24 November 2022 Edition
Christmas books - Leabhair Nollag
It is wholly untrue that republicans are difficult to buy Christmas presents for. And yes, there was the incident where your significant other thought it would be funny to buy you Boris Johnson’s 2007 ‘The Dream of Rome’ or Philip Ryan and Niall O’Connor’s 2018 Leo Varadkar biography. That was definitely a Christmas present fail.
So, to avoid faux pas like these, An Phoblacht has brought together the best of potential Christmas reading this year. It has been a great year for republican books. Let’s start with the newly published tomes.
Gerry Adams ‘Black Mountain and Other Stories’ came our way late in 2021, and Sinn Féin’s online bookshop has signed copies. In 2022, Adams, together with Richard McAuley, published ‘The Armagh Women’, which tells the story of women republican prisoners held at the gaol. The book also includes a Christy Moore CD titled ‘On the Bridge’.
Sile Darragh’s ‘John Lennon’s Dead’ was republished this year. It is a rare, first hand account of the horrific conditions, ill treatment, and comradeship of the republican prisoners. It includes a new foreword by Rita O’Hare, who was held in Armagh and Limerick prisons.
A number of ex-prisoners have published books including Gerry Kelly’s ‘Playing My Part’, Danny Morrison’s ‘Then the Walls Came Down’. There is also a new edition of ‘Hunger Strike’, which is edited by Morrison. The book has a series of reflections on the 1981 hunger strikes and includes new contributions where “well-known novelists and poets, former prisoners and activists reflect upon the deaths of the ten republican hunger strikers which proved a turning point in relations between Britain and Ireland”.
There is also Jim McCann’s ‘And the Gates Flew Open’, an account of the 1974 burning of Long Kesh. and ‘Surfing into Life on a Bathboard’ by Jake MacSiacias. Eoghan MacCormaic has ‘On the Blanket – an A to Z of Prison Resistance’ and ‘Pluid - Scéal na mBlocanna H 1976-81’, and don’t forget former hunger striker Laurence McKeown’s ‘Time Shadows’.
One of the unexpected but great publications of 2022 is Maire Comerford’s revolutionary memoir ‘On Dangerous Ground’. Edited by Hilary Duffy, it is a seminal account of the Irish revolution.
Also brilliant is Sinéad McCoole’s ‘No Ordinary Women’. And well worth a read is ‘Cathal Brugha - An Indomitable Spirit’ by Daithí Ó Corráin & Gerard Hanley. ‘Curious Journey’ by Timothy O’Grady and Kenneth Griffith tells the story of nine republican veterans who “talk about their struggle and the tortuous complexities of a post-Treaty divided Ireland”.
Last word to the twin tomes ‘Leitrim and Longford’s Republican Story 1900 to 2000’ by Cormac Ó Súilleabháin and Seán Ó Súilleabháin respectively. These forensic accounts of revolution are well worth a read, though you would need to be high up on the nice list to deserve these.