A SYNOPSIS :
By Tommy Mooney
The book will be launched at the County Museum in Dungarvan, Co.Waterford on Fri 8th June at 7.30 pm
CRY OF THE CURLEW
(A History of the Irish Volunteers in West Waterford 1913 – 1922.)
This book traces the action of the War of Independence in West Waterford from the founding of the Irish Volunteers in 1913 to the outbreak of the Civil War at the Four Courts , Dublin in June 1922.
Many of those named in the book were well known to the author and several were relatives. The information that the book contains was gleaned from conversations remembered, the Witness Statements of West Waterford men from the Bureau of Military History, now in the public domain, and various other documents . Some of these were also made available by the same Bureau and others were given by Military Organisations and Civil organisations, both here and in the UK. Other documents were freely given by relatives of some of the Volunteers.
At the time of the War of Independence the West Waterford area was served by the G.S. & W. Railway and many of the local IRA Flying Column’s activities against the British forces were carried out in proximity to this line. The Comeragh mountains to the North was the principal area of refuge for the column, particularly in it’s early days, but the Drum Hills, to the South, and Knockmealdown mountains to the West provided many places of safety also.
Generally speaking, the Volunteers of West Waterford were the same age as the century in which they lived and, in fact, the Column Commandant, George Lennon is held to have been the youngest in the country to hold such a command. A youthful Lennon, it is more than likely, suffered a crisis of conscience after March 1921, when his duty, as he saw it, forced him to place a death shot in the head of a man he knew. The firing squad had hit the RIC man involved with only two bullets which may not have killed him immediately.
There is information in this book also of a more mundane nature, belying the environment of danger from arrest or perhaps worse, in which the Volunteers were living. There is a description of how non involved people attempted to carry on living in as normal a way as possible. There are accounts also, of the major actions carried out by the officers and men of the West Waterford (2nd) Brigade at Ardmore, Piltown , Durrow and the Burgery and a daring escape from the Island Prison on Spike in Cork Harbour. There is mention of some actions that involved West Waterford men in the Youghal area and vice versa on this side of the Blackwater.
The Volunteers must have felt that a certain triumph had been theirs when the Truce was unexpectedly announced to them in July 1921 but most were aware that the outcome had been at best, a stalemate. There is no doubt though, that they had succeeded in disrupting the administration of British rule in West Waterford to the extent that the Government were ultimately forced to deploy more than two thousand troops, including the infamous Black and Tans, in the region. Even with this enormous deployment,Crown forces had to operate in large motorised columns for fear of attack by the time that the cease fire was agreed.