A novel set in the Irish war in 1798, with a character named Thomas Treacy and his daughter Ellen, of Bridge-end House on the Ballycastle road, within the Killala and Kilcummin boundries County Mayo.
A band of determined, romantic Irishmen rise up in County Mayo against their English rulers. The French, secure in the success of their own revolution, decide to come to the aid of the Irish, less for the sake of an ideal than to harass the English. Three shiploads of troops, under the brilliant General Humbert, set sail from France. Their arrival in Kilcummin Bay is the signal for the war of liberation to begin. In the blaze of summer, in the first flurry of surprise attacks and easy victories, it seems that the dream of a free Ireland may be realized. But by fall, disappointed in their hope for more troops from France and confronted by vastly superior forces under Lord Cornwallis, the Irish are doomed. The uprising leads to heroism, butchery, the bloody end of a dream that refuses to die.
Out of a minor historical episode, Thomas Flanagan has forged an epic. Scores of characters are brought to life in his teeming pages: the poet Owen MacCarthy, taking up arms in spite of himself; Lord Cornwallis, his fame tarnished in America, suavely regaining his stature as he moves in for the kill; Judith Elliott, too romantic to understand why the husband she loves must be branded a criminal; the aristocratic George Moore, holding aloof, watching his hotheaded younger brother go to almost certain death, then setting out to save him.... Here, too, is their Ireland, of the great Palladian houses and peasant cottages, of primitive villages and handsome Georgian towns, and the brooding, empty landscape between. The panorama unfolds to show us a distant world in all its squalor and splendor, its barbarousness and gallantry.
Flanagan, Thomas (1979) The Year of the French. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, NY.
Last update: 28 September 2015