1916 by Morgan Llywelyn

1916

KIRKUS REVIEW

A noted chronicler of Irish history and legend (Pride of Lions, 1996, etc.) here deals with the Easter Rising of 1916, as seen through the fictional adventures of a young man close to the inner circle of those working and fighting for Ireland’s independence from England. When first introduced, teenager Ned Halloran is on his way to the US with his parents to attend the wedding of sister Kathleen to an American—the ship is the Titanic. On his grieving return to Ireland, Ned, a farmer’s son, is sent to St. Enda’s, a school where Irish history, language—and pride—are not only valued but taught with fervor. It’s at St. Enda’s that he meets the “conspiracy of poets,” including Headmaster Padraic Pearse, who will become commander-in-chief during the Rising. Ned becomes acquainted with the many faces and phases of the rebellion against the “looting” and “occupying” English, while a plethora of movements begin to surface: the Sinn Fein (then standing for nonmilitary rebellion); the socialist Connolly’s Citizen Army; and the Volunteer Corps. Ned joins the Fianna, a youth corps founded by the doughty Countess Markievicy (who, like the other real-life people here, makes a substantial appearance). In New York, meantime, sister Kathleen makes some unsettling discoveries: Her husband is a brute, contemptuous of her Irish nationalism, and Father Paul, a young priest, is stirring most unspiritual fires within. Back in the homeland, Ned is battling through an amorous dilemma: Is it to be a prim lady (an Anglophile) or a patriotic prostitute, the sister of a dead friend? The revolution heats up; Ned becomes a courier between the many groups and sectors; there are marches, spying, drills—and finally terrible sacrifice. Llywelyn tells her tale with gusto and a respect for the facts; a good deal of both bizarre and somber history shines through the fictional fustian of its likable characters. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 13th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-86101-X
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1998




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