Sunday 21 April 2019

Riverstown's fallen soldiers remembered

Cian Harte’s book will be launched on December 5
Cian Harte’s book will be launched on December 5

Jessica Farry

The story of RIverstown's fallen solders is the subject of a new book by native Cian Harte, set to be launched at the beginning of December.

'The Lost Tales, Riverstown's Great War 1914 - 1918' tells the tales of locals in the area at the time, their stories, and the lives of those who were killed in World War One .

This project has been ongoing for Cian Harte for the last 18 months. This isn't his first venture into writing though. He has previously published a book entitled 'Soldiers of Sligo' and was this year involved in another publication detailing the history of Arrow Harps, earlier in the year.

"It started off as a part-time project about 18 months ago. I decided to dig up tales that had never been told or had been forgotten. I wanted to document the lives of people around the local environment at the time," said Cian.

"My main focus was trying to re tell the men and women's experiences of the people who died. I wanted to tell the stories of their final moments.

"I think the project's been a great success. I went around talking to elders about people in the area. And that started with just a few but that went on to around 80 via heavy handed research. Essentially I discovered tales from the area around that time."

"There was one story about a woman, Emily Barlow, who drowned on the RMS Leinster. Her tale was non-existent but I found her next of kin, a couple of grand nephews who actually had a snuff box that belonged to her. It was found when her body was washed ashore. I was just kind of motivated by these tales."

Cian, who graduated from Queen's University in Belfast in 2013 with a Masters in Ancient History, was unsure at first whether he would have sufficient information to fill a full book at first. But, his research brought up a huge number of interesting people and stories that just had to be told.

"I love history and anything to do with military history. This was a reinvigoration of people's lives and stories. I didn't think there would be enough stories to do a book about it to be honest. I gathered a lot of information about it all.

"I love research. It reminds me of when I was younger and I loved fishing. You're kind of waiting for the fish to bite. That's what the research is like. You dig and dig and then you finally get something good."

It's been a long process for Cian. But he feels it's been a worthwhile exercise. "I wanted to try and tell these people's stories. Years ago people frowned upon these service men for fighting in the British army.

"But I wanted to talk about their struggles and their lives rather than the politics of it and their motivation for getting involved. "I've spent every spare moment over the last while interviewing people, trawling through archives. I've travelled to London, Dublin, Belfast and all across the country."

The book will be launched on Saturday December 5th at Cooper Memorial Hall.

Sligo Champion