on 16 November 2007
This is a short and now rare book published in 1929. It is a first-hand account of the events of the Irish War of Independence written by a young man who was in his early teens when he volunteered to join the Dublin Brigade led by, among others, Michael Collins.
Charlie Dalton grew up very fast in exciting and dangerous times. He grew closer to Collins' inner circle and was among those identified as the Apostles. In plain, under-stated language, Dalton tells the story of those years in a way that allows the reader often to read between the lines.
At the time of publication, this would have been fairly difficult reading both for those in the UK government and among the many factions of Irish political allegiance around the Treaty of 1921.
The author was my Grandfather, which made reading the book all the more interesting, but I believe that anyone getting hold of a copy will enjoy reading it.
on 2 May 2015
Charles Dalton was a very young man (16) when the main events of this book start. In the next couple of years he gravitated to the centre of the intelligence war in Dublin becoming a member of the IRA Intelligence unit reporting to Michael Collins. In that role he played a part in many operations, some of them such as "Bloody Sunday" now very well known. The main part of the book is only some 150 pages and is written in a pretty matter of fact style without embellishment and communicates very well the frenetic, disorganised and occasionally thrilling and terrifying atmosphere of his life during this period. To bulk the book out there is a fairly humdrum introduction to the period and at the back of the book there is the witness statement Dalton gave to the Bureau of Military History in 1950 but thats adds little new.
The War in Dublin was a very different one to that fought largely in rural Ireland. This was urban guerilla warfare at its rawest and Dalton's account is an interesting story of his own involvement and the events he witnessed. Whilst it is certainly true that the IRA was extremely well organised in its intelligence operations it did not have things all its own way and the British made a major effort to combat that. They never succeeded in inflicting any knock out blow but they did have their successes and as this account graphically shows the pressure on IRA men on the run was intense. Dalton enjoyed a lot of luck, perhaps aided by his youth, never more so than when he and a colleague were picked up and interrogated by the "Igoe Gang", a freebooting unit of RIC men brought up from the country to hunt down and eliminate IRA personnel. His colleague was taken away and executed, Dalton was released and managed to lose the tail they placed on him.
Worth reading for anyone wanting to get a flavour of what life was like in that turbulent period
on 8 July 2015
With the Dublin Brigade was originally published in 1929 as a result of Dalton’s writing of part of his life story following ‘the urgent request of one or two of my friends’, to do so.
In this reissue, Dalton’s 1929 version appears alongside a foreword prepared by historian, Liz Gillis and the full text of the witness statement dictated by Dalton in 1950, which was lodged in the Bureau of Military History Collection (Military Archives). With the Dublin Brigade is confined to Dalton’s personal story and situation as a member of ‘F’ Company, 2 Battalion, Dublin Brigade and as a member of Michael Collins’ intelligence squad. The select memoir documents Dalton’s early motivation to join the Irish Volunteers, his admittance into the Irish Volunteers and position as a member of the Intelligence Staff, General Headquarters. Dalton wrote this part of his story before the close of the 1920s and as a result, his commentary appears natural and his experience, genuine; furthermore, his fondness for including dialogue (he frequently recounts conversations with Rosie who provided him with intelligence ahead of the Bloody Sunday killings, Liam Tobin, Dick McKee and a friendly detective named McNamara), enhances the readability of Dalton’s account and brings his character across to the reader. The book has benefited from a ‘light touch’ in regards to editing and referencing so it is an easy read.
The presentation of the hardcopy book is attractive and available in hardback and in a perhaps uncommon, A2 size (it is also available as a Kindle edition). Aside from the ‘gift book’ presentation, the positive outcome of any reissue is in the availability of such material, which up until now have only been available in select libraries or at considerable cost if purchased through specialist/rare bookshops. Considering the fast pace of new publications covering the same period that are due to be released over the coming decade of commemorations, there will always be room for a contemporaneous personal story and With the Dublin Brigade deserves its place in general bookstores.
As reviewed by Lisa Dolan, in the July/August 2015 issue of An Cosantóir (The Defender) - the official magazine of the Irish Defence Forces - dfmagazine.ie
on 19 March 2014
First published in 1929, this wonderful book is an eye-witness account by a teenage volunteer in the Dublin Brigade led by Michael Collins. Against a background of danger and revolution, D'Alton became part of Collins' inner circle, known as the Apostles. .
A wonderful read and a must for fans of Irish political history.