The North Longford Flying Column: The Clonfin Twenty-one book launches

Author Bernard Sexton tells the story of Column members who took part in the Clonfin Ambush

Written by Bernard Sexton, the book The North Longford Flying Column: The Clonfin Twenty-one will be launched by historian Dr Mel Farrell in Granard Community Library. The launch takes place at 2pm on Saturday, 18 February. All are welcome to attend.

The book gives background to the Column and its activities. It also provides biographies of the twenty-one Column members who took part in the Clonfin ambush. The ambush of two lorries carrying Auxiliaries, recruited to fight the IRA, took place on the Ballinalee to Granard road on 2 February 1921.

The book is supported by Longford County Council Library, Heritage, Archives and Arts Services, through the Decade of Centenaries Programme.

Longford author Bernard Sexton’s grandfather Seán Sexton was a Column member. Bernard has been working on this book for several years and has drawn on a remarkable variety of sources to tell the story.

Formed by Seán MacEoin, the North Longford Flying Column was the most known unit of the IRA in County Longford. It was involved in many actions during the War of Independence, 1919-1921. The Clonfin ambush was the most famous action the Column took part in.

Longford County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Turlough McGovern said, “The North Longford Flying Column played a huge part in the War of Independence and, of course, every year the Clonfin Ambush is commemorated. It is great to see this book launch. It will tell the whole story, with something for new audiences, as well as those more familiar with the history. I congratulate Bernard on it and know how much work he put into it.”

Longford County Council Chief Executive Paddy Mahon added, “This book is meticulously researched and gives us a wealth of detail about the Flying Column. Work like this is a very good example of what the Decade of Centenaries Programme is about. Longford County Council, through the work of the Library, Heritage, Archives and Arts Services, is proud to support this project.”

For author Bernard Sexton, this book is very much a labour of love: “I grew up hearing stories about my grandfather’s service in the War of Independence and got very interested in the whole subject. As I got older, I decided that it would be important to research his career and the stories of the other men at Clonfin.”

Launching the book, Dr Mel Farrell is a well-known historian specialising in the Revolutionary period and the history of the Irish Free State. He lectures in Carlow College, St Patrick’s.

The book will be available to purchase for €10 at the launch and afterwards in Longford Libraries.