FASCINATING BOOK ON VOLUNTEERS IS LAUNCHED
THE lives and times of Irish Volunteers from four Millstreet-based companies, who mobilised during the Easter period 100 years ago, is recalled in a new publication ‘Ready Willing Waiting: Keale, Millstreet, Mushera, Rathduane Irish Volunteers 1916’.
A capacity attendance convened in the Wallis Arms Hotel, Millstreet for the launch of the gripping publication edited by Noreen Meaney. The book sheds new light on the Irish Volunteers from the four local companies who mobilised during the Easter period of 1916.
“While compiling the publication, the committee researched the identity of all the Volunteers and have listed their addresses, which were not included in the Military Bureau witness statements. For the first time, all the Irish Volunteers from the Keale Company have been identified with accompanying addresses”, said Noreen.
At the launch, author and military historian Gerry White focused on the Cork Brigade and their mobilisation during Easter Week 1916 with graphic illustrations that met with huge interest.
Editor Noreen Meaney related the genesis of the new publication goes back 12 months to when the Millstreet Committee decided to produce a book telling the story of Irish Volunteers in Millstreet and the four Companies who participated.
“Millstreet’s story in the struggle for Irish self-determination and land reform began long before 1916 but the focus of this book is the time period of 1912 to December 1916. Recounting the 1916 story through the Military Bureau Witness Statements, newspaper articles and private family papers is just one dimension to this publication”, she said. “Our Committee also endeavoured to identify the Volunteers from the four Companies that mobilised during Easter Week. Thirty names from the Rathduane Company, 15 from the Mushera Company, seven from Millstreet Company plus James Buckley, Church Street who was an Auxiliary Member and we had only eight names listed for 18 strong Irish Volunteers from the Keale Company”.
Unlike the lists that were submitted to the Military Bureau for the critical dates of 11 July 1921 and 1 July 1922, which included addresses of the Irish Volunteers, the 1916 list of names had no accompanying addresses, therefore it was important to give these men an identity, a home address.
“Not an easy task but we were successful in identifying 58 of the men and two Volunteers were narrowed down to two possibilities. This was where the wider community became involved as descendants, cousins and neighbours of the 1916 Irish Volunteers went to extraordinary lengths verifying names and addresses – people contacted cousins abroad and right around the county and country researching and locating photos”, said Noreen.
Having written an account of the formative years of the Irish Volunteers, those behind the publication had a matter to resolve. “We only had the names of eight of the 18 Keale Company Irish Volunteers. It would be impossible to find the missing names unless family members had a copy of pension record application forms which specified the Volunteers involvement in Easter Week activities”, said Noreen.
However fate was with the editor and after painstaking research for three days before going to the prearranged appointment with the printers, Noreen made the all important breakthrough.
“I accidently found a hand written document by my grandfather buried in a folder, the heading read, ‘List of members of Keale Bridge Corps of I.V. in 1916’, it listed all 18 names their addresses and the next of kin”.
Con Foley, Tim Murphy, Jerry Lehane and Donal Dennehy with a momento from a visit by Padraig Pearse to Millstreet in 1915.
Kathleen and Tadgh Crowley met up with Frank Thornton at the launch in the Wallis Arms Hotel, Millstreet, of ‘Ready Willing Waiting: Keale, Millstreet, Mushera, Rathduane Irish Volunteers 1916’.
Donal Cashman and Anthony Kelleher from Kanturk at the book launch.
Editor Noreen Meaney signs a copy for newly elected TD Andrias Moynihan.