- 92B2541B0187574322DEBA0287204ED2

We survived our Book Launch 

Well, we did it – we survived our very first book launch!

 It seems hardly a week goes by without a new book being launched, but this invitation is different - it was not TO us but FROM us. 

We were proud to announce our very first official book launch. It was for our 12th publication - "The Firemen's Tale" by  fire brigade historian Las Fallon - and the launch was being carried out in association with Dublin Fire Brigade Sports and Social Club.

The launch took place in Arthur's Pub , 28 Thomas Street, Dublin 8, just beside St. Catherine's Church (outside of which Robert Emmet was hanged in 1803). 

We were delighted that Lorcan Collins had  agreed to launch the book for us, as he is a historian with an unrivalled knowledge of Ireland's early 20th century revolutionary period. Lorcan is founder of Dublin's first (and still best) walking tour - the 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour - as well as joint editor (with Prof. Ruán O'Donnell of Limerick University) of O'Brien Press' magnificent 16 Lives series on the executed men of 1916, and wrote the James Connolly biography in that series. 

Las' book is his second - his first was on the Dublin Fire Brigade's actions during the revolutionary period - and this one uses new information that has come to light since then. It is a fascinating story, well told, and has been receiving much praise since it was published. 

And what a night it was – with old friends and new friends, all there in great form. Despite a hiccup over the starting time (the pub had double-booked) everything worked out as well as we could have hoped for.

An absolutely gorgeous evening weather-wise meant that we all gathered beforehand inside and outside the pub getting to know each other and, when we finally started we were all in flying form.

Mícheál Ó Doibhilín began proceedings with an apology over the late start, and thanked the Dublin Fire Brigade Sports and Social Club which had so ably supported the launch. He also thanked Declan and all the staff of Arthur’s Pub who worked so hard during the evening/night to ensure all went well. 

Mícheál briefly outlined the background to the company and its ethos, pointing out that Kilmainham Tales Teo. is delighted to be associated with authors of the highest quality, and is proud of its catalogue to date.

“When I started Kilmainham Tales some years ago it was to publish my own book on Anne Devlin, because I had new information on her that I felt had to be published. 

I also felt, through my work in Kilmainham Gaol, that there was a need for small, informative introductions to aspects on Irish history, a history that is often complex and difficult to grasp.

To date we have published 12 books and many articles on our website by such authors as Dr. Shane Kenna, Liz Gillis, Paul O’Brien, Rory O’Dwyer, Ciara Scott, Joe Connell, Eamon Murphy, myself of course and last but not least, Las Fallon.

I wanted our books to take a fresh look at our history and to tell it in an interesting, innovative and accessible way. I wanted fresh research and new information. 

All of this is in Las’ book. He is a great author, a great researcher, and a great historian, and it has been a pleasure to work with him on this important book” Mícheál added.

He then welcomed the evening’s guest, “author, historian, raconteur, inventor of accessible history and the historical walking tour of Dublin, to launch this book for us”, Lorcan Collins, and reminded the audience that Lorcan’s 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour had achieved a 5 Star rating from Trip Advisor for the fifth year in succession – an incredible achievement and a tribute to Lorcan and his dedication.

In an amusing and interesting address made in his own inimitable style, Lorcan praised Kilmainham Tales Teo. for its innovative approach to Irish history, making this accessible, affordable and non-elitist. 

He talked about the attack on Dublin’s Custom House, a kind of attack which was more important in many ways than attacks on soldiers, for it hit the occupying nation where hit hurt – in her pocket. 

As has been proved time and time again by Britain, financial loss is greater than manpower loss, and more difficult for her to recover from. 

Las’ first book had introduced us to the hitherto unknown role Dublin’s fire brigade – an arm of the State – in the war against that State. 

The new book, he said, emphasised that role, and showed how pivotal it would prove to be. “The Firemens’ Tale” is a story well told, well researched and exactly how history should be – a page turner. 

Lorcan concluded by urging all present to buy a copy – and another to send to their friends abroad – sentiments we heartily concur with!

Next it was Las Fallon’s turn. 

Starting by thanking Lorcan for his “eloquent and funny” words, he went on to thank Kilmainham Tales for the “opportunity and privilege” of being part of the Kilmainham Tales series. 

This book, Las continued, had been six years in the making – going back to the time when he was first introduced by Comdt. Victory Laing in the Bureau of Military History  to Liz Gillis and Micheal O Doibhilin because of a shared interest in researching the burning of the Custom House.

Las went on to discuss the unrivalled importance and value of the recently released witness statements and pension applications online for any researcher of the period.

Las pointed out that, while the burning of the Custom House was the main focus of his book, he also included in it another seminal event – the burning of the National Shell Factory in Parkgate Street in early June 1921 with the subsequent loss of 40 army vehicles (including five peerless armoured cars) – a financial loss of £250,000! 

These two events – especially when put in the context of the demands on British financial and military resources worldwide at this point – put huge strain on the British military ability to to prosecute the war against the Irish insurgency.

Las pointed to the memorial on nearby St. Catherine’s Church to commemorate those hanged after Robert Emmet’s abortive revolution of 1803. These were ordinary men, "weavers, millers and men of no property”. It is the stories of people like them – ordinary men and women – that interest him, Las added.

He paid tribute to the late Shane Mac Thomáis, Liz Gills, Terry Fagan, his own son Donal – all people who search out these stories and whom he strives to emulate. 

Las said that, as a fireman, he writes “the history of my tribe. A tribe I have belonged to for three decades and which occupies a unique niche in the history of this city. The story is not the story of Dublin Fire Brigade – but of Dublin as seen through the eyes of the Brigade”.

“The Firemen’s Tale” came about because of new information which had surfaced since Las’ first book “Dublin Fire brigade and the Irish Revolution” he told the assembled crowd, before thanking those who had helped him along the way, including the DFB Sports and Social Club which had so ably supported the launch event, and especially his wife Maria "my rock and my anchor", and his sons Donal and Luke "who make our life so rich".

Below we show some photographs of the launch, taken by others and put up online. We are grateful to these photographers - Veronique Crombé, Pat Gilford - for these records of a great night and the launch of a great book.

 Burning the Custom House -

 The Firemen's Tale

The burning of the Custom House on 25 May 1921 was a seminal event in the course of the Irish Revolution.

This new book is a companion piece to the author’s ‘Dublin Fire Brigade and the Irish Revolution’ published in 2012 by South Dublin County Libraries.

The amount of new information available throws light on aspects of the role of the Dublin Fire Brigade and specifically of some members  who were also active Volunteers in the Irish Republican Army or the Irish Citizen Army. and Las Fallon has written this book to fully explore the role played by these men and by Republican sympathisers within the Dublin Fire Brigade in the burning of the Custom House.

This was an event where these men became active participants rather than just facilitating attacks on British government property and on the Crown Forces.

This, then, is The Firemen’s Tale, the latest book from Kilmainham Tales. It is available now. Further details here or here.

A Gem of a Book... (Timothy Birr, US Fire Service historian and author)
A work to be proud of (Padraig Yeats, historian and author)

If you want to know what these and others think of the book, read their comments here:

- 92B2541B0187574322DEBA0287204ED2