Mayo County Library is starting the year with a once-off opportunity to hear about the life of Castlebar born revolutionary hero Ernie O’Malley by his son. The talk entitled Ernie O'Malley, A Life Spent Beyond the Pale will be delivered by Cormac O’Malley in Castlebar Library on Friday January 16 at 7.30pm and is free to the public.
Ernie O'Malley (1897-1957 ) was an Irish militant nationalist for the period 1916-1924. He left his medical studies to go on the run in 1918 and rose through the ranks to become a commandant-general in the IRA in 1921 but was opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty signed that year. During the ensuing Civil War he was assistant chief of staff on the anti-Treaty republican side, was severely wounded and captured in 1922, and released from prison in 1924. To recover his health he travelled through Europe, and went to the United States in 1928 where he raised funds to found the Irish Press newspaper. While in the US he travelled widely from east to west and settled down in Taos, New Mexico to write his memoir, On Another Man's Wound, about his revolutionary experience. He spent eight months in Old Mexico and then returned to New York where he met many artistic and literary characters. He floated in the circle of Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Aaron Copeland, Georgia O'Keefe, Alfred Stieglitz, Harold Clurman, James Johnson Sweeney, and Ella Young, the latter two having a distinct Irish connection.
In 1935 he returned to Ireland, secured his pension for his military services, married an American artist and sculptor, Helen Hooker, settled down in Dublin and Mayo, and raised three children. His memoir was published to great acclaim in 1936. He started photographing medieval Irish Christian sculpture, became books editor for the Bell magazine, interviewed some 450 surviving comrades about their fight for freedom, published art critical essays, book reviews, poems, wrote a concordance for James Joyce’s Ulysses, and became a farmer. He never fully recovered his health and died at 59.
Cormac K H O'Malley is the son of Ernie O'Malley and Helen Hooker, formerly of Greenwich, Connecticut. He was born in Ireland and at age 14, when his father died in 1957, he went to live in the US with his American mother and family. After attending Harvard College and serving in the Western Pacific with the US Navy, he completed Columbia Law School. This is a rare opportunity to hear about the life of one of Mayo’s greatest heroes by his son. Doors open at 7.30. All are welcome.