MARTIN, F.X: 1916 and University College Dublin
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McDONNELL, Kathleen Keyes. There is a Bridge at Bandon. A Personal Account of the Irish War of Independence. Illustrated. 100 Dublin: Mercier, 1972. pp. 217. Green cloth. Fine in d.j. n outstanding book, telling the inside story of the failure of the 1916 Rising in Cork, the reorganising of the Volunteers, and the Essex Regiment's reign of terror in West Cork 1919-20, by a woman who lived through those times.
Kathleen Keyes McDonnell was the wife of a Bandon miller and businessman who was one of the first supporters of the Irish Volunteers, in an area that had been a stronghold of militant Protestantism since the plantations of the late 16th century. She came of a distinguished family - Tim Healy was a relative - and her husband William was a prosperous mill-owner and trader at Castlelack near Bandon. William's father Richard was the first Catholic magistrate in Bandon.
The writer tells how her life changed forever after her husband agreed to sponsor a meeting of the Irish Volunteers in late 1913, in spite of his father's opposition. Castlelack became the HQ of the Volunteer battalion, and William was arrested after the 1916 Rising, even though no shot was fired in Cork. Kathleen succeeded in having him released, but as political tensions rose again he had to leave home and go 'on the run'. Writing entirely from her personal experience, Kathleen describes the dramatic events which she saw with her own eyes as she tried to bring up her young family, her husband 'on the run', her home subject to nightly raids by Major Percival's men, and the heartbreak as their once prosperous business was driven on the rocks.
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