The violence and divisions of the Civil War in County Kerry were more vicious, bitter and prolonged than anywhere else in Ireland. For generations, the fratricide, murder and executions, and the widespread trauma 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.
In a newly published analysis of the conflict in his native county, historian and author, Owen O’Shea offers new insights into the misery and mayhem of 1922-23, from the perspectives not only of the combatants who were involved in the fighting but also their families and the wider civilian population.
No Middle Path: the Civil War in Kerry, which has just been published by Merrion Press, offers an engrossing account of the terrible events in Kerry and of some of the darkest days in Irish history as well as their shocking and enduring legacy. It will be launched by former minister, Jimmy Deenihan, Thursday evening, 20 October at Tralee library at 6.00pm.
Based on newly researched archive accounts and testimonies, the immense trauma, hardship, poverty, ill-health and psychological scars of the families of those killed and injured is explored for the first time.
‘For generations, the Civil War went unspoken in Kerry, a county in which over 170 people were killed in combat, executions or accidents. Incidents like Knocknagoshel, Clashmealcon, Countess Bridge, and Ballyseedy are perhaps well-known, but what is less-known is the incredible trauma and psychological damage done, which endured for decades.
‘Thanks to the publication in recent years of many new first-hand accounts of the war as well as the testimonies of those who suffered appalling ill health and misery in the years which followed, we can begin to revisit and re-evaluate this traumatic time in our county’s history,’ he said.
Also presented in the new book is a catalogue of the intimidation, destruction, crime and lawlessness which severely affected civilians who had no involvement in the war but suffered greatly, sometimes losing their lives.
‘Because this history is so difficult for many people, including the descendants of those involved, I was conscious of resurrecting traumatic times. But if we are to understand why the Civil War in Kerry has left such a scar on our county, we must listen to, and more importantly, hear, the accounts of those on all sides of the conflict,’ said Owen.