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Review by David Potter

This is a truly excellent publication, very informative, interesting and accurate with a wealth of detail about both Celtic and Ireland in its 472 pages. It claims to cover both and does so admirably well, including the lyrics of Irish rebel and Celtic songs which are, as the back cover says “far reaching, educational, and of course, provide a great source of pleasure”.

For people like myself who (for background reasons of being a Scottish Protestant) do not know as much about Irish republicanism as he should, this book is an absolute godsend with much detail and photographs about the incidents much commemorated in song. Sean South, (from Garryowen) for example, is a studious earnest looking man whose funeral cortege passed along O’Connell Street, Dublin a few days after that memorable New Year’s Day. It attrected thousands of mourners before it made its way to Limerick. Kevin Barry played rugby and other sports and was indeed offered his life in return for the “names of his brave comrades and the things they wished to know”, but Kevin Barry answered no. The founder of the Argentine Navy was a man from Mayo called William Brown, and Tom Barry of Barry’s Flying Column had served with the British Army in Mesopotamia in the Great War.(So indeed did my grandfather and the grandfather of Gordon Smith, the SFA Chief Executive – the famous Matta Smith who played for Kilmarnock in the 1920s.)

There is a brief potted history of the club with the songs that the supporters would have sung at the time. “Hello, Hello” is a song much associated with Rangers, but in fact Celtic supporters had it first and immortalised it after their 5-0 win in the 1925 Scottish Cup semi final against Rangers. The late 1960s were the time of “The Merry Ploughboy” and as the book says “Lisbon” for a spell, took the place of “Dublin”. There was also as I recall, three add-on words about Her Majesty! And the early 1990s that dreadful time in our history saw the birth of the “Fields of Athenry”, a song sung by its writer Peter St.John at half time at a game between Celtic and Falkirk in April 1996.

The book is awash with detail and is clearly written by two enthusiasts. One of the writers Derek Warfield is associated with the Wolfe Tones group, and the other is a man called Raymond Daly who travels on the Mid Leinster Celtic Supporters Club from Tullamore. This book is indispensable to anyone who wishes to know what Celtic is all about. It is well illustrated, although I have doubts about the photograph on page 424 which purports to be Celtic in 1935. The players are none too familiar. It is possibly a reserve team, or it may even be Kilmarnock, Morton, Hamilton Accies or some other hooped team. But that is a small blemish. In other respects, it is a very fine book. No Celtic supporter should be without it.

David Potter (Celtic Historian) More Than 90 Mins (Issue 48) Not The View (Issue 161) Alternative View (Issue 62)

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