Some 60 years after the Great Hunger, Home Rule seems a real possibility under John Redmond's Parliamentary Party in the years leading up to the 'War to end all Wars'. Trade in Ballina and surrounding areas is improving for local merchants who were confident enough to compete aggressively with Lipton's and John Hughes Ltd, companies that would today be described as multinational chains.
For the poor who lived in the back lanes and tenements, without indoor toilets or running water, matters are getting better too, if only margainally. Those attaining their 70th birthday are now drawing the pension, and letters bearing money are arriving from siblings who have had to emigrate to the US and Britian.
The political mood is also changing. The GAA and the Gaelic League are gaining traction and the mood of the populace is becoming more assured and determined. Strong characters are emerging. Schoolteachers are beginning to inculcate a love of Irish History. And when the Volunteers are formed and draw young men in huge numbers to protect the green shoots of nationalism, the country marches to a more strident tune. Yes, many of these Volunteers rush to join the Great War - and will die in their thousands - but some stay home and begin to hammer a wedge in the mighty plank of the Empire, beginning with the Easter Rising.
The War of Independence will follow and lead to a Treaty over which brother would fight brother in a bloody and divisive Civil War. So while one war becomes three, the people of Ballina and its environs somehow get on with living. They have to. Mouths have to be fed, the commandments to be obeyed, the challenges of perennial emigration to be shouldered, and in all the cut - and - thrust, a new layer of social history has to be negotiated.
The players and the issues at this pivotal epoch of Ballina's history are brought to life again by Terry Reilly in a forensic and compelling narrative.
Ballina One Town, Three Wars & More (Hardback)
- Product Code: Terry Reilly
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