Making a Massacre
Mission Impossible? A sideways take on one man's crusade to exonerate Oliver Cromwell of genocide in Ireland.
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If history were music, then the genre of this book would be punk. For nearly 400 years, it has been widely accepted that Oliver Cromwell committed civilian atrocities at Drogheda and Wexford in 1649, thus adversely infecting Anglo-Irish relations for that entire period. As well as other events in Irish history, Cromwell in Ireland has often been weaponised in the North of Ireland. Still, today, emotions about this topic run very deep. Imagine for a moment that Cromwell is completely innocent of these charges of genocide: the overwhelming verdict of history thus far. Imagine also a scenario in which this anomaly in the teaching of Irish history were discovered by a non-historian, an amateur who failed second-level history.
This is that story.
This is an accurate (and sideways) account of one man’s lone battle to overturn this miscarriage of historical justice - two middle fingers to mainstream academia. Most significantly, this is the story of the pushback the author has encountered from academics, in general, who have closed ranks in their reluctance to embrace incontrovertible facts. This is the uncomfortable truth that challenges Ireland’s role of the ultimate victim of the seventeenth century's conflicts and how this historical period has been - and still is - profoundly abused to suit the Saorstát Éireann narrative.
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It's been a bit of a busy day, but I just sat down and read the intro to your book to my wife. Bloody nearly wet myself. At times I felt it was like something out of Hugh Leonard’s Tales from the Lazy Acre, but I am happy to say that I think that you have a very valid argument for what you say. Your argument started in the best place – original sources - and is confirmed by original sources. Your questioning of when the references to the massacre were made, by whom, and crucially when, is the absolute kicker. All told, your book was a bit of a magic carpet ride for me, I laughed, I cried, I nearly hurled once. You write very like I do when I am off the lead. I loved the references – had to look a lot of ‘em up, and I really enjoyed the Irish cultural references. ~ Steve Pickstock
Mrs Mc Nally: Where’s your Dad? Daughter: He’s been sitting chuckling in the far corner for two days, since he got that new book of Tom Reilly's. Mrs Mc Nally: Not Tom Reily the infamous head banger from Drawda surely? The one who thinks Cromwell was a saint? Daughter: The very same. Mrs Mc Nally: Take that book off your Dad right now! Daughter: He won’t hand it over, says its hilarious and he can’t put it down. Mrs Mc Nally: HE should be put down. Daughter: Who Tom Reilly or Dad? Mrs Mc Nally: BOTH of them. I can’t remember the last time (if ever) that I finished a book in two days (even a Ladybird book). But this one, I couldn’t put down. The only fact I’m having trouble with is—there can't be a Saorstat Eireann man called Mici Mac Ruairi? Surely to God? ~ Peter McNally
In my collection I have thirty five books on the theme of Oliver Cromwell and his times. I recently acquired a new book on Oliver Cromwell, now I have thirty six. The new book highlights on the front cover that is not “ A real History Book”. It was written by Tomas O’Raghallaigh, whom I have never heard of. Perhaps he is one of the O’Raghallaigh’s from the North Road in Drogheda. I could not claim to have read my Cromwellian collection of books cover to cover, but I have read O’Raghaillagh’s book and I have really enjoyed it. It is a real history book although it proclaims not to be. It tells the story of one man’s endeavour to right a wrong as he perceives it. Oliver Cromwell is not at any stage exonerated for his activities in Ireland, but O’Raghallaigh believes innocent town citizens were not slaughtered randomly under Cromwell’s orders in the aftermath of the siege Drogheda in September 1649. In this book O’Raghallaigh succinctly and meticulously explains his viewpoint and recounts in a very light hearted way. On my first reading I wondered if O’Raghallaigh had ever heard of Tom Reilly the local long distance runner [ the loneliness of…] who has been rambling on about this Cromwellian stuff for years in between running marathons. Then my son Ogy pointed out, that the two, O’Raghaillaigh and Reilly are one and the same. So O’Raghallaigh is not from the North Road, he is of course a Ma Parker. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have had the gifted Gaelgeoir, Johnny Gregory RIP as a teacher, so my teanga gaeil is pretty poor. It is easy to make such a mistake, think of all the tourists that come to Drogheda to see Oliver Cromwell’s head in St.Peter’s. Sorry for rambling there, let us return to Oliver Crumble as Joyce called him and Mo Farah, I mean Tom Reilly. Historically in this fine tome, I am critical on one point. Cromwell’s crack unit of demolitionists, who went around Ireland blowing the tops of 8th century monastic round towers are never mentioned. Anywhere you travel in Ireland and visit a round tower, even at Monasterboice, where the roof is missing. The tour guide will invariably advise that the Cromwellians did it. They practised on the Magdalene Tower, and then headed off on an all-Ireland crusade, to eradicate the scourge of round tower roofs in Ireland. This malicious lie needs to be corrected, future authors take note. Tom Reilly mentions in his new book on numerous occasions that he has now written four books on Cromwell including a novel, now his fifth endeavour leads me to call for a sixth book on Cromwell by him. In this book it is pointed out there are now upwards on 4,000 books written about Oliver Cromwell. There is still no book which recounts in detail what happened in Drogheda from the beginning the of siege until the end. I wish for a book written by a local who understands our town, who has walked our streets, and can explain it in a way only a true Drogheda head could. All publications in the past had been smothered in a fog of slaughtered innocents, I am surprised they have not blamed the Black and Tans. Tom’s new publication which I heartily recommend, reveals he is the man to do it. So come on Tom get your pen out. Young people growing up in Drogheda as well as visitors need such a book. The Town itself deserves such a book. Let Drogheda and Cromwell be no longer weaponised to the detriment of our citizens by the so called republican agenda. I leave the last word to that most eminent of historians Ruth Dudley Edwards who said, “ Reilly’s elaborate documentation and careful analysis destroys the distortions and inventions produced later to suit the agendas of royalists and later nationalists……Although professional historians are prone to be sniffy about amateurs, I have always believed they should be given a special accolade for being in love with their subject for its own sake…..he is scrupulous in his examination of evidence…….he is assiduous in research and he quotes primary resources extensively”. I was glad when I read this book Tom, I told you to go for it almost thirty years ago. Sean Collins M.A. ~ Seán Collins MA
Class and deadly. So entertaining! A truly professional, hysterically executed amateur historian's factual 'Up Yours' to the establishment. Blindboyesque! ~ Tony Ernesto Emanual Smith
I am flabbergasted, I didn't know you had it in you! I'm trying to read through but I can't contain the laughter. This has to be the best thing I've ever read in my life. The great General Bilbo Baggins, the Father Ted references and my favourite, Mrs Cromwell washing the skid marks out of Ollies tighty whiteys. This is a profound and genius work of literary art. The mixture of biographical, historical and comedic content is fantastic and it keeps you gripped and entertained, I'm completely engrossed in it. Your defence of the truth and historical accuracy is heroic and it comes across very genuine in this piece. I've never been so excited for a book in my entire life. ~ The Outlaw MJ Podcast