On the afternoon of June 21, 1920, a group of over 30 men gathered on the steps
of Castlebar Courthouse and posed for local photographer Thomas Wynne.
They were a varied bunch. Some were in their late 50s, others in their mid-20s;
they were solicitors and shopkeepers, tailors and teachers. What they shared
was an unwavering allegiance to the Irish Republic, and they proudly held aloft
the flag of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, bearing the Gaelic inscription:
Behold Friends, Freedom Now.
Rebels in the Courthouse is Mayo County Library’s centre-piece for the Decade of
Centenaries, 2012-’23. The library has commissioned award-winning author
James Laffey to chronicle the triumph and tragedy of Mayo’s first Republican
Council from that heady midsummer’s day in 1920 through the heroic and, at
times, seemingly hopeless struggles of the War of Independence. The men on the
courthouse steps would come face to face with injury, torture, imprisonment and
death itself in their tireless pursuit of an independent Ireland. And then, having
tasted victory with the Truce of 1921, old alliances were abruptly sundered and
life-long enmities engendered when Mayo became bitterly divided in the Civil
Drawing on many previously unpublished sources, James Laffey presents a
compelling and heartbreaking portrait of a county at war from 1920-‘25. Rebels
in the Courthouse recounts this turbulent era through the personal stories of
those who were on the frontline in the fight for freedom. The book also sheds a
fascinating light on the lives of ordinary citizens in one of the poorest counties in
Ireland during a period that came to define 20 th -century Ireland.
This is a story of hope and hardship, of friendships and feuds, of legacy and loss.
It is the story of Mayo and its people in a time of revolution.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Foxford native James Laffey has been editor of the Western People since 2004. He
is the author of several books, including The Road to 51: The Making of Mayo
Football (winner GAA McNamee Award 2011) and Will Galway Beat Mayo: How a
1960s’ GAA Rivalry Reawakened the West. He co-authored the book Powering the
West (with Christy Loftus), which won Best Local Heritage Book at Listowel
Writers’ Week in 2016.
ABOUT MAYO COUNTY LIBRARY
Rebels in the Courthouse is the latest book to be commissioned and published by
Mayo County Library. Previous works include Public Spirited People: 1899-
1909 by Joe McDermott (1999), The Story of Mayo by Rosa Meehan
(2004) and Mayo County Council - Years of Transition: 1909-1919 by
Christy Loftus and Pádraig Hughes (2017).
Rebels in the Courthouse - Mayo in a Time of Revolution 1920 - 1925
- Product Code: James Laffey
- Availability: In Stock