On Thursday 24 August 2017 Mercier Press and the National Library of Ireland hosted the Dublin launch of a new edition of Sean Ó Lúing’s I die in a good cause: Thomas Ashe: A biography. A teacher by profession, Ashe was a prominent activist in most of the major nationalist organisations of the pre-independence period, including the Gaelic League, the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and the Irish Volunteers. Ashe was responsible for leading the Irish Volunteers at the battle of Ashbourne in Co. Meath, the most significant military engagement outside Dublin during the Easter Rising. Held in high regards by his peers, he was imprisoned after the Rising but was released, and became a key figure in the reorganisation of separatist republicanism in 1917. Imprisoned for making a seditious speech, in August 1917 he and a number of other republican prisoners went on hunger strike in Mountjoy gaol, and died on 25 September 1917 as a result of force-feeding him by the prison authorities. His subsequent funeral and burial in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin, was characterised by the largest show of strength by the republican movement since the Rising, and was a major milestone in the campaign for independence.
Ó Lúing’s biography, originally published in 1970, remains the only full length study of Ashe and is being reissued to mark the centenary of his death.
From Century Ireland: The battle of Ashbourne.