An account of life at the grassroots during the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War by the Officer Commanding, 2nd Battalion, West Limerick Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. Mossie Harnett (1893-1977), who fought on the Anti-Treaty side in the Civil War, describes his early life on a farm in Tournafulla in the southwest corner of Limerick, his enrolment in the Irish Volunteers in 1915, and his involvement in the conflict until his release from a Free State prison in 1923. In an appendix, the British troops' little-known and short-lived practice of taking hostages in order to protect themselves is vividly described by Mossie's cousin, Dr Edward Harnett, who was taken hostage in spring 1921.
'Greater familiarity with these sources — including the range of evocative first-hand accounts spanning the revolutionary decade from the Ulster crisis to the Civil War published as part of UCD Press’s new Centenary Classics series — should complicate as well as inform commemoration in 2016.
Although the achievements of the founding generation will be honoured and, inevitably, appropriated, the urge to celebrate independence should be tempered by an unsentimental understanding of the process by which it was achieved.'
21 March 2016
'UCD Press’s new ‘Centenary Classics’ series makes available eye-witness accounts of key revolutionary episodes including the Ulster crisis; the aftermath of 1916; the rise of Sinn Féin; the War of Independence; the Treaty split; and the Civil War. These provide first-hand perspectives on such topics as the significance of sectarian divisions; the impact of imprisonment on republicanism; the importance of popular mobilisation and guerrilla warfare; and the conflict’s divisive legacy.
These accounts offer many insights into the influences that shaped the revolutionary generation. The value of these texts does not lie solely in the factual light they shed on past events, they illuminate mentalities, as well as the memory of the revolution, a growing area of research.
These stories could be ‘made into a patchwork quilt from memory’. This aim alone provides a compelling reason to ensure the wider availability of eye-witness accounts, particularly during a period of commemoration in which politicians and others will claim to speak on their behalf.'
Fearghal McGarry, Queen's University Belfast
'These contemporary accounts by well known personalities of historical events and attitudes have an immediacy that conventional histories do not have. Introductions by modern historians provide additional historical background and, with hindsight, objectivity.'
'Scholars of nineteenth-century Irish and Irish-American politics should reacquaint themselves with these classics, part of a long running and immensely useful series from University College Dublin Press.'
Irish Literary Supplement
VICTORY AND WOE
'Although, neither eloquent nor written for effect, it reveals the unconscious poetry of a life attached to rural Ireland, its people and its places. It speaks of a generosity of spirit and an unselfconscious heroism beyond the emotional and ideological reach of latter-day revisionism.'
Irish Literary Supplement
'The editor's short introduction whets the appetite for the publication of his doctoral dissertation at Ann Arbor ... Harnett has found an excellent recorder and interpreter.'
Paidraig O Snodaigh, Books Ireland