with its rich cultural traditions and far more open society, remains a destination country. Most important, the Good Friday Accords and the on-going peace process are healing bitter political and sectarian divisions. Nonetheless, troubles linger, and these issues cast a shadow over the “Decade of Commemoration.”

Many of these troublesome issues stem from lingering hatreds arising during the period now being celebrated. Foremost among these concerns is the fact that British imperialism, with its centuries-long oppressive policies ending in a final spasm of violence from 1916-1922, has not been adequately acknowledged by the British establishment. Moreover, violence between Irishmen during the revolutionary decade of 1913-1923 has left a pernicious legacy that still clouds Irish memory.

In the decade of centenaries, could it be that some of the very icons now being venerated, Ireland’s warrior heroes, represent a significant impediment to a reconciliation of old hatreds?

This said, could it be that some of the very icons now being venerated during the centenary, Ireland’s warrior heroes, represent a significant impediment to a reconciliation of these hatreds? By the mid twentieth century, the image of the single-minded warrior who fought and sometimes died for the national cause dominated not only the narrative of the War of Independence but also became an essential feature in modern Irish identity.1

Make no mistake, all countries need heroes. Among postcolonial nations, India has Gandhi, South Africa Nelson Mandela. Yet, what elevated the stature of Gandhi and Mandela beyond their nationalist aspirations was their insistence on reconciliation. One might wonder then, at risk of overstatement, why some of the heroes being celebrated during Ireland’s commemoration seem more akin to revolutionaries such as Jomo Kenyatta than Gandhi or Mandela.

The Issues at Hand

First of all, how did the veneration of a certain group of I.R.A warriors come to define heroism in the War of Independence? Secondly, why have other I.R.A. men with more questioning minds and a broader moral compass been relegated to the background or even erased from the narrative? Furthermore, what of the peacemakers, those equally patriotic figures who rejected violence but who fervently sought revolutionary change? Finally, if one accepts the idea that selective attention to single-minded warriors served to hinder Ireland’s developing identity following its revolution, will this continued veneration delay or even obstruct a reconciliation process that remains Ireland’s chief concern?

Ireland will never forget the summary executions in the aftermath of the Easter Rising, martial law, the Black and Tans. For centuries brute force had been Britain’s default position in its dealings with Ireland. Lloyd-George’s threat of all-out war resulted in a treaty that offered only partial sovereignty to the Irish Free State and confirmed the existence of Northern Ireland. These conditions divided the independence movement and instigated a brutal civil war. Decades more violence continued in Northern Ireland. Few among those engaged in these conflicts expected these injuries to be easily healed, but many hoped that a forward-looking new nation could move on and, not forget history, but certainly forgive what was done and put those wrongs in the past. Ireland has not.

It is the contention of this essay that the glorification of violence in the form of heroes such as Dan Breen and Tom Barry perpetuates the injury to the Irish psyche.

It is the contention of this essay that the glorification of violence in the form of heroes such as Dan Breen and Tom Barry perpetuates the injury to the Irish psyche. If the enemy of 1916 or 1921 remains the enemy in 2014 and beyond, that figure needs to be continually dehumanized and his killing justified. I am not so much arguing for a pacifist rereading of the Irish narrative as one which recognizes that all suffer from a violence that at times is unavoidable. Fortunately, there is another tradition of Irish warrior remembrance.

This tradition acknowledges the justness of the cause fought for but fully admits to the cost. That burden includes the Irish warrior’s own trauma as well as his enemy’s suffering. In this alternative narrative, humility trumps bravado and honesty refuses to allow the enemy to be dehumanized. Admittedly, this reading of Irish history directly questions what remains a sacred, ‘heroes and villains’ narrative. Yet it does so not to refute that narrative nor to revise it to suit other political agendas. Rather, it seeks to enrich it. First, the outlines of the governing hero/warrior myth must be sketched.

The Martyrs of 1916

Volumes have and will continue to be written about what is arguably the signature event in Irish history. Yet perhaps the most important impact of the Easter Rising can be captured by two writers of the time in just a few words. In a letter written to the London Daily News during the executions of the Rising’s leaders, George Bernard Shaw observed wryly: “It is absolutely impossible to slaughter a man in this position without making him a martyr and a hero even though the day before he may have been only a minor poet.”2

Francis Sheehy Skeffington
Francis Sheehy Skeffington

That minor poet was, of course, Patrick Pearse. Pearse’s political fervor was matched only by his visionary impulse. In his poem, “I Am Ireland,” Pearse assumes the voice of a prophet. reminding listeners of mythic heroes such as Cuchulain and excoriating Britain as “my irreconcilable enemy.”

Another poet, this time a major one, W.B. Yeats, immortalized Pearse and the other Easter Rising martyrs with his poem, “Easter 1916.” Published during the Irish War in 1921, Yeats’s lyric asserts the mythic power, the “terrible beauty,” of the blood sacrifice that had left Ireland “changed utterly.”

The speaker in the poem intones the names of the warrior/martyrs, “MacDonagh and MacBride and Connolly and Pearse,” insisting that they will forever be celebrated “wherever green is worn.”3

Yeats might have also included the name of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, a revolutionary also executed by firing squad at the time of the Rising. Skeffington rejected violent means and ventured into the fray in an attempt to prevent needless killing.4 Clearly, during the later killing time, 1916-1922, a messenger for non-violence was not welcome. Had he been, Ireland may not have become a place Yeats decried in another poem written a decade after Ireland had been freed of the British yoke. In “Remorse for Intemperate Speech” a saddened poet saw a nation in which those with a “fanatic heart” had turned “hatred into sport.”5

The Bold Lads of the I.R.A.

An RIC Wanted poster for Dan Breen, c.1919
An RIC Wanted poster for Dan Breen, c.1919

Yeats may well have had men like Dan Breen in mind when he lamented the conditions in post-revolutionary Ireland. The preeminent I.R.A. tough guy, Breen regarded his enemies, whether British or Irish, with contempt. The hated Black and Tans were “sadists.” All Irishmen who did not support the cause were “traitors.” Throughout the remainder of his life, Breen held fast to this view. In a 1967 interview he asserted, “I make no apology for killing.”

He dispatched informers, R.I.C. constables, Black and Tans and even tried to kill John French, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Using the language of an American gangster in the interview, Breen growled that Ireland’s enemies needed to be “rubbed out.” 6

Those enemies Breen killed included two Royal Irish Constabulary constables who died during an ambush engineered by Breen and Sean Treacy at Soloheadbeg in Tipperary in January, 1919. Often regarded as the opening battle in the War of Independence, the ambush and killings amounted to Breen’s attempt to start a war in a country not yet ready for an all-out fight. In his memoir, My Fight for Irish Freedom, Breen asserted that too many so-called nationalists “preferred the political resolution rather than the gun as their offensive weapon.” 7

Although roundly condemned at the time, Breen’s ambush anticipated many similar attacks on the R.I.C. and later the Black and Tans. It must be acknowledged that these tactics won the war, and Dan Breen proved to be a fearsome guerilla fighter.

An alternative tradition acknowledges the justness of the cause fought for but fully admits to the cost, including  Irish warrior’s own trauma and his enemy’s suffering.

Dan Breen’s single-mindedness is understandable. Crown forces looted and burned homes and businesses, tortured and killed prisoners, summarily executed dozens of suspects, and brutalized Irish women and children. While the notorious Black and Tans carry most of the burden for this violence, the R.I.C. contributed to the mayhem.

They were the eyes and ears of the Crown forces, and some of them killed, burned and looted as well. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that these Irish policemen died by the hundreds in barracks, along country lanes, in their homes. A great number resigned from the force. After the war, many immigrated to Canada and Australia or took refuge in Northern Ireland. For decades afterwards, these men remained the unmentionables, or if named, the traitors.

A few I.R.A. men took a broader view. Writer Sean O’Faolain, a junior officer in the war, remembers his father, an aging R.I.C. constable who retired before the fighting ensued. The man was “an upright citizen, a pious Christian and a good father.” O’Faolain painfully assesses the tragic circumstances of the Irish war, considering both sides: “men like my father were dragged out and shot down as traitors to their country…shot to inspire necessary terror–so be it. But they were not traitors. They had their loyalties and they stuck to them.” 8

As much as Dan Breen’s toughness and considerable military skills contributed to Britain’s defeat in Ireland, his memoir was also crucial. It helped to ground the narrative of the Irish war in an unambiguous heroes and villains account. Published in 1924, m My Fight for Irish Freedom offered the Irish people the clarity they doubtless sought after a desperate struggle with Crown Forces and a wrenching civil war in which the good guys and the bad guys may never be sorted out. Singularly self-serving and bombastic, Breen’s memoir nonetheless presented a popular persona.

At times he is a cowboy whose blazing guns “make sweet music in my ears.” 9 Breen’s story inspired not only Irishmen, but also those in other nationalist movements, notably India’s, where it was studied as a primer for guerilla warfare. Interestingly, Breen met and was impressed by Gandhi, heard his appeal for non-violence, but chose to support those in India who “favoured armed revolt.”10

Tom Barry on IRA active service c. 1921.
Tom Barry on IRA active service c. 1921.

Breen’s uninhibited bravado and gusto for killing is now viewed by many with distaste, but another I.R.A. warrior hero, Tom Barry, has gained renewed admirers, A recent play regaled Irish audiences with Barry’s exploits. In the play, Barry literally speaks for himself, the script having been adapted from Barry’s memoir, Guerilla Days in Ireland.

Barry published his memoir in 1949 and claimed that the passage of time provided him enough perspective to write a factual account of the Irish War.Nevertheless,much like Breen’s memoir, Barry’s book sought to reinforce a singular history. Barry’s Cork flying column was composed of men who demonstrated the “highest expression of nationhood.”11 R.I.C. men were “traitors,” the Black and Tans, “terrorists.” Barry’s memoir essentially offers a detailed, blow by blow account of his truly remarkable soldiering. His tactics are still studied at war colleges throughout the world, especially his iconic ambush of Auxiliaries at Kilmichael. Yet, despite Tom Barry’s claim that the intervening years had provided an enhanced perspective on the war’s events and personalities, he spends very little time in reflection on the ethical and political questions arising during and after the guerilla war.


George Lennon with fellow IRA veteran Roger McCorley in 1939. ( Courtesy of the Irish Volunteers Website)
George Lennon with fellow IRA veteran Roger McCorley in 1939. ( Courtesy of the Irish Volunteers Website)

Given the unliterary style and the narrow historical and cultural perspective offered by Guerilla Days in Ireland, one wonders why playwright Neil Person chose Barry’’s work to adapt into a play with the same title. Although somewhat out of fashion, Breen’s gunslinger persona and florid prose might have been more entertaining. Ernie O’Malley’s memoir, On Another Man’s Wound, published to great acclaim in 1935 and now considered a masterpiece, would have grounded an adaption in O’Malley’s evocative voice.

O’Malley’s text would have offered much detailed history within a deeply insightful cultural and ethical perspective. Instead, Person apparently reckoned that Barry’s warrior reputation (an advertisement depicts a two-fisted gunman menacing the audience with his weapons) and a larger theme, the “great conflict between two unequal forces” would sustain the production.12

According to several reviews, Person’s approach did not work. One critic, Rachael Andrews, while crediting Person’s idea, concluded that the play “doesn’t lead us anywhere dramatically.” 13 Undaunted by these commentators, audiences throughout Ireland gave the play standing ovations. Indeed, in my travels throughout Ireland last spring, people excited by having seen the play insisted I should attend. Clearly, Neil Person’s Guerilla Days in Ireland draws upon reservoirs of deep feeling in Irish cultural memory.

The popular memoirs of Tom Barry and Dan Breen not only celebrated armed struggle but also refused to acknowledge the physical and spiritual cost of the struggle.

The play relies on archetypes, the hero pitted against a one dimensional sneering villain in the form of Barry’s antagonist, Colonel Albert Percival who commanded the Essex Regiment of Auxiliaries in Cork. In truth, Percival embodied the worst elements in the Crown forces. He tortured and killed Barry’s fellow I.R.A. men, burned homes and businesses in the Cork area, and reputably shot at civilians from his touring car just for sport. Goaded by this gratuitous violence, Barry responds in kind, and the hero is then confronted with a moral dilemma.

Departing from Barry’s text, Person dramatizes the main character’s divided self by creating scenes in which Barry’s older, wiser persona cautions the younger man against the soul-killing violence which is beginning to overtake him. Remaking Tom Barry as a conscience -stricken warrior may enhance his historical image, but is not in keeping with anything found in Barry’s memoir nor any statements he made in his later life. To the end of his life, Tom Barry, like Dan Breen, swore that the only way he would meet with old enemies was at the point of a gun.

It seems likely that at least some of the popular acclaim accorded the play Guerilla Days in Ireland has been driven by the on-going controversy concerning Tom Barry’s actions during the Kilmichael ambush in West Cork and other campaigns in the area. Was Barry, as the late historian Peter Hart contended, a brutal man, a “serial killer,” who slaughtered surrendering Auxiliaries at Kilmichael or was he, as Meda Ryan writes, a “freedom fighter” whose name has been besmirched by Hart’s dishonest research methods? 14 Either way, it appears to this writer that history has been displaced by historiography. Such seemingly endless arguments amount to little more than the defense of codified positions. Sadly, such debates have crowded out other, more fruitful discussions, ones in which neglected or even suppressed history can be brought into service of reconciliation. To that end, I propose that new figures, call them reluctant heroes, be allowed to emerge from the shadows.

No Ballads for Them: Heroes of a Different Sort

George Lennon with fellow IRA veteran Roger McCorley in 1939. ( Courtesy of the Irish Volunteers Website)
George Lennon with fellow IRA veteran Roger McCorley in 1939. ( Courtesy of the Irish Volunteers Website)

During the same period that Guerilla Days in Ireland was playing to sold out crowds in Ireland’s premiere theaters, another little noticed play was performed at the Town Hall in the small town of Dungarvan in County Waterford. That same building had been the site where another I.R.A hero had been celebrated by townsfolk in 1918. Like Neil Person with Tom Barry, writer Muiris O’Keeffe chose to base his play, Days of Our Youth, on the career of an I.R.A. commandant and adapt some of the script from that man’s memoir. But George Lennon was no storied hero whose exploits guaranteed an expectant audience. Lennon had begun fighting Crown forces at age fifteen, was twice imprisoned, and fought on the Republican side in the Civil War, credentials arguably as impressive as Tom Barry’s.

Sadly, George Lennon has been airbrushed from Irish history. Until recently his place in Irish memory has been held only by his son, Ivan, and by a small group of faithful admirers in his home region of West Waterford. 15 Lennon it seems was an apostate. He left Ireland as so many other disillusioned I.R.A. men did, unwilling to live in a country he believed had sabotaged the freedom for which he had fought.

George Lennon the IRA flying column leader from Waterford later in life renounced violence and was prominent in the protests against the Vietnam War. His memoirs acknowledge the damage done to both his enemies and him by killing for the cause.

Worse yet, Lennon had the audacity to publicly challenge Ireland’s conservative church/state establishment and its flirtation with Franco’s Fascists. Lennon also violated the received code of the I.R.A. hero in one more significant way. He openly confessed in his memoir to a violent act during the Irish war that resulted in lifelong remorse. Perhaps as a gesture of repentance, Lennon in later life made a public commitment to promoting peace. He joined the Quakers, co-founded a Zen Center in Rochester, New York, and became an activist against the Vietnam War.

Days of Our Youth, like Guerilla Days, offers a history lesson on the War of Independence. Jail time, ambushes, boys on the run, and, tellingly, the execution of a prisoner, inform the scenario. O’Keeffe also employs a juxtaposition of the then and now–the young George Lennon fighting the war and the older man returning to Ireland years later reflecting on his victories and his sorrows. Yet, O’Keeffe’s play presents another important voice, one not heard in Guerilla Days, My Fight for Irish Freedom, nor indeed any other I.R.A. memoir.

Amidst a chorus of manly voices, Maire, Lennon’s childhood sweetheart, appears. She serves as both a link to Lennon’s past and as a mediator, even confessor as Lennon tries to make sense of his life. Clearly, O’Keeffe recognized that soul-searching, at least within the context of this play, required company other than aging male warriors reliving their adventures.

As Days of Our Youth opens, an older George Lennon remembers his life as he talks with Maire during his visit to Ireland. Although no dates are specified, Lennon actually toured his homeland in 1971. Admitting to the trauma caused by the violence in his youthful days, he does not boast about his fighting, but calls himself an “amateur” at war.”16 The conversation between George and Maire then serves as a framework for the play’s episodic structure. In subsequent scenes, the exploits of Lennon and his West Waterford comrades are enacted before an audience still hungry for such stories. As the play draws to a conclusion, two episodes, both of which still haunt Lennon, are replayed.

George Lennon’s memoir, tellingly titled, Trauma in Time, is best compared to Ernie O’Malley’s On Another Man’s Wound. The defining features of each work are honesty, humility and empathy. Both writers are at their best when they recount how they were at one with their enemies. In Lennon’s case these instances involved an R.I.C. Sergeant, Michael Hickey and a young Black and Tan. O’Keeffe adapts these scenes directly from the memoir. Hickey had been warned away from leading Tan patrols, but he persisted. When Lennon and his men ambushed a group of Tans, Hickey was captured. His fate was sealed.

Before shots ring out, Hickey pleads with Lennon: “Sergeant Hickey: ‘George, I knew you as a child…you are the only one who can save me.’” “Young George: ‘I would give anything, anything in the world Sergeant, but you know I cannot.’” 17 Lennon himself had recast this painful encounter into a brief one act play, I and Thou, in his memoir. O’Keeffe’s retelling gives the episode even more tragic power.

As for the hated Tans, the sadists, terrorists, the scum of English jails, Lennon offers another side of the story and O’Keeffe retells it. In the wake of another successful ambush, Lennon gives aid to a dying Black and Tan. He remembers the fellow as “really only a boy.” He listens as the young man explains that he was an unemployed with a wife and child who needed the work. As Lennon cradles the young fellow in his arms, the dying man comforts his killer: “It’s all in the game, chum.”18

With this act of forgiveness, the focus returns to George and Maire and the stage darkens. The play celebrates no heroes, nor does it condemn any villains. It values conversation over declamation. It replays the past not for its own sake or to correct another version of history, but as agency for a more enlightened and accepting future. George Lennon should not have been forgotten. He life had actually been brought to the Abbey Theatre stage in a play called The Dark Road in 1947, just about the time of Tom Barry’s memoir. Perhaps Ireland is now ready to remember him. His son, Ivan Lennon, has been contributing to this effort.19

Ivan Lennon remembers a father who never spoke about his war experiences. Only recently has evidence come to light that George Lennon was diagnosed with “traumatic neurosis” in 1943 by the Irish War Pensions board. Now called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, this condition is yet another mainly unrecognized legacy of the Irish war. It should acknowledged that this psychic damage was suffered by combatants on both sides in the Irish War, including the the Black and Tans. Most of these men were recruited after fighting in a war in which a defining phrase became shell shock.

Liam Pilkington of Sligo was so traumatised by his experiences in the independence struggle that he afterwards joined the Redemptorist Order of Catholic priests and accepted a mission in Cape Town, spending many years working with the urban poor

Ivan now understands his father’s silence, but he is also convinced that George Lennon’s ventures into peace and reconciliation movements represented a man’s efforts at self-healing. In an attempt to extend his father’s efforts at reconciliation, Ivan Lennon visited the churchyard in West Waterford where Michael Hickey is buried. Finding the grave unmarked, he was concerned. He says directly, “I believe that Sergeant Hickey’s presence in Saint Mary’s should be acknowledged in some fashion.”20

In this same spirit of remembrance evoked by George Lennon, attention also should be paid to Liam “Billy” Pilkington. As the General Officer commanding the 3rd West Division of the I.R.A. in Sligo, Pilkington engineered jailbreaks, led attacks on R.I.C. barracks, and robbed trains of arms and goods. In Dublin on Bloody Sunday to confer with Michael Collins, Pilkington was arrested but made a daring escape from Dublin Castle. He fought with Republican forces in the Civil War, capturing Sligo town.

Pilkington told IRA Volunteers he had ordered to kill two RIC men, ‘Now get down on your knees…They were your enemies. They are now your friends’.

For a short time, Pilkington served with Tom Barry and other Republicans on the Executive Committee of the Anti-Treaty I.R.A. Given such credentials, Billy Pilkington’s name should have found a prominent place in the nationalist narrative, but, like George Lennon, he became a disillusioned warrior who never celebrated his own deeds.

Although he left no memoir that could explain his life decisions, it seems that Liam Pilkington’s war experiences convinced him that he wanted nothing more to do with fighting, with politics, with conflict of any sort. In the late 1920’s he joined the Redemptorist Order of Catholic priests and accepted a mission in Cape Town, spending many years working with the urban poor. What little commentary there is available on this man life indicates only that he remained true to both his Republican principles and to his belief in peaceful service to his fellow man. Recently, a street in Sligo Town was renamed Pilkington Terrace, not it seems to honor Liam, but rather his brother John, a long time councilman.

George Lennon identified his wartime experience as trauma and performed some form of expiation for his deeds. So it seems did Liam Pilkington, but we can only guess at his trauma. Quite possibly a contributing incident occurred on the evening of 19 April 1921. Pilkington and his men boarded a train intending to shoot two R.I.C. constables, Kelly and Hedrington. Kelly was an especially troublesome agent of the Crown and was described as a “blackguard” by Volunteers in the area. The two men were taken from the train, walked down a road and executed.

No final statements were reported to Pilkington, but he had words for the executioners: “Now get down on your knees…They were your enemies. They are now your friends”21 Cryptic as it is, Pilkington’s statement indicates that he did not take killing lightly. In the broadest sense, it points to issues of prayer and reconciliation that became central features of his later life.

Remembrance and Reconciliation

To be clear, I have argued that as Ireland reexamines its history during its celebratory decade, it must do so in a more honest, more expansive fashion. Strong ties to favored heroes need not be severed, but other men and women equally committed to a free Ireland but with a differing vision must also be honored. So too must understanding, whenever justly deserved, be practiced when remembering those who stood in the way of Irish independence. Long silences are at last being broken.

Strong ties to favored heroes need not be severed, but other men and women equally committed to a free Ireland but with a differing vision must also be honored.

Memorials to thousands of Irishmen who died in British uniforms during the Great War have been erected. Increasing attention is being paid to thousands of forgotten women whose contributions to the cause were considerable. Names are finally being given to heretofore anonymous reprobates, those who served in the Royal Irish Constabulary and even men known only derisively as Black and Tans.

Small measures are often the key in dealing with large issues. In 2010, Sister Maeve Brady, daughter of I.R.A man Tom Brady who took part in the ambush of Auxiliaries at Clonfin in Longford, participated in the commemoration of this event. As the featured speaker, she remarked that she had had a dream in which all assembled there “would all be big enough” to remember all those who fought that day.

As a practical gesture, she suggested that the names of the four Auxiliaries killed at Clonfin be inscribed on the memorial. That has not yet been done, but perhaps in the years to come it will be and other such acts of reconciliation will also enrich Ireland’s Decade of Commemoration. If so, Irish people will have heeded the appeals of strong voices such as Gandhi and Mandela as well as one of their own, Sister Brady. She looks forward to the day in which her people will “be more respectful, more forgiving than the generation gone before.” 22




1. Peter Lennon’s controversial documentary film, The Rocky Road to Dublin (1967), diagnosed a number of Ireland’s social and political ills, including its veneration of its heroes. The film was unofficially banned for fifty years.


2. George Bernard Shaw, “The Easter Week Executions,” letter to the Daily News, 10 May 1916, qtd in The Matter with Ireland, eds. Dan H. Laurence and David H. Greene (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2001), 125.


3. William Butler Yeats, The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, ed. Georgie Yeats (New York: MacMillan, 1964), 178.


4. For a useful account of Sheehey-Skeffington’s contributions to the Irish nationalist movement, especially his critique of what he regarded as a male centered, violence driven views of men like Pearse and MacDonagh, see Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995), 231-232.


5. Yeats, Collected Poems, 249.


6. Dan Breen Interview, RTE’ ONE, 1967.


7. Dan Breen, My Fight for Irish Freedom (Dublin: Anvil Books, 1981), 40.


8. Sean O’Faolain, Vive Moi! An Autobiography (Boston: Little Brown, 1963), 39-40.

9. Breen, My Fight for Irish Freedom, 90.


10. Ibid,. 160.


11.. Tom Barry repeatedly insisted that his memoir represented an accurate account of his experience in the Irish War. He refused several times to be interviewed by a representative of the Bureau of Military History for their Witness Statement project, saying his memoir was his definitive account.


12. Neil Person quoted in Irish Theatre Magazine, 23 August 2012.


13. Rachael Andrews, Review in Irish Theatre Magazine, 23 August 2012.


14. Many of the commentators on the play mention the controversy inspired by Peter Hart’s view of the events at Kilmichael. Not surprisingly, in her observations on the production, Meda Ryan, Tom Barry’s biographer, applauds Person for getting the history right.


15. Terence O’Reilly’s Rebel Heart: George Lennon Flying Column Commander, (Cork: Mercier Press, 2009) is the only study devoted to examining George Lennon’s place in Irish affairs. O’Reilly extensively quotes Lennon’s mainly unpublished writings, including his memoir, Trauma in Time, making his book especially useful.


16. Days of Our Youth. Muris O’Keeffe. Copyright September, 2012.


17. Ibid,.


18. Ibid,.


19. Almost all research and writing about George Lennon has resulted from Ivan Lennon’s thirty years of work on restoring his father’s place in Irish history.


20. Interview with Ivan Lennon, 25 February 2014.


21. Michael Farry, Sligo 1914-1921: A Chronicle of Conflict, (Meath: Killoran Press, 1992) 299-300.


22. “The 89th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Clonfin,” The Longford Leader, August 2, 2010.

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