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Raids and Rallies

ISBN: 9781856357159
€14.99 €13.49

During the War of Independence, when Ernie O'Malley lay under sentence of death in Mountjoy prison hospital, some notes of his were smuggled out. 'Most of all,' he wrote, 'I would have liked to talk about the rank and file where I found solace.'


In this account, O'Malley provides an account of various offensives against the British in 1920-21, and is his tribute to the rank and file. He took part in three and had first-hand knowledge of the others.

ISBN 9781856357159

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Raids and Rallies
Mercier Press, Cork

Cormac K.H. O'Malley
Ernie O'Malley played not only a dramatic role in military activities in the 1916-1924 struggles, he also later played a significant role in documenting the military history of that period. Apart from writing his two memorable memoirs of those times, On Another Man's Wound and The Singing Flame, he started on a ten year solo venture involving interviews with 450 survivors of the struggle to record their particular roles. He took notes on each interview and rewrote them in a second series of notebooks, all of which are located in the Ernie O'Malley Papers at UCD Archives P17b.

As part of O'Malley's effort to record individual's records, he started to write up those stories, initially in the brigade areas in which he was active and then in other areas. The initial efforts to be published by The Kerryman in 1952 were withdrawn by O'Malley, and he subsequently aired a lecture series on Radio Éireann in March 1953. By that time he had also completed a biographical memoir on a local organiser, Seán Connolly, who operated in Longford, Roscommon and was killed in Leitrim, but the memoir was not published until 2007 by UCD Press as Rising Out: Seán Connolly of Longford, 1890-1921. Despite suffering a serious heart attack in 1953, O'Malley continued his efforts to publish the history of the raids on RIC barracks and ambushes of RIC convoys, and undertook, with the support of The Sunday Press editor, Col Matt Feehan, to write and publish a highly popular series of articles from September 1955 to June 1956 called Raids and Rallies.

After my father died in 1957, I wanted to collect and publish the Raids and Rallies series of articles and even received permission to do so, but it took some years to republish even his significant first memoir, On Another Man's Wound, as Irish publishers at the time were not interested. Fortunately and ironically, over a period of years several British publishers, such as Four Square Books, came to the rescue. Eric Williams included the Kilmainham Gaol Escape episode in his second volume of More Great Escapes (1966). In the early 1970s several Irish publishers refused to publish his The Singing Flame. It was ironic that Dan Nolan, formerly the editor of The Kerryman and then the founder of Anvil Books, agreed to publish the three books including Raids and Rallies. I should note that Mercier Press had also expressed an interest in publication at that time.

Nolan and I were both most fortunate that Frances-Mary Blake, a young woman born in London to an Irish mother and English father, expressed great interest in the life of Ernie O'Malley at that time. She had already interviewed many members of the O'Malley family as well as his former comrades and was in a position to edit both unpublished manuscripts, a project she undertook diligently. Anvil published The Singing Flame in 1978, On Another Man's Wound in 1979, and Raids and Rallies in 1982.

In the spring of 2009 I had persuaded Frances-Mary to help with my project to transcribe the 450 O'Malley military interviews and she was working away at the time that Mercier Press succeeded Anvil Books as publisher of the three titles. She was anxious to participate in this new edition of Raids and Rallies, but sadly she passed away in December 2009.

I wish to dedicate this new edition to Frances-Mary Blake, as it could not have been done without her in the first instance, but also to all those who are helping local history by transcribing O'Malley's interviews.


  • Raids and Rallies