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West Mayo Brigade centenary commemorations this Friday

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LAUNCH ‘The Men of the West’ book will be launched this Friday in Westport.

Commemorations include launch of ‘Men of the West’ book

Edwin McGreal

Centenary commemorations of the West Mayo IRA Brigade’s key role in the War of Independence will take place in Westport this coming Friday.
The commemorations will take place at the MacBride Monument on Westport’s South Mall (opposite St Mary’s Church).
They will get underway at 6.30pm and the event will begin with the official launch of the centenary commemorative book, ‘The Men of the West’. The book will be launched by Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, DSM, Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces.
The book launch will be followed by the presentation of the fascinating memorabilia of Dr John Madden to the Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina. Dr Madden was one of the ‘Men of the West’ and was a major figure in the revolutionary years in Mayo. His memorabilia is being donated by a family friend, Dr Pat Breen.
Next will be the unveiling of two plaques at the monument, one in English and one in Irish.
After this, Vice Admiral Mellett will lay a wreath, followed by family of the West Mayo Brigade laying wreaths.
A minute’s silence will follow, the Last Post will sound, the national flag will be raised from half-mast to full-mast, the Reveille will sound and the national anthem will be played by Westport Town Band.
Those in attendance are asked to adhere to social distancing and the commemorations can be viewed from both the North Mall and South Mall, as well as the two bridges nearest the monument. The event will be broadcast live, the link is available on www.westmayo.ie.

Book in demand
While ‘The Men of the West’ book is being officially launched on the night, it has already been a remarkable success.
It is already on its second print after the first print flew off the shelves when it first went on sale a little over a month ago.
Produced by Westport Historical Society, ‘The Men of the West’ is edited by Sean Cadden, Harry Hughes, Vincent Keane and James Kelly.
A superbly produced full-colour, hardcover book, it tells the dramatic story of the IRA’s West Mayo Brigade in the War of Independence (1919-21). It chronicles the brigade’s origins, membership and guerrilla campaign.
This remarkable story is brought to life in 270 pages, featuring 200 original photographs and over 1,000 local names.   
‘The Men of the West’ gathers – for the first time in a single volume – the important story of The West Mayo Brigade as one of the most effective IRA units in the west of Ireland. Tightly focused chapters written by expert local historians are interspersed with personal sidelights: profiles of the brigade’s big personalities, such as Michael Kilroy and Joe Ring, and local memories of those troubled times. The vital work of the local Cumann na mBan is discussed. Of particular importance are the meticulously researched lists of casualties, recording all those killed in this area in both the War of Independence and the subsequent Civil War: IRA volunteers, Royal Irish Constabulary officers and other members of the Crown forces, civilians, pro- and anti-Treaty combatants.
‘The Men of the West’ is available in local book shops and online on www.westmayo.ie. It retails at €25. A full list of stockists is also available on www.westmayo.ie.