Civil War-era novel greatly anticipated

HIS father fought as a teenager with Tom Barry and the Flying Columns and was a contemporary of Michael Collins, while his mother defied her family to support the Volunteers.

West Cork-born film director Maurice O’Callaghan has written a rip-roaring novel of two families in West Cork during the War of Independence and the Civil War.

The book embraces everything from the battles of Kilmichael and Crossbarry to the assassination of Michael Collins and the Ballyseedy Massacre of 1923.

And although it has not been officially launched, the novel has already generated interest internationally.

Later this month, O’Callaghan travels to New York for negotiations with the TV giant HBO to film the novel as a 12-part series for the 1916 centenary.

The book will be launched nationally in the autumn but is already on sale in West Cork.

O’Callaghan, director of the 1995 film Broken Harvest, was born and raised on a family farm a few miles from the village of Enniskeane.

In this his third book, he has woven the colourful war experiences of his father and uncles, into the tapestry of his epic novel.

Running to nearly 550 pages, the book, which took four years to write, incorporates many old family stories.

“I was born and raised at Laravoulta, a few miles outside Enniskeane — family members still live on the farm which is one of the main fictional locations of the book.

“The farm my mother was born on was at Mallowgaton near Bandon — this also has a fictional place in the book, but many locals would identify both farms.

“My mother’s parents didn’t approve of either the War of Independence or the Civil War but my mother did and she supported the Volunteers and fell in love with my father. He was very young, only 17 when he joined the IRA. He was possibly the youngest in the IRA at the time.

“His experiences are woven into the novel, which is based on real events.

“It not only describes the great hardships attendant upon the birth of the Irish nation but demonstrates the fortitude of our people in time of great duress. In a way it is very relevant to the troubles afflicting the country at the moment because it shows how people endured and overcame hardship in the past.”

lIn Their Dreams Of Fire will be launched by Michael D Higgins at the Mansion House, Dublin, on October 11. It will be available in hardback (€18.99) and paperback (€13.99).

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