IRA Man: Talking with the Rebels

Douglass McFerran, Author
Douglass McFerran, Author Praeger Publishers $31.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-275-95591-5
Reviewed on: 10/27/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Book - 203 pages - 978-0-313-04701-5
Open Ebook - 178 pages - 978-1-282-33948-4
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Although this book deals with the IRA, it is also largely about the author finding his Irishness in middle age. McFerran, a former Jesuit priest who now teaches philosophy at Pierce College in Los Angeles, takes a look at the ""Irish situation"" through the eyes of a neophyte and comes away both proud and sometimes appalled at the violence that has marked Ireland since the Uprising of 1798. He makes a salient point that ""a few hundred active IRA men"" have taxed some 30,000 soldiers and police officers since 1971 and that the group could survive only with the support of the Catholic communities in Belfast and Derry. McFerran offers fragments of Irish history and explains the complicated political maneuverings of Eamon De Valera and Michael Collins and the founding of the Irish state in 1921. Some of the best scenes take place in Belfast, where Catholics are becoming the majority at the university (and plastering Irish-language posters around the campus). McFerran will surprise readers when he notes, ""One statistic that is still amazing is that Ireland holds fewer people today than it did a century and a half ago,"" a statement that seems to ignore the famine of 1845-1850 that caused the death or emigration of several million people. A recommended overview for budding Celtophiles. Photos. (Nov.)
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