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Launch of booklet telling stories from northern republicans during Rising

Fr Louis O'Kane with Belfast republicans Seamus Dobbyn and Eddie Boyle after interviewing them in 1963
John Monaghan

THE stories of northern republicans involved in the period from the Easter Rising to partition and its aftermath are to be recalled in a new historical booklet.

'Reflections on the Revolution in Ulster' is based on recordings made by Aghaloo parish priest Fr Louis O’Kane, who interviewed more than 100 people recalling their memories from the Easter Rising until the War of Independence.

Participants spoke to him on the strict condition the interviews, carried out in the 1960s and early 1970s, would not be made public until after their deaths.

The tapes were kept secure by the late Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich at Maynooth and Armagh.

The 132 page booklet will be launched at the Cardinal Ó Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive centre in Armagh at an event on Saturday.

They were digitised in 2013 due to a grant from the Dublin government and have since been available to researchers at the library and archive.

A special listening kiosk has also been installed for library visitors to hear the recorded interviews.

The booklet will not be available for sale to the public, but those attending the launch event will be able to get their hands on a copy.

Speakers at the event will include Professor Terence Dooley, NUI Maynooth, and Dr Marie Coleman, Queen’s University Belfast, while Patsy O'Kane, nephew of Fr Louis, will be presented with the first copy of the booklet.

Among the stories featured are testimonies from Belfast republican Séamus Dobbyn describing preparations in the city for the Easter Rising, while there are chapters on the memories of former Irish Volunteers who were based in areas including south Armagh and south Derry.

Helen Litton, the grandniece of Kathleen Clarke - widow of Rising leader Thomas and one of the subjects of Fr O'Kane's interviews - has also penned an article for the booklet.

Former Aghaloo parish priest, Fr Louis O'Kane, interviewed more than 100 former Irish Volunteers from across the north prior to his death in 1973

Saturday's launch marks the conclusion of the two-year Irish Volunteers Centenary Project, which has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Anna Carragher from the Heritage Lottery Fund said: "All across Northern Ireland we have been awarding support to a range of projects exploring this turbulent period of history and its impacts.

"This fascinating project has focused on uncovering and sharing the personal and individual recollections of the War of Independence and its aftermath."

People still wishing to book a place at the launch on Saturday at 10am are asked to email roddy.hegarty@ofiaich.ie or call 02837522981.

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