Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Dip your nose into worlds of difference

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The Christmas rush on the bookshops may be over for another year but for those left with book vouchers in their pockets and considering something different to buy, then they could do worse than take a look at Freney the Robber.

The book relates the exploits of James Freney, an 18th century Irish highwayman. Born near the beautiful south Kilkenny village of Inistioge, Freney's criminal career lasted from 1744 to 1749 but the legends have lived on to this day.

The son of the head steward on the Robbins family estate, Freney grew up in a relatively privileged household compared to those of the average tenant farmer.

He developed a liking for the finer things in life, and his gambling, drinking and general carousing resulted in the young man turning to a life of crime to support these tastes.


However, author Michael Holden paints a picture of a man who was driven by far more than greed.

He earned a reputation for being a bit of a Robin Hood and was protected by the peasantry of south Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford and Waterford during his years on the run.

Freney the Robber is an easily read compendium of the highway man's exploits. It is an enjoyable read and one which will be of interest for anyone with a love of local folklore.

Also Read

Elsewhere, a publication which should spark some interest among the country's GAA fraternity is Around the World in GAA Days.


This is a very different look at the nation's largest sporting body as the author, Aaron Dunne, took a two-year tour of the globe to visit some of the GAA's more exotic locations.

Dunne, who is clearly a GAA fanatic, visited such noted GAA highlights as the All-China games in the city of Dalian, close to the Korean border, and the Viet Celts in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The GAA scene in Australia and New Zealand, and that on the west and east coasts of the United States of America are also extensively covered in the book.

You could say that this book deserves credit for the sheer originality of the concept -- but that would be patronising. It stands on much more than a concept and is an excellent read for anyone with an interest in travel, Gaelic games or both.

Irish Independent