Last interview with Peter Hart - on his controversial Kilmichael Ambush ‘interviews’
Bóthar na Saoirse (The Road to Freedom) is a trilogy of documentaries on the lives of Dan Breen, Tom Barry and Ernie O’Malley, iconic hardline republicans from the War of Independence.
It begins on Wednesday on TG4 with My Fight For Irish Freedom, Scéal Dan Breen, the colourful and complex South Tipperary guerrilla who started the War of Independence at Soloheadbeg in 1919 on the day the First Dail sat in Dublin. Forced to flee Tipperary he joined Michael Collins’ hit squad in Dublin but then opposed the Treaty negotiated by Collins. Later he joined De Valera’s Fianna Fail and was the first anti-Treaty activist to enter Dail Eireann and take the oath of allegiance he had fought to abolish.
In Guerilla Days in Ireland Scéal Tom Barry, the late historian Peter Hart offers a final account of the controversies he raised on the Cork IRA. Hart had threatened the Tom Barry legend by claiming that he ordered the death of Auxiliaries who had surrendered at Kilmichael ambush and further claiming that West Cork’s fight for independence was sectarian.
On Another Man’s Wound, Scéal Ernie O’Malley, the life of a man who became a legend for his exploits as an IRA leader in the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War but is best remembered now for the literary and intellectual quality of his writing, mainly his two-part autobiography, ‘On Another Man’s Wound’ and ‘The Singing Flame.’
The stories of these three very different men, sharing a common republican ideology, will shed new light on the turbulent period that led to the foundation of the state. All three characters opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty and survived, unlike many of their colleagues, and all three published their own best-selling accounts of what happened. Events in Ireland have not taken the course they fought for so single-mindedly but the passage of time allows this series to assess the impact of their lives and measure their influence on the more recent troubles and how they may have reacted to the outcome.
Bóthar na Saoirse broadcast dates, TG4:
My Fight For Irish Freedom, Scéal Dan Breen - Wed, 12 Jan 2011 - 21.30
Repeat - Sat, 15 Jan 2011 - 20.10
Guerilla Days in Ireland, Scéal Tom Barry - Wed, 19 Jan, 2011 - 21.30
Repeat - Sat, 22 Jan 2011 - 20.05
On Another Man’s Wound, Scéal Ernie O’Malley - Wed 26 Jan 2011 - 21.30
NEW BOOK - OLD CONTROVERSY
The issue of sectarianism in the War of Independence is in the news again with the publication of Gerard Murphy's The Year of Disappearances (Nov 2010), that has been praised by Eoghan Harris and Kevin Myers (who originally championed Hart). The book has received two reviews, in the Irish Times (by Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid) and in the Jan-Feb 2011 edition of History Ireland, by John Borgonovo.
Borgonovo wrote that, overall, the book "cannot be presented as serious scholarship", while the IT observed in a review headed, "Rumour, gossip and coincidence", "Instead of a coherent, balanced narrative, what emerges is a confusing muddle". In addition the book has been discussed online - though Murphy considers criticism that appears on the internet to be a "campaign of vilification". Murphy also disagreed publicly with the Irish Times review:
While Murphy openly acknowledges his debt to Hart's research, the initial reception for his work has not been as uniformly positive as that received originally by Hart in 1998.
Together with Hart's final word on Kilmichael in the TG4 programme on 19 and 22 January, the issue is set to regain attention.