On Wednesday 21 June the Irish Labour History Society hosted the launch of Liz Gillis’s May 25: Burning of the Customs House. This new book is about burning of the Custom House on 25 May 1921, following a major attack by the Dublin Brigade of the IRA. The attack on the building, which houses the Department of Local Government, was intended to be a substantial show of strength, and a departure from the guerrilla tactics usually favoured by the IRA during the War of Independence; given the capture of the large numbers of Volunteers in the aftermath mean that is usually considered to be a military failure. Gillis’s book, But, over the last number of years, historians Liz Gillis and Mícheál Ó Doibhilín have, based on their extensive research, challenged this view, arguing that the operation was, in fact, a success which possibly helped bring about a truce and the subsequent Treaty negotiations. This unique book, based on eight years of research, challenges this view, arguing that the operation was, in fact, a success which possibly helped bring about the truce of July 1921. It tells the full story of the attack on the Custom House in unprecedented detail , and contextualizes the attack among the events of the Irish War of Independence, giving a comprehensive account of the events that preceded and led up to it.
The launch took place at the Irish Labour History Society, Beggars Bush, Haddington Road, Dublin 4 at 6.30pm, and the book was launched by Éamon O Cuiv TD.