Many people living in Australia who were born here have either English, Irish, Welsh or Scottish ancestry. I have Irish and am proud of it so it is no wonder that I sat up into the late hours one night absolutely devouring every page of this book.
I was astounded to read in the preface that the author’s family didn’t want him to write this book centered around the turbulent years of the 50’s and 60’s in Dublin. He writes ~
“Even members of my own family who were never political activists do not wish to be named. Some have even asked why I need to write about it at all”
I believe there are some things that need to be told, especially when there is suffering involved and when it is about important happenings in history.
It seems to me after reading this very powerful book there were men and women who stood defiant for what they believed in for good reason. It was 1798 when the Irish first declared their intention to become independent and rule their own country. It wasn’t until the late 1940s when Taoiseach, John Costello, declared that the name Eire would now be replaced to be known in the future as the Republic of Ireland.
Ireland has had a tumultuous history and the Irish people have fought long and hard for their independence to gain international recognition and independence. For whatever reasons, there has been a lot of blood spilt in Ireland.
After all of that has been written in the history books, this book is about the grass roots of a great country divided in two but strong on tradition. To be brought before the Green Cloth (a tradition from the Guilds which existed in Ireland) was to be judged by the Elders for an achievement or for shame.
In 1953 Seamus joined his father and travelled to Yorkshire for work as there was very little work in Ireland. For years Seamus’s mother had seen her husband travel to England to work and now her son was doing the same. You either worked or you starved.
J. A. O’Brien has spent most of his life in Australia where the family finally emigrated to. This story is simply the before and after story of one who became caught up in the events of the time. J. A. O’Brien, known as Seamus, was only very much a ‘bit player’ during the dramatic years of the fifties ‘border campaign’ of Ireland, but he tells his bit from the heart.
“I loved this little bit of history about a big period of sadness that happened in a proud country where people stood solid for what they believed to be right and just. A powerful story written from a heart that witnessed the country he loved torn in two.”
John Morrow’s — Pick of the Week