Big turn-out for launch of war novel

John Fitzgerald at the launching of Invaders Books One and Two

Keogh’s bar in Callan was packed for the launching of John Fitzgerald’s Invaders. The fashionable pub was treated to a gentle “invasion” and occupation for the event that included colourful speeches, poetry recitations, and singing.

Joe Kennedy of Callan Heritage Society launched the two-volume publication: Invaders (Book One) and Effusion of Blood (Invaders Book Two).

Describing Invaders as an “epic work”, Joe commended the author on the many months of research and writing that went into the two-part story of how Callan fought against overwhelming odds back in 1650 against a supposedly invincible invading army.

Volume one takes the reader from the day Cromwell’s powerful expeditionary force landed at Ringsend in Dublin right up to the his arrival at the walls of Callan.

Volume two, titled Effusion of Blood takes up the story from there, recreating the tumultuous events that followed Callan’s decision to say NO to the invader.

Joe alluded to John Fitzgerald’s previous books detailing aspects of Callan’s rich heritage and antiquities. He expressed the hope that future generations would cherish the town’s national monuments, its cultural potential, and its wealth of local folklore.

John thanked Joe for launching Invaders and said a few words about how it came to be written…that he first conceived the idea of a story about the brave captain who led the defence of Callan many years ago when he was only ten years old, getting around to writing it only when Covid closed the country down in 2020.

He said was especially grateful to Joe Kennedy because his lengthy non-fiction article on “Cromwell in Callan”, published in the Old Kilkenny Review of 1984, proved invaluable in researching the era covered by the novel..

Historian Philip Lynch recited a moving poem recalling the Cromwellian era, elaborating on the real events that form the backdrop for Invaders. He drew parallels between Cromwell and present-day tyrants in the world, reminding us that human nature doesn’t change… whatever about weapons or technology.

Judy Rhatigan delighted the gathering with the recital of one of her acclaimed poems. Kilkenny Observer readers will recall that she had a launch a few weeks ago of her own Raggedy Bush poetry collection.

Her husband Jimmy entertained also, offering a reprised version of his feted Patrick Kavanagh act, adding an unexpected cultural layer to the night’s proceedings. Jimmy sang a few verses of Raglan Road to round off his enthralling act.

Mark Townsend, who penned a scholarly book on the life and times of Brother Damien Brennan, commended Invaders too. He spoke, from his own experience, of the long hours of work and dedication that writing either fiction or non-fiction entails. “You’d have to love doing it!” he enthused.

Peter Brabazon, author of a poetry collection launched recently in Fennelly’s, regaled the gathering with a poem carefully-chosen from his vast and beguiling repertoire.

The final word was left to Marianne Kelly of the Kilkenny Heritage Walkers. She praised the novel and said she wondered if it might someday be adapted for a film or major drama. She grew up right beside the Fair Green where Cromwell had his guns positioned to bombard the town’s South Gate. Marianne envisages a guided tour of the Callan battle sites referenced in the novel.

Invaders, volumes one and two, is available now from Amazon in both paperback and ebook format, and will be on sale in Kilkenny bookshops later this month.


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