New book reveals the diary of a Limerick soldier in the Irish Republican struggle

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

MANY BOOKS have been written by historians about the Irish Republican struggle in Limerick but very few by people who took part in it.

MANY BOOKS have been written by historians about the Irish Republican struggle in Limerick but very few by people who took part in it.

This is what makes The Irish Republican Struggle in Limerick: personal recollections of Captain Joe Graham so unique, says editor Micheal Hayes.

“It’s very unusual to come across a diary. It is the memories of Captain Joe Graham, Lisnagry from the period 1917 to 1921.

“What I found interesting is that nothing much happened after the rising in 1916 until the British threatened conscription on the Irish and that binded them together. I never knew what happened in 1917, 1918 and 1919.

“They sent in the Black and Tans to quell the Irish and I think it would have worked if they had not combined it with a threat of conscription. The people were disjointed at the time but this threat of conscription seemed to bind the people together and that seems to have brought about independence, said Mr Hayes, who lives in Annacotty - up the road from Lisnagry.

This is just one of the many insights it gave Mr Hayes, author of many books, and will give to readers.

It is written in the first person perspective of Captain Graham, who became a soldier in the Republican movement aged 16 with the Ahane company,

“I believed that it was the duty of my generation to continue the age-old struggle for the breaking of the Union of 1801,” wrote Captain Graham, who went on to become an officer with the rank of lieutenant in the army of the new state under Michael Collins.

However, this book deals strictly with 1917 to 1921.

“He was writing before the divide. He wasn’t interested in anything to do with the split afterwards which brought about the civil war,” said Mr Hayes.

It is divided in to chapters with headings like the bridge at Annacotty and Mountshannon House, and is full of local family names.

Mr Hayes said Captain Graham’s recollections are wonderful human-interest stories that also contain a wealth of information about ordinary Irish people.

Since the book was launched in Monaleen GAA Club it has been sent all over the world.

“I was absolutely gobsmacked at the turnout. There was great interest, it being a local family. People knew that he had left a diary but didn’t know the contents,” said Mr Hayes.

The material was given to Mr Hayes by the late John Graham, son of Captain Graham. The launch was attended by another son Arthur, who also contributed to the book. John’s wish was that his father’s contribution to the formation of the Irish state as we know it today be recorded in some way. And it has.

Some copies are available from Mr Hayes on 087 6522345 or as an e-book from www.amazon.co.uk.