Blood on the Shamrock

BLOOD ON THE SHAMROCK: A Novel of Ireland’s Civil War


With the tragedy of Easter 1916 behind them and spurred on by the euphoria born of England’s willingness to confer after months of bitter warfare, Irish republicans sense they are finally on the verge of triumph over their centuries-old foe. Ireland’s freedom is just around the corner, or so it seems. But almost overnight the green hills of Ireland turn red again–blood red–as the bitter residue of Anglo-Irish politics unexpectedly erupts into unholy civil war, the repercussions of which are destined to sully the dream of Irish unity for years to come.

This work of historical fiction continues the chronicle of Aran Roe O’Neill, a fictional Irishman, and his tenacious comrades, both real and imagined. Together they reluctantly renew their struggle for Ireland’s long-denied independence from England. Their action is triggered by the divisive treaty Dublin’s fledging government negotiates with members of London’s parliamentary leadership.



“The follow-up to his critically acclaimed novel, Consumed In Freedom’s Flame, protagonist and fictional Irishman, Aran Roe O’Neill returns in this historically accurate factional tale of Ireland’s Civil War. As one of Collin’s inner circle, the newly married protagonist sees his own life unravel along with those around him as [Cathal] Liam’s superbly researched book brings alive one of Ireland’s darkest hours. Armed with murderous subplots, along with romance, heroism and betrayal galore, this is certainly one of the most dynamic and enjoyable retellings of the Irish Civil War that I have ever read.” Joe Kavanagh, Irish Connections magazine, (New York, NY), Autumn, 2006 (Volume 7/No.3)

“It’s always encouraging when customers buy a book, then return looking for more by the same author. Many readers who ordered the historical novel Blood On The Shamrock from our latest catalog are coming back for the author’s [Cathal Liam’s] earlier novel Consumed In Freedom’s Flame.” Irish Books and Media newsletter, (Minneapolis, MN), November, 2006

“Through Cathal’s strong, well drawn characters the important personages and events that shaped Ireland’s history from the early part of the 19th century through the years of civil war ending in the mid 1920s become vivid and alive. Many famous scenes from Irish history are described in such detail that the reader can sense the emotions that must have been felt at the time. History aficionados will appreciate the scholarship and research that support the narrative. Quotations from Irish patriots, and passages from songs and poems precede each chapter, helping to invoke the spirit of the times.” Mary Smith, The Richmond Claddagh, (Richmond, VA), October, 2006

Blood On The Shamrock is the sequel to Consumed In Freedom’s Flame, Cathal Liam’s [new] historical novel about Ireland’s Civil War in the 1920’s. Fictional hero Aran Roe O’Neill continues in the struggle for Irish self-governance and independence. In this complex network of loyalties and treachery, he faces foes both from within and outside the ranks of Irish patriots. For those who may have missed the first novel, Blood On The Shamrock stands very nicely on its own as a great historical novel. It is greatly enhanced by an introductory list of cast of characters, in order of appearance by chapter, the prologue, which quotes the Declaration of Arbroath and Proclamation of Poblacht na hEireann, and the glossary. Frequent quotations from poems and songs also help to place the novel’s tone and action core. The reader will quickly become caught up in the life and cause of Aran, which is ‘at one with the cause of Pearse, Connolly and Collins.’ Twentieth century Irish political reality evolves through the pages, with many references to its cultural and historical heritage. Blood On The Shamrock is immediate and personal; it will serve to enlighten many readers about the latter days of the Irish Civil War. Ending in the 1960’s, Blood On The Shamrock is a complete read in and of itself. But one wonders (and hopes!) if there will be another novel to the present day?” Midwest Book Review, (Oregon, WI), September, 2006

“Cathal Liam takes the central character of his War of Independence novel Consumed In Freedom’s Flame and carries the story onward through the tragic months of the Irish Civil War. In his Forward, Mr. Liam remarks on the fact that very few serious attempts have been made to take this terrible and convoluted period of Irish history into the realms of fiction. He lists a mere seven writers form Sean O’Casey in 1924 to Morgan Llywelyn in 2001. Approaching his task strictly, he lists his cast of characters in some detail, between the historic personalities who appear and his fictional central characters who carry the story forward. Mr. Liam sticks closely to historic fact in dealing with major events and includes a glossary and a good bibliography. He is one of few novelists who considers footnotes detailing the factual record as necessary to his story. But then, this is a story of which many Irish families have a version…God grant peace to them all.” …from a review by Mary O’Sullivan, Ireland of the Welcomes, (Dublin, Ireland), September/October, 2006

“This is a full-blown romantic, adventurous historical novel, that perhaps invites comparison with books by Leon Uris and more recently Morgan Llywelyn.” Books Ireland, (Dublin, Ireland), September, 2006

“When I began this review, I was afraid I wouldn’t do justice to a book of this scope and power. How is [Cathal] Liam able to capture that period [Ireland’s Civil War] so well? I believe there are two answers to that: by scrupulous research and by giving life to the many heroic sized people of that age. Cathal Liam has created such realistic and believable fictional characters that they seamlessly interact with the historical ones. Blood On The Shamrock…is a book of great proportions. It focuses on the slice of Irish history from 1922 to 1923, but it encompasses the complexities, frustrations, beauty and mystery of human actions.” …from a review by Frank West, Irish American News, (Chicago, IL), August, 2006

“The story opens with the ambush at Beal na Blath and then looks back to the events leading to the rejection of the Treaty and the outbreak of civil war. It is apparent that the author has carried out extensive research to convey a feeling for the period. Interweaving actual characters with fictional companions throws an interesting light on the events and on the emotions that might have been experienced by such as Michael Collins and Cathal Brugha, and as a sequel to an earlier novel it achieves a continuity of narrative.” …from a review by Pauline Ferrie, The Irish Emigrant, (Galway, Ireland), July, 2006

“That’s where I love this book. While I do enjoy reading history, it can be bland at times. Facts, dates and names are important, but can be rough on the eyes. Liam mixed it [fact and fiction] to perfection. When I picked up the book, my main desire was for the history. Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera, the [Anglo-Irish treaty] negotiations with the British and the civil war were the topics that interested me. I wanted more knowledge of the period. I was pleased to discover that was what Liam pushed.” …from an interview by Scott Powers, Irish American News, (Chicago, IL), July, 2006

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