A Londoner and his West Cork-born mother have co-written a novel telling the story of one boy who followed the rebels to Kilmichael on the day of the historic ambush, writes Emma Connolly
A NOVEL re-imagining the fatal journey of the youngest of the ‘Boys of Kilmichael’ is currently on sale with profits going to Marymount Hospice.
The small novel written by journalist Kevin Quinn, with the help of his mother Noreen, tells the story of 16-year-old Pat Deasy, from Kilmacsimon Quay, Bandon, who died at the Kilmichael Ambush on November 28th, 1920.
Released in time for the centenary, this work of fiction is the first of five volumes the mother and son team plan to pen based on the true events surrounding the battle, which saw 18 members of the most feared Black and Tan auxiliary force killed on the road between Dunmanway and Macroom during the War of Independence.
Kevin Quinn, an owner of local paper Southwark News in south London said: ‘I grew up in London but my mother grew up just miles from where the ambush took place and Kilmichael has fascinated me for several years.
‘It was not my intention to write yet another historical account of the ambush, nor am I claiming that everything in my novella is completely accurate. The truth is there is, and will always be, so much we will never know.
‘In West Cork the stories of what happened and how it happened, who took part and what they did, has for generations been discussed in homes and indeed pubs across the countryside. On visits ‘home’, as my mother calls it, we went to the memorial and even followed the route taken by the rebels, trying to reimagine what it would have been like for them.
‘Amidst a host of characters, it was always the story of one boy that went to Kilmichael, or shall we say followed the rebels to Kilmichael, that fascinated me the most.
‘At 16, Pat Deasy’s part in Kilmichael, and moreover his death, is a tragic blot on what is otherwise considered locally as a victorious feat. Why and how he got there has been much debated.’
All profits from the book are going to Marymount Hospice, where Kevin’s father Anthony Quinn passed away in May 2012. Anthony was a Dubliner but returned to Ireland once more in early 2000s, with his wife Noreen, to her home place of Ballinacarriga.
Unfortunately, after little more than a decade he was cruelly taken away from his family by lung cancer.
Meanwhile Kevin’s mother, after many years suffering from a debilitating muscle wastage disease (inclusion body myositis), was forced to leave her home for a second time to be near her children in England in 2016.
‘It was here back in London that both our minds drifted to the story of Kilmichael and every Sunday for over a year we have happily devoted hours reimagining the journey of Pat Deasy and the other people, including even the Black and Tans themselves, killed on this desolate road between the towns of Dunmanway and Macroom, on that fateful day many years before either of us were born,’ he said.
‘My mother, it must be said is as much a co-author of this story as myself,’ Kevin continued.
‘Her father, like so many men and women in the district, played a part in the ambush, although he was not there himself, instead preparing the hideaway – the faraway camp in Granure — where the rebels retreated.
‘Her own second-hand accounts from obviously her father and the then-elderly men she served as a young woman working in the Arch Bar in Dunmanway, gave her somewhat of a unique perspective on these interviews, some of which are very military and formal in their tone and others more fantastical,’ Kevin explained.
‘Each volume on the Kilmichael Ambush will be from a different person’s perspective, on either side. By writing a series of volumes centred on lesser known people, our story aims to show the atmosphere that surrounded the ambush.’
• Ambush – Volume I Pat Deasy: A rebel’s journey to Kilmichael, by Kevin Quinn, is available at Bandon Books, Gala in Dunmanway and other outlets including Amazon (€7.99)