No Middle Path: The Civil War in Kerry
The violence and divisions caused by the Irish Civil War of 1922–23 were more vicious, bitter and protracted in County Kerry than anywhere else in Ireland. No Middle Path offers an engrossing account of the terrible events in Kerry, and their shocking and enduring legacy.
The violence and divisions caused by the Irish Civil War of 1922–23 were more vicious, bitter and protracted in County Kerry than anywhere else in Ireland. For generations, the fratricide, murder and executions that occurred there have been synonymous with the worst excesses of the brutality which followed the split over the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.
In this compelling new history of the conflict in his native county, Owen O’Shea offers fresh insights into atrocities such as the landmine executions at Ballyseedy and Knocknagoshel, and their cover-ups, and also the misery and mayhem of the conflict for the wider population. The immense trauma and hardship faced by combatants and their families, as well as the legacy of ill health and psychological scars left on survivors are explored for the first time. Also presented is a catalogue of the intimidation, destruction and lawlessness which severely affected civilians who had no involvement in the war but suffered greatly, sometimes losing their lives.
No Middle Path offers an engrossing account of the terrible events in Kerry, and their shocking and enduring legacy.
About the Author
Owen O’Shea, from Milltown, Co. Kerry, is a historian and author of several books on history and politics in his native county. A former press officer with the Labour Party, and a former print and broadcast journalist, O’Shea currently works as Media, Communications and Customer Relations Officer with Kerry County Council. He is an Irish Research Council-funded PhD student at University College Dublin, researching electioneering and politics in Kerry in the decade after the Civil War.
Introduction: ‘One fella called us Irish bastards and he was an Irishman himself’
1. ‘The bones of the dead Republicans will rattle in your ears’
2. ‘They will have to wade through Irish blood’
3. ‘For God’s sake, don’t shoot an unarmed man’
4. His toddler child ‘walking in his blood’
5. ‘On the alert for the swag and for anarchy’
6. ‘Then you can mark off Kerry as finished’
7. ‘Human flesh scattered in all directions’
8. ‘It is a murder gang that is going around’
9. ‘They’ll be executed when we have time’
10. ‘A couple of tarts getting a few lashes’
11. ‘Have a heart: love a die-hard’
12. ‘Wipe them out for once and for all’
13. ‘The Black and Tans were only a rumour’
14. ‘Even John Bull did not attempt this’
15. ‘She got mental and is definitely mental since’
16. ‘You would get that for the loss of a finger, not to mind the loss of life’
17. ‘We are near starving’
18. ‘She has become generally listless’
19. ‘What in God’s Holy name am I to do?
20. ‘We never took Free State literature in this house’
Postscript: ‘Maybe it could have been avoided’
Praise for No Middle Path
‘Owen O’Shea brings a mature realism to the documenting of revolutionary Kerry a century ago, underpinned by original, comprehensive archival research that allows him to confront difficult questions and let the compelling personal testimonies of the combatants and their families breathe.’ – Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor of Modern Irish History, UCD
‘… absolutely superb – a very even-handed, detailed and well-written account of a terrible time.’ – David McCullagh, author and historian
‘O’Shea … has achieved his set task admirably in what amounts to one of the best publications on Kerry’s Civil War experience, but also one of the best volumes produced in this decade of centenaries.’ – Thomas Earls Fitzgerald, author and historian
‘[No Middle Path] should be compulsory reading for any generation that takes for granted the imperative of democracy or is inclined to glamourise political violence from any juncture in history.’ – Mick Clifford, Irish Examiner
‘One of the best [books] the Decade of Centenaries has produced’ – Donal Fallon, historian and author
‘Engrossing’ – Anthony Neeson, Andersonstown News