10 January 2002 Edition

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Three books for the New Year


By Morgan Llywelyn
Published by Forge
€29.01 (hardback)

Hanged for Ireland: A documentary history
By Tim Carey
Published by Blackwater
€20 (hardback)

Republican internment and the prison ship Argenta 1922
By Denise Kleinrichert
Published by Irish Academic Press
€44.44 (hardback)

The New Year is a time for returning unwanted Christmas presents, and you always seem to get loads of books if you're a republican. With hundreds, nay thousands jumping out at present hunters from the shelves of most good bookshops, they are an easy gift option as most republicans have a healthy appetite for books, especially those which relate to aspects of Irish history and the Irish struggle. If you received the wrong books or ones you've already read, swap them and buy the following three books.

Anyone who read Morgan Llywelyn's best-selling novel, 1916, will be delighted that the second part of the trilogy is now available.

Continuing her talent of accurately interweaving fast-moving events in Irish history with strong fictional characters, Morgan, presents to us events after 1916 for some of the characters of the first novel in the trilogy. 1921 continues the life of now-republican journalist Henry Mooney, Ned Halloran survivor of the Rising and Síle Duffy and her daughter 'Precious'. The turbulent years from 1916, the Tan War, the rise of Sinn Féin, the Treaty debates and the Civil War provide the backdrop to this installment. For anyone who enjoys historical fiction or faction this is a must. I await the final chapter.

Kevin Barry and nine of his comrades were re-interred during moving ceremonies earlier this year. Tim Carey's book not only details the history of the 'Forgotten Ten, he also covers their funerals in his text and photographs. His book is a welcome edition to the small collection of books/pamphlets on the lives of these ten hanged Volunteers and how their sacrifice influenced Irish history. To the pamphlet of Sean Cronin, Kevin Barry; Donal O'Donovan's Kevin Barry and his time; and the pamphlet The Fortgotten Ten, a commemorative brochure by myself, is added this high quality production, with a number of photographs I hadn't seen before and one or two new nuggets of information about the lives and times of the Ten. Included also is a history of the campaign to re-inter the men and also if you are interested are the speeches on the days of the burials including of sniveling Cardinal Cahal Daly's comments.

The SS Argenta was a prison ship which 'housed' nationalist internees following the fledging Six-County state's attempts to crush republican resistance to it and to its new sectarian paramilitary police force. A well-researched potted history of events leading up the decision to swoop on 300 nationalist on May 22 1923 starts this important book on a largely sidelined aspect of Irish history. In all over 900 men and women would be lifted between 1922 and 1925 under the orders of James Craig head of the new regime in the North.

Denise has done a great service in bringing to life again the lives of those held in below-deck cages on this prison ship moored during those years in Belfast Lough. Through interviews with surviving internees and the primary research of the recently-opened Public Record Office file containing the full personal detention dossiers on the men containing police records, intercepted letters and prison records, Denise presents a very comprehensive history of the ship. She details how the men suffered malnourishment, disease and death, physical abuse, hunger-strikes and the sense of abandonment by other republicans and nationalists who were caught up in the Civil War. Denise's book is a welcome addition to the growing list of books detailing the prison lives and struggles of Irish republican and nationalists during the ongoing struggle for Irish freedom.

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