By their valour

Book Review - By their Valour 

The preface sets out the agenda of the entire book very well, giving a clear understanding to the reader of why this subject matter is so important and further the authors explain that this book was written in the spirit of recording history not setting out who are the heroines and villains.

In Ireland with our different political leanings we have a tendency towards understanding and reading our own history and researching the merits of our own ideological heroes. Whilst not preachy or saccharine this book encourages us to examine the lives of women from our own tradition and also those who would most certainly be our political opposites and if not using too strong a language our sworn enemies.

The book covers the last 100 years or so of female political figures in Irish history. Starting in 1911, charting events through the 1913 lockout, 1916 and beyond it gives us information and background on many key Republican women most of which you will have heard of but of course necessary to include. The lesser known women for me are probably more of interest, a Miss Bridie O'Neill dominates a few a few pages as the only woman interned during the border campaign era, this is where the book comes into it's own, providing the reader with exclusive documents that outline the shock and seriousness of a female being interned at that time.

They do not skimp over the female Republican Prisoners in Armagh jail, explaining firmly how their protests and determination matched that of their male comrades held in Long Kesh. It includes also some details of the small number of female loyalist prisoners, their conditions, demands and protests. 

In modern times they are not remiss, the internment of Marion price is included to bring us nearly up to date with current female POW's. 

The next section for me was probably the most enlightening being dedicated to British security forces and women of the Orange Order, McQuaid and Doyle heavily researched this area. While not wishing to provide spoilers they expose the deep seated patriarchal system within, while female IRA volunteers by and large are acknowledged as having an important and equal role within their respective organisations, members of the UDR had to get written permission slips from their husbands!

The book finishes giving an overview of women involved in the good Friday agreement era and beyond , Irish and British constitutional Politicians, for me this isn't particularly interesting but necessary to include and rounds things off nicely.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even with the serious subject matter it's light reading. It was worthwhile reading to gain a female perspective of all sides. This is a good introduction to women in Irish politics and revolution over the last 100 years. 

Note: this book review is an entirely unbiased overview

By their valour is available on Amazon at the following link.


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