A new book on the great National Farmers’ Association march on Dublin in 1966 will be launched at the River Island Hotel here in Castleisland on Friday night at 8:30pm.
This is a real insider’s view of the goings on of that time and the struggle by Irish farmers for a recognition that their livelihoods were going down the drains through government indifference.
The struggle was one of the emerging Ireland’s great growing pains of the 1960s and the power struggle between the Fianna Fáil government of the day and the National Farmers’ Association kept the front pages of the newspapers of the day fully occupied.
Many of those involved would tell you that, in truth, the real struggle was between NFA leader Rickard Deasy and one Charles James Haughey – then Minister for Agriculture in the government led by his father-in-law, Seán Lemass.
Listowel to the Liffey
John Roche’s book, Listowel to the Liffey – The Kerry Farmers who Marched in 1966 qualifies as an ‘insider’ story on several fronts.
He and fellow Castleisland farmer, Larry Prendiville of Kilcusnan were jailed for their parts in the continuing campaign of ‘civil disobedience’ in 1967.
They spent two weeks in Limerick Jail in 1967 and were released to a welcome reserved for heroes on May 2nd 1967.
While they were inside, fellow farmers and good neighbours fell into a regime of help which saw their turf being cut and stood and their farms being looked after in general.
Full of Recollections
Half a century on and almost to the day, John ‘Johnnie’ Roche took delivery of the first batch of the book in preparation for Friday night’s launch.
The book tells the story of a time when the farmers of Ireland finally stood up for the rights they believed were being denied to them.
The 140 page book is full of recollections of the surviving members of the marchers of ’66 and tributes to those gone to their eternal reward.
There are profiles of the Kerry farmers who marched and press cuttings from the various publications of the day.
A limited number of copies of the book will be available at the River Island Hotel at the launch on Friday night at will be on sale at a nominal price.
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