IN SEPTEMBER 1917, while fighting in Flanders during World War I, Liam O’Flaherty was seriously injured, suffering shell-shock, the trauma of which remained with him all his life.
O'Flaherty, who was from the Aran Islands, and would go on to become one of Ireland's greatest, and most controversial, writers, had joined the Irish Guards in 1915, adopting his mother’s maiden name when signing up as Bill Ganly. His experiences left him with a deep abhorrence of war, and influenced his writing.
At the request of his brother Tom, he wrote a short, moving, piece entitled The Discarded Soldier, published in 1924 in the Communist Party of the USA’s newspaper The Daily Worker. In 1929, he wrote the anti-war novel Return Of The Brute.
The Liam and Tom O’Flaherty Society has acquired a copy of extracts of the World War I records of Liam O’Flaherty - the originals are held in the RHQ Irish Guards, Wellington Barracks, London. The extracts will be available for public viewing in Galway City Library at 6pm on Thursday October 19. There will also be a presentation by L&TOFS treasurer Kathleen McMahon; historian William Henry will speak about World War I and Galway; and a video of O’Flaherty’s The Discarded Soldier, read by Fionnghuala Ní Choncheanainn, will be shown. All are welcome.