The Irish Republican Brotherhood 1914 – 1924


John O’Beirne Ranelagh

‘A determined effort to stamp out this dangerous body, versed as it has always been in murder and intrigue, might have cost many lives but would have freed Ireland from a terror whence no good thing can come …’

This description of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) by the head of the Irish post office after the 1916 Rising encapsulates the importance of an organisation without which there would have been no Rising, no IRA and no War of Independence. Yet its legacy remained obscured by the intense secrecy under which it operated, until now.

In The Irish Republican Brotherhood 1914–1924, John O’Beirne Ranelagh lifts the veil on the fascinating story of the IRB during the most critical phase of its campaign for Irish independence. With a father who was a member of the IRB and took part in the Easter Rising, War of Independence and the Civil War as an anti-Treaty officer, he had unique access to the generation of men and women who populated its ranks, many of whom refused to be interviewed by anyone else. Using personal testimonies from almost 100 key figures he interviewed, such as Éamon de Valera, Sheila Humphries, Emmet Dalton, Todd Andrews, Vinnie Byrne and Moss Twomey, as well as new archival material, Ranelagh unravels the true influence of the organisation to which Michael Collins pledged his foremost loyalty.

An enthralling exploration of secret societies, political manoeuvres and personal sacrifices, this book casts new light on a pivotal chapter in Ireland’s quest for independence. This is the hitherto unpublished chapter in modern Irish history.

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