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LETTER: False surrender at Kilmichael?

July 22nd, 2017 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – Eve Morrison seems to have abandoned identifying William Chambers as the mystery man Peter Hart interviewed six days after Ned Young, the last Kilmichael Ambush participant, died (letters, July 15th).

She has instead criticised my literary style, expressed in too many words. I understand why from her viewpoint none would be preferable.

Alas, Eve Morrison's attempt to refute my assertion that Ned Young twice affirmed a false surrender at Kilmichael, on the Chisholm tapes, is refuted by her repetition of Young's affirmation: ‘They (other Kilmichael volunteers) told me afterwards that they said that the Tans said “We surrender” and then started to fire again.'

Eve Morrison might criticise herself for contributing in 2012: ‘Young told (the late Fr John) Chisholm that he had seen (John) Lordan bayonet an Auxiliary, and that after the ambush members of the column had informed him that this Auxiliary had surrendered falsely.'

I am aware that Young did not personally witness the false surrender. His Bureau of Military Witness Statement records him pursuing an escaping Auxiliary, while the main fighting was proceeding.

Morrison should consider this: IRA volunteers who spoke to Young affirmed and witnessed a false surrender. In these circumstances, it is hard to see what ambush commander Tom Barry got wrong in Guerilla Days in Ireland. Is Morrison implying that participants started lying to each other when the fighting stopped?

To repeat, Young twice affirmed a false surrender at Kilmichael on the Chisholm tapes. Peter Hart did not report that once in The IRA and its Enemies.

I am pleased that, as part of this discussion, Eve Morrison has revealed more of Ned Young's Chisholm tapes transcript. If the editor forbears, Eve Morrison may eventually eke out the lot. I published Jack O'Sullivan's Kilmichael portion in ‘Examining Peter Hart' (2014).

I hope that explanation is succinct and clear. I decline Eve Morrison's suggestion that I pick a fight with Meda Ryan. I admire Ryan's work as a historian too much to take up the offer. I like Barry Keane's research too, and welcome his intervention last week also.

It is unfortunate that the West Cork History Festival has ignored impressive local talent, represented by Keane and Ryan, in favour of imported, less well-informed, speakers.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Niall Meehan, 

Faculty Head, 

Journalism & Media,

Griffith College, 

Dublin.

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