'Rebellion in Dublin' booklaunch 26/09/13
Here at Kilmainham Tales we have been to many book launches over the years, but there is no-one to draw a crowd like rising young historian Liz Gillis. She has her own citizen army to support her, and her second booklaunch, in the Nicholas of Myra Centre, Francis Street, was rivalled only by her previous launch in Kilmainham Gaol for her first book “The Fall of Dublin”.
This time we were there to launch Liz’s second book “Revolution in Dublin” – an incredible mix of photos and record showing those who went through the turbulent years from 1913-1924 in Dublin.
Many of these photos are unique, never before seen outside of family albums, and it is a tribute to Liz that the families have given her permission to use them. (Indeed, even the Irish Times, when reviewing British historian Charles Townsend’s latest book on Saturday 28th September used pictures from Liz’s book!).
The photos are coupled with insightful comments and background information written by Liz, and through a combination of both we get to see these men and women as just that, ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things.
On the night hundreds turned up to mark this publication.
Among the crowd were family, friends, work colleagues (past and present), re-enactors, politicians, historians … in fact, it seemed at times that everyone interested in Dublin's early twentieth century history was there!
But this launch was in safe hands. Liz had put together an event that will be long remembered – food-laden tables, drink galore, and good comrades … what more can one wish for for a great and memorable night?
The formal proceedings began when Labour Councillor John Gallagher spoke glowingly about ‘local girl’ Liz Gillis. John has known Liz all her life and has watched her grow and mature, he has seen her love of her native Liberties develop as she leaned the history of that wonderful area, where she is now a celebrity and local historical expert. He praised Liz’s commitment
to her locality, and her contributions to it through her work, before handing the floor to Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív of Fianna Fáil.
Deputy Ó Cuív spoke movingly of the turbulent history covered by Liz’s book, and of the need to remember it. He hoped we would remember it inclusively, as Liz did and that, while we turned the page on that history, we would not tear it out, but revisit it occasionally so that we can learn from it and are not doomed to repeat it. Equally we should not re-write it, even though some things would have been better undone.
Éamon, who is a staunch supporter of the Liberties and has done sterling work there as a politician, praised Liz for her impartiality and the honesty of her work.
He referred to her previous book on the events that began the Irish Civil War, and praised her current one.
He concluded by saying that Liz has a great future as a historian ahead of her, and that he believed the decade after the current Decade of Commemoration would be ‘the Decade of Liz Gillis’!
Liz next took the floor and, in a brief speech, thanked all who had helped or contributed to the book. She thanked the Nicholas of Myra Centre staff for their wonderful work on the night, the families who had contributed stories and photos to the book, her publishers Mercier Press, her work colleagues, her family – especially her father Mick and partner James – for their sufferance and unfailing support, Abtree Books (who were selling the book on the night) for their wonderful, professionalism, all the research institutions she had used – the National Library, the Bureau of Military History, Kilmainham Gaol & Archive etc. – and the other historians she had consulted and who gave unstinting support, even Kilmainham Tales for our support and encouragement.
This was clearly an emotional night for Liz, and we here in Kilmainham Tales appreciate what it means to see your ‘baby’ finally presented to the world.
But this was no ordinary presentation, this was something akin to a royal baby’s birth, with the greatest crowd imaginable present, and all wishing this wonderful author – and person – the success she deserves.
A review of the book will appear shortly in our new Book Review page. Watch out for it.
N.B. All photos are copyright Kilmainham Tales Teo. Feel free to reuse them, but only if you acknowledge the source.
(Below) Just some of our photos of the vast crowd that attended. See how many authors, historians, politicians etc. you can spot!
(Below) Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív (Fianna Fáil) made a marvellous speech, acknowledging Liz Gillis' unique (i.e. impartial!) approach to history, and praising her contribution to our better understanding of the people who made our nation what it is.
(Below) Liz Gillis replied to the previous two speakers, thanking them for their kind words. She also thanked all who contributed in any way to the book - publisher, family, friends, contributors of photos etc.
(Below) Book sales on the night were ably handled by Aedeen, of Abtree Books, Lucan. This is a small, intimate bookshop that maintains the finest tradition of personal, friendly service, a tradition much appreciated by Liz Gillis, who used the same shop for her last booklaunch too.
(Below) Of course, not all who attended were historians or relatives of those pictured in the book. Many were there because they were related to Liz herself, or were friends and work colleagues.
The reenactors were a big attraction with many people looking to have their photos taken with them. Here are just a few, including one that is being mooted as the cover of her next book!
Signing one's book is, for many, a chore, but Liz always sees this ad a great opportunity to meet and speak with her friends and relatives, and fellow historians. That said, even she found it tough going so many people wanted to talk with her. At times, indeed, she was difficult to see in the crowd that surrounded her.
(Below) Labour Cllr. John Gallagher opened proceedings with a fine tribute to 'Liberties Lady' Liz Gillis.