A unique work on the most turbulent period in Irish history and Meath’s participation in it is to be launched this week. Meath County Council and Library Service is republishing the late Oliver Coogan’s 'Politics and War in Meath 1913-1923’ to mark the decade of centenary commemorations taking place in Ireland at present.
The book by the then history teacher at Dunshaughlin Community College was first printed in 1983, and has been long out of print. It is unique in that it contains many first hand accounts from those involved in the tumultuous decade, whom Oliver interviewed for the work.
The cathaoirleach of Meath County Council, John V Farrelly, will launch the volume at Navan Library on Wednesday of this week, 5th March, where the guest speaker will be Peter Connell, a historical geographer and author, and close friend of Oliver Coogan since their schooldays.
The Library Service is extending an invite to anybody whose family members may be featured or co-operated with Oliver on the original work, as with the passage of time, they do not have contact details for extended family members.
Oliver Coogan’s original intention was to record the history of the Old IRA in county Meath, particularly for the years 1919 to 1921. But he found he needed to provide a context for what happened in those years, so he was drawn into a much wider story that included the rise of the Irish Volunteers , the impact of the First World War, the Easter Rising and the social and industrial unrest that occurred from 1918 onwards.
Peter Connell says in a foreword to the book that it is a tremendous tribute to Oliver Coogan and his Politics and War in Meath 1913-1923 that many of the themes explored in recent publications on the 'decade of commemoration’ are pre-figured by research he completed over 30 years ago.
“In the early 1980s, few professional historians ventured to write about this period in our history,” he writes. “For many, the Easter Rising and the War of Independence were difficult subjects to tackle when violence and communal strife in Northern Ireland blighted so many lives.”
The book is divided into eight sections, broken up into different periods from 1913 to 1923, from Home Rule to the 1916 Rising, the effects of the Great War, the rise of Sinn Fein, the Troubles, land and labour troubles, and 'from Truce to Treaty and Civil War’.
The new edition of the book has had the text remastered, with a slight re-edit, and a reworked and expanded index, with more detail included. Newspaper sources have been rechecked, and there have been some additional photographs added. A new cover has been designed by Skryne-based Anú Design, and a limited run of the book will be available at €15. A reception to celebrate the launch of 'Politics and War in Meath 1913–1923’ takes place on Wednesday of this week, 5th March, at 7.30pm in Meath County Library, Railway Street, Navan, and all interested in attending are welcome to do so.