Ruairí Ó Domhnaill reviews Michael Collins and the Troubles: the struggle for Irish freedom, 1912-1922 by Ulick O'Connor, Mainstream Publishing, £7.99 pbk
THIS BOOK, published originally in 1975 under the cliche A Terrible Beauty is Born, is one to study, even if the citation of sources is woeful and there are too many incidental but irritating errors to be ignored.
A new epilogue completes the author's family saga and mentions occurrences to 1998. Michael Collins first appears in chapter 13 -- not chapter 16 as stated in the index! The current publishers' blurb proclaims the author "the only historian who interviewed in person leaders and members of the IRA..." As Jane Austen might have said,"Make of that, dear reader, what you will!"
Despite a tendency towards traditional Irish obsequiousness to Anglo-Irish 'aristocracy', Ulick O'Connor displays an easy literary style, laced with flashes of marginally misplaced wit and poetry.
He does contribute valiantly to multi-dimensional history, by reminding us of the near-forgotten roles of Tom Clarke and the Dynamite Party; Larkin, Connolly and the Dublin poor, and the assassination of Henry Wilson.
In addition he records the elitism of the IRB and tantalisingly labels the Curragh conspirators 'Europe's first Fascists'. Arthur Griffith's influence is also highlighted including his justification of the war of independence under English statute!
December 2001/January 2002
Connolly Publications Ltd, 244 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8JR
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