15 April 2006

Launch of book on Ó Brádaigh


by J Sheehy
14 April 2006

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh - The Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary

"In a very real sense, Ruairí Ó Bradáigh can . . . be said to be the last, or one of the last Irish Republicans. Studies of the Provisional movement to date have invariably focused more on the Northerners and the role of people like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. But an understanding of them is not possible without appreciating where they came from and from what tradition they have broken. Ruairí Ó Bradáigh is that tradition and that is why this account of his life and politics is so important."

—from the foreword by Ed Moloney, author of A Secret History of the IRA

THE biography Ruairí Ó Brádaigh - The Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary was launched by Dr Ruán O'Donnell, Department of History, Limerick University, on April 12 - the Wednesday before Easter.

Other speakers at the launch in the Cúltúrlann, Monkstown, Dublin; included the author Professor Robert W White of Indiana University and the subject of the book himself, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.

The book is in hardback and runs to 350 pages with another 60 pages of notes and is the result of over 20 years of research and interviews with the subject. Dr O'Donnell did extensive work for the bicentenaries of 1798 and 1803 and is now engaged in a study on the Republican Movement in the 1950s

Speaking at the launch of Robert White's biography on April 12 Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, Republican Sinn Féin, said:

"This work is a biography. It is not a disguised autobiography. The facts have been checked with me but the assessments, judgements and conclusions reached in it are essentially those of the author, Professor Robert W White.

"The project has taken 22 years, ever since he interviewed me in depth in Roscommon when writing his earlier work, 'Provisional Irish Republicans'.

"While engaged in this 'Life' he took a sabbatical leave from his post at Indiana University to spend six months in Ireland with his wife and family in order to engage full-time in research.

"He read the files of the Longford Leader, the Seán MacEoin papers (now at University College, Dublin) and checked all published material he could find. He cites as sources 140 books and he interviewed personally about 40 different people.

"Bob White visited Ireland frequently, assessed among other sources the Linenhall Library in Belfast, tracked down people and interviewed them as he meticulously sought the data. Now that he has completed his decades of work, I wish to express my wholehearted gratitude to him.

"I think I was accurate when I told him one evening on the telephone to the United States - I had just finished reading the final draft of his work - that I felt he had succeeded in getting inside my head.

"For my own part, on completing, this Easter, 55 years of endeavour with the Republican Movement, I can sum up the 'Life' by quoting these words from the tombstone of Charlotte Despard in the Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin:

" ' I slept and dreamt that life was beauty

I woke and found that life was duty.' "

Launching the "Life" historian Ruan O'Donnell said: "Robert White's new biography of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh is an essential starting point for historical discussion of Ireland in the 1970s, with valuable insights pertaining to the Republican perspective between the early 1950s and late 1990s. The book explains and illuminates many significant incidents, policies and practices raised in outline by the late John Bowyer Bell and Tim Pat Coogan."

Table of contents for Ruairí Ó Brádaigh : the life and politics of an Irish revolutionary / Robert W. White. Bibliographic record and links to related information available from the Library of Congress catalog.


1. Matt Brady and May Caffrey
2. The Brady Family: Irish Republicans in the 1930s and 1940s
3. Off to College and into Sinn Féin and the IRA: 1950-1954
4. Arms Raids, Elections, and the Border Campaign: 1955-1956
5. Derrylin, Mountjoy, and Teachta D la: December 1956-March 1957
6. TD, Internee, Escapee, and Chief of Staff: March 1957-June 1959
7. Marriage and Ending the Border Campaign: June 1959-February 1962
8. Political and Personal Developments in the 1960s: March 1962-1965
9. Dream-Filled Romantics, Revolutionaries, and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association:
1965-August 1968
10. The Provisionals: September 1968-October 1970
11. The Politics of Revolution: Eire Nua, November 1970-December 1972
12. International Gains and Personal Losses: January 1973-November 1974
13. The Responsibilities of Leadership: November 1974-February 1976
14. A Long War: March 1976-September 1978
15. A New Generation Setting the Pace: October 1978-August 1981
16. "Never, that's what I say to you--Never": September 1981-October 1986
17. "We are here and we are very much in business": October 1986-May 1998

Notes on Sources
Works Cited

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Ó Brádaigh, Ruairí.
Revolutionaries -- Northern Ireland -- Biography.
Northern Ireland -- Politics and government.
Northern Ireland -- Biography.


Since the mid-1950s, Ruairí Ó Bradáigh has played a singular role in the Irish Republican Movement. He is the only person who has served as chief of staff of the Irish Republican Army, as president of the political party Sinn Féin, and to have been elected, as an abstentionist, to the Dublin parliament. Today, he is the most prominent and articulate spokesperson of those Irish Republicans who reject the peace process in Northern Ireland. His rejection is rooted in his analysis of Irish history and his belief that the peace process will not achieve peace. Instead it will support the continued partition of Ireland and result in continued, inevitable, conflict.

The child of Irish Republican veterans, Ó Bradáigh has led IRA raids, been arrested and interned, escaped and been "on the run," and even spent a period of time on a hunger strike. An articulate spokesman for the Irish Republican cause, he has at different times been excluded from Northern Ireland, Britain, the United States, and Canada. He was a key figure in the secret negotiation of a bilateral IRA-British truce. His "Notes" on these negotiations offer special insight to the 1975 truce, the IRA cease-fires of the 1990s, and the current peace process in Ireland.

Ó Bradáigh has been a staunch defender of the traditional Republican position of abstention from participation in the parliaments in Dublin, Belfast, and Westminster. When Sinn Féin voted to recognize these parliaments in 1970, he led the walkout of the party convention and spearheaded the creation of Provisional Sinn Féin. He served as president of Provisional Sinn Féin until 1983, when he was forced from the position by his successor, Gerry Adams. In 1986, with Adams as its president, Provisional Sinn Féin recognized the Dublin parliament. Ó Bradáigh led another walkout and later became president of Republican Sinn Féin, a position he still holds.

Dr. Robert White is the Dean of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts and Professor of Sociology at Indiana University-Perdue University Indianapolis. He has previously authored Provisional Irish Republicans: An Oral and Interpretive History and was co-editor of Self, Indentity, and Social Movements.

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