The Claddagh – A Brief History


In 927, the Vikings burned a small fishing village at the mouth of the river Corrib in Galway. It is likely that this village was in the area which became known as the Claddagh. The earliest written reference to a settlement in Galway occurs in the Annals of 1124. The city was founded by Richard De Burgo in 1232 and the fortification of the city began in 1270. However, Claddagh village, which had existed before the founding of Galway city, was situated just across the river and outside the new city walls – this separation probably helped to preserve its character and customs.
The Dominicans came to Claddagh in 1488 and built their first church. They were banished on a few occasions in later centuries but returned as the political climate improved. The Claddagh is recorded on maps and drawings in the seventeenth century by which time Galway had grown to a thriving trading port. Portuguese and Spanish ships were frequent visitors and local place names such as Spanish Parade and the architecture of the Spanish Arch in Galway still bear traces of the relationship with Spain.
The dawn of the eighteenth century saw the introduction of civil and religious restrictions following the Cromwellian settlement. As a result, many of the wealthy Galway merchant families departed and foreign trade declined. However, the fishing industry in the Claddagh thrived under the encouragement of the Galway Corporation which was anxious to preserve fish supplies for the local market. A new toll schedule prohibited the charging of any duties on fish supplied by the Claddagh fishermen.
By 1862, it was estimated that 200 boats, of which the vast majority were Claddagh based, fished Galway Bay. Fish supplies went from Claddagh as far afield as Limerick and the Irish midlands.
In his book “The History Of Galway”, published in 1820, James Hardiman paints a fascinating picture of Claddagh in the early nineteenth century and provides us with a level of detail which is relatively unique when compared to other contemporary social histories. He wrote that, although situated close to Galway city, the Claddagh people were “as different in habits, manners and character from the natives of the town as if they were of another country”.
The dwellings were all thatched and housed about 3,000 people. A “King of the Claddagh” was elected and he regulated the community according to local rules and customs. He also arbitrated on all disputes so that the Claddagh people rarely had to resort to “legal” alternatives. His other duties included acting as “admiral” for the fishing fleet. The only visible indication of his position was his entitlement to equip his boat with a white sail which contrasted with the red sails of all the other local fishing craft.
Fishing was the sole occupation of the Claddagh men and their fishing boats, known as Galway Hookers, varied from eight to ten tons and were built locally. The fishing fleet comprised about 250 of these boats together with a much greater number of smaller craft propelled by oars. While ashore, the men were joined by the women who were involved in repairing boats, sails, rigging, and in drying and mending nets. This diligence together with their skill earned the fishermen a great reputation. It was also noted that the Claddagh people seldom lost their lives at sea.

As soon as the catch came ashore, it became the property of the women who sold it in the Galway market. The men were provided with enough money for whisky, brandy, and tobacco and the women retained the remainder to run the household. The women, who had “unlimited control over their husbands” were regarded as more shrewd in business than their spouses and Hardiman writes that although they were “handsome”, infidelity was “never heard of and jealousy is equally unknown”.

The people rarely spoke English and their Irish dialect was scarcely intelligible to the city folk. They did not allow strangers to reside among them and the “general air of cleanliness” was “deserving of special praise”. They tended to marry within the community and a cabin was made available or built for the newly married couple. The parents usually provided a boat, or a share in one, for the new husband.
In 1838, Lewis in his “Topography” somewhat ambiguously described Claddagh as “remarkable for the primitive peculiarity of its inhabitants”.

The travel writers, Mr. and Mrs. Hall visited the area in 1840 and were struck by the appearance of the village and the unique customs and habits of the people. They echo the views of Hardiman and describe the cottages as “cleaner and better furnished” than houses in the city. People were “peaceable and industrious” but if ancient “rights” are infringed, they “become so violent that nothing can withstand them.”
Claddagh was still unchanged when it was described by H V Morton in the 1920s as “one of the most remarkable sights in Europe”. He writes : “Nothing is more picturesque in the British Isles than this astonishing fishing village of neat, whitewashed, thatched cottages planted at haphazard angles with no regular roads running to them. If you took three hundred little toy cottages and jumbled them up on a nursery floor you would have something like the Claddagh. It is a delight of unconscious beauty. The houses have been planted at all kinds of odd angles, one man’s back door opening on to the front door of his neighbour.”


Another insight was given by Stephen Gwynn who visited most of the houses in the village in the first decade of the twentieth century. He wrote: “It was odd enough at three or four in the afternoon to find strong young men rising up between the blankets in a corner of a dark little house. That, of course, is natural in any fishing community, whose work is mostly done at night. But a thing struck me which I have never seen elsewhere in Ireland, where generally men have a prejudice against handling babies or doing anything else that is taken to be women’s work. But here, in at least a dozen houses, I found the women bustling about while the men stood or sat with an infant on his arm – and holding it as a woman does, the arm making the same soft line where it supported the infant as a hammock holds the sleeper. It is curious to see, and very pretty – natural enough, too, when one considered; for the women must be out most of the day hawking their fish at the street corners. Yet more than anything it stamped on my mind that feeling of distinctness and aloofness in the Claddagh and its people. I have never found any other community in Ireland so alien, so shy, and so hard to know.”
Let us end with Morton’s evocative description of Claddagh after dark: “At night the Claddagh is most beautiful. There are no street lamps. You find your way through a maze of houses by the light that falls through windows and open doors….it is quiet and watchful and full of the chirping of crickets….through open doors you see little rooms with low ceilings. They are warm, clean and comfortable; but so small….beyond every little open door you see, sharp as an interior by Peter de Hooch, a woman bent above some task with a fine colour of scarlet on her; now and again an infant cries and a woman’s tender voice soothes it, singing an Irish lullaby like little waves falling on a shore; and in these rooms, warm with the peat fires and loud with crickets piping in the ashes, a red light is burning before the Sacred Heart.”

IMG_0674As we have seen, visitors who took a superficial look at the Claddagh were envious of the environment and the lifestyle of the people. Despite these descriptions of an idyllic life, the community also encountered many problems and, as we shall see, the domestic scene described earlier was not universal in the village.
Even as Hardiman wrote his glowing description in 1820, the seeds of the decline of the village were already sown. The use of “trailing nets” by sail boats and later by steam trawlers began to have a devastating impact on the livelihood of the fishermen of the Claddagh.
The fisherfolk were fiercely independent and were remarkable for their adherence to custom and tradition. But the peculiar insularity of the community, which were admired by outsiders, now served to inhibit the people from adapting to the new reality. Hardiman pointed out that, despite their many fine qualities, the Claddagh people “are still so wedded to old customs, that they invariably reject, with the most inveterate prejudice, any new improvement in their fishing apparatus, which is consequently now very little superior to that used centuries ago by their ancestors.”
In 1811, an effort was made to introduce trawling in the bay but the boats were attacked by Claddagh fishermen and the equipment destroyed. It would be unfair to ascribe all the opposition to a simple resistance to change. The locals had a strong belief that trawling would destroy the spawning grounds and drive the great shoals out from the bay. However, trawlers were gradually introduced to Galway Bay despite various acts of lawlessness by the apprehensive Claddagh fishermen.
In 1846, Fr. Thomas Rush O.P. (no relation, as far as I can establish) founded the Claddagh Piscatory school with the objective of teaching the young people the various modern skills associated with fishing in order that they would be more open to change than preceding generations. This laudable initiative, which was facilitated by a fund-raising trip to London by Fr. Rush, had a very limited impact. Lack of funding, the famine, and a lack of commitment to formal education among the locals were all contributory factors to the failure of the project. By the 1880s the school had given up all pretence of providing a specialised education and was functioning as a normal school.
The friction between trawlers and the Claddagh fishermen continued and there were many instances of sabotage. The Galway Vindicator in October, 1863, condemned acts of lawlessness by the Claddagh fishermen and argued that trawling would not interfere with fish stocks if carried out a long distance from shore. By 1876, a settlement had still not been reached despite the efforts of Mr. Brady, Inspector of Fisheries, who held a public meeting with the Claddagh people. Newspaper reports indicate that the lack of success of the encounter was due mainly to the language barrier.
Frustration at the destruction of their livelihood resulted in the attendance of the entire Claddagh community at a meeting of the Poor Law Board in October 1880. They pointed out that the spawn beds were being destroyed, young fish were being trapped in trawl-bags thereby damaging future crops and that trawlers were running through their lines and nets, dragging them away. The trawlermen denied all charges and the Coastguard were asked to investigate the situation. To the dismay of the Claddagh people, and the fury of the Vindicator, the outcome of the investigation was that trawling was allowed even into the shallows of the bay.
Common sense did not prevail until 1897, at which stage even the trawlermen recognised that the prevailing situation could not continue. By then, thirty-three trawlers were operating in the bay and, following the Fishery Enquiry, they agreed to stay outside a line from Black Head to Furbo. However, the damage was already done. It was estimated that only a quarter of the original number of Claddagh fishermen were still in business. Their gear was damaged or sold and the fish stocks had declined at an alarming rate.
By the arrival of the new century, many of the young men had left to join the British Navy or had emigrated to England or America. Some were still involved in fishing; they worked as deck hands on the hated trawlers. The once elegant, red-sailed Galway Hookers were abandoned by the quays near the Claddagh and most never sailed again. The indigenous fishing industry, upon which the community depended, was in terminal decline. The writer Mary Banim recorded the views of Mrs King, wife of the Claddagh King, in 1892: “Once the bay as far as the Aran Isles belonged to the fishermen of the Claddagh, of Oran, an’ the other people along the coasts; but the rich came in and drove the fish away, an’ now, I’ve seen the strong men weak for want of food, an’ the little children white with cold an’ hunger.”


This is extracted from my family history ebook “Not From The Wind” which can be downloaded free of charge at



Martin Rushe – A Claddagh Sailor



Martin Rushe, my grandfather’s eldest brother, was born in 1882 at Claddagh, Galway. His parents were Stephen Rushe and Mary O’Donnell. When the Census was carried out in March 1901, eighteen years old Martin was living with his parents. He and his father were working as fisherman in order to support the eight Rushe children. This was a difficult time for fishing families in the Claddagh. Their traditional style of fishing using Galway hookers was becoming outmoded because refused to abandon their traditional fishing methods and were unable to compete with trawlers. By 1897, there were thirty-three trawlers operating in Galway Bay. Many of the young fishermen became disillusioned and sought work as deckhands on the trawlers or joined the Royal Navy.

The Royal Navy Reserve (RNR), was founded in 1859 as a standby force of seamen who could be called up to assist or join the Navy in time of war. Training ships were located at various ports around Britain and Ireland so that seamen and fishermen could undertake gunnery and other training.

The records for Merchant Seamen, including the Royal Navy Reserve, are quite poor and fragmented but they show that, on 27th January 1902, Martin received basic naval training resulting in a “TM” rating. This indicated that he was regarded as a “trained man”, having successfully completed the course. The “HM Ship or Depot” where the training took place is listed as “Renmore”. I cannot establish whether there was a training ship named “Renmore”. It is more likely that the training may have been carried out in the vicinity of Renmore, Galway, possibly in or near the army barracks.



 HMS Melampus 1890 – 1910

Martin next received eight weeks training on board the “HMS Melampus” commencing on 5th April 1904. The “Melampus” was a coastguard vessel which was normally based at Kingstown, Dublin. On 1st July 1904, immediately following this training, Martin was formally enrolled in the Royal Navy Reserve.

The records show that a retainer payment of £30 was made to Martin on 13th November 1909 at Galway. (According to the British National Archive, this would be worth about £1500 in today’s money). He must have travelled to Liverpool immediately after he received the payment because he sailed from Liverpool to Boston aboard the “Slovenia” on 13th December 1909. The ship returned to Liverpool on 15th January 1910 and, two days later, Martin collected another payment of £30. His address during this period was Burton Street in the docks area of Liverpool. His seafaring career was on its way.

From 1910 until the outbreak of war in August 1914, Martin’s sailing schedule is reasonably well documented. Available records show that he made multiple voyages on board various ships to places such as Quebec, Montreal, Halifax, Genoa, Constantinople, Alexandria, South Africa and Argentina during this period.

In August 1911, Martin was sent to Falmouth for one months training. He received a “VG” (very good) rating on ability and conduct. He was paid £3 expenses for kit and for travel back to Liverpool.

In 1912, Martin was living at 59 Waterloo Road, Liverpool. According to the 1911 Census, this was a lodging house run by Josephine Dean, originally from Ireland. Nine Irish working men were lodgers in the house on the Census date.

At first, Martin would take a break of three or four days between voyages. However, these intervals began to stretch so that by 1914, the time gaps between his voyages tended to be three or four weeks. This change may have been due to Martin’s drinking habit, which he inherited from his father.

In March 1915, Martin was living at 34 Regent Street, Liverpool. He signed up for a voyage on the “Bosnian” from Liverpool to Glasgow on 10th March 1915. He was to be paid £5 on completion of the voyage and obtained an advance of £2. Martin did not show up for the sailing and was listed as “deserted”. A perusal of crew lists reveals that such desertions were a common occurrence among sailors at that time. For example, 36 men signed up for this voyage and almost all obtained a cash advance. Three of the men absconded before the ship sailed.

A few weeks later, on 16th April, Martin signed on for a voyage to Glasgow on the “Holbein”. This time the agreed payment was to be six shillings per day. Martin obtained an advance of one days payment and again failed to join the ship the following morning for departure.

On 1st June, Martin signed for a voyage aboard the “Sythian”. The tariff was agreed at £6 per month and Martin obtained an advance of £3. This time, he joined the ship as agreed. Ironically, on 6th June, he was promoted to 2nd mate because a fellow Irishman, J.W. Fitzgerald from Limerick, failed to show up for the sailing. When the voyage ended on 12th August, Martin was paid £11.12s.7p.


HMS Scythian

There are interesting notes on Martin’s records during this period. On 6th of July, 1916, the Merchant Navy received a letter from Mary Kelly, Martin’s married sister in Claddagh. She was seeking information on the whereabouts of her brother. A reply was sent to her on 12th July but, unfortunately, the contents of the letter are not recorded. However, there is a faint note (probably in pencil) on his record sheet that he sailed on the “Craftsman” from Liverpool on 15th February. Is it possible that this information was given to Mary or perhaps she was merely informed that, at last sighting, he was safe and well.

Despite the scarcity of details about his wartime voyages, we know that Martin served during WW1 because on 3rd of September 1919, he was awarded two ribbons. The Mercantile Marine Medal and the War Medal recognised voyages with the Merchant Navy in a danger zone during the war years. In accordance with the usual procedure, he was first awarded ribbons which entitled him to apply for the medals. The medals were issued to him on 31st January 1923 and sent to his then address at 61 Session Road, Kirkdale, Liverpool.

Details of voyages are sketchier for the post-war years. In 1918, it was decided that merchant seamen would have to carry identity certificates known as CR10 cards. A duplicate of the card was held by the Navy. Martin’s card has survived and it was the source of his photograph below. The card also reveals that Martin sailed on a variety of ships between 1918 and 1932. There is a further gap in the available records until 1939. On 22nd December 1939, Martin sailed from Liverpool on the “Port Alma”. This ship was used almost exclusively on voyages to River Plate to bring cargos of Argentinian beef back to the UK in wartime.


Some information about Martin emerges from the merchant navy documents. He is described as 5 foot 10 inches tall with blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion with a chest measurement of 38 inches. He had tattoos, in keeping with the tradition among sailors, and these are described on his file. There was an anchor, a symbol traditionally associated with the merchant navy, on the back of his left hand and a cross on his middle finger. A tattoo on the back of his righthand is described as “heart and clasped hands”. While this symbol obviously didn’t mean anything to the person making the note, it is immediately recognisable to most of us as a representation of a Claddagh ring. Clearly, Martin liked to be reminded of his origins and family back in Galway.

Martin’s contact with the family was quite limited in later years. However, he arranged to meet his brother John at a railway station in Liverpool in the 1920s. John has gone to England in 1921. He lived in St. Helens in Lancashire and worked in the mines for five years. According to John, Martin had just returned from a voyage to the west coast of South America. John, who had not been born when Martin left home, waited on the platform until the crowd cleared but failed to see anybody who looked remotely like any of the Rushes whom John had met previously. Eventually, the only person left was a tall, large man who, to John’s surprise, was the elusive Martin. John later told me that Martin weighed 17 stone 12 pounds, was a boatswain in the navy and was “fond of drink”.

John, who was the youngest surviving child of Stephen and Mary and who was quite a small man, was surprised about Martin’s physique but Martin had also been expecting to meet somebody of similar girth to himself. “Where did they get you?” Martin enquired.

Martin promised to visit Galway to see the family and later did so. According to the family members in Galway, Martin drank heavily while on his visit. The only anecdote recorded about his visit involved a fall which resulted in the destruction of a bottle of whiskey which was in his pocket.

He also visited Dublin where he stayed with his sister Ellen McGrath. While there, he also met Reddy Kelly, the husband of his other sister, Mary, who had made enquiries about him during the war.

Martin’s final contact with his family happened when he needed a birth certificate. He wrote to Galway from a home for old sailors in England. It is also thought that he may have worked in a school as a caretaker in his later years.


On 14th January 1958, a Martin Rush died at 13 Parliament Street, Liverpool. His age was given as 75 which means that he was born in the same year as our Martin Rushe. His occupation was unknown. Probably because he was found dead, he was examined by the coroner who carried out a post mortem. The cause of death was heart failure due to chronic bronchitis and emphysema and hypertension. As the death was attributed to natural causes, an inquest was not necessary. The remains were released for burial to R.C. Jenkinson of 48 Melling Avenue, Liverpool. In the absence of family, the body would normally be released to an undertaker or to an acquaintance who offered to deal with the burial. I can find no record of an undertaker named Jenkinson in Liverpool. Perhaps Mr. Jenkinson was an acquaintance of Martin’s who discovered his body.

I can find no other record of a death in the Liverpool area of a Martin Rush or Rushe who would have been born in the 1880s. It seems reasonable and logical to conclude that Martin Rushe, a Claddagh sailor, died alone in Liverpool in 1958. May he rest in peace.



An Irishman in the Great War – Essential reading

Why hadn’t I heard of this book?

I was speaking to an English friend, a keen student the Great War, about my interest in the involvement of Irish men in the conflict.

“Of course, you will have read J.F Lucy’s book,” he said.

He was incredulous that I had not heard of There’s A Devil In The Drum, which he described as one of the best books written about the war. Most wartime memoirs were produced by the “officer class”, he explained, but Lucy’s is one of the few examples of books written by one of the lower ranks. As I read it, I discovered that the book is remarkable and unique in another aspect also. It views the war from an Irish perspective and deals with the dilemma of Irishmen serving in the British Army and the tension and conflict which arose following the 1916 rising.

31AZLR+7JMLJohn Lucey was born and raised in County Cork, the son of a cattle dealer. Following the death of their mother while they were in their teens, John and his brother had, in his own words, “gone a bit wild”. There were tensions between John and his father and, after an altercation, he left home with his younger brother Denis. On John’s eighteenth birthday in 1912, they both enlisted in the army for the usual seven years. Rather than join the local regiment, the Royal Munster Fusileers, the brothers opted to enlist with the Royal Irish Rifles, which had its depot in Belfast.

Lucey’s summation of small town Irish life and the impatience of youth is beautifully observed; “The soft accents and slow movements of the small farmers who swarmed in the streets of our dull southern Irish town, the cattle, fowl, eggs, butter, bacon, and the talk of politics filled us with loathing. Blow the lot.”

As Irish men, he and his brother swore to protect the King “with some qualms of conscience” but they set aside any doubts because, as he writes, “we were full of life and the spirit of adventure, and wanted to spread our wings”. Their basic training in Belfast is described in detail as are the occasional sectarian tensions. He contrasts the more tolerant attitude in the south of Ireland to Belfast where “bigotry reigned”. Among the soldiers in the depot, attempts to stir up sectarian tensions were largely unsuccessful and best illustrated by this response by a Limerick born colour sergeant who returned a proffered orange lily with the words:

O let the Orange lily be

Your badge, my patriot brother.

The everlasting green for me,

And we for one another.

At the beginning of the war, the brothers, then aged twenty and nineteen, were promoted to lance-corporal and each had command over eight men. They sailed to France and were soon in action at Mons. Lucy’s description of the French countryside as the army is resting before battle is evocative. “ …… the mellow sunlight of that autumn, and the perfume of the country lanes; the smoke of camp fires in the still evenings, tall trees at their statleist, and the red roofs of little houses nestling in the orchards and the yellow fields”.

The “sleep-marching” retreat from Mons, the battle of Le Cateau where his battalion lost one hundred officers and men, and many other battles are described in great and sometimes heart-breaking detail. Yet one of the great strengths of this book is the recounting of small personal vignettes of bravery, generosity and dignity as well as admissions of fear, doubt and frustration by men who do not know whether they will see another dawn.

The close relationship between the Lucy brothers is reflected in John’s search for Denis’s platoon after battle. “I looked for my brother and found him. His face lighted up at the sight of me. In our relief at finding each other we then did a silly thing. We gave each other nearly all we had in our respective haversacks, and then, realising what we had done, we grinned and punched each other”.

Just over two weeks later, at the crossing of the Aisne river, John Lucey watched in concern as his brother’s platoon received the order to advance. “I raised myself high over the parapet of our cliff, and shouted at him: ‘Take care of yourself’, and I blushed at such a display of anxiety in the presence of my comrades. My brother steadied for a moment in a stride which was beginning to break into a steady run forward, and looking over his shoulder, reassuringly winked at me. The beggar would wink. Forward he went, and out of my sight forever.”

The body of his brother was never found.

By November, Lucey was in combat at Ypres. He estimated that ninety-six men out of every hundred in his regiment had been killed or wounded during the preceding three months. He describes the scene as he stood among the dead. “Proudly and sorrowfully I looked at them, the Macs and the O’s, and the hardy Ulster boys joined together in death on a foreign field. My dead chums. A silence more pregnant than the loudest bombardment stole over the country, the evening silence of the battlefield. A robin sat in a broken bush on the parapet and burst into song.”

A brief period of home leave in Cork in early 1915 understandably resulted in more musing on his position as he sought peace by wandering in the countryside. ”I would have preferred to pledge my body to the cause of Ireland, still in thraldom. It was her’s by every right and every tradition, yet I felt bound in honour to England too, for I had attested on oath, and I was a British soldier as well as being an Irishman and a Catholic”.

He returned to duty in time to witness the arrival of fresh-faced recruits to replace the “old army” which had virtually been wiped out. By now, trench warfare had resulted in the usage of poison gas, flame-throwers and in tunnel building.

In late 1915, burdened by grief and guilt at the loss of his brother and fatigued by the carnage, Lucy was sent home in a depressed state. He was diagnosed with eurasthenia, a disease of the nervous system caused by combat stress and he was hospitalised for a time before going home to Cork to recuperate. He was in Ireland when the news broke about the Easter Rising. The reaction of the Irishmen in the army mirrored that of the Irish people. Their initial lack of sympathy for the rebels turned to “cold fury” upon hearing of the executions. “I would see the whole Empire damned sooner than hear of an Irishman being killed in his own country by an intruding stranger”.

Upon his recovery, he returned to his depot and was promoted to Officer rank. He describes an approach by a troubled English sergeant who had taken part in the executions in Dublin. “He was the first of a number of unhappy Englishmen who tried, and tried vainly, to square their acts against Ireland with me”. The sergeant unsuccessfully tried to appease Lucy by giving him rosary beads which he said, had belonged to the executed Joseph Plunkett. The offer was curtly refused.

The tensions after his return to action were reflected in the fears of a fellow officer that he might be shot by one of the Irishmen in his command in retaliation for his actions in Dublin during 1916. Suspicions later arose when the officer was killed in his first action. As Lucy wrote; “Already the Sinn Feiners were earning a name for never forgetting.”

But any tensions were counterbalanced by esprit de corps and mutual respect as comrades. In October 1916 he was on a brief home leave and was asked by some of his men to bring back some Irish flags with harps inscribed on them. His battalion was due to be transferred to the Ulster Division, which had a reputation for being “poisonously loyal”. They invited the officers of the Ulster Division to join them at a dinner on the night before battle and set up a table which was festooned with Irish flags and national emblems. The visitors “affected no surprise” at the display and all had a very merry evening.

A few days later, a shell explosion left him wounded in sixteen places and close to death. His war was over.

Lucey remained in the army, married, rose in the ranks and served for a time in Bombay and later at Gravesend. Following his retirement in 1935, he was involved in business and journalism in Dublin. His book was published in 1938 and was universally lauded. He joined the army reserve in 1939 and served in France during WW2. He was awarded an OBE in 1945 and died in Cork in 1962.

This book is a treasure and is essential reading for anyone who is interested in the Great War and particularly in the involvement of Irish soldiers. It is a shame that it is not as well known as the many books written about the Irish War of Independence and Civil War. John McGahern described the excellent On Another Man’s Wound by Ernie O’Malley is a book of ”high literary quality” and “the one classic work to have emerged directly from the violence that led to the founding of the Irish Free State”. There’s A Devil In The Drum by J.F. Lucy is a book of comparable literary and historic merit which deals with another group of Irishmen from the same generation who sacrificed themselves just as bravely and honourably and who deserve our respect and our acknowledgement.

In Search Of Michael Howard

Little was known in our family about Mick Howard. My mother told me that her uncle, Mick Howard from Cappamore, had emigrated to Australia with two of his sisters, had served in WW1 where his health suffered as a result of exposure to gas, that he had “drifted away” from the family, and died at an early age.
I wanted to find out more about him and spoke to Australian descendants of his two sisters. They were able to provide some background information but confirmed that his sisters knew nothing about his post war life. When I obtained his military records, a more complex story began to emerge.
Mick Howard was born in 1887 on a farm at Portnarde, near Cappamore, County Limerick. He was the first child of John and Kate Howard. Kate was originally a Fitzgerald from nearby Toomaline, Doon. Mick was the eldest of ten Howard children which included my grandmother, Catherine Ryan (Howard). During the first decade of the twentieth century, the Howards moved from Portnarde to a small farm at Convent View, Cappamore.
Mick Howard, together with his younger sisters, Johanna and Lillian, sailed for Australia in 1910. They first went to their aunt, Mary Bowers (formerly Fitzgerald) at Thursday Island, Queensland. Bad news awaited them. Their mother Kate, who was in her early forties, had died suddenly in Cappamore while they were at sea.
The three Howards had a photograph professionally taken in Australia and sent it back to the family in Cappamore. Mick was then about twenty-three but his receding hairline makes him look slightly older as he sits in front of his two younger, attractive and determined sisters.
HowardsColourThe two Howards met their future husbands while still on Thursday Island. Mick seems to have been a loner and, over the following years, gradually lost contact with his two sisters. He was employed as a stockman before he enlisted in the Australian army in February 1915. The unit he joined was D Company, 20th Battalion 5th Brigade. On his enlistment form, he gave his Cappamore address and was described as 5 ft. 5 1/2 inches tall with blue eyes and brown hair and was aged 27. He listed his aunt Mary Bowers as next-of-kin.
It is possible that Mick’s decision to enlist was influenced by another aunt. Johanna Fitzgerald, sister of Mary Bowers, was living in Queensland at this time and had married a Scot named James MacGregor. James also enlisted and saw service in Europe with Mick Howard.
In June 1915, just five years after he left Ireland, Mick Howard sailed again for Europe. The Australian army had gone ashore together with the British at Gallipoli in April in a costly and ultimately unsuccessful campaign against the Turks and had suffered massive losses. The 2nd Division, to which Mick Howard was assigned, landed in Gallipoli in August. There was still heavy warfare but the carnage of the previous months had subsided.
The first signs of the health problems which were to plague Mick during and after the war soon began to emerge. In September, he was suffering from diarrhoea and was evacuated from Gallipoli to a hospital ship. Over the following four months, he was in at least five different hospitals suffering from dysentery and related illnesses. At the end of January 2016, he was returned to his unit which had now relocated to Egypt and he was to remain free of illness until May 1918.
Preparations were in hand to move the Australian forces to France. On 10th March, the 2nd Pioneer Battalion was formed and assigned to provide back-up services to the Second Division of the Australian army. Mick was transferred to this new Battalion as a driver and five days later they sailed from Alexandria, Egypt. They landed at Marseilles, France on 26 March and travelled to Rue Marle, near Armentieres in north east France near the Belgian border. They were soon in action. On 27 July 1916, the Second Division, in which Mick served, relieved the First Division at Pozieres and captured the Pozieres Heights at great cost. The Division were involved in the Battle of the Somme in August and again in November.
In March 1917 a flying column of the Second Division pursued the Germans to the Hindenburg Line. At Lagnicourt on 15 April 1917, it was struck by a powerful German counterattack, which it repelled. On 3 May 1917 the Division assaulted the Hindenburg Line in the Second Battle of Bullecourt, holding the breach thus gained against furious counterattacks. During the Third Battle of Ypres, it fought with great success at Menin Road in September and again at Broodeseinde in October.
In September 1917, Mick was promoted to Lt/Cpl Driver. His health also seems to have stabilised by this time. In January, he was given time off and travelled across to England for a three-week break. Did he consider visiting his family in Cappamore during this leave period? Perhaps the conflicting passions resulting from the 1916 Rising might have persuaded him that such a visit was unwise. Or maybe he was embarrassed due to his failure to keep in contact his family since his departure.
In May 1918, Mick’s health problems recurred when he was struck down with trench fever and he was transferred to England on the hospital ship HS Brighton. He was admitted to hospital in Croydon where he was diagnosed with bronchitis. It is possible that Mick was exposed to poison gas which resulted in bronchitis in many cases. Many of the soldiers who, like Mick, fought at Ypres later suffered from the effects of poison gas. He spent time convalescing in England before he rejoined his battallion on 14th August.
Following his return to France, the Second Division fought in the Battle of Amiens in August. In September, it took Mont Saint Quentin in what is described as “one of the finest feats of fighting of the war”. It fought on to the Hindenburg Line and beyond before becoming the last division to be withdrawn when the Armistice was declared.
In early 1919, Mick was sent to England in readiness for his return to Australia. On 13 February, he was given leave and was due to report back by midnight on 3rd March. He did not return and was adjudged absent without leave. This was the sole trace of insubordination in his army files. He finally returned at 8pm on 10th March and informed his superiors that he was a married man.
We can only assume that he met Annie Isabel Neal during his convalescence in England the previous year or during his leave in 1917. Nancy, as she was known, was a waitress in a cafe at Warburton Road, London and lived nearby with her parents.
The couple had a Roman Catholic marriage at the Church of Saint Peter in Chains, Stroud Green not far from where Nancy lived. Nancy was 33 and Mick was 30. Upon Mick’s return to duty a week later than agreed, he was charged with being AWOL. On 11th March, he was reverted to the rank of driver and fined a weeks pay.
On 13th April, Mick sailed from Devonport near Plymouth to Australia on the “Castalia”. He disembarked on 1st June and was discharged from the army on 1st August 1919. He was awarded the 1914/15 Star Medal, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Information about the life of Mick Howard after the war was quite sketchy. His new wife is unlikely to have travelled with him and probably sailed to join her husband on another ship. In any event, the 1921 Electoral Roll verifies that Michael Howard and Annie Isabel Howard were living at Crase Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Mick was working as a quarryman and his wife was described as doing “home duties”.
They were still in the Fortitude Valley area in 1933 when Mick completed a sworn declaration that he had lost his Army Discharge papers in the Brisbane flood of 1931. Perhaps his application for replacement papers was an indication that he was getting his affairs in order. In any event, Mick died in 1933 according to the Queensland death records. He was aged just 45. His death was caused by various bronchial complications including bilateral pulmonary tuberculosis and spontaneous pneumo thorax. Many of the veterans who died in the years following the Great War suffered from similar illnesses. Mick Howard was buried at Lutwyche Cemetery in Brisbane.
I had resigned myself to the reality that my search to find out more about Mick Howard was ended when another avenue presented itself. I was contacted by an Australian descendant of the Fitzgeralds of Toomaline who was enquiring about the Howards. We exchanged information and some very old photographs. Some of the photos I received were taken at the home of Johanna MacGregor, Mick Howard’s aunt. Her husband had gone to war with Mick Howard and his death shortly after he returned home was attributed to exposure to gas during wartime. One photo, which included a young girl, was captioned “Mick, Nancy, Joan Howard & Johanna MacGregor”. This was my first indication that the Howards had a child and led me to the discovery that a baby girl named Joan was born to Mick and Nancy Howard in 1922. She was their only child and was just eleven years old when her father died.
In the photograph, Joan seems to be aged about ten or eleven. This indicates that it was taken shortly before her father’s death. Mick Howard, although instantly recognisable, looks very thin and considerably older than his forty-five years. His shrunken appearance is accentuated by his jacket and trousers which hang loosely about him.
FamilyGroupNancy Howard lived in the Brisbane area for the remainder of her life. She is sometimes described in the Electoral Rolls as an office cleaner. She passed away in 1957, aged 72, and was buried beside Mick Howard at Lutwyche Cemetary. In her final years, she was cared for by her daughter Joan who had married Selby Moore. Joan and Selby, who had five children, have many descendants living in Australia today.
I suspect that the information about Mick Howard’s death reached his family through his aunts Johanna MacGregor or Mary Bowers. It is not clear why the wider family were not informed of the existence of his wife and daughter. Perhaps this was Mick’s wish. He had not told his sisters or his father back in Cappamore about his family while he was alive.
So my search for Mick Howard comes to an end. He endured a terrible war and suffered from bad health resulting in his early death. But clearly, some joy was provided in his short life by his wife and daughter. I prefer to think of him as he is portrayed in another group photograph taken at the MacGregor house in the 1920s. Looking strong and healthy, Mick is crouched in front of the group, a half-smiling, enquiring expression of his face with his arm around a greyhound. The photo is reminiscent of many taken in Cappamore of his nephew, my uncle Mick Joe Ryan(Howard) as he showed off his greyhounds to the camera. It is a image which looks as if it could have been taken on a summer day in Cappamore and Mick Howard looks peaceful, contented and at home.

45 forgotten Claremorris deaths.

When I attended school in the 50s and 60s, there was little mention of the Great War. Our school history books suddenly halted at about 1914, having given a vague explanation of the background to the war. This was followed by a brief paragraph about the Irish 1916 Rising against British rule. No detail was given of the War Of Independence or the Civil War. History teachers were not trusted to have the required level of impartiality in order to deal with these subjects
At first, there was no mention that Irishmen had fought in World War One. Later on, one became aware that some Irishmen had enlisted but there was the vague impression that these were most likely to have been members of Protestant Ascendancy families or the sons of members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. It also seemed reasonable to assume that the soldiers came from the cities and the more prosperous towns where the loyalist leanings of some of the business class were later evidenced by the existence of rugby, cricket and tennis clubs. While researching my family history book Not From The Wind, I discovered that I had three great uncles who saw service during the Great War. Two from Galway who had fishing backgrounds, served in the Naval service and another emigrant enlisted in the Australian Army. However, it seemed very unlikely to me that Claremorris, my hometown, made much of a contribution towards the war effort.
One of the outcomes of the Northern Ireland peace process was a belated acknowledgement of the participation and sacrifice of Irishman of all creeds and political allegiances in the Great War. Of course, these man had always been honoured by the unionist population in Northern Ireland where one will see commemorative monuments in many towns and villages. But the soldiers who were lucky enough to return home to their families in the south of Ireland found themselves on the wrong side of history. At first there were efforts to commemorate the fallen as exemplified by the attendance of an estimated fifty thousand people at an Armistice Day commemoration on College Green, Dublin in 1924. But such remembrance and the wearing of the poppy made many people uncomfortable in the new Ireland. The returning ex-servicemen were regarded with a mixture of unease, hostility and contempt in a country which was now disengaging from British rule. Medals and uniforms were hidden away and the sacrifice of the men and their fallen comrades was erased from the folk memory of the people.
In more recent years, the belated acknowledgement of the Irish involvement in World War One has resulted in the release of much information about the estimated 350,000 Irishmen who participated in the conflict and, more poignantly, the almost 50,000 men who died. A searchable list of the dead was recently made available online. As I did not know anybody who died in the Great War, I entered the name of my hometown, Claremorris, in the search engine.
Claremorris resembles hundreds of small towns in the west of Ireland. The population is now close to 4000 but the town has grown significantly in more recent times. In 1945, the population of the parish of Kilcoleman, which incorporates the town, was 1170. When I entered “Claremorris” in the search engine, I expected to find five or six names but I was taken aback to discover a list of twenty men and boys from Claremorris who died in the War. I began to investigate further since then and have now amassed a staggering total of forty-five names of fallen soldiers who, when they enlisted or were conscripted, gave a Claremorris address. The list is probably incomplete.
Many of these men or boys would have taken the train from Claremorris and travelled to enlist. Others may have already emigrated to England where they enlisted or were conscripted. All identified Claremorris as their permanent address.
Forty-five men. Forty-five forgotten stories. Forty-five deaths of sons, brothers, husbands, fathers and boyfriends with names which will be familiar to any of us natives of Claremorris. Names such as Cunnane, Finn, Griffin, Keane, Morley, Walsh, Reilly, Roughneen, Burke, Healy, Kelly, Connaughton. Forty-five stories which could be fleshed out by accessing their War Records and cross-referencing with Census returns, Civil Records and other databases. What an potentially interesting and educational project for a group of transition year students in Claremorris!
I compared the names of the dead to a list of wills of Irish World War One soldiers which can be viewed on the National Archive website. As if from the shadows, stories about the fallen begin to emerge….
About John McKale who died on 14th September 1914 after willing the money in his Post Office savings account to Bridget Varley of Ballymagibbon, Cong….his girlfriend or fiance?…..
Or Patrick Roughneen who left all his possessions to his wife Mary, who was living in Bradford in England…..
Or Michael Griffin, whose beneficiary was his wife Kate back home in Claremorris….
Or John Weldon who named his father, Patrick in Hollymount, as his beneficiary.
There are a few names which do not resonate to me as Mayo surnames but these have their Claremorris connections too and their own stories……
Names such as that of John Escott, who was raised by his grandparents, the Dunnes, owners of a grocery shop and boarding house at Mount Street, Claremorris. John was just eighteen when he died in 1918……
And what of the exotically named Alexis Denis Bonax St. Ruth? Hardly the kind of name you associate with Claremorris. Probably a member of the Protestant Ascendancy, I thought, or from British Army or RIC stock. But a more complex picture emerges from documents which were attached to his will. His real name was Dennis Mullaney of Claremorris. He joined the British Army and was posted to India with the Royal Irish Fusileers. While in Bombay, he deserted his post and “acquired” the identity of a comrade. After trying unsuccessfully to get home, Dennis seems to have rejoined his regiment by travelling in Derry and he found himself in France in February 1915 from where he wrote a poignant letter to his sister Annie Mullaney who lived in London. His letter describes the shell fire and “fine old places almost levelled to the ground”. He asks his sister to try to locate his girlfriend, “Birdie” d’Arcy whom he hasn’t heard from for three years. He made his sister his beneficiary and asked her to watch the papers for the name St. Ruth among the dead. Two months later, in April 1915, the name appeared. His sister made contact with the military and enclosed Dennis’s last letter to her as evidence. Appended to the letter is a confirmation from his superior officer in Bonbay about the desertion and name change.
There are forty other Claremorris stories, hidden in the mist of our nation’s collective amnesia as a result of our former unwillingness to engage with our complex, disfunctional relationship with Britain. On my bookshelf are two slim booklets about Claremorris. One is a parish history and the other a more general history of Claremorris during the twentieth century. Unsurprisingly, there is no mention in either work of the loss of forty-five men. Yet there can hardly have been a person in the townland who did not personally know one of the dead or at least was acquainted with a bereaved family. Nevertheless, in a generation, all folk memory of their sacrifice was lost.
But this judgement too is unfair. In more recent times, efforts have been made to redress the injustice. At a national level, a war memorial to all the Irishmen who perished in WW1 was erected at Messines in Belgium and was officially inaugurated in 1998 by President McAleese, Queen Elizabeth and King Albert of Belgium. In Mayo also, there were developments. Michael Feeney, who lost his grandfather in the war, urged that the creation of a monument to the Great War dead should be adopted as a millennium project. The proposal was rejected but Michael persisted with his efforts and mobilised local support for the project. The result was the official opening in 2008 of the Mayo Memorial Peace Park at Castlebar. The central monument features the names of 1,100 Mayo men who perished during the Great War and further monuments have been added to commemorate the Mayo men and women who died while serving in other wars and conflicts around the world and at home. Since 2008, a ceremony has been held in the Peace Park each Armistice Day and poppy wreaths have been laid at the Great War memorial. As a nation, we are coming to terms with our former neglect. What a shame that the comrades of the fallen, did not live to see this.
Claremorris does not yet have a memorial or plaque to commemorate the local Great War dead. The names which I have identified to date are

Michael Burke – John J. Burns – Thomas Carey – Patrick Connaughton – Patrick J. Connors – John Cunnane – Martin Davin – Michael Dooley – Thomas Doyle – T.A. Duggan – John Escott – Martin Finn – Thomas Finn – Martin Garvey – Willian Glynn – John Griffin – James Griffin – Michael Griffin – Martin Healey – J. Henderson – Patrick Hogan – A. J. Jennings – Patrick Jennings – Daniel Johnson – Eugene Judge – John Keane – Peter Kelly – John Lavin – Hugh Maguire – John Malone – James Mannion – Patrick Mannix – Patrick McHugh – John McKale – Michael Mitchell – James Mooney – Martin Mooney – Thomas Morley – John Muldoon – Denis Mullaney (alias Alexis Denis Bonax St. Ruth) – Patrick Mullaney – P. Nally – M. O’Brien – Michael Needham – A. Redfern – Thomas Reilly – Patrick Roche – Patrick Roughneen – James Salmon – Patrick Stephens – W. H. Ventriss – James Walsh – James Walsh – Michael Walsh – Michael Walsh – John Weldon

“It is too late now to retrieve
A fallen dream, too late to grieve
A name unmade, but not too late
To thank the gods for what is great;
A keen-edged sword, a soldier’s heart,
Is greater than a poet’s art.
And greater than a poet’s fame
A little grave that has no name.”

Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917).


Addendum – January 2015.

Some of the more numerate readers may have noticed that there are fifty-six names listed above. This is due to the fact that, since compiling the original list and writing the blog, I have been contacted by some kind people who have given me additional information about other names of Claremorris casualties in the Great War. This has resulted in further research by me in order to verify the names from official sources. As further research is carried out on Irish men who had emigrated and joined armies in their adopted countries, I’m sure that more Claremorris names will emerge.

I have added the new names to the above roll of honour.


Will Mayo ever win an All Ireland? – A tongue-in-cheek analysis.

Extract from the ebook Red-Headed Angel, a Mayo based mystery suspense novel by Colman Rushe.

Rafterys was busy with lunchtime diners as Tom carried his tray towards a table.

‘How do, Tom?’ said Chops Egan, who was easing himself into his customary spot nearby.

‘Not bad,’ said Tom. ‘I brought the fine weather with me.’

‘Fair play,’ agreed Chops. ‘Did you get to the match?’

‘No. Sat in front of the TV. We never looked like winning on the day, I thought. I expected better.’

Chops nodded glumly. His downcast look was accentuated by his posture. He ate with his forearms resting on he table edge on either side of his plate as if he was protecting his food from some potential predator. Because of his crouched position, he was obliged to lower his head towards his fork each time he wanted to take a mouth-full.

‘Even after a poor first half, I thought that we might come out fighting after the break,’ said Chops. ‘But we only done worse in the second half.’

His face brightened.

‘Here’s himself. He’ll be as contrary as a bag of weasels ‘.

‘Call them home, Chops,’ said Patsy nodding towards his companion’s feet as he sat at the opposite side of the table.

‘Jasus! I thought you’d be over the match by by now,’ muttered Chops. ‘It’s not as if getting pasted in Croke Park is new to us.’

There was a lull in the conversation as they concentrated on their food.

‘Well, Patsy,’ said an elderly man seated nearby. ‘Out with it. Where did Mayo go wrong on Sunday? You were cock sure that we were going to win.’

Tom noticed that all eyes were on Patsy as they expected some witticism regarding the latest underperformance by the county team. Patsy waited for a few seconds, probably for impact, and then laid down his knife.

‘I’ve come to the conclusion that Mayo will never win an All Ireland and, what’s more, we don’t deserve to. The problem is that football doesn’t mean enough to Mayo people and that’s bound to reflect in the lack of achievement among the players.’

‘Ah, hold your horses there, Patsy,’ said Chops. ‘Mayo people are mad for their football. When we get to Croke Park, it brings the whole county to a standstill. Flags and banners on every pole and car and there’s hardly a person left at home to milk the cows on the day of the big match.’

‘He has a point,’ agreed the man who posed the question.

‘I agree that we’ll go in droves to the matches and we’ll cover the county in red and green. But I’m not talking about that. What about after we lose? I’ll tell you what we do. We shrug our shoulders and get on with things or have a chat and a joke.’

‘Surely that’s the way it should be. It’s not a matter of life and death. It’s only sport when all is said and done.’

Patsy triumphantly slammed his palm down on the table.

‘Isn’t that what I’m saying! But did you ever try to talk to a Meath person after they are knocked out of the championship? Or someone from Kerry or Tyrone or Armagh? They will be so sick that they won’t even talk to you about football. You see, it IS a matter of life and death to them. They hate losing and will not hesitate to blame all and sundry including the players. If Mayo lose a Connaught Final, we are disappointed but we shrug our shoulders and then we wish the best of luck to the team that beat us. But if Galway lose, they want the team that beat them to get hammered. Am I right, Tom? You have lived most of your life outside this godforsaken county.’

Tom nodded.

‘You might have a point. If you drive through Meath on the morning of a big match, the towns and villages are festooned with flags. But, if Meath lose, almost all the flags will be gone by the evening. It’s as if they can’t bear to be reminded that they lost. In Mayo, the flags would still be waving two or three months later.’

‘As I said, it just doesn’t mean enough to us,’ said Patsy. ‘Ask people from other parts of Ireland what they think of Mayo people and they’ll tell you we’re grand, generous, kind people. But the real truth is that Mayo people are too soft. You have to be ruthless in order to win an All Ireland nowadays and we are far too nice.’

Patsy had the attention of all in the room now.

‘Come on now, Patsy,’ said a man from another table. ‘That’s just an excuse. Why should Mayo people be softer than Galway or Kerry people? Them counties won plenty All Irelands.’

‘Emigration, possibly,’ said Patsy. ‘We’ve exported our best people for centuries.’

‘Mayo people have been very successful in England and America. There’s no sign of any softness or lack of ambition there.’

Patsy was not for turning.

‘We exported our best people but the mothers of Mayo kept the soft lads and mammy’s boys at home. As a result, we have bred a county full of grand, kind, generous people who couldn’t kick snow off a rope. Mayo people can talk their way out of anything but, at the whipping away of crutches, they wouldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag.’

‘I still can’t see why you think Mayo people are softer than Galway or Kerry people, for example.’

‘Look at history,’ said Patsy who was ignoring his food and was warming to his subject. ‘Every other county can point to a battle site or to some evidence of violence or rebellion but Mayo people seem to have kept the heads down or taken to their beds at the first sign of trouble. Name an incident of note in Mayo during the War of Independence or the Civil War. Apart from a few half-arsed attacks on barracks – which were probably carried out by people from outside the county anyway – nothing happened. Kerry was a hotbed of activity and there were executions up the road in Tuam during the Civil War but nothing in Mayo.’

Tom was enjoying the repartee and stoked the fire.

‘What about 1798? The Year of the French. Mayo people rose up then and took up arms,’ Tom said.

‘Aye. The West Awake.’

‘Not true,’ said Patsy. ‘The French landed and some Mayo people joined them. At Castlebar, the English ran away without fighting. Then, after a few days on the booze, the Irish and French headed east to follow them. The first time they met some proper resistance, they were defeated. Like all Mayo football teams over the past sixty years, they did well in Connaught but they folded as soon as they left the province and met some real opposition. Any other suggestions of notable Mayo achievements?’

‘According to you, Mayo people never done nothing,’ said Chops glumly.

‘Not the case. Mayo features honourably in Irish history books but not for fighting. The Land League was born here and you could argue that it resulted in the abolition of slavery in this country but it was a nonviolent movement. Call a meeting in a field somewhere and we’ll turn up in our thousands but don’t ask us to fight anyone. Mayo gave a new word to the English language when we sorted out Captain Boycott but again, that was a nonviolent campaign.’

‘If there was an All Ireland title for talking, we might be in with a chance,’ said Chops glumly. ‘We could enter you as our representative. Now, eat up your dinner and give us a bit of peace.’

Patsy winked at Tom.

‘You see, Tom. They yearn for enlightenment but refuse to accept wisdom when they hear it. They’d tax a saint. The Blessed Virgin was right. You’ll notice that she made multiple appearances in places like Lourdes and Fatima. But when she appeared in Knock, she took a quick look around, grabbed her coat and handbag and left Mayo and there wasn’t sight nor light from her since. Is it any wonder?’

Tom enjoyed the conversation which continued unabated. After having a coffee, he glanced at his watch and pushed back his chair.

‘I’d better get back to work,’ he said, rising from the table.

As he was about to reach the door, his name was called.

‘Oh, Tom!’

‘Yes, Patsy?’

‘If you’ve been affected by the events covered in today’s discussion, our helpline is open. Please contact us at the telephone number listed at the bottom of the screen.’

The laughter followed Tom as he left the pub with a lighter step.


Extract from Red-Headed Angel, a Mayo based crime suspense novel by Colman Rushe. Ebook available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBook Store, Smashwords and other retailers.


Attention: Descendants of Rushe, Ryan, Ansbro, Mc Manus and others….

NFTW-AmYou may recall that I researched and wrote “Not From The Wind”, a history of my own and my wife’s families, some years ago. I had copies printed and bound and I distributed them among some of our extended families at that time. I also sent extracts from the book to many people who contacted me about my research.

Since then, much new information has come to light which enabled me to extend and revise the original and to correct some errors. I wanted to make the book available (free of charge) to anybody who was interested. I have recently published the new and updated version of “Not From The Wind”  as an ebook and it is available for download now from the better known ebook outlets.

The book can be downloaded from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords or the Apple iBook Store and other outlets. (Note. Amazon will not accept and list free ebooks from authors so I had to price it at their minimum £0.77. However, they have a policy of zeroising the price if the book is on sale free of charge elsewhere so that this should happen soon.) It is available free on all other outlets.

If you have a Kindle, iPad, Nook, a smart phone or other tablet reader, you can download the book from your favourite ebook store. As you may know, you can also read an ebook on your PC or Mac. Look here if you are unsure of the procedure.

If you think anybody else in the extended family might be interested in finding out more about their forebears, please pass on this information to them.

For more information about “Not From The Wind”  and two other books which I have published, see my blog.