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War Of Independence Debate On Sectarianism Descends On Unassuming Offaly

category national | history and heritage | feature author Friday February 24, 2006 09:46author by Pat Muldowney

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Republican Prisoners, 1921

Eoghan Contradictions Harris Plays Both An Orange Protestant Card And A Green Catholic Card: A Story In Four Parts

Extract: "In the Sunday Independent Eoghan Harris played both an Orange Protestant card and a Green Catholic Card in an effort to explain away this historical context, in dealing with one of the last acts of the War of Independence. In so doing he sought to arouse sectarian feeling where there is little if any. It was the Republican side that overtly rejected an association of religion and nationality. The empirical evidence thus far uncovered supports this contention. In their courageous determination to keep politics separate from religion, and to sweep away centuries-old divisions, Republicans of the Protestant faith broke with the historical identification of their community, while Catholic Republicans defied the ultimate sanction of excommunication from their church. But in playing with sectarian fire, Eoghan Harris risks undoing 80 intervening years that have tended towards harmony and reconciliation."

An account of apparently sectarian murders by the IRA in Co. Offaly in 1921 was publicised by Eoghan Harris in the Sunday Independent in October 2005. The allegation of the sectarian murder of the apparently unassuming Protestant Pearson family of Coolacrease was made by William Stanley of Carlow in his "I met Murder on the Way - The Story of the Pearsons of Coolacrease" (2005). This account of events that took place during the Irish War of Independence was then promoted by Eoghan Harris and by the Sunday Independent.

In the course of his analysis Eoghan Harris criticised Protestants in the South for not supporting his analysis and that of the Reform Group: "a group which wants to dig up the buried British and Protestant parts of Irish identity", according to Harris.

This article gives readers the other side of the story, the side ignored by Harris and the Reform Group, and by the Sunday Independent.

Part 1: "Invincible Innocence"

Eoghan Harris wrote in the Sunday Independent on October 9th 2005, under the heading, "This tree has rotten roots and bitter fruit".

He said that "The story Alan Stanley tells ... touches a raw nerve in the Irish Republic. .... He tells how in June 1921, shortly before the Truce, an IRA gang descended on a defenceless Protestant farm family, the Pearsons of Coolacrease, Co Offaly, and carried out an appalling atrocity.

Alan's account asks awkward questions, not just of Roman Catholic nationalists, but of those who call themselves Protestant republicans. But first let me say why the story affected me so deeply at a personal level. The Pearsons of Coolacrease belonged to a small Protestant sect called the Cooneyites, whom Alan Stanley aptly compares to the Amish of Pennsylvania."


Harris then relates a personal encounter with a "Cooneyite" family in Cork in the 1950s and concluded, "I have never forgotten their aura of invincible innocence".

Harris continued, "It was the start of my life-long respect for low-church Protestants. Tildy Pearson would have looked like the girl with the gloves whom I saw in my father's store so many years ago, and who thanked me with a sweetness which still breathes its benediction after almost 50 years.
To attack a family like that calls to high heaven for atonement. Alan Stanley's book helps make historical amends, not only to the Pearsons, but to the 50,000 Protestants who were bullied, frightened and burned out of their modest farms, both before and after the Truce, and whose story has been suppressed by nationalists."


"Cowardly desires" of "Dublin Protestants"

Harris claimed, "Most Dublin Protestants don't know anything about the atrocities against their rural co-religionists in places like Cork, Carlow and Longford. And most don't want these tragedies dragged up because it is socially inconvenient. But their cowardly desires do not close the case. .....

The Pearsons suffered in silence. So did thousands of Protestants in modest circumstances. And I have a hunch that the persistent self-suppression of this dark history and the policy of keeping the head down must have done some damage to the Southern Protestant psyche."


Martin Mansergh - "posh southern Protestant"

Harris then goes on to criticise Senator Martin Mansergh as a "posh southern Protestant" who "provides a rotten role model for any young Protestant Irishman", principally because, like many southern Protestants, he does not agree with Eoghan Harris's view on these matters. Senator Mansergh is an advisor to The Taoiseach on Northern Ireland.

Harris declared, "from my Roman Catholic nationalist background" that he would like to "put the matter simply. The Pearson family did not deserve what was done to them, and neither did the 50,000 artisans and farmers who were driven out of their homes and across the world. Facing our tribal past helps us understand the fears of Northern Protestants - and is good for our souls. That is why I reject the right of posh Protestants to plant some green plastic Tree of Liberty with Gerry Adams."

Reform Group and Orange Order

While not referring to the events in Offaly in the October 16th edition of the Sunday Independent, Harris did return to the theme of condemnation of those who do not agree with him that Protestants in the South suffered the type of discrimination endured by Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland. In fact, "the main purveyors" of the contrary view are "southern Protestant spokespersons", he asserted.

Eoghan Harris returned to the fray in the Sunday Independent of October 23rd with a highly personalised attack on someone he sees as a "southern Protestant spokesperson", Martin Mansergh.

"Dr Martin Mansergh .... has a posh accent. I could almost hear his dulcet tones in his Irish Times column last week. He commented "Southern Protestants like American loyalists in the early 1788s, and European settlers in colonial Africa in the 1950s and 1960s lost out, and there are many sad and some tragic stories.""

Harris again mentioned "the atrocity against the Pearsons of Coolacrease" and said that he resented "Mansergh's alleged reference to people like me who are members of Reform, a group which wants to dig up the buried British and Protestant parts of Irish identity."

The Reform group was set up by members of the Dublin and Wicklow lodges of the Orange Order. They do indeed attempt to conjoin the terms Protestant and British in Ireland in perpetuity, though today without the overt association with the highly contentious Orange Order that marches incessantly each year in Northern Ireland on behalf of an assertion that Protestantism and Britishness are one and the same thing.

Harris asserted: "I reject the slur that I poke around in the past in order to make a Unionist case. Not true. I do so in order to make a moral case. I want to show that neither the Irish Republic nor Northern Ireland has clean historical hands in the matter of dealing with their minorities.

I also reject Dr Mansergh's use of the term "outsiders" in a context that seems to reject the right of people who are not members of the Church of Ireland to comment on the treatment of southern protestants. As a cradle Roman Catholic I consider that a trifle tribal. After all, I could consider him an outsider too.

As the scion of an Anglo-Irish family, Dr Mansergh was educated in a British public school, speaks with a posh English accent, and has the air of an English gentleman - all of which were big attractions for Charles Haughey. But I would no more call Dr Mansergh an " outsider" than I would call Dean Swift."


Those who allegedly suffered discrimination actively conspire to keep silent about it. How very strange. And how it is that, in the absence of a body of assertive Protestants, it becomes the task of a "cradle Roman Catholic" to set the record straight for posterity.

Part 2: Alternative account with no axe to grind

Detailed local history refutes sectarianism accusation

We now turn to an alternative version of the events on which Eoghan Harris based his vitriol.

A six-sentence letter from a Patrick Heaney, Cadamstown, Birr, Co Offaly, appeared on October 16th in the Sunday Independent, between Eoghan Harris's October 9th and 23rd pieces on the subject:

"Sir - I would like to remind Eoghan Harris that there are two sides to every story. I interviewed men and women who were involved during that period of our history.

These findings I have documented in my book At the Foot of Slieve Bloom, which was published in December 2000.

There were six Protestant families living in the Cadamstown area during that period. They were never molested or harmed in any way. Let our readers judge for themselves."


Patrick Heaney's account was published within an unassuming, though well presented, volume of local history. It had no apparent axe to grind.

It is a history of the area around Cadamstown in Co. Offaly, which is close to the county boundary with Laois, about halfway between Birr and Tullamore, the two principal towns of Offaly. The Slieve Bloom Mountains straddle the boundary between counties Laois and Offaly. In a small farming area, the Pearsons were big farmers, on about 300 acres. There were three sons and several daughters. Previously resident near the Laois-Kilkenny county boundary, they arrived in Coolacrease in the Cadamstown area shortly before 1900 and, prior to the War of Independence, were well liked there.

In addition to Heaney's original account there is the newly released Bureau of Military History official report by Michael Cordial, second-in-command of the IRA Offaly Brigade. This report also describes the execution of two of the Pearson brothers and the killing of two R.I.C. policemen in the nearby village of Kinnitty.

Heaney's book includes a history of the local IRA unit, and its pivotal position between Munster, Galway and the Midlands during the War of Independence. Having researched the subject over thirty years, and having interviewed all the surviving participants and others with first-hand knowledge, including the O.C. of the Offaly Brigade of the IRA, Heaney gives a detailed account of the circumstances which led to the killing of the two elder Pearson brothers of Coolacrease.

It is worth quoting at length, since it is an account that has hitherto been ignored.

Heaney's Account

[START Patrick Heaney's account]


Arms were always a problem for the men of the [IRA] company [in Cadamstown, Co. Offaly] so they devised a plan to get some. On a particular day three local volunteers approached Pearsons' house at Coolacrease. They were armed, and when admitted they requested that any guns which were in the house should be handed over. This the Pearsons refused to do. Placing one volunteer on guard, the remaining two searched the house and found two guns which they took away with them. Captain Drought received similar treatment, as did Biddulphs. Two or three guns were found on their premises. After four days Mr. Biddulph requested that one of the guns be returned as it belonged to his son who was killed in the 1914-18 war. Two men from the Cadamstown company returned the gun to the Biddulph home and they were very grateful.

The mountain area above Cadamstown village provided safety for the men of the company. There were many safe houses in this district: Horans of the Deerpark, Dillons of Seskin, Ryans of Seskin, Nolans of Deerpark, Dalys of Glenletter, and Heaneys of Glenletter. Local men had to leave their homes and many men on the run found safety with these kind people. Many men from Cloghan found refuge in the mountain area; for instance, the Geraghtys, the Brogans and the McIntyres. There was a major breakout of prisoners in the camp at the Curragh of Kildare early in 1920. Ten of the escaped prisoners were guided to the safety of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, when they were brought to Dillons of Seskin on a night in May by a volunteer from the Clonaslee Company. There they were fed, and after a good night's sleep and a rest, the following day they made preparations to continue their journey in the direction of Tipperary. They hailed from different counties in Munster, and one particular man came from an island off the Kerry coast. They were guarded during their stay at Dillons by the local company. They left Dillons on the summer's night and were guided across the mountain by my mother and her brother, Pat Dillon. They arrived at Maloneys of Ballybritt near Roscrea the following morning. A volunteer from Cashel was awaiting their arrival, and after a brief rest at Maloneys they continued on their way to the safety of the Tipperary hills.

Pearsons: "Loyalist headquarters"

Cadamstown was the only place in Offaly that was declared a no go area, and a curfew was also imposed. The local company knew that there were Dublin Castle agents in the area so they had to be very careful. They kept a watchful eye on the Pearsons of Coolacrease for they knew that this was the local loyalist headquarters. The British military were seen coming and going from this residence at all hours of the night.

There was a mass path leading from the Deerpark in the direction of the village of Cadamstown which crossed through Pearsons' land and which had been used for hundreds of years by the people from the mountain area. On a particular Sunday morning as the people came to mass they found to their dismay that the mass path was blocked by a giant beech tree which had been felled across the path. There were about twenty people coming to mass that Sunday morning and they immediately returned to their homes, and to those of their neighbours, for saws and axes. In a short time they had the path cleared, but as they were about to continue on their way to mass, they were confronted by three of the Pearsons, the father and two sons, and each of them claimed they were trespassing. The people refused to go, and threats and words of abuse were exchanged as the people continued on their way to mass. After mass, as the people returned home, they found the mass path again blocked by timber and other materials, so they again cleared the way. This agitation continued for some time.

Under Fire

It was shortly after this incident that the local company received word to block the roads on the Coolacrease side of Cadamstown, as there was to be an ambush near Birr. The local company mobilised and marched to Coolacrease, where they selected a large beech tree which was to be used to block the roadway. Mick Heaney was appointed to stand guard on the road. He was armed, as was Tom Donnelly. The other volunteers taking part in the operation were Jim Delahunty, John Joe Horan, Tom Horan, Joe Carroll, Joe Manifold and Jim English. The tree was almost sawn through when footsteps were heard approaching from the direction of Pearsons' house. Mick Heaney, who was on guard, ordered "Halt, who goes there?" but the footsteps came nearer. The order to halt was repeated, without reply.

Suddenly the volunteers found themselves under fire. Mick Heaney returned fire and he immediately fell under a hail of bullets. Tom Donnelly was the only other man to be armed, and he ran to the rescue of the fallen man, firing as he went. Heaney was mortally wounded but he still kept going. Donnelly caught Mick Heaney in his arms and returned back to the roadway, still firing his revolver. He had the satisfaction of hearing one of the attackers groan and fall to the ground. Then the firing ceased. The volunteers came together again and brought the two wounded men in a pony and trap to Dr Brown in Kilcormac, from where they were transferred to a secret ward in Tullamore Hospital. It was discovered afterwards that British army officers were with the Pearsons on the particular night. One of these officers subsequently lived under an assumed name in a neighbouring county.

This incident was brought to the notice of the Offaly Brigade headquarters who kept a watchful eye on the movements of the Pearsons. A raid on the mails coming from Dublin disclosed that there was contact between Dublin Castle [British HQ in Ireland] and the Pearsons of Coolacrease, and that information regarding IRA members in Cadamstown and the naming of safe houses in the Cadamstown area had been sent to Dublin. For the shooting of Mick Heaney and the sending of information to Dublin Castle, Offaly Brigade headquarters ordered the execution of the Pearsons. This was carried out on 10th June 1921.

Execution of the Pearsons

The flying column arrived in Cadamstown that June morning. The Pearson brothers were making hay in a field adjacent to their home. When the column arrived at the field, a man who was recognised as a British army officer was seen running away. The column followed him and fired on him several times, but he escaped and headed in the direction of Mountbolus where he was captured. He was held by the Mountbolus company for one night and was released the following morning when he made his way to the barracks in Tullamore and later went to the north of Ireland. The flying column escorted the Pearsons to their home where the sentence was read out to them. They made no comment, nor did they protest in any way. They faced the firing squad bravely. The house and its contents were then burned down. The remaining members of the family left the locality and settled in Australia. A sister of Dick and Abe Pearson returned recently to Cadamstown to see what remained of the old homestead.
Jim Tormey's flying column was based in County Westmeath. The column consisted of thirty men and they took part in many ambushes throughout Westmeath and County Longford. British troops poured into that area to curb Tormey's Column. The column was hard pressed so they retired to the safety of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. As the song says, "And to the Slieve Bloom Muntains came Jim Tormey's Flying Column". The Cadamstown Company had the honour of guarding Tormey's Flying Column for three weeks as they rested in the mountain. The flying column then returned to Westmeath where they engaged British troops at the famous ambush at Park outside Athlone. This proved fatal for the column as they lost their great leader, Jim Tormey. He was killed as he led his men into action on that day. There is a cross erected to his memory at the spot where he was killed.

Shortly after the shooting of the Pearsons British troops took over the Cadamstown area and arrested eight members of the local Company.


[END Patrick Heaney's account]

Part 3: Laois Offaly - King's and Queen's Counties

The historical context

The social stratum to which the Pearsons belonged came into existence in Ireland through the violent conquest, expropriation, ethnic cleansing and colonising activities of the English state. Offaly and Laois were the scene of the first ever colony of what became known as the British Empire, when the native O'Connors, O'Moores, O'Dempseys, O'Dunnes and others were killed or driven out by the army of Queen Mary in 1556, and the area planted with English settlers. Queen Mary ("Bloody Mary") was herself a Catholic, as was her husband Philip of Spain. Queen's County (Laois) and King's County (Offaly), along with the towns of Maryborough (now Portlaoise) and Philipstown (now Daingean), were named after them.

The modern English state was fashioned by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Mary and Elizabeth were the daughters of, respectively, Henry's Catholic wife Catherine of Aragon and his Protestant wife Anne Boleyn. From the 12th to the 16th centuries English conquests of the savage Irish enemy, though sponsored by the English state, were often of a freelance character. It is true that Henry II and his son John (later King John) each led armies into Ireland in the 12th century. But in theory, as agents of the Pope who was in some sense of international law the overlord of Ireland, they came to protect the native Irish against freebooters from England. In reality their objective was the opposite of protection. Think Iraq.

Two centuries later Richard II invaded Ireland on two separate occasions, and was defeated twice. (By Art McMurrough, as it happens, descendant of the infamous Dermot McMurrough. Art is buried beside the 1798 leader Thomas Cloney in the monastic complex of St. Molins in Co. Carlow, along with a number of those who died in the 1798 Rising.) Thus, although the Irish did not seek to establish a state of their own at that time, the English colony was confined to a foothold around Dublin. The other Norman settlements eventually assimilated with the natives.

Settler and-native - Pearsons and non-persons

So Mary and Philip launched their strike into Laois-Offaly, beginning both the English world-conquest and the long sequence of what is known as Irish terrorism - Raparees, Tories, Whiteboys, Ribbonmen, Fenians, IRA.

The Pearsons were not descended from these original colonists. The settlers were often transient, moving on to new continents where the natives were more easily exterminated, being unaccustomed to firearms and lacking the skills of literacy which, having been lost in Europe following the collapse of the Roman Empire, had been preserved in Ireland, despite the best efforts of various English overlords to eliminate them.

The Pearsons were originally settled in the North Kilkenny area during the Cromwellian Plantation, a hundred years after the Plantation of Mary and Philip. The traditional Gaelic leaders, the MacGillaPatricks, had held onto their predominant position in Ossory, or Kilkenny, throughout the previous four centuries. In the initial 12th century Norman invasion, the MacGillaPatricks, and their allies both native (O'Brennans, O'Donaghues, O'Carrolls etc.) and Danish (with names like MacTorkil (McCorkill), McKittrick or Mac Sitric, McAuliffe or Mac Olaf, etc.) fought the Anglo-Normans and their Irish ally Dermot McMurrough. The Norman baron, Maurice de Prendergast, was captured by the MacGillaPatricks and became their ally. With Latin as their common language they bottled up the invasion forces in the Wexford area. When Henry II arrived in Waterford with a massive army, some accounts say that de Prendergast persuaded the McGillaPatricks not to make war on Henry, and arranged a diplomatic agreement under which Norman settlement and town-building were permitted in Ossory under Gaelic overlordship.

The hundred-year Norman grab for Gaelic lands, rivers and monasteries, and for Danish towns, cities and trade, did not wreak as much destruction in Ossory as it wrought elsewhere. It was as if the Pilgrim Fathers had negotiated a peaceful and mutually beneficial trade-off with Ohquamehud, Chief of the Sachem Indians, instead of exterminating them all. But Cromwells's defeat of the Confederation of Kilkenny saw the destruction of the Gaelic MacGillaPatricks and Brennans etc. along with the Anglo-Norman Rothes (Bishop David Rothe helped to finance the Four Masters in compiling their comprehensive History of Ireland just as the final destruction of native civilisation was looming), the Graces (descended from Raymond le Gros), the Cantwells and all the rest. Thus ending a couple of thousand years of native society and inaugurating the hegemony of the colonial society of Berkeley (born in Kilkenny), Swift (like Berkeley, educated in Kilkenny) - and the Pearsons.

Disharmony and failed colonisation

The violent British conquest and colonisation of Ireland were never legitimised by the establishment of good government and harmonious relations with the native population, which now included the descendants of the Anglo-Normans, and which remained relatively numerous despite several attempts to kill them off or drive them out to make way for colonial settlement and money-making. The British colony in Ireland, though supremely powerful, failed to use its overwhelming power for the benefit of society as a whole, and it did not flourish in the longer run. For the most part it persisted only as a declining alien, colonial presence.

Under the ferocious colonial regime, the native Irish capacity for political and military leadership had for many centuries found expression in continental Europe, Latin America, the West Indian slave islands, and even Russia. The society of Berkeley and Swift envisaged a future for the aboriginal population as illiterate beasts of burden, if not destruction. So Hitler was not the originator of such policies. Inexplicably the Irish managed to evade their destiny, perhaps with the aid of their music and poetry.

When, after several centuries of untramelled power, the colony had passed its hey-day and was showing clear signs of being trapped in a historical cul-de-sac, significant numbers of Protestant individuals, both northern and southern, contributed leadership to the independence movement.

Re-emergence of the natives

After a couple of centuries, the natives were recovered sufficiently to seek separation from Britain. This was undoubtedly problematic for the colonial remnants. Having pitted themselves against the natives in the final, debilitating struggles - religious, social, political and economic - of the 19th century, the British settlers in the South of Ireland were largely reconciled to the historic Home Rule settlement of Irish self-government within the British Empire. So when Ulster Unionism raised the flag of armed revolt against this settlement, and when the British government reneged on Home Rule after exacting a heavy blood-price for it in the Great War, many southern Protestants were disappointed at the loss of the historic opportunity of an achievable settlement which would have been congenial to them, and they felt betrayed by their own side.

Britain went to war against the Irish government established by the 1918 elections, and the Irish democracy was defended by its volunteer armed forces, who, for historical reasons were committed to an ideology which sought to transcend the distinction between settler and native within a common national sentiment. So the wholesale slaughter and expulsion, which befell British loyalists a century and a half earlier in the American colony, were not on the agenda in Ireland.

In addition, the Irish Republican side was well represented by individual Protestants in prominent positions, as detailed by historian Brian Murphy recently in his account of the non-sectarian trajectory of Republican policy and practice during the War of Independence.

Thus, by 1919-21, for whatever reason, the attitude of the Protestant British community in the south was very different from its conduct a century earlier in 1798, and they mostly kept out of the conflict. Except for a small number of cases such as the Pearsons.

Part 4: Paramilitary Loyalism in the South

Sectarianism within the Irish revolution


After the IRA had set it on fire the Pearsons' house exploded. It is likely that munitions were stored there, indicating that the Pearsons may have been loyalist paramilitaries as well as spies. If so, they were not entirely alone. The Cork historian Meda Ryan has written about the organisation of loyalism along sectarian lines in parts of west Cork in the area surrounding Bandon. More information on this phenomenon in Cork City and the surrounding county will be published during the course of 2006.

The Pearson controversy has a curious echo of the dispute around the way the IRA dealt with paramilitary loyalists in Cork at that time. In particular the unauthorised shooting of loyalist spies and informers after the Truce in April 1922 forms part of a heated debate between Canadian historian Peter Hart and Irish historians Meda Ryan, Brian Murphy and Manus O'Riordan. Hart denied southern Protestant participation in sectarian paramilitary activity and asserted instead that the execution of such people was an example of republican sectarianism. Hart's contentious conclusions on the Dunmanway shootings and his attack on IRA leader Tom Barry have been debated in History Ireland (April-May to October-November 2005) and on indymedia.ie. Serious questions have been asked about the manner in which Hart suppressed inconvenient evidence in his possession and claimed to have interviewed IRA veterans anonymously, when records indicated that they were in their graves.

William Stanley, 'Jimmy Bradley' and Alan Stanley

Eoghan Harris who, alongside Kevin Myers, had previously championed Hart's work, bases his account of the Offaly events on "I Met Murder On The Way", by Alan Stanley of Carlow.

In a curious twist, it was reported in the Carlow Nationalist (March 23rd 2005) that Alan Stanley is the son of William Stanley. William Stanley was the British Forces officer who ran away as the Pearson brothers were being arrested by the IRA, prior to their execution. William Stanley was subsequently captured, though later released, by the IRA. William Stanley reportedly returned to live in Carlow under the assumed name of 'Jimmy Bradley'. These issues are not acknowledged in Alan Stanley's book, and await clarification.

After the executions, the Pearsons' farm was occupied by British Forces until the Pearsons returned about a month later. Theft or looting that reportedly occurred should therefore be put down to British Forces in place - a not uncommon occurrence. Before they finally left the area in 1924, the Pearsons sold their property to the Land Commission.

The dozen or so other local Protestant families in the surrounding area were left undisturbed in the War of Independence, but they were disturbed by Alan Stanley's book.

End of Empire?

The British Empire began with the 1556 conquest and colonising of Laois-Offaly. At the height of its power the Empire, and the system of colonial privilege on which it was based, began to unravel in the Irish War of Independence. Curiously, the first military action of that war took place in Laois-Offaly with the cutting of the Cork-Dublin railway line near Abbeyleix at the start of the 1916 Rising. Four centuries after it began, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan signalled the end of the British Empire, in his 1960 "Wind of Change" speech to the South African Parliament. "Whether we like it or not," he said, "this growth of national consciousness is a political fact."

In the Sunday Independent Eoghan Harris played both an Orange Protestant card and a Green Catholic Card in an effort to explain away this historical context, in dealing with one of the last acts of the War of Independence. In so doing he sought to arouse sectarian feeling where there is little if any. It was the Republican side that overtly rejected an association of religion and nationality. The empirical evidence thus far uncovered supports this contention. In their courageous determination to keep politics separate from religion, and to sweep away centuries-old divisions, Republicans of the Protestant faith broke with the historical identification of their community, while Catholic Republicans defied the ultimate sanction of excommunication from their church. But in playing with sectarian fire, Eoghan Harris risks undoing 80 intervening years that have tended towards harmony and reconciliation.

Luckily we have the meticulous research of local historians like Patrick Heaney to illuminate the subject with the healing light of fact and reason.

Note: At the Foot of Slieve Bloom by Patrick Heaney is available from The Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society, Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, www.offalyhistory.com

Pat Muldowney has also written a series of articles on these issues in Church and State magazine in a debate which the Reform Group sought and initiated but from which it speedily ran away. See this page on the Atholl Books website.

RELATED UPCOMING EVENT
Propaganda In 1920 In Ireland Bloody Sunday & Kilmichael - The Origins Of 'Fake News'
Book Launch: FRIDAY MARCH 24 - 7.45pm Teachers Club Dublin
THE ORIGINS AND ORGANISATION OF BRITISH PROPAGANDA IN IRELAND IN 1920, by Brian P Murphy. Published by the Aubane Historical Society and Spinwatch

IRELAND & IRAQ
From Ireland to Iraq governments attempt to control and to direct the media in order to disseminate the 'official' version of the facts. Brian Murphy shows how the British government did it in Ireland. This important work details how the British propaganda machine in Ireland was organised in 1920. Murphy's original research illustrates the power of, and the origin of, 'spin'.

Related Link: http://www.atholbooks.org/magazines/cands/index.php

Coolacrease House
Coolacrease House

Croppy graves from 1798
Croppy graves from 1798

Republican prisoners from the area
Republican prisoners from the area

1798 memorial to Scully and Daly
1798 memorial to Scully and Daly


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