I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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A House Built on Sand

A response to Getting Them Out, Southern Loyalists in the War of Independence (drb, Issue 9 Spring 2009)   http://www.drb.ie/essays/getting-them-out In “Getting them Out”, Tom Wall reviews two recent Aubane Historical Society publications: Coolacrease: the true story of the Pearson executions –an incident in the Irish War of Independence and Troubled History: Ten years of Controversy in Irish History -a 10th anniversary critique of Peter Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies.1 The review is flawed and indeed misleading for readers depending on it for an understanding of the issues covered. In this response, we point out the deficiencies of fact and interpretation in Wall’s article. The book Coolacrease describes what was essentially a relatively uncomplicated episode in the War of Independence, involving the execution of suspected informers who had launched an armed attack on a republican army roadblock. The events were well known locally but little known nationally until 2007 when RTÉ, the national broadcasting organisation, screened a sensational and inaccurate documentary version of the events of June 1921 at Coolacrease, in Co Offaly. The first published account of the Pearson brothers’ execution was included by Paddy Heaney in his comprehensive book on the history and folklore of the area published in 2000. In 2005 another book appeared, by Alan Stanley, the son of a close companion of the Pearson brothers who had played a central part in the events. Stanley’s book portrayed the executions as a sectarian murder committed in pursuance of a land grab and his book immediately became a cause célèbre of Eoghan Harris, a member of the Senate and Sunday Independent commentator. Although some voices were raised in the public domain challenging the Stanley account, the RTÉ documentary screened in its RTÉ Factual – Hidden History series was largely built on Stanley’s version of the events and included Senator Harris as its star witness. The programme portrayed the execution as a murder committed by local Republicans in a deliberately barbaric manner in pursuance of a sectarian land grab. The makers of the documentary claimed the alleged land grab occurred with the complicity of Land Commission officials and portrayed the events at Coolacrease as occurring in the context of a War of Independence characterised by acts of ethnic cleansing.2 The book Coolacrease reviewed by Tom Wall contains a detailed reconstruction by Paddy Heaney and Pat Muldowney of the events that took place in June 1921 and a comprehensive refutation of the case presented by RTÉ. It includes several additional articles by other authors on…



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