New book on Mayo combatants in revolutionary Ireland

A new book, to be launched in Castlebar this evening by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, reveals, for the first time in print, the experiences of 10 senior veterans from Mayo who fought in Ireland’s struggle for independence and the subsequent civil war from 1919 to 1924.

The Men Will Talk to Me - Mayo Interviews is a collection recorded by Ernie O’Malley in the 1940 and ‘50s.

It will be launched this evening in Castle Bookshop, Castle Street, Castlebar, at 6.30pm.

The book is the result of Mr O’Malley’s travels around the country, meeting and speaking with the men who were involved in Ireland’s revolutionary period, to document a valuable oral history which might well otherwise have been lost forever.

The interviews have been edited by O’Malley’s son, Cormac KH O’Malley, and Vincent Keane.

Mr O’Malley was a medical student in Dublin when the 1916 Rising broke out. Although initially indifferent, he came to sympathise with the Republican viewpoint and joined the Irish Volunteers, later to become the IRA.

He quickly rose through the ranks and was soon organising the IRA around the country, reporting directly to Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy.

Mr O’Malley succeeded in recording the accounts of his subjects, many of whom would have been reluctant to talk - even to their families - about their experiences, because he was a trusted and well-respected figure.

The book gives new insight into military activity in Mayo and in particular, the ambushes at Tourmakeady, Kilmeena, and Carrowkennedy, and what life was like in the internment camps and prisons for Mayo volunteers.

The Men Will Talk to Me - Mayo Interviews is published by Mercier Press and is available in outlets nationwide.

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