NEESON, Eoin: The life and Death of Michael Collins

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NEESON, Eoin. The Life and Death of Michael Collins. Illustrated. 139 TLS FROM 'THE SOLE SURVIVOR OF BEAL NA mBLATH' Cork: The Mercier Press, 1968. pp. 163, [1]. Black cloth, titled in gilt. Detailed map of the ambush at Béal na mBlath on endpapers. Loosely inserted is a most interesting two and a half page (quarto) typed letter signed from Jim Kearney, Peace Commissioner, Upper Castle Road, Bandon, County Cork, dated 27.3.91. A very good copy in lightly frayed dust jacket.

"Eoin Neeson (1927-2011), journalist, historian and formerly Director of the Government Information Bureau. He always wanted to be a writer and cut his teeth as a journalist in the provincial press. He served as editor of 'The Kerryman' and later moved to the 'Evening Mail'. In 1961 he joined the staff of Telefis Eireann. He was the author of several books, pioneering works on aspects of Irish history notably 'The Civil War 1922-23', 'The Life and Death of Michael Collins' and 'A History of Irish Forestry'.
He took strong exceptions to reviews of his books and he alleged in one article that the reviewers assessment was informed by ""prejudice and spleen"". He was also involved in controversy over Roger Casement's 'Black Diaries'.
In his letter Jim Kearney refers to a statement that he sent to the National Newspapers on the 22/1/91 ""As only a few of the newspapers published the full statement, and because I believe it is important that students should have the correct version of history I have decided to send a copy of the statement to the Universities and Keepers of Manuscripts."" In that statement he referred to Meda Ryans book 'The Day Michael Collins was Shot Dead': ""I am the sole survivor of the Beal na mBlath ambush (not mentioned in Tim Pat Coogan's book) and am adamant that truth should be foremost when it comes to history."" He refers to inaccuracies in Coogan's work on Collins especially in the chapters that deals with the ambush ""As one of the three engineers with the Column who had the responsibility of laying the mine that day, and as the only survivor I give the other two names here: John Callaghan and Timmy Sullivan. The four men who participated in the ambush (in the direct line of fire) were: John Callaghan, Timmy Sullivan, Sonny O'Neill and myself."" He goes on to state that many details regarding the activities of the Republicans on the 22 August 1922 and the previous days and also the account of the ambush, as given by Tim Pat Coogan are incorrect: ""Our ambushes were organised under a strict disciplinary code. For example: We would not have allowed anybody who came on the ambush scene to leave the scene. We would have held 'intruders' in a 'safe' house in case they carried stories to the enemy. He goes on to mention some of the experienced soldiers that were with him on that day, Jim Hurley, Pete Kearney, Sonny O'Neill, Bill Powell, Liam Deasy G.O.C. First Southern Div., Comdt. Tom Hales O.C. 3rd Brigd., Comdt. Tom Kelleher O.C., 5th Batt. and many more"": ""Tom Kelleher was one of the bravest fighters in west Cork as he proved at Crossbarry ambush. We did not have a seventeen year old boy participating in the ambush.""
He concludes by stating that he has given the facts of the Beal na mBlath ambush to Meda Ryan and that he is prepared: ""to make a statement on oath as I feel in duty bound to do so on behalf of my departed comrades.""" 1968 NEESON, Eoin.

L3 7B & L1 4F (Door)

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