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The Bloodied Field


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Table of Contents


Names and Acronyms 13

Cast of Principal Characters 15

Prologue 21

The Invisible War 34


1 The Boy with the Penny Package 45

2 The Outlaws 56

3 The Reluctant General 78

4 The Heritage of Hate 97


5 A New Force 119

6 Faith Restored 140

7 The Brainy Bunch 156

8 The Challenge 170


9 Morning - 7am to Midday 187

10 Afternoon - 11am to 3.25pm 199

11 The Bloodied Field - 3.25pm to 5.30pm 214

12 The Aftermath 231


13 The Violence of Truth 247

14 The Funerals 265

15 The Inquiries 280

16 War Stories 299

17 The Dead 319

Postscript 323

Selected Bibliography 327

Index 337

About the Author

Originally from Killavullen, Co Cork, Michael Foley has written Kings of September, winner of the 2007 BoyleSports Irish Sportsbook of the year. He also ghostwrote Harte: Presence Is the Only Thing, the autobiography of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte, shortlisted for the 2009 William Hill Irish Sportsbook of the Year. Winner of the GAA's McNamee Award in 2008 and shortlisted for Sports Journalist of the Year in 2003, he is acting sports editor and GAA correspondent for the Irish edition of the Sunday Times. This is his third book. He currently resides in Macroom, Co Cork.


Among the sports writing fraternity of the GAA, a healthy competition began rousing itself around 15 years ago, leading to over a decade of left-field 'concept' books and superb documenting of Gaelic Games. The trickle-down effect has emboldened many writers willing to experiment on their work. Each Christmas, Gaelic Games has a glut of sports books produced. For an indigenous sport and an amateur one at that, it is possibly even over-subscribed with capable authors. The high-water mark this Christmas, and for a few more, might just be reached by the release of Michael Foley's 'The Bloodied Field'... This is a rich book. It has soul and a beating heart and it stands alone as an astonishing, affecting piece of work. If you are in the habit of visiting Croke Park, you will never look at it again with the same eyes. Only greatness can achieve that effect. And this book is great

* Belfast Telegraph *

these victims have been rescued from obscurity in this fine book, which deserves its place in any collection on our founding struggle

-- The Tuam Herald

Michael Foley's acclaimed book about Bloody Sunday

* RTE *

Foley's award winning book from six years ago has become the foundation text of the commemoration ... definitive account of Bloody Sunday

* Irish Times *


* Irish Roots Magazine *

these victims have been rescued from obscurity in this fine book, which deserves its place in any collection on our founding struggle

* Tuam Herald *

a must-read for anyone interested in how the past can inform the present ... a book that transcends sport to open a window into the forces that shaped the birth of an Irish nation ... a vivid portrayal ... The Bloodied Field is a mainstream Irish sports book that deserves to be on the school curriculum

* Irish Daily Mail *

accomplished and haunting

* Irish Times *

the critically acclaimed The Bloodied Field ... A familiar story told as never before.

* Irish Independent *

well-researched and enormously readable book

* History Ireland *

reads like a thriller

* Wexford People *

Cork-born author Michael Foley appears to have mastered a particular genre of GAA book writing which requires considerable ability and attention to detail in order to be a success ... [he] has set a high standard that anyone else who dares to venture down this tricky path will find difficult to emulate

* Enniscorthy Guardian, New Ross Standard *


* Sunday Independent Sport *

a must read for both GAA and Irish history buffs ... Foley's book is one that will be read for years to come, by both sports fans and history scholars'

* Mayo Advertiser *

already now an Irish classic

* Irish Examiner *

one of the best Irish sports books of the year

* Gorey Guardian *

for those of you who might think this is a history book, think again ... a very interesting read

* Dungarvan Leader *

Irish sport book of the year in my mind

* RTE Sport's Damien O'Meara *

reading it at the moment ... and I think it's a fantastic piece of work

* Sunday Independent *

a must read for all history and sporting folk

* Clare County Express *


* *

the book of the year in terms of sports books .... so well-written ... he takes you there ... I can't imagine too many better non-fiction books have been released this year in any genre

* TV3's Ireland AM *

thanks to ... The Bloodied Field ... we now have a much more vivid and greater understanding of the frightening events that happened

* Irish Examiner *


* Second Captains *

truly brilliant

* *

the definitive history of the event

* Irish Times *

Michael Foley's extraordinary book ... highly recommended

* Tipperary Star *

one of the stand-out books last year

* Newstalk's Off The Ball *

far and away, my book of the year .... this is one of those books that transcends sports ... brilliant ... the book of the year

-- Damien O'Meara * RTE Sport *

A stunning read. Builds the suspense superbly during the day with personal accounts of all the main protagonists involved on Bloody Sunday and its aftermath. Michael Foley has done not just the GAA, but the country, a service in putting this book together. It is a film waiting to happen. Historical research of this nature could have been heavy and lost the interest of the reader quickly, but he takes his painstaking research and turns it into a gripping thriller. Just brilliant.

* *

the definitive account of Bloody Sunday 1920 ... amazing ... phenomenally well put together ... one of the best books that I've read in a long time

* The Last Word with Matt Cooper *

I couldn't put it down ... a fabulous piece of work ... read like a thriller ... he builds the suspense superbly ... a testament to the brilliance of Michael Foley, one of our best sportswriters ... you can tell from the opening page he has absolutely nailed this book

* RTE1's Sean O'Rourke Show *

the best ... a sports book, a history book, a thriller ... the writing is a treat ... Foley weaves every strand together with an expert hand for a book that makes everything else look unambitious

* Irish Times *

rarely has a sports book told you more about and Ireland at one moment in time ... probably the most exhaustively and best researched mainstream Irish sports book ever, yet reads like the best of historical novels

* Irish Examiner *

As the opening episode of this podcast lays out in brilliant detail, Bloody Sunday, November 21, 1920, is something we all think we know about, but few of us actually do. We know about it in broad strokes, but along the way the nuance has been lost. This podcast by the GAA - presented and written by Michael Foley of the Sunday Times - is an attempt to fill in the blanks of our collective memory about the events of that day, and about the people to whom it happened. Foley is uniquely well-placed to do so having literally written the book on the subject. His widely acclaimed The Bloodied Field is the inspiration for and source material for this timely podcast. Foley's skill is that he brings the events and the people to life, this is not some sort of dry academic exercise. The opening episode, focusses on the person of Michael Hogan, the Tipperary footballer and most famous victim of the massacre. It's genuinely moving to hear about Hogan the man and, even more poignantly, Hogan the child. Foley's retelling of Hogan's first day at school, helps humanise him, helps turn the name on the stand into something more tangible for the listener. An important piece of work

* The Kerryman *

The GAA have laid on a whole range of events, talks, exhibitions, and interactive multi- media content to mark the occasion. A series of films and podcasts continue the work of author and journalist Michael Foley in his book The Bloodied Field, the definitive account of that tragic day. Reading Foley's book brought back for a modern audience the real lived experience of an event which had been lost in historical mythos

* Irish Examiner *

Exceptional book and podcast

* Irish Daily Star *

Michael Foley's must-read book

* Irish Daily Mail *

It was the publication of The Bloodied Field by Sunday Times journalist Michael Foley six years ago which was the chief catalyst for the renewed fascination. Foley's superb book ... the definitive work on Bloody Sunday

* Roscommon Herald *

An hour that seemed like 15 mins, brilliantly put together

* RTE Sport/Irish Examiner's Anthony Daly *

That Bloody Sunday 1920 documentary was superb with the range of contributors. As said by many, The Bloodied Field book is a great piece of work if you haven't checked it out already

*'s GAA contributor Fintan O'Toole *

Loved Bloody Sunday, 1920 on RTE1 ... A brilliant job

* Second Captain's Ciaran Murphy *

After tonight's Blood Sunday commemoration programme, one would imagine that the book, The Bloodied Field by @MickFoley76 will be on the sleigh from Lapland

* Cork C103's GAA commentator Paudie Palmer *

Maybe the best documentary produced by the national broadcaster through the #DecadeofCentenaries. Superbly made, the narrative driven by historians and relatives, as well as very inventive use of archival material

* Gerry Shannon, historian *

Based on his acclaimed book

* Irish Examiner *

Based on Michael Foley's award-winning book

* Irish Independent *

based on the award-winning book

* Evening Echo *

Based on his acclaimed book

* Irish Times *

Michael Foley's resonant tribute to the of the definitive account of the day

* The Irish Times *

A masterclass in storytelling

* Irish Examiner *

More crucial, however, has been work of writer Michael Foley whose terrific book, The Bloodied Field, has done much to inform and re-calibrate the GAA's approach to the challenge of commemoration ... the appearance of Foley's book that breathed life into those names that had been etched alongside Michael Hogan's in Croke Park in 1970. Who were these people, where and how did they live and what did they do? Who did they leave behind? The asking and answering of those questions has, undoubtedly, helped steer the current commemorative course. Moreover, it has, as Foley observes in the last episode of his riveting podcast series, allowed the GAA "to fully face and address the legacy of Bloody Sunday as it applied them". They have done so quietly and with dignity in recent years through a project that, with the assistance of relatives, has seen headstones erected on previously unmarked graves. And they have done so more recently in sponsoring a commemorative programme that is diverse, reflective, and informed by evidence

* Irish Examiner *


* Irish Mail on Sunday *

Painstakingly researched

* The Avondhu *

Michael Foley's seminal work

* Enniscorthy Guardian *


* History Ireland *

A seminal piece of work

* Irish Sun *

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