07 Dec 2021

Longford Leader gallery: Plaudits aplenty as 'Longford's Republican Story 1900-2000' hits shelves

A 'titan book' and a piece of history 'that will never be forgotten for generations to come'.


Just two of the superlatives which were used over the past seven days to describe the long awaited publication of Longford's Republican Story 1900-2000.

The book, which took renowned Colmcille historian Seán Ó Súilleabháin five years to write, is arguably the greatest blow by blow account of Longford's struggle for independence.

From the election of Longford Leader newspaper founder and Anti-Parnellite JP Farrell in 1895, the publication delves into the tooings and froings of Longford's historical past with significant attention also given to former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds' involvement in the brokering of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

For its author, the decision to pen such an encyclopedic account of Longford's republican past, was in part influenced by his son Cormac's Leitrim equivalent two years earlier.

“I also wanted to do justice to all the men and women who fought for our independence,” said an emotional sounding Seán as he addressed around 100 attendees at last Monday night's launch in Colmcille Community Centre.

“We owe them a great debt for the way in which they kept republicanism alive.”

Seán spoke of how Longford, outside of Munster, was one of the strongholds of the IRA during the War of Independence
The amiable north Longford man, who stepped down from his role as Leitrim County Librarian in 2012 after more than four decades of unstinting service, paid testimony to the likes of famed War of Independence leader Sean MacEoin and former Republican Sinn Fein leader Ruairí Ó Brádaigh who dominated large swathes of the 590 page book.

“Alongside Dan Breen and Tom Barry, MacEoin was one the greatest (IRA) leaders, and to (Michael) Collins, he was invaluable,” said Seán.

There were warm anecdotes too of a select number of other notable Republican greats, typified by hunger striker Martin Hurson and Sean Lynch.

A special presentation of a signed copy of the finished product was made to the former's fiancee, Bernadette Donnelly who was among a crowd of around 100 interested observers last Monday night.

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh's son, Mait, launched the book, revealing how every aspect of socio-political life was examined to an ultra scrupulous degree.

“The book tells of hundreds of men and women who were to take on the bull with the fiery tale-the British Empire.

“It is without doubt a tremendous example of local history at its best,” he said, adding how he hoped its inception would provide the springboard for further studies.

Those stirring words were replicated barely 48 hours later in Longford as the county town's library played host to a similar launch.

Cathaoirleach Cllr Peggy Nolan joked over how she had misplaced her pre=prepared speech as she took to address those in attendance.

“The only way you can describe this is to call it a titan book,” she said.

“Every single page you turn to, the passion just leaps out at you.”

Local politicians, including Senator Micheal Carrigy and Longford-Westmeath TD Joe Flaherty likewise spoke.

Mr Flaherty said the book was undoubtedly “one of the finest local history books ever produced”.

From the evidence of last week and the rapturous welcome afforded to it by Longford's wider public, he might not be far wrong.

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