The Irish War of Independence in the Midlands
On 26 November 2011 Custume Barracks, Athlone, hosted the Old Athlone Society's conference on 'The War of Independence in the Midlands'. Speakers included Margaret O'Callaghan, Marie Coleman, William Sheehan, John Burke and Philip McConway. The society published a special journal related to the conference in October 2013.
Introduction - John Keane
Foreword - Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman
Propaganda Wars - Margaret O'Callaghan
Forsaking Nationalists for Republicans - John Burke
The Case of County Longford, 1917 to 1921 - Marie Coleman
The War of Independence in Westmeath - Ian Kenneally
The War of Independence in Offaly - Tom Nolan
Conclusion - Harman Murtagh
My chapter examines what happened in Westmeath during the years 1919-1921. The chapter discusses the structure and actions of the IRA in Westmeath. It considers the efforts that the IRA undertook to disrupt the activities of the police and British military and briefly places those actions in the wider context of IRA activity across the country. The paper attempts to explain why the county was, in terms of military activity, relatively quiet during the war.
The chapter also highlight the activities of the British army and the police. Reprisals, such as the attack on the Athlone print-works, are relatively well-known but, to what extent, were the Black and Tans or Auxiliaries active in the region? Who did they target for reprisals and why? The paper details those who were targeted by the IRA and assesses the circumstances surrounding the shootings of spies in the county as well as the burnings of large houses. The paper also outlines some possible areas of future research into the history of Westmeath during that extraordinary time in Irish history.
Return to Other Writing