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Havoc: The Auxiliaries in Ireland’s War of Independence

In 1919, Ireland was plunged into a brutal war of insurgency and counter-insurgency that ripped the country and its population apart. Tasked with terrorising the terrorists, the Auxiliary Division of the RIC blasted their way into Irish history, leaving a legacy of death, hate and destruction in their wake.

Havoc recounts the story of the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary, considered by many to be the most notorious police force in the history of the British Isles but overlooked as one of the 20th century’s first specialist forces.

As the struggle for Irish independence intensified, Ireland’s regular police force, the Royal Irish Constabulary, bore the brunt of attacks from the Irish Republican Army with hundreds of police officers being killed or maimed in the line of duty. As Ireland descended into chaos, a special paramilitary force of ex-officers with military experience was raised to combat the escalating insurgency.

Formed at the personal insistence of Winston Churchill and acceded within the corridors of Parliament, the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary acquired a formidable reputation as tough, fearless soldiers that did not expect or grant quarter in battle. Utilising their military training and experiences that they had gained during the Great War, they launched a counter-insurgency campaign and were deployed into areas where the IRA was most active.

The total number of operatives that served within the Division numbered just over 2,000 with only 1,500 serving at any given time. For twelve months, isolated and often operating under austere conditions, the Division fought a bloody counterinsurgency war against the IRA and its supporters.

As the insurgency intensified, the Auxiliaries responded to guerrilla style attacks with increased ferocity resulting in extrajudicial killings, black operations and the wanton destruction of property that included towns and villages.

Hated by their enemies and despised by the general population, the Auxiliaries fought against overwhelming odds not only on the battlefield but also within the corridors of power. Twelve months of havoc ensured them a place in the annals of Irish history and a legacy that is still evident today.

Published by Collins Press, April 2017 – ISBN: 978-1848893061 – 19.99 (224pp)

Bbattlegroundattleground: The Battle for the General Post Office 1916

On Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, members of the Irish Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers, under the command of Pádraig Pearse and James Connolly, occupied the General Post Office in Sackville Street, Dublin.

From the portico of the iconic building, an independent Irish Republic was declared. For seven days, this newly proclaimed republic fought a week-long bloody engagement with British Crown Forces as part of the 1916 Rising that would see hundreds die and Dublin city reduced to rubble after an intensive military bombardment.

Battleground – The Battle for the General Post Office, 1916 is a detailed account of the actions in the area of operations in and around the General Post Office. The building served as the General Headquarters of the Republican Army and witnessed some of the fiercest fighting of Easter Week as the beleaguered garrison fought against overwhelming odds.

The Rising was quickly and brutally suppressed, but the memory of the heroism depicted that week and of the executions that followed changed Irish history forever.

Published by New Island Books, March 2015 – ISBN: 978-1848404274 – PB €9.95 (146pp)

a question of duty 2A Question of Duty: The Curragh Incident, 1914

As the world marched to war in 1914, the Army of the British Empire was secretly recovering from one of its most momentous events of its history. In the Curragh Army Camp in the rolling countryside of county Kildare, a senior British General and his officers had threatened to resign rather than deploy their forces to Ulster in response to threats from Loyalists there refusing to accept Home Rule. This was the so called Curragh Mutiny, which precipitated the most serious crisis of civil military relations in modern British history.

This book is a must read as it Explores the why and the how of those strange days as well as putting the events in a wider context and bringing home to the modern reader just how close to civil war the British Empire stood in 1914.

Published by New Island Books, March 2014 – ISBN: 978-1848403147 – PB €12.99 (160pp)


Shootout: The Battle For St. Stephen’s Green, 1916

As the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was being read from the steps of the General Post Office on Sackville Street on Easter Monday 24th April 1916, 160 members of the Irish Citizen Army under Commandant Michael Mallin were taking up position around St. Stephen’s Green.

For seven days, from their posts in St. Stephen’s Green and City Hall, this small force of men and women fought against British soldiers as they struggled to protect the newly proclaimed Irish Republic. For almost a century, accusations of poor strategic awareness and a lack of organisation have been levelled against Mallin and his force for their actions during that Easter week.

In this new work, Paul O’Brien shows that, despite being outnumbered and outgunned, Mallin carried out his orders and fought with tenacity during this vital part of the Easter Rising. “Paul O’Brien’s expertise on the period and fascination with it shines through…” – Entertainment.ie on Crossfire

Published by New Island Books, March 2013 – ISBN: 978-1848402119 – PB €9.95 (128pp)

Field of FireField of Fire: The Battle of Ashbourne, 1916

(Fingal) Battalion of the Irish Volunteers under Commandant Thomas Ashe and Lieutenant Richard Mulcahy fought a battle against the Royal Irish Constabulary at Ashbourne in County Meath. After five hours of combat the Irish Volunteers had killed eight policemen and wounded seventeen others.

This is the true story of a horrific battle outside of Dublin city, a battle that would be a template for many others that were to come later during the Irish War for Independence.

Published by New Island Books, August 2012 – ISBN: 978-1848401563 – PB €9.95 (128pp)

Crossfire FCPCrossfire: The Battle for the Four Courts, 1916

On Easter Monday 1916 Commandant Edward Daly commanding the 1st Battalion of the Irish Volunteers occupied the Four Courts and the surrounding area.

Crossfire, 1916 & the Battle for the Four Courts is the true story of one of the bloodiest engagements against crown forces in Dublin city during the 1916 Rising. Surrounded and out gunned  the Volunteers held their positions and were the last Battalion of the Rising to surrender.

This book examines the battles that were fought in and around the Four Courts area of Dublin city and the atrocities that were uncovered on North King Street as the Rising came to an end.

Published by New Island Books, March 2012 – ISBN: 978-1848401297 – PB €9.95 (128pp)

Uncommon ValourUncommon Valour: 1916 and the Battle for South Dublin Union

The second book in the series was released in February 2010 and is entitled Uncommon Valour, 1916 and the battle for the South Dublin Union. Historians because of its complicity often overlook this engagement. Commandant Eamonn Ceannt and 120 men of the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers occupied the South Dublin Union, a workhouse and hospital spread over fifty-two acres near James Street, Dublin.

Published by The Mercier Press, August 2010 – ISBN: 978-1856356541 – PB €12.99 (157pp)

Blood on the Streets

Blood on the Streets: 1916 and the Battle for Mount Street Bridge

Released in 2008 Blood on the Streets, 1916 and the battle for Mount Street Bridge explores what really happened during the battle for Mount Street Bridge. Based around the bridge over the canal at Mount Street, three well-positioned groups of Volunteers led by Lieutenant Michael Malone held out against a far greater number of British soldiers arriving from Dún Laoghaire. This controversial battle resulted in the British crown forces suffering their heaviest losses during the Rising.

Published by The Mercier Press, September 2008 – ISBN: 978-1856355766 – PB €12.99 (128pp)