A new book on the Black and Tans in North Tipperary has been heralded as a “significant history of North Tipperary”. The book, The Black and Tans in North Tipperary, by Sean Hogan, was a timely work in celebrating the centenary of a decade that shaped Ireland, Mayor Ger Darcy said at the launch in Nenagh Civic Offices.
“Every family has its story of fear and trouble during the Black and Tan War,” he said. “This book gives good analysis and perspective on the events and is a major contribution to our history and understanding of our heritage.”
The book looks at the period 1913 to 1922 and examines how County Tipperary went from being one of the least crime hit police districts to being one of the bloodiest and most terrifying.
It recounts events surrounding the ambushes and engagements, the struggle for political power at council level and within the IRA itself, as well as giving detailed background on those in the RIC and Crown Forces who were killed. It also examines the many killings and intimidation of civilians that were carried out by both the IRA and the Black and Tans.
Author Sean Hogan gathered much of his information through interviews with 35 of those who were involved in the War of Independence, as well as utilisating police records in England and the Irish Bureau of Military History and local newspapers. One of those interviews was with Dean Cahill of Borrisokane, who was portrayed by Martin Sheen in the recent film Stella Days.
Mr Hogan said he was of a generation that could recall the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1966, and had read the standard works by Dan Breen and Ernie O’Malley.
“I had, what I imagine, was a fairly standard hero / villain view of this period of our history. And the villains were, of course, the Black and Tans,” he said.
However, the author said there were some “fairly shocking and dark deeds” in the book. “This is not heroes and villains.”
Mr Hogan said some will find aspects of the stories about their ancestors to be very difficult, but one of the things we had learned in recent years was that no side in a conflict had a monopoly on the damage inflicted or the suffering caused.
He hoped the book would do justice to the generation involved, pointing out that many of the people involved were very young.
John Flannery, president of Ormond Historical Society, also stated that many will not like what they found in the book, but believed it presented a challenge to “confront our demons”. He said Mr Hogan had shed new light on the topic.