Riverbank to host major historical military seminar next week

Conor McHugh


Conor McHugh



Riverbank to host major historical military seminar next week

Author and former soldier Martin Malone among the contributors to the seminar

The Irish Military Seminar will kick off at Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge next Friday, June, at 5pm.

This event is organised with a special eye on former members of the Defence Forces which gives them a chance to catch up and meet old comrades.

The seminar brings a unique event to the once military town of Newbridge and is a chance for people to meet and mingle with some of Ireland’s best-known historians and authors. It is also a great opportunity for young students of history to engage with historians especially now that history will no longer be a core subject at Junior Certificate level.

The seminar will open with Terence O’Reilly presenting ‘The Glen of Imaal Disaster, 1941.’

Mr O’Reilly is a former artilleryman who served with the Depot Artillery and the Air Defence Regiment in Magee Barracks, Kildare.

His presentation will explore the background events and give an account of the explosion that claimed the lives of sixteen young Irish soldiers on 14 September 1941.

‘The Glen of Imaal Disaster, 1941,’ which has many Kildare connections, will be followed by Martin Malone’s ‘Readings From The Leb.’

Well-known local author Martin Malone has written three books influenced by his UN service as a member of the irish Army Military Police: After Kafra concerns a soldier returning home from Lebanon with PTSD; The Broken Cedar in which a son searches, accompanied by the last surviving person who knows the truth, for the remains of his Irish soldier father; and The Lebanon Diaries a memoir of his five tours of duty in Lebanon.

At 7.15pm Kilcullen resident Col. Desmond Travers (Retd) will launch Witness to War Crimes, by Colm Doyle. In the midst of Yugoslav civil war, Colonel Colm Doyle became a European Community Monitor and subsequently Head of the Monitor Mission in besieged Sarajevo.

He was later appointed Personal Representative to Lord Carrington, Chairman of the Peace Conference on Yugoslavia.

In this overdue memoir, he describes his role mediating, negotiating and persuading political and military leaders of all sides to halt the seemingly inexorable path to all-out war.

He arranged ceasefires, visited prisoner-of-war camps, extricated election monitors and organised hostage releases.

His experiences made him a key witness at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague at the trials of Milosevic, Mladic and Karadzic.

At 8pm there will be a panel comprising local historians and the local media discussing the practicalities and challenges of commemoration history in ‘Who Fears to Speak of '22? The politics of Commemoration.’

The 1916 centenary commemorations were very successful and the 1919-23 period, taking in the War of Independence and Civil War, is bound to be controversial.

This is a welcome opportunity for all to play a part in the wider discussion around sensitive issues arising from the commemoration of participants and events of the revolutionary period. Facilitated by the Chair of the Co. Kildare Commemorations Committee, Cllr. Pádraig McEvoy.

The panel will comprise of historians: Hugh Crawford, President of the Kildare Archaeological Society; Paddy Behan, Chairman of the Kildare Federation of History Groups; James Durney, Kildare Library Services; and representing the media: Shane Beatty, KFM; Vincet Sutton, Liffey Champion; Laura Coates, Leinster Leader; Noel O’Driscoll, Kildare Nationalist; Conor graham, Irish Academic Press/Merrion Press.

On Saturday morning, June 9, popular author Dan Harvey will give the first of the day’s presentations entitled: ‘Zulu.

The Defence of Rorke’s Drift,’ dealing mainly with the Irish soldiers who fought at this battle brought to the silver screen in the 1964 movie ‘Zulu.’

Dan recently retired from the Irish Defence Forces with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

A highly respected military historian and author, Dan has written ten books on Irish Defence Forces involvement in overseas peacekeeping service and also Irish military heritage.

At 10.20 Dubliner Liz Gillis will give an engaging presentation: ‘What Did The Women Do Anyway?

The Role of Women in the Struggle for Irish Freedom 1918-1923.’ Author of six books about the Irish Revolution, including, Women of the Irish Revolution and We Were There: 77 Women of the Easter Rising (co-written with Dr. Mary McAuliffe), Liz is currently writing her next book about the Rebel Liberties.

After a Tea/Coffee break Damien Shiels will give a presentation on another topic of Irish military history: ‘Recovering the voices of the Union Irish: The forgotten letters of Ireland’s American Civil War dead.’

Damian is currently researching the Irish of the American Civil War at Northumbria University. He is the author of a number of books, including The Irish in the American Civil War and The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences in America.

Head of the History Department at Trinity College, Dublin, Professor Micheál Ó Siochrú, will present ‘Oliver Cromwell and the conquest of Ireland: His greatest failure?

Michael is the author of numerous publications on seventeenth-century Ireland, including God’s Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland.

He is currently working on the ‘Beyond 2022’ project, which is attempting to rebuild the archive for 1650s Ireland, destroyed in the Four Courts at the outset of the Irish Civil War in 1922.

After lunch the last session will begin with Anne Chambers presentation ‘Granuaile – Grace O’Malley: Ireland's Pirate Queen.

The life and times of an iconic pioneer and feminist.’ Anne is the author of nine biographies, including the best-selling Granuaile – Grace O’Malley: Ireland’s Pirate Queen. She was short-listed for the Irish Book Awards for her biographies Eleanor Countess of Desmond in 1987, T. K. Whitaker: Portrait of a Patriot in 2014.

The last presentation of the day will be by Neil Richardson, the timely ‘The significance of Irish involvement in World War I: A review.’ Neil is the award-winning author of A Coward if I Return, A Hero if I Fall: Stories of Irishmen in World War I. His other works include Dark Times, Decent Men: Stories of Irishmen in World War II and According to Their Lights: Stories of Irishmen in the British Army, Easter 1916.

The day’s entertainment will continue at 8pm with a marvellous, sometimes whimsical, but often tragic journey, guaranteed to move and entertain.

‘Birth of a Nation’ a musical extravaganza set against the backdrop of Irish history up to the founding of the modern Irish State; featuring songs and music from the period. Script by Mario Corrigan. Paul Linehan, Tenor, Ann Cullen, Piano and Violin, and Liam Quinlivan, Narrator. Tickets: €10