Boots on the Heather
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Kathleen Hegarty Thorne has spent thirty years writing about this time period, first in her history of County Roscommon’s part in the struggle for independence, They Put the Flag a-Flyin’, and working in conjunction with Irish researcher, Patrick Flanagan, producing a trilogy of volumes called Echoes of Their Footsteps, that highlight the IRA’s struggles all around the country from 1914 to 1950. This latest venture, Books on the Heather, focuses a spotlight on the Irish War of Independence and Civil War as it relates to events in County Mayo from 1920 through 1923. The book is divided into two sections: A chronology of events and a Personnel File, in which officers of every Brigade, every Battalion, and every Company are listed. Not only are the men’s names listed but their native place and ranking within the IRA unit are detailed. The 50 page triple-column index is a treasure trove of information about who was who in County Mayo during that turbulent time.
The 385 pages include more than 200 illustrations of men and women involved in the struggle. The 8½ by 11” format allows for placement of pertinent quotes, charts, and illustrations right beside text in which specific people or events are named. In the chronology section, each entry is followed by the source---name of book, author, and page number, or title of the newspaper article from which the information was taken, in case the reader wishes to read more about the person/event or check facts.
Boots on the Heather spotlights the people of the times, not the politics, not the church pronouncements, not the British view of this wayward colony, but the actual humans who stood against and withstood the winds of war. Kathleen and Patrick wanted to beam the light on the young men who tramped the fields, the venturesome who sailed across the Irish Sea to obtain weapons, and the women who sheltered, at great risk, those passionate, fiery, soldiers of rebellious Ireland . . . boots . . .those boots that tramped the heather of Mayo to help create a free and independent Ireland of the twenty-first century.