They Put The Flag a-Flyin'
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The contribution made by the Volunteers of County Roscommon and surrounding counties to the 1916-1923 quest for Irish freedom is oft overshadowed by stories and exploits which took place in more-populous counties. Yet the blood of these Volunteers was just as red and their lives were just as dear.
This is their tribute — the story of common people doing uncommon things with a courage and dedication which consumed their energies, their youth, and often their lives. It is a tale that begs to be told — one that reflects the impact made by similar events and efforts which occurred in villages and townlands all over Ireland.
568 pages long, hard cover bound on an 8 1/2 by 11" format, 400 pictures, quality paper throughout, graced by an original watercolour of the Shankill Monument on the jacket cover. The book concludes with a 38 page index (triple column) which includes all Volunteers' names in Roscommon and many in surrounding counties, place names, and themes addressed in the story section of the book.
They Put The Flag A Flyin' provides the reader with four distinct vantage points from which to view the author's report. The first section reads as an unfolding story filled with quotes, comments of those who were there, and notations listing the men who took part in the various engagements. The middle section chronicles a time line of the month-by-month, sometimes day-by-day, events as they occurred in and around County Roscommon between 1916 and 1923. The third section provides an alphabetical listing of more than 2,000 Roscommon individuals known to have participated, including selected photos and short biographical sketches when particulars were available. The book concludes with a Surrounding Volunteers section that includes the IRA command structure of Galway, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Sligo, and Westmeath, complete with snippets of interest about various people in those counties.
When asked the question, "Was it worth it?" he paused for a very long time. Regret shaded his first syllables but vanished quickly as confirmation of his life's work dawned, then mushroomed in his mind: "That's a hard question. I had my house burned, one brother killed, and another brother beaten so badly that he suffered all through his life. But you see...we freed Ireland. We took the first step! We put the flag a-flyin'." What more magnificent epitaph could be etched on the tombstone of a generation?
*Spoken by Pat Vaughan, brother of John and Tom Vaughan, formerly of Cloonsuck, Castlerea. Interview 1994, Boston, Massachusetts