This is the extraordinary life story of Ernie O’Malley (1897-1957), one of Ireland’s most complex and influential Republican figures, and later a hugely successful writer.
Born in Castlebar in 1897, Ernie O’Malley went on to serve as a General in the IRA at the young age of 23 and commanded 7,000 volunteers in the brutal War of Independence. Following the Truce and the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922, he took an aggressive anti-treaty position and commanded the Anti-Treaty forces during the subsequent Civil War, after his leadership role in the occupation of the Four Courts in June 1923.
What distinguishes O’Malley’s story as remarkable is the stark difference between his dramatic life as a soldier and his subsequent bohemian world as a writer and renaissance man. After the establishment of the new State, O’Malley left Ireland and travelled extensively throughout Europe, America and Mexico, mixing with the likes of Jack B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and John Ford, and embarked upon a tumultuous marriage to American heiress-sculptor Helen Hooker.
Enriched with valuable unpublished material from his diaries, letters and military dispatches, and the unique perspective of his son Cormac, Ernie O’Malley: A Life is the fascinating biography of an extraordinary Irishman.