Excerpt #9 from my new Liam Lynch book [–shortly to be published]: [1] Fourteen years later my mother names me after Liam Lynch –and never tells me! [2] After 85 years, the President of Ireland gives the Liam Lynch Memorial Day Speech and praises Liam. [3] Bede praises his Irish friend, St. Aidan: “A Man of Outstanding Moderation…

1. This Excerpt [#9] links 3 separate events over some 1300 years. They all have a connection to Liam Lynch; they all have a bearing on the story.

2. In Excerpt #10, the story leaves Liam Lynch who was shot dead on April 10th 1923 and was buried in Kilcrumper Graveyard near Fermoy in Co. Cork.
It moves on to 1929 when Annies marries Dave; they move to Cobh, Co. Cork. They will live there for the rest of their lives. I talk about the interesting town of Cobh, and how life was for a young boygrowing up there.
Included in this, is a briefl section on the part that the piano, and music in general, play in our lives.

3. Much later on Liam Lynch returns to the story –peripherally, even miraculously. Ireland has changed and evolved a great deal in the meantime.



A hero who dies young can be dangerous.
Especially if –like Liam Lynch– he never gets
to tell us his regrets, to spell them out. Why it
was “such a pity”? Why it “should never have
happened?” We fill in the blanks. We redefine
him in our own imaginations (–driven by what-
ever agenda).We speculate –as I am doing
here: I can only hope my speculation rings true.

“This should never have happened.” But the
Republican idea did persist, & later flourish in
the context of Ulster’s severe inequalities & the
aggravating trauma that was Bloody Sunday.

The 1981H-Block Hunger Strikes deeply moved
me.I wrote my mother from New York: “I feel I
need to know more; to get more involved…”

Her response to me was her most forceful EVER.
“Under NO circumstances get involved!”. Had
she read more into my “get more involved”?
No matter! She had made her point!)

Working on this poem, I strongly felt both her &
Liam’s presence over my shoulder.Was I getting
history right? Doing them justice?Not taking
sides but representing them both properly?

I embraced the obligations of this challenging
-and satisfying- project, feeling a responsibility
to gather & weigh the evidence; to portray
Liam accurately, and to honor her insights &
her own special connection to him.Though
central to Ireland’s struggle for independence,
accounts of Liam’s life (however interesting &
informed) do tend to take sides –praising or
blaming, excusing or accusing. And do it with
a lack of shading –often failing to acknowledge
that Liam had any inner conflicts.

Late one night, working on my poem, I had an
“illumination” (Actually I had two: the other
occurs in “Ocean Dream” at the end.) It was
about my middle name, ‘William’. I had used its
initial ‘W’ ever since I began that teenage ritual,
“developing an impressive signature”. But
now I was remembering that before that, both
my mother & I had used its Gaelic form. Liam.

Irish family naming traditions mainly honor
deceased family members; we kids all knew
who we had been named after. But now –as I
scanned again the names on our family tree– it
dawned on me: there were no other “William’s”
or “Liam’s”! My mother had named me “Liam”
after Liam Lynch! That was now very clear!

It was a startling and intriguing recognition. But
it was the second part that I found even more
revealing. My mother had never TOLD me of
this fact –that she’d named me after Liam!
Why? Why had she done it but then not told me?

It was very clear that she would have wanted
to honor Liam’s memory. But it was equally
clear she did not want me to grow up feeling
connected in any way to the bitter partisan
divide that was Irish politics post-Civil War.
That for her was OVER. That was PAST.

It was a powerful insight; again I appreciated
her wise instincts, her resourcefulness.


After 85 years of silence, it was heartening to
see the official “take” on Liam improving in
Ireland. Indeed, in 2008, President Cowen
himself came to Kilcrumper Cemetery to
give the Commemorative Address at the
Liam Lynch Memorial. In it he praised Liam’s
“fearless” heroism & his “proud legacy” as a
“distinguished leader…enriching that conscious
sense of nationhood which is the soul of Ireland
…in harmony with the most durable spiritual
forces (moulding) the Irish nation.” Liam was,
he said “a pivotal figure”, a “maker of history.”

Of course, there was a certain “airiness” wafting
through Taoisheach Cowen’s poetics: the tone
still needed to respect different sensibilities.
But, make no mistake: this was a huge change,
a significant endorsement. I thought of how
much my mother would have enjoyed it & the
fun we would have had deconstructing the
speech & the whole event, over cups of tea.


If a man would be a “hero” (and, indeed, might
not the idea tempt us all –at least until we saw
what was required of us), history requires he “go
the extra mile”. After all, that is what heroes do.
That is how we can tell them from the rest of us

“Extra Mile” suggests we know the right place
to stop; the place to say “Here and no further!”
But there are no measured “extra miles”: the
measuring calls for judgment, instinct. Sense.
Sad to say –instead– too many would-be heroes
end up simply…”going too far”. ( And too many
of them –in the process—end up dead!)


Over a thousand years ago, the English monk,
The Venerable Bede, wrote in praise of his dear
Irish friend, Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne:
“A Man of Outstanding Moderation”
–this despite the fact that Bede & Aidan were on
opposite sides of the “Celts v. Rome Head Office”
argument of the Synod of Whitby of 664.)

“Outstanding Moderation!” –in Bede’s day it was
a supreme compliment. But “Moderation” in the
interim has lost its sense of “Wise Resolution” &
taken-on instead its modern “Wishy-Washiness”:
(Our partisan world has no time for Moderation.)

“Outstanding Moderation!” –perhaps it is a lot
for us to ask of a 29 year-old. But not too much:
it lay just beyond young Liam’s grasp that day.
Almost within his reach;
On his way to make a truce;
On his way to make a peace; to make his peace;
On his way to meet his maker.
As he lay dying.

“This,” he said, “should never have happened.”
This is all a pity. On that day, April 10th, 1923,
“Outstanding Moderation!” was the knife-edge
on which Liam’s very existence was balanced.
[As soon as he was dead, the war was over.]

[End of Excerpt # 9. I hope you are enjoying the story as it unfolds. Do spread the word — people may read it here on my blog. And they may reserve a copy or copies at the pre-publication price of 24 dollars by emailing me at stonestreetpress@verizon.net ]

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