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4 January 2007 Edition

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Book Reviews

Reliving Operation Harvest


Book Reviews

The Pearse Column & the Brookeborough Raid

Published by the Feargal Ó hAnnluain & Seán Sabhat 50th Anniversary Committee

Price €15


Seán South of Garryowen

By Des Fogarty

Price €24


The 50th anniversary of the Brookeborough Raid brings two publications which help to relive the event and the time. These books complement each other and add to our knowledge of the two young men who died for Irish freedom in County Fermanagh half a century ago.

Compliments are due to the Commemoration Committee which compiled the excellent book in tribute to the Pearse Column and South and O’Hanlon. It includes many interesting photographs, especially the funerals of the two Volunteers. The book gives a full account of the Brookeborough Raid from the memories of surviving members of the Column. This is probably the most complete account to date and contains a very good map plotting the raid and the escape route. Of special interest are the memories of local people. These are remarkable for the way they remember the casual brutality of the B-Specials. All pay tribute to the members of the column who carried their wounded over a mountain at night to reach safety.

Limerick man Des Fogarty’s book focuses on Seán Sabhat. There is much on Seán’s childhood and background in that city and this is where the book is strongest. The author seems on less certain ground when dealing with the IRA. Clearly Seán was a thoughtful, and sincere individual who plunged himself fully into every activity to which he committed himself. It has been remarked over the years in republican circles that he had held very conservative views prior to his IRA involvement. The book includes two letters which were sent to the local newspaper and urged people to boycott American films featuring ‘communist’ actors. Did Seán’s views change? It seems likely that they evolved and would have evolved further.

Both Seán and Fergal were highly respected in their communities. Seán was a natural leader and did much to help and encourage young people and had a steadfast commitment to the Irish language. Fergal was also a Gaeilgeoir, a sportsman and very devoted to his family. Their loss was keenly felt by their families, their comrades and their country as witnessed at their funerals.

In the perspective of history the IRA’s ‘56-’62 campaign will become much more closely linked to the Troubles which broke out a mere seven years later. The repressive response of the Orange state, the collaboration of the Irish Government, the free rein given to Stormont by London and the lessons learned by republicans from the campaign would all have profound consequences. The Stormont regime hoped for a repeat performance when it imposed internment in 1971 as it had done in 1957 but instead it poured petrol on the flames. Republicans rose to the challenge and adapted to new conditions. Each republican campaign was a product of its time. What remains constant is the ultimate aim of Seán and Fergal and so many others and that is still our aim today.

By Mícheál  Mac Donncha

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • Don't miss your chance to get the first edition of 2019 published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of An Chéad Dáil and Soloheadbeg.
  • In this edition Gerry Adams sets out the case for active abstentionism, Mícheál Mac Donncha takes us back to January 21st 1919, that fateful day after which here was no going back and Aengus Ó Snodaigh gives an account of the IRA attack carried out on the same day of the First Dáil, something that was to have a profound effect on the course of Irish history.
  • There are also articles about the aftermath of the 8th amendment campaign, the Rise of the Right and the civil rights movement.

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