Liam O’Flaherty and the War of Independence

Bilingual FĂ©ile na bhFlaitheartach returns to Inishmore on August 28 and online

LIAM O'FLAHERTY was travelling in the Americas during the War of Independence, while his brother Tom was involved in Communist politics in the United States.

Both men had been members of the Irish Volunteers and retained a keen interest in what was happening in Ireland during that time. Liam - who would go on to become one of Ireland’s most outstanding short story writers - returned to Ireland in late 1921, helping to found the Communist Party of Ireland and fighting with the Anti-Treaty forces in the Civil War.

Both men - natives of the Aran Islands - would become sharp commentators on the 1916-23 period, the emerging Irish Free State, and how its politicians were using the new-found independence.

Liam’s novels, The Informer and The Martyr, describe the events of the period, while in America, Tom commented critically on the process of independence in his journalism of the time and also voiced his views later in his unfinished Irish-language novel, Pádraig.

The critical voices of these County Galway writers - at a time when the revolution seemed to become a counter-revolution, will be celebrated and debated at Féile na bhFlaitheartach, which will involve a day on Inis Mór and online events.

On Inis Mór

The Féile will be bilingual, and, as 1921 marks the centenary of the last year of the War of Independence, there will be a focus on the war in the region and its overall outcome.

On Saturday August 28, the Féile will open at 12 noon in the Garden of Remembrance, Gort na gCapall, Inis Mór. Historian Cormac Ó Comhraí, author of Revolution in Connacht: a photographic history, will deliver a bilingual lecture about the events of 1921, including the war, the truce, and its aftermath in Aran and Connemara.

This will be followed by a reading of Liam Ó Flaithearta’s short story, ‘An Litir’, by Máirín Mhic Lochlainn, and music and song from Treasa Ní Mhiolláin and Joey Ó Flaithearta. Seosamh Ó Cuaig will be Fear a’ Tí for this event.


Liam O Flaherty

Liam O'Flaherty.

Those who are unable to attend will be able to view Saturday’s proceedings on the O’Flaherty society Facebook page a week later, when four further events will also go online on Saturday September 4 and Sunday 5.

For the online events, historian and biographer Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh will deliver a lecture in Irish ‘Réabhlóid agus frithréabhlóid in Éirinn’/’Revolution and counter-revolution in Ireland’, setting the context for the O’Flaherty’s analysis.

Liam’s novel, The Informer, set during the War for Independence, will be discussed by Frank Allen. Maurice Casey will give a lecture on the writer Margaret Barrington, who was married to Liam O’Flaherty in the 1920s. Liam’s story ‘The Outcast’, which pits an unmarried mother against the all-powerful church, will be read by Alan O’Brien and Tara Power.

Cumann na bhFlaitheartach/the O’Flaherty Society has thanked their sponsors, the Galway County Council, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Foras na Gaeilge, Ealaín na Gaeltachta and the Arts Council.

For more information see


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