Four Killings: Land Hunger, Murder and A Family in the Irish Revolution


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SKU: 9781800244849 Categories: , , , Tag: Author: Myles DunganPublication Date: 13th May 2021Format: Paperback / softbackPages: 336Publisher: Head of Zeus


The story of the fate of a single family during the Irish Revolution, Four Killings is a remarkable book written by a celebrated Irish broadcaster. It is a book about political murder, and the powerful hunger for land and the savagery it can unleash.

Dungan’s family was involved in four violent deaths between 1915 and 1922. One man, Jack Clinton, an immigrant small farmer from Co. Meath, was murdered in the remote and lawless Arizona territory by a powerful rancher’s hired gun; three more died in Ireland, and each death is compellingly reconstructed in this extraordinary book.

What unites them is the violence that engulfed Ireland during the campaign against the British, but also the theme of deep anger over the ownership of land. That often brutal struggle between landless labourers and smallholders and more prosperous farmers is a forgotten aspect of the war of independence. It was in many ways a continuation of the unfinished 19th-century Land War.

Mark Clinton was murdered by a group of agrarian ‘bandits’ who resented his family’s possession of some disputed land; his killer was tried and executed by the dead man’s relatives and comrades in the Meath IRA. And another man, a mentally challenged youth, was shot as an informer by another relative of Dungan’s and buried in secrecy and silence.

Myles Dungan’s book, focused on one family, offers an original take on this still controversial period: a prism through which the moral and personal costs of violence, and the elemental conflict over land, come alive in surprising ways. This is a highly readable narrative history, combining original scholarship and a strong grasp of the larger issues at stake.

Four Killings: Land Hunger, Murder and A Family in the Irish Revolution