One of the darkest periods in Irish history is made that little darker by this appalling account intersecting the history of the Irish revolutionary period.
Since long before 2016 there has been a strong movement to portray the Irish struggle as a glorious revolution, a triumph of the oppressed. And while this is true, what cannot, and should not, be forgotten is the awful acts committed in the name of this freedom. Gerard Murphy's book shines a light on these acts. Demanding they be brought into the light and examined, because, without this, how can we move on as a society?
Gerard Murphy is from Cork, and holds a PhD from University College Cork and lectures at the Institute of Technology, Carlow. Murphy interest in this topic began when he was a child, hearing dark tales about Knockraha, and its surrounding areas. What these stories suggested was that an extremely sectarian wing of the Anti-Treaty IRA had been kidnapping, torturing, and executing local Protestants who they believed were involved in spying and other such “treasonous acts”. What began as a series of articles for the Irish Times quickly got a way from Murphy as the scope of his investigation expanded exponentially.
The more research he did, the mores names began to appear on the list of the dead, but while these names were there, their bodies were never found. So, he went back to the evidence, back to the first hand accounts. And being able to compare contemporary accounts from the IRA versus official government files that had been released in the century since, he saw one striking similarity. Only a very small percentage of these men/boys were actually spies. The rest don't appear on Government files at all.
So, why were these people killed? Where are their bodies? And who authorised such a shocking acts of murder which, in this day, would be heralded as war crime. What emerged was a tale of recrimination and retribution. At this time the British Army had been carrying out their own atrocities; murdering innocents Catholics they believed caught up in the national struggle. So the Anti-Treaty IRA, naturally enraged by these crimes, took it upon themselves to get their revenge.
Gerard Murphy does not have a complete picture, after so much time, and so much lying, a clear picture is impossible. But was clear is that these crimes happened. And nothing was ever done, nor will ever be done to bring the perpetrators to justice. This book is Murphy's attempt to do that in what little way he can.
Please read it, and acknowledge this history because it is the only way these countless under-age, and uninvolved boys will ever receive justice from a state which is happier to pretend like they never existed at all.