Books by Owen O’Shea

On this page, you will find some information on books I have written and published or co-authored with others as well as books on which I worked as a researcher and ghost-writer. You can also buy the books through the links provided on each page.

Heirs to the Kingdom: Kerry’s Political Dynasties

The political dynasty is a well-established tradition in Ireland, but most particularly in Kerry, where nearly all politicians can trace their political lineage back several generations — with some unbroken representation extending back to before the foundation of the state.

In Heirs to the Kingdom: Kerry’s Political Dynasties, Owen O’Shea explores the grip on power these families have had for generations; how they sometimes exclude new entrants to the political system; the pressures on family members to continue the traditions of their forefathers; the intense local rivalries which dynasties create; the impact of these families on the national political scene; and the dynastic phenomenon in Irish politics generally.

Kerry 1916: Histories and Legacies of the Easter Rising – A Centenary Record

Edited by Bridget McAuliffe, Mary McAuliffe and Owen O’Shea

Frequently overlooked and overshadowed by events in Dublin, the significance of what occurred in Kerry – and the role played by hundreds of Kerry men and women – prior to and during the Easter Rising of 1916 is considerable. Kerry 1916: Histories and Legacies of the Easter Rising – A Centenary Record presents the definitive account of events in Kerry during this tumultuous period and how they impacted on the Easter Rising and the subsequent shaping of Irish history.

A Century of Politics in the Kingdom: A County Kerry Compendium

By Owen O’Shea and Gordon Revington

Scandals, punch-ups, election-campaign shenanigans, bitter inter-dynastic contests and the stories of the ground-breaking politicians from Kerry who made their mark on the national stage and beyond, feature in a new book from Kerry authors Owen O’Shea and Gordon Revington.

Since the establishment of Dáil Éireann 100 years ago, Kerry’s political history has taken many lively, colourful and compelling turns – largely thanks to its wide roster of fascinating politicians, from Austin Stack to Kathleen O’Connor and John Marcus O’Sullivan to Dick Spring.

Kerry: History and Society

Kerry: History and Society edited by Professor Maurice J. Bric, UCD, a native of Cahersiveen, is the twenty-eighth volume in the Irish County History & Society series, published by Geography Publications in August 2020. The edited volume is a wide-ranging series of interdisciplinary essays on the history of the county from prehistoric times to the present.

Ballymacandy: The Story of a Kerry Ambush

*(Publishing by Merrion Press in April 2021)*

Almost 100 years ago, on 1 June 1921, five men were killed in an IRA ambush at Ballymacandy on the main road between the villages of Milltown and Castlemaine in County Kerry. The ambush, occurring as the War of Independence reached its climax, happened just two or three fields from my home and, as child, I often heard mention of the attack on ‘the five Tans’ in 1921.

‘No middle path’: The Civil War in Kerry

The violence and divisions caused by the Civil War in County Kerry in 1922-23 were more vicious, bitter and protracted than anywhere else in Ireland.

For generations, the fratricide, murder and executions in Kerry have been synonymous with the worst excesses of the brutality and mayhem which followed the split over the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.

Other books as a ghost-writer

Together with Bridget McAuliffe of Red Hen Publishing ( Owen has worked as a ghost-writer and researcher on a number of projects including:

On the Doorsteps: Memoirs of a long-serving TD

By John O’Leary

For thirty-one years without a breach, John O’Leary represented Kerry South as a Fianna Fáil TD in Dáil Éireann, making him the longest-ever serving Dáil deputy for that constituency. Following a career at the highest levels of local government, the successful sportsman from Kilcummin contested the seminal 1966 by-election in Kerry South at a time when bonfire-lit rallies and after-Mass meetings provided the political theatre.

O’Leary was propelled into the Dáil with the help of Donegal’s Neil Blaney in an exuberant and thrilling campaign that features prominently in Irish political folklore. From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, he observed at close hand the most turbulent episodes in Irish politics from the Arms Crisis to phone-tapping, from the leadership heaves in his party to the rift with Des O’Malley and Fianna Fáil’s transition to coalition governments with the Progressive Democrats and Labour.

Serving under four different party leaders – Jack Lynch, Charles Haughey, Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern – O’Leary was an eye-witness to the infighting and bitter feuds within Fianna Fáil as well as their many electoral triumphs.

A contemporary of Timothy ‘Chub’ O’Connor, John O’Donoghue and Jackie Healy-Rae, O’Leary also reveals the internal rivalries in Fianna Fáil in Kerry South, which, paradoxically, were often integral to the party’s success in the constituency. Contesting ten elections, and heading the poll on eight of those occasions, O’Leary was a reforming junior minister in the 1970s but was ultimately a constituency man – and with considerable success.

A valuable addition to the catalogue of political memoirs in Ireland, O’Leary’s chronicle sheds new light on the key national political events over three decades as well as colourful insights into the iconic election battles in the cauldron of Kerry politics.

‘A highly readable memoir … which settles a few scores along the way’ (Irish Independent):

The Summit: How Triumph Turned To Tragedy on K2’s Deadliest Days

By Pat Falvey and Pemba Gyalje Sherpa

In the final days of July 2008, 25 climbers from across the world set off from K2 base camp on their summit attempt, keenly aware of K2’s most deadly statistic – that for every four summiteers, one will die. On this summit bid, the mountain – also known as the Savage Mountain and Killer Mountain – exacted an even more deadly toll: in the space of 30 hours, 11 lives were lost.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and in the traditionally slow news period that is August, the world’s media turned its attention to K2, devouring the human catastrophe. In the flood of reports and the relentless drive to be the first with the latest body count, truth became another victim of K2 as the survivors walked from the storm on the mountain straight into a media storm, where details were lost in translation and multiple versions of what had happened created confusion, controversy and heartache for the families, friends and colleagues of the dead climbers.

Irish adventurer Pat Falvey, a friend and mentor of Irish climber and Dutch expedition team member, Ger McDonnell, was deeply concerned about the reporting of the events on the mountain, on the various blogs as well as in the world media. He felt there were many unanswered questions, much misinformation, and he was keenly aware of the trauma that this was causing to the bereaved families, in particular Ger McDonnell’s family, with whom he was in close contact as the tragedy unfolded, and over the following days and weeks.

He wanted to know more and needed to talk to the one person who knew more than anyone about what had happened on the mountain and who had been completely overlooked by the media in the days after the tragic deaths, a man who had spent 70 hours in the Death Zone, 50 of them co-ordinating the rescue of lost climbers. He needed to talk to Pemba Gyalje Sherpa.

Now, in this book, and for the first time, Pemba, a Dutch expedition team member and Nepalese mountaineer, climbing guide and one of the most experienced climbing Sherpas in the world, tells his story of the disaster.

For the first time ever the story of the tragedy is told in detailed, chronological fashion, from the earliest days of the first team’s arrival at Base Camp in May, through the almost three months’ preparation for the summit bid which took place on August 1st, and on to its controversial aftermath.

Pat has spent the last four years investigating, researching and interviewing key figures, not only those who were on the mountain, but also their off-mountain support staff, families and friends. This has resulted in the award-winning feature length documentary, The Summit, produced by Image Now Films and Pat Falvey Productions. This book is based on the interviews conducted for the documentary as well as the first fully comprehensive description and analysis of the 2008 events by co-author Pemba Gyalje Sherpa.