The Clare Herald’s book reviewer, Sally Vince, looks at books about Clare or by a Clare-based author. This time Sally reviews Peadar Clancy: Easter Rising Hero, Bloody Sunday Martyr by Cormac and Stiofán Ó Comhraí.
From the introduction: “Much has been written about the most prominent people who took part in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence that followed. Some, like Tom Barry, Dan Breen and Ernie O’Malley, even left their own accounts. On the other hand, many who played a prominent part in this period of our history have little or nothing written about them. Peadar Clancy is amongst them. Clancy came from the rural parish of Kilfiddane in West Clare. This parish stretches from the banks of the Shannon in a north-easterly direction towards Cranny where Peadar was born. He is one of two men from the parish who fought with the rebels in the 1916 Rising. The other was Martin Lynch.”
I attended a talk given by Cormac Ó Comhraí on the life of Peadar Clancy – someone whose name I was not unfamiliar with but about whom I knew very little – as, I suspect, is the case for a lot of people in Clare and Ireland. I was very impressed by Cormac’s talk and passion for his subject and bought this book on the strength of that.
Stiofán Ó Comhraí and his son Cormac are related to Peadar Clancy. Both authors have a love of history and both are history teachers (retired in Stiofán’s case). Their professional backgrounds can be in no doubt with this meticulously researched book on Peadar Clancy, who from a modest rural west country background became a friend of Michael Collins and a ‘highly regarded, competent officer’ in the Irish Republican Army.
In some respects very little is known about Peadar Clancy’s life and his name certainly is not one that is often heard in connection with the Easter Rising and the War of Independence, despite the very big part that he undertook. But the authors’ trawl through records, letters, books and papers have brought to light a large amount of detail, which Stiofán and Cormac have combined with their knowledge of the history of the times and the politics to weave into a coherent and eminently readable account of Peadar’s life and contribution to the fight for independence.
Not only is the book a biography of an intelligent, cool-headed, passionate and compassionate man who was ‘restless and full of life’, but it is also an excellent history book as the war is put into a social and political context. There are extensive bibliographical notes to back up the authors’ work and to use for extra study if your interest is piqued, as mine was.
I recommend this book if you are interested in the social and political history of Ireland, if you enjoy biographies, or if you would like to find out about one of Clare’s little-known heroes. I really enjoyed reading it.
Watch The Clare Herald’s tribute to Peadar Clancy.
Available from: Local bookshops (in Ennis and Ennistymon) Kenny’s, Galway (free worldwide shipping).
Find the author: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cormacocomhraihistorian/?