For the Cause of Liberty
A Thousand Years of Ireland's Heroes
By Terry Golway
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9780684855561, 400pp.)
Publication Date: March 1, 2000
List Price: $26.00*
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When England turned its attention toward its neighboring island during the Middle Ages, Ireland found itself at the beginning of a long struggle for identity. The English colonized Ireland, and in so doing wrote the opening chapter of a powerful and violent epic of suffering, sacrifice, and triumph. Over the centuries heroes emerged to lead the resistance to colonization and assimilation. In relating the dramatic stories of these heroes, Terry Golway tells us how the Irish saved themselves.
Among the stories -- some famous, some little-known -- are those of Wolfe Tone, a leader of the 1798 rebellion who cut his own throat rather than submit to a hangman; Kevin Barry, executed at age eighteen rather than turn informer on the eve of independence in 1921; Bobby Sands, an IRA militant who died on a hunger strike in 1981 that called international attention to the conflict in Northern Ireland; and several remarkable women who played pivotal roles in Irish history, among them Anna Parnell, Countess Markievicz, and Bernadette Devlin.
"For the Cause of Liberty" reveals that the struggle for Irish freedom was not a strictly religious dispute; in fact, many of the greatest heroes of the nationalist movement were Protestants, some of them descended only a fewgenerations from English settlers. Terry Golway also reminds us that the United States played a role in this drama, especially after the heavy Irish immigration in the mid-1800s. (Eamon de Valera, who dominated Irish politics in the twentieth century, was born in the United States.)
This is a thrilling chronicle of Irish aspiration over the centuries, a vivid narrative sure to fascinate anyone interested in Irish history.