Fear Not the Storm


The Story of Tom Cullen, An Irish Revolutionary

Winner of the 2011 BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR Gold Medal award for historical fiction by FOREWORD Magazine


Cathal Liam’s new book is a true-life novel, a gently fictionalized biography, about an obscure young man who became part of Ireland’s leadership as it struggled for freedom from Britain’s rule in the early years of the twentieth century. Cullen’s baptism of fire occurred while serving as a young Irish Volunteer and member of the Irish Republican Army during Dublin’s 1916 Easter Uprising. After his arrest, internment in Wales and finally his release by the British authorities, he returned home. In short time, Tom became a valued confidant of Michael Collins. During Ireland’s War for Independence (1919-1921), Cullen, a West Wicklow man, embarked upon a life full of danger and intrigue. Serving as Collins’s Assistant Director of Intelligence, he matched wits with some of Britain’s most dangerous spies and ruthless assassins. In his biography of Michael Collins, Irish historian Tim Pat Coogan states, “…Tom Cullen…with [Frank] Thornton and [Liam] Tobin…completed the [Collins’s] intelligence team which broke the [Dublin] Castle’s spy system. A seasoned veteran by the autumn of 1921, Cullen, now one of Collins’s closest associates, rose to the rank of major-general in Ireland’s new Free State army. After Michael’s tragic death in 1922, it was Tom Cullen who led the procession carrying his dear comrade’s coffin to its final resting place in Dublin’s Glasnevin cemetery. It was the determined accomplishments of this little-known, heroic Irish revolutionary that forms the center-piece of Cathal Liam’s new book. For indeed, Ireland’s independence could not have been achieved without the sacrifices of such ‘behind-the-scene’ individuals. Tom Cullen’s story deserves to be told and now, at last, Fear Not The Storm pays tribute to a life so richly lived.



“Fear Not The Storm: The Story of Tom Cullen, An Irish Revolutionary is an unusual book. Unusual because it is about a man who changed history but about little is known. Cullen was Michael Collins’s Assistant Director of Intelligence. Collins valued him for his competence and loyalty and friendship. He trusted him with his life. Cullen’s life too often hung in the balance during those British, spy-ridden days of Ireland’s War for Independence (1916-1921). In his position of Assistant Director of Intelligence, Cullen matched wits with some of Britain’s most dangerous spies and ruthless assassins. It was a deadly game of chance and Cullen becme a skilled player. One mistake could mean forfeiting his life. Thanks and congratulations to Cathal Liam for his devotion to taking this Irish revolutionary out of the shadows of history, and placing him in the light for our admiration.” Reviewed by FRANK WEST, Irish American News, (Chicago, IL), November, 2011.

“It’s a remarkable book for several reasons. The first, as stated by the author, was the not-unexpected challenge of locating materials about a relatively obscure historical figure. Luckily, for any student of the history of Ireland’s struggle for independence, [Cathal] Liam was soon able to begin cobbling together the story of a life that would come to touch so many others while still maintaining to avoid the glare of history’s attention. In fact, this book could very easily become a primer for any serious student of either the Irish War for Independence or the Irish Civil War, so thoroughly does the author do his homework while researching his subject. The book is also extensively illustrated with dozens of rare photographs documenting many of the people and places in Cullen’s life but, at the same time, giving the reader a glimpse of what life was like at the time. By following the story of Tom Cullen and the closeness he develops for [Michael] Collins, the death of Collins, as Cullen’s reaction to it and even his role at the funeral, bring an incredibly personal dimension to what otherwise is simply another historical event. Perhaps, the best facet of this novel is, that while the author does take very limited fictional liberties when describing one scene or conversation here or there, he stays very, very close to factual accounts in almost every instance.” Taken from a review by Pete Maher, Irish Focus, (Weston, MO), March, 2011

“Cathal Liam is an American author with two well-regarded historical novels in print, both with Irish themes. Both books [War for Independence & Irish Civil War] were characterized by vivid writing and historical accuracy. Cathal Liam had obviously done his research well. In this his latest book he revisits both periods, war of independence and civil war, in the form of a biography of Tom Cullen, an actual participant in the events. It is this…that leads this reader to describe the book as a vivid and well-written account of the war of independence in Dublin from 1916 to 1921. He treads familiar ground but does so with a secure grasp of fact. It is partly truth and partly fiction and the general reader will find it hard to distinguish one from the other. In that the author [Cathal Liam] has succeeded in creating a lively, vividly written and well researched ‘gently fictionalized’ biography of an important member of the Michael Collins Intelligence Section.” Taken from a review by Pat McCarthy, Books Ireland, (Dublin, Ireland), May, 2011

“Independence is something that lights fire in people to fight harder than they ever had before. Fear Not The Storm: The Story of Tom Cullen, An Irish Revolutionary is a blend of history and novel as Cathal Liam tells the story of one man in the legion of Irishmen who dared to rebel against the British in the early twentieth century. To claim their independence, Tom Cullen had to ally with the higher ups in the rebellion and faced opposition by some of Britain’s most ruthless tactics. ‘Fear Not The Storm’ is a thoughtful novel of adventure and reality, highly recommended.” Midwest Book Review, (Oregon, WI), April, 2011

Fear Not The Storm is the story of Tom Cullen, an unsung Irish revolutionary who most people have probably never heard of in connection with the historic events of the early twentieth century…. Unfortunately for the author [Cathal Liam], primary source material for writing a factual, comprehensive biography of Tom Cullen was not available, despite a yeoman’s effort on his part. As a result, much of the story of Cullen’s life and the role he played in…[its] historic events had to be given an educated guess and through supposition of supporting documents. To make up for this lack of primary source material, Liam relies on material from a variety of other sources, both primary in the form of Witness statements of individuals who took part in the conflicts, and a fairly comprehensive list of secondary sources. By far the dominant figure of the times was Michael Collins, who Liam rightly and proudly admires. Because Collins played such a dominant role in the 1916 Easter uprising, the War of Independence and the Civil War, a significant portion of the book deals with him. The saying, ‘you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with,’ is applicable to Collins and his relationship to Cullen. Cullen was Collins protege and confidant. He worked closely with Collins, espeically during the War of Independence from the English, frequently referred to as the Sassenach, a pejorative term referring to the English, the ‘strangers.’ A feature of the book which this writer found especially informative was the ‘Author’s Note’ sections in which Liam provides additional pieces of information highlighting a particular subject. The book also includes a chronology of events in Irish history during this period of time, interspersed with the role Cullen played in many of them. Fear Not The Storm is Cathal Liam’s fourth book. It is patently obvious that he is passionate in his beliefs about this era of Irish history. It is a TOP SHELF read.” Taken from a review by Terry Kenneally, Ohio Irish American News, (Cleveland, OH), April, 2011


Comments are closed.