Biography of a military mind

This landmark series, several of which have already been reviewed in these pages, continues with a biography of a truly key figure in the Rising, Seán MacDiarmada, the national organiser of the IRA and the military mind behind the insurrection. Brian Feeney teaches in Belfast and is the author of Sinn Féin: A Hundred Turbulent Years.

As a commentator of Northern and Republican affairs he brings a deep background to the present book. As with the other books in the series, this biography, though brief, makes full use of new material. Here much of this material comes with a bitter irony from the reports of the special branch officers who shadowed MacDiarmada’s every move for many years of his life after he adopted Republicanism. He was very much a behind the scenes figure who wrote little out of an abiding sense of secrecy, hence the importance of this biography.

Views will still be divided on the whole question of the Easter Rising and its unforeseen consequences, with which this island is still living. But these books go some way to filling out the facts behind the mythology that has so long surrounded the events of Easter Week.

The series will be brought to completion by the centenary of Easter Week in two years’ time.