Coolacrease – The True Story of the Pearson Executions; An Incident in the Irish War of Independence

Coolacrease – The True Story of the Pearson Executions; An Incident in the Irish War of Independence

About the book

At the end of the War of Independence, two brothers were shot at Coolacrease, Co. Offaly, and their house burned. Their execution was ordered by the senior IRA command for taking up arms against the democratically elected Irish government in time of war.

In 2007 the Irish national broadcaster, RTÉ, screened a film portraying the execution of the Pearson brothers – who were Protestant - as a sectarian atrocity and an act of ethnic cleansing by local Republicans in furtherance of a land grab, with the complicity of the Irish Land Commission. They claimed their case was proven by official documents.

This book, producing the full documentary record, rebuts the charges made by RTÉ against the local people of Cadamstown, the Army of the Dáil and the Irish Land Commission. It shows the charges to be baseless, refuted by the documentary evidence.

The documentary records reproduced include contemporary IRA reports, the Proceedings of the British Military Courts of Inquiry into the executions, the Land Commission and Land Registry records, and the records of the British compensation body (“Irish Grants Committee”) which examined the case.

This for the first time is the full true story of the tragic events at Coolacrease.

About the authors

Paddy Heaney is a historian in Co. Offaly who published a first account of these events in 2000. Dr. Pat Muldowney has written widely on Irish history and poetry. Philip O’Connor, who edited the book, is a trained historian. Dr. Brian P. Murphy osb is a renowned Irish historian. Brendan Clifford has published extensively on Irish history and politics. Nick Folley comments on current affairs. John Martin writes for the Irish Political Review and is author of the recent history, The Irish Times – Past and Present.


Introduction – Jack Lane

  1. The True Story of the Events at Coolacrease – Paddy Heaney and Pat Muldowney
  2. The Cadamstown IRA in the War of Independence – Paddy Heaney
  3. The British Army and the War in South Offaly – Philip O’Connor
  4. Land Grab? - What the Documents Say – Philip O’Connor
  5. “Amish-type Farmers”? – Pacifism and the Cooneyites – Pat Muldowney
  6. An Extraordinary Set-Up: The Irish Grants Committee – Philip O’Connor
  7. Poisoning the Well or Publishing the Truth? – Brian P. Murphy osb
  8. Academic Evasions: Revisionists and the War of Independence – Brendan Clifford
  9. Exposing Propaganda – Pat Muldowney
  10. RTÉ and the Holy Grail of Revisionism – Nick Folley
  11. Defending their Own: the Broadcasting Complaints Commission – John Martin

Documents (Appendices)

  1. Location Maps of Coolacrease
  2. Photographs
  3. Irish Army Reports on the Pearson Execution
  4. Proceedings of the British Military Court of Inquiry
  5. Selected Land Documents
  6. The Pearson Claims before the “Irish Grants Committee”
  7. On executions by popular resistance movements: Extract from The Gadfly by E.L. Voynich
  8. A Note on the Debate in the Press
  9. Annotated Transcript of the RTÉ film The Killings at Coolacrease
Howth Free Press