Recent books in brief

The Legacy of  Irish Missionaries Lives On

by Matt Moran 

(OnStream, €15.00)

With the apparent decline of priestly vocations, the nature of Irish missionary movement has changed. I say apparent because in reality it may be that the call that was responded to in the past still exists, it is merely that the responses to it now come in more varied forms. 

Seeing old forms decline, too many fear that the end is nigh, when in fact we are witnessing a new beginning, a renewal. This book is a personal account drawn from experiences, perspectives and views of those involved mostly from Africa, Latin America and Asia who have benefited from the work of Irish missionaries in the past, the changes that it produced, and how these change will continue into the future. 


It finds too as might be expected that among the “new missionaries” are lay people, with special skills often in the technical field, who work abroad not for a life time, but as volunteers for a few years. The halls of Maynooth may be echoingly empty, but out where it counts men and women are busy. 

This is a book which should not be missed by anyone interested in Ireland’s future role in a rapidly changing world.  These missionaries are no longer a part of a colonial enterprise, but they work as friends to empower the powerless, to help bring justice to those denied it, to end inequalities of all kinds.


Bombs, Bullets and the Border: Policing Ireland’s Frontier: Irish Security Policy, 1969-1978

by Patrick Mulroe 

(Irish Academic Press, €24.99 paper / €45.00 cased)

This  detailed study of how the security forces, Garda and Army, struggled with inadequate resources to contain the spill-over into the Republic from IRA violence in Northern Ireland is timely in view of current ‘hard border’ discussion.

The author has drawn on Government papers in Dublin and London to give valuable insights into how the Garda policing the border had to cooperate with the RUC and the British Army and give the impression that they had little or no contact. Their job was not helped by the vacillating attitude of their political masters in Dublin intent on restraining the IRA while not abandoning claims to a united Ireland.

Complicating factor

Loyalist bomb attacks in the Republic were a complicating factor, especially in view of suspicions of RUC and/or British intelligence collusion. The book details the problem for the Garda on the border in coping with the IRA, loyalists, changing Governments in Dublin and increasing pressure from London to crush the IRA.

The London papers reveal how British diplomats in Dublin had a grudging sympathy for the efforts of successive Governments to restrain the IRA without de-stabilising their own position. There were “sneaking regarders” in all parties. Jack Lynch’s permission for British over-flights in hot pursuit of IRA incursions into the North played a part in his resignation.

This book recalls how fraught this period was for those policing the border and the carnage wreaked by the paramilitaries.