Dublin-born Phil Tomkins, an ex-elite forces soldier, now lives in the North of England but is a regular visitor to Ireland, being no stranger to either Moate or Athlone.
He is the author of two books - Twice a Hero and Once a Soldier. On Thursday, June 23, from 10am to 7pm, Phil will be available in Athlone Library to discuss his books.
At the urging of his family he embarked on a genealogy project, but when he came to his maternal line, the Adamsons of Moate, he became intrigued by the story of his grand-uncle, Brigadier George Adamson, who was gunned down on the streets of Athlone in 1922. Phil set about he task of discovering the full story of his grand-uncle’s life and death.
The result was the publication of his first book, Twice a Hero: from the trenches of the Great War to the ditches of the Irish Midlands 1915-1922 - the story of a young Irish patriot and rebel who joined the ranks of the Irish Volunteers locally. Then, on the promise of Home Rule for Ireland, he enlisted in the British Army.
He saw active service during the First World War in Salonika and Palestine. Following the treaty, he joined the newly fledged National Army with the rank of Commandant. During the Civil War he was promoted to Brigadier General and put in command of the Midland division. He was present at the castle in Athlone when the Irish tricolor was hoisted on a makeshift flagpole to mark the takeover of the castle and barracks from the British Army. His life came to an end when he was shot dead in Irishtown and died of his wounds on his 25th birthday.
In 2014, Phil followed the publication of his book on George Adamson with his novel Once a Soldier, the story of Travis who joined the Parachute Regiment. According to the publisher’s blurb, “His restless urge to prove himself takes him from country to country and from army to army, where he battles with enemies both internal and external until he is finally able to put horror and tragedy behind him and find honour, love and peace”.
Call in to Athlone Library and meet Phil Tomkins on Thursday, June 23, between 10am and 7pm. For further details visit www.westmeathcoco.ie/library or call (090 ) 6442157.