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‘It is all very well to speak of the flame but the candle must be kept going too.’
William Sears, TD for Mayo South, spoke these words during the Treaty debates, referring to the people of Mayo who had endured so much violence it was now time to restore peace. This is the story of Mayo men and women active during the War of Independence and the Civil War, a story largely untold or forgotten. It details the impact of the militarised RIC, agrarian unrest and the Republican courts, the Black and Tans, the IRA campaign, the Civil War, the National Army’s Claremorris Command and the anti-treaty Republicans.
Throughout, there is an attempt at real insight into the lives of participants using eyewitness testimony, for example, eyewitness accounts of Black and Tan atrocities collected by the Tuam Archdiocese in 1920 and 1921. Security within the IRA is examined while the Civil War revealed some shocking indiscipline within the National Army and competent leadership in the Republican Forces. In conclusion the establishment and acceptance of the Garda Síochánaand how Mayo adapted to peace while hundreds of Mayo men and women were still imprisoned is explored.
The myth that little or nothing happened in Mayo during these troubled times is dispelled forever.