Ireland's struggle for freedom reaches back much further into the annals of history than most of us can imagine. Since the eleventh century, when legendary king Brian Boru united the chieftains of Ireland to resist Viking invasion, countless individual leaders have fought to preserve and protect Ireland's political and cul-tural autonomy. In a chronicle of unprecedented breadth and authority, For the Cause of Liberty tells the stories of these heroes -- including both men and women, Catholics and Protestants -- who enabled the Irish to free themselves from the yoke of colonial oppression.
Journalist Terry Golway reconstructs the entire thousand-year history of Irish nationalism, covering each benchmark event in Ireland's political evolution and presenting a vivid, epic tale of both the famous and unsung patriots who changed the course of Ireland's history. Among these are 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; and Bobby Sands, an IRA militant who died on a hunger strike in 1981, calling international attention to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
The engaging and admirable story of how the Irish have saved themselves, For the Cause of Liberty is a peerless work of scholarship, and it offers a fresh context for the ongoing discussion of Ireland's political future.
Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, Golway, an historian (Irish Rebel: John Devoy and America's Fight for Ireland's Freedom, etc.) and political columnist at the New York Observer, offers an essential short course in Irish history, spanning 1,000 years and encompassing events familiar to every Irish high school student but not well-known outside the Emerald Isle. Golway crafts a dramatic tale, placing various episodes in a broad context that will enlighten an audience familiar with, say, the founding of Ireland's Abbey Theatre but not with the theater's role in Irish revolution. The focus is on the people who risked life and limb in defense of their homeland. Readers will meet the full spectrum of well-known heroes, such as Wolfe Tone, Daniel O'Connel and Michael Collins. They will also be introduced to a bevy of courageous unknowns, including the late 18th century's Father Murphy of Boolavogue, who initially urged rebellious parishioners to disarm but then, when faced with British violence, became a rebel leader, telling his followers it would be better "to die like men than to be butchered like dogs in the ditches." Ireland's nationalist heroes include a significant number of women, whose tales are recounted here in admirable terms. Those who are familiar with modern Irish history may question the inclusion of certain persons in this gallery; politician Gerry Adams, for instance, remains a controversial figure, and the former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, may strike some as decidedly unheroic. Yet, on the whole, this is an energetic and deeply informative work whose author makes a strong plea for a new type of heroism dedicated to preserving peace in Ireland.