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Author: Liz Gillis
 ISBN: 978-1-908056-26-9. 216 pp + cover. 236 mm x 160 mm. Cover colour, text black and white. €18 + P&P

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On May 25, 1921 the IRA launched one of its largest and most audacious operations when it attacked Dublin’s Custom House, the heart of the British administration in Ireland.

Many still view this as a military failure that destroyed the IRA’s Second Battalion in Dublin.

But, over the last number of years, historians Liz Gillis and Mícheál Ó Doibhilín have, based on their extensive research, challenged this view, arguing that the operation was, in fact, a success which possibly helped bring about a truce and the subsequent Treaty negotiations.

Now Liz Gillis, historian and author of six previous books on Ireland’s early 20th century revolutionary period, tells this story in detail, including the planning and consequences, using much information that is new, as well as the recollections of those who were there.

This unique book tells the full story of the attack on and burning of the Custom House in detail as never before done, and brings the fruits of eight years' research to the public in an entertaining, readable history.

Much use is made of the recollections of the men who carried out the attack and those who resisted, based on memoirs, witness statements and Crown forces' reports.

Profusely illustrated with pictures of people and places 

involved on all sides, the book also contains comprehensive notes to the text and many valuable appendices to complement the text.

The book places the burning squarely in its place among the events of the Irish War of Independence and gives a comprehensive account of the events that preceded and led up to it.

The cover image is of a painting "The Burning of the Custom House" by Archibald McGoogan, 1860-1931 and is used courtesy of Dublin Fire Brigade Museum.

Beautifully designed by Mícheál Ó Doibhilín, this book is a Kilmainham Tales Special, and is a worthy tribute to its subject. Its publication coincided with the first public Conference on The Burning of the Custom House organised by Mícheál Ó Doibhilín and Liz Gillis, sponsored by Kilmainham Tales Teo. and hosted by the Custom House.

What our readers think:

"What must surely be the definitive book on the Custom House Raid of 25 May 1921 has just been published. The author is Liz Gillis, a well-respected historian of the revolutionary period. Her previous book, Women of the Irish Revolution, reflected her interest in the role and relative neglect of women of this period in the history books.

She has now turned her attention to the Custom House Raid. Well, not really. She has been researching this subject, along with Mícheál Ó Doibhilín, for some years now and the book is the culmination of that research, for now at least.

It is a great read and unputdownable once you start. The style is in true storytelling mode and very engaging and it is all backed up by meticulous research incorporating the most recently available sources.

(Liz) not only painstakingly trawled the latest written sources, as a perusal of the endnotes will confirm, but accumulated a vast amount of oral history, speaking to relatives of those who took part in the raid. This may, to some extent, explain the immediacy and readability of the book.

Her hope is to have transformed what was generally considered a failure by later generations into the pivotal success that it really was, and so do justice to those who conceived, planned and participated in it.

Having now read the book, I have no doubt about her complete success on this score".
"I started reading your book on the Dart going home from the [Commemoration] on 25th and from that moment on I couldn’t put it down. It’s a real page-turner. I took Friday as a day off to read it".

"I just loved it".

"You really brought the whole event alive for me. History is usually so dull but this sparkled with life, vigour, determination, commitment and it wasn’t just about the important figures. The emphasis was on the foot soldiers".

"The detail of the burning of the Custom House brought it to life with a vividness I had never before visualised".

"This is an excellent book, highly recommended. Historians Liz Gillis and Mícheál Ó Doibhilín (of Kilmainham Tales) have done us all an invaluable service in shining a new light on this highly significant event in our revolutionary history".

 
 
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