Saturday, May 20, 2017

Novels of Irish Insurrection

The Red & the Green - Iris Murdoch
On the eve of the Easter Rising, a divided Irish family is pushed to the brink of destruction  In the dark days of the First World War, tensions between Catholic Pat Dumay and his Protestant cousin Andrew Chase-White threaten to tear their family apart along political and religious lines. As Ireland moves ever closer to the deadly Easter rebellion, the family is engulfed in an epic drama of love, loyalty, and loss that will change their lives forever.  The Red and the Green is in the end a story of tragic freedom, defined by Iris Murdoch as “the concept of freedom which I have related to the concept of love: freedom as an exercise of the imagination in an unreconciled conflict of dissimilar beings”

The Red & the Green was Iris Murdoch's only novel written about historical events in Ireland - and it has, and will, remain one of my all time favourites. Even today, many years after reading, the characters, especially that of Pat Dumay, are still vivid and ever present as they were when I first picked up this book at my local library.  Criticism of this work of Iris Murdoch has been varied - you can read through the various critiques here at Per See.  In depth reviews can be found here at Colby Quarterly, Seeing the World through Books, and Irish Philosophy.

Across the Bitter Sea - Ellis Dillon
Another volume that has remained implanted upon the memory cells.
An Irish family saga spanning nearly 70 years, from the potato famine to the Easter Rebellion in 1916, whose lives are dominated by the politics of the day. Alice MacDonagh is a girl from the Connemara bogs who becomes a lady by marrying Samuel Flaherty, the son of a landlord. She loves Samuel and is devoted to the cause of reform he espouses but she also manages to maintain a steady passion for Morgan Connolly, a Fenian, whose wife she becomes after Samuel is assassinated. In their work for Irish independence they are aided by James Fahy, son of the schoolmaster, who abandons medicine for the British civil service. 

Agony at Easter - Thomas Coffey 
Separated into six separate chapters for each of the days that Dublin was in the hands of the Provisional Government, this work of historical fiction depicts in great detail the events in and directly around the GPO during the 1916 Rising.

Blood Upon the Rose: Easter 1916, The Rebellion that Set Ireland Free - Gerry Hunt 
Depicting twelve days in 1916, from April 23rd to May 3rd, this book details the events of the Easter Rising from perspective of the key Irish organizers and military commanders with all the action taking place in Dublin.

Consumed in Freedom’s Flame - Cathal Liam
The novel begins near the end of the Easter Rising, flashing back and forth between the present and the past events that led up to it. Part of a group led by The O’Rahilly and tasked with capturing a British barricade, Aran Roe O’Neill—one of the Rising’s key snipers—is one of very few who manages to escape with his life. Throughout the War of Independence, British practices become increasingly contradictory to the rules of international humanitarian law, and the Irish people slowly come to support the wishes of the IRA. The novel ends when truce terms come into effect on July 11, 1921

The Men That God Made Mad - WA Ballinger
The novel begins at the start of the 1916 Rising, depicting the frenzy inside the GPO as the building is taken over by rebel forces. The subsequent chapters, however, consist of flashbacks that mostly describe how a group of men from Kilcroom, County Cork, go about gathering arms and money in preparation for the upcoming revolution.

1916, A Novel Of the Irish Rebellion by Morgan Llywellyn
This epic tale is told through the experiences of the fictional Ned Halloran. Battle scenes are both accurate and compelling; betrayals, slaughters and passions of the day are all splendidly depicted as Llywelyn delivers a blow-by-blow account of the rebellion and its immediate aftermath. ( read review here @ CNN )

The series continues with 1921: The Great Novel of the Irish Civil War
The struggle of the Irish people for independence is one of the epic tales of the 20th century. The two big historical names in 1921 are Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins, both famous, mysterious, and familiar Irish figures.

and with 1949: A Novel of the Irish Free State
The tragedy of Irish civil war gives way in the 1920s to a repressive Catholic state led by Eamon De Valera. Married women cannot hold jobs, divorce is illegal, and the IRA has become a band of outlaws still devoted to and fighting for a Republic that never lived. The Great Depression stalks the world, and war is always on the horizon, whether in Northern Ireland, Spain, or elsewhere on the European continent.

The Informer -Liam O’Flaherty
The haunting story of Gypo Nolan, a former policeman turned revolutionary who divulges the whereabouts of his friend Frankie McPhillip to the police and subsequently finds himself hunted for the betrayal.

Insurrection - Liam O'Flaherty
The novel follows a diverse group of characters who are caught up in the events of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. The group are dispatched to defend the main road from Dublin to DĂșn Laoghaire (Dublin’s main port) from the expected arrival of British reinforcements. The novel explores each man’s motivations, fears and hopes through the battles and violence which ensue. The principal characters are: The uneducated, slow-witted Bartly Madden; Kinsella, the disciplined commander of a small band of insurgents; Stapleton, an anarchist and would-be poet; and Tommy Colgan, a youth consumed by fear and self-doubt

Year of the French -Thomas Flanagan
An advance guard of Irish patriots land in Mayo in 1798, committed to freeing their country from English rule. American author Thomas Flanagan’s novel charts the short-lived insurgency and the vicious counterattack on the Irish people that it provoked.

The House of Splendid Isolation - Edna O'Brien
An IRA soldier is on the lam and flees to Limerick. He takes an old woman hostage and the two battle it out. In O'Brien's view, with Ireland is a tired old woman with a sad story and not a lot of hope. Those who supposedly fight for her freedom just antagonize and torment her. 

Fool of Fortune - William Trevor
An informer’s body is found on the estate of a wealthy Irish family shortly after the First World War, and an appalling cycle of revenge is set in motion. Led by a zealous sergeant, the Black and Tans set fire to the family home, and only young Willie and his mother escape alive. Fatherless, Willie grows into manhood while his alcoholic mother’s bitter resentment festers. And though he finds love, Willie is unable to leave the terrible injuries of the past behind.

Trinity - Leon Uris
A sweeping and powerful epic adventure that captures the “terrible beauty” of Ireland during its long and bloody struggle for freedom. It is the electrifying story of an idealistic young Catholic rebel and the valiant and beautiful Protestant girl who defied her heritage to join his cause. It is a tale of love and danger, of triumph at an unthinkable cost

Gracelin O'Malley - Anne Moore
A vivid chronicle of 19th-century Ireland, the first volume of Ann Moore’s popular trilogy introduces a courageous young heroine and movingly portrays an indomitable people as they struggle to survive the infamous famine and the brutal civil war that arrived in its wake. 

The Yellow House - Patricia Falvey
Eileen O’Neill’s family is torn apart by religious intolerance and secrets from the past. She is soon torn between two men, each drawing her to one extreme. One is a charismatic and passionate political activist determined to win Irish independence from Great Britain at any cost, who appeals to her warrior’s soul. The other is the wealthy and handsome black sheep of the pacifist family 

The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore
When the Irish revolt to throw over British rule in Southern Ireland, Jack enlists to fight. Worried for her safety, Jack warns Kitty to keep her distance, but she refuses and throws herself into the cause for Irish liberty, running messages and ammunition between the rebels. But as Kitty soon discovers, her allegiance to her family and her friends will be tested — and when Castle Deverill comes under attack, the only home and life she’s ever known are threatened.

The Shadow of a Gunman - Sean O'Casey
Donal Davoren is a poet who has come to room with Seumus Shields in a poor, Dublin tenement slum. Many of the residents of the tenement mistake Donal for an IRA volunteer. Donal does not refute this notoriety, especially when it wins him the affection of Minnie Powell, an attractive young woman in the tenement. Meanwhile, Seumus' business partner, Mr Maguire hides a bag full of Mills bombs in Seumus' apartment before participating in an ambush in which he is killed. The city is put under curfew as a result of the ambush, and Donal and Seumus do not discover the grenades until the Auxiliaries are raiding the tenement. Minnie Powell takes the bag and hides it in her own room. The Auxiliaries find nothing of note in Seumus' room, but take off Minnie Powell, who is later killed trying to escape.

Rebel Sisters - Marita Conlon-McKenna
Two sisters find themselves caught up in their country’s struggle for freedom. Muriel falls deeply in love with writer Thomas MacDonagh, artist Grace meets the enigmatic Joe Plunkett – both leaders of 'The Rising' – while Nellie joins the Citizen Army and bravely takes up arms, fighting alongside Countess Constance Markievicz in the rebellion.  On Easter Monday, 1916, the biggest uprising in Ireland for two centuries begins. The world of the Gifford sisters and everyone they hold dear will be torn apart in a fight that is destined for tragedy. 

A Star Called Henry - Roddy Doyle
Born in the Dublin slums of 1901, Henry Smart has to grow up fast. By the time he can walk he's out robbing and begging, often cold and always hungry, but a prince of the streets. By Easter Monday, 1916, he's fourteen years old and already six-foot-two, a soldier in the Irish Citizen Army.   A year later he's ready to die for Ireland again, a rebel, a Fenian and a killer. Henry becomes a Republican legend - one of Michael Collins' boys, a cop killer, an assassin on a stolen bike.

1798: Tomorrow the Barrow We'll Cross - Joe Murphy
The summer of 1798. Against all odds, against all hope, a tiny county fights the British Empire to a standstill. Two brothers, Dan and Tom Banville, find their comfortable rural existence ravaged as Ireland tips inevitably towards war. As the whispers and nods in the pubs and fields explode into all-out Rebellion, the Banville brothers find themselves thrust to the forefront of the revolution.

The Croppy: A Tale of 1798 - Michael Banim
Set during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the "Croppies" (with their rebellious short hair) were men automatically suspected of sympathies with the pro-French underground organisation the Society of United Irishmen, and were seized by the British administration and its allies for interrogation and often subjected to torture by flogging, picketing and half-hanging. 

The Boyne Water - John Banim 
Set in Ulster during the Jacobite war of 1688–91 and the Siege of Derry. Can personal relationships survive the political and sectarian polarisation of the times.

An Excess of Love - Cathy Cash Spellman
Dublin is a hotbed of Republican fervor, and the FitzGibbon sisters find themselves at the center of it. This story brings to vivid life the Irish struggle for independence and tells the story of one impassioned family who lives the dream of freedom, and heroically pay the terrible price it exacts.

After the Lockout - Darren McCann
Set in Ireland in 1917, Victor Lennon returns home to the village of his birth. He has made a name for himself as a hero of the Easter Rising during his time in Dublin's slums, but he is not welcomed by all on his return home. He clashes with the local bishop and he is confronted by the problem of his drunkard father and not sure if he will be welcomed back by his long-lost love. He will have to choose between past loyalties and his own dreams for a future life.

Boycott - Colin Murphy
Two brothers, Owen and Thomas Joyce, barely survived the horror of the great famine that devastated Ireland in the 1840s. Three decades later they are thrown together during the Land War, when evictions and landlord cruelty reach an intolerable level.

Cathleen Ni Houlihan = William Butler Yeats
Set in 1798, the year of the Irish Rebellion, an old woman persuades a young man to forgo marriage and fight for his country instead.

A Nest of Simple Folk - Sean O'Faolin
A novel set in the period between the Easter Rising (1916) and the establishment of the Irish Free State (1921), 

The 13th Apostle - A Novel Of Michael Collins And The Irish Uprising - Dermot McEvoy
The 13th Apostle is the reimagined story of how Michael Collins, along with his young acolyte Eoin, transformed Ireland from a colony into a nation. Collins’s secret weapon was his intelligence system and his assassination squad, nicknamed “The Twelve Apostles.” On November 21, 1920, the squad—with its thirteenth member, young Eoin—assassinated the entire British Secret Service in Dublin. Twelve months and sixteen days later, Collins signed the Treaty at 10 Downing Street, which brought into being what is, today, the Republic of Ireland.

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