1921: A Book of the Irish Century


The Irish fight for independence is one of the most captivating tales of the twentieth century. Morgan Llywelyn, the acclaimed historical writer of books like Lion of Ireland, Bard and The Horse Goddess, is the writer born to bring this epic battle to life. Having created an entire body of work chronicling the Celts and Ireland, she now turns to recent Irish history to create a multivolume saga: The Irish Century.

1921 tells the story of the Irish War of Independence and the ...

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The Irish fight for independence is one of the most captivating tales of the twentieth century. Morgan Llywelyn, the acclaimed historical writer of books like Lion of Ireland, Bard and The Horse Goddess, is the writer born to bring this epic battle to life. Having created an entire body of work chronicling the Celts and Ireland, she now turns to recent Irish history to create a multivolume saga: The Irish Century.

1921 tells the story of the Irish War of Independence and the heartbreaking civil war that followed. Henry Mooney, a reporter for theClare Champion and the Irish Bulletin, is a self-described "moderate nationalist" who struggles to see the truth in the news of the day, and to report it fairly. Lacking more radical Republican beliefs of his dear friends Ned Halloran and Sile Duffy, Henry reports the political—and later, bloody—actions of his fellow Irishman from the ashes of the failed 1916 Rising to the creation of the Irish Free State to the tragic and wide-ranging battles of the Irish Civil War.

Meanwhile, Henry feels the impact of these history-changing events in his own personal life. His friendship with Ned falters when their political beliefs diverge, and an unexpected tragedy leaves them further apart than ever. Henry struggles with his passion for a well-bred Protestant Anglo-Irish woman, Ella Rutledge, and as he dutifully reports the events in the political battle for independence, he comes to realize that the Irish struggle for freedom wil leave no life untouched—and no Irish citizen with a dry eye or an untroubled heart.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Irish writer Morgan Llywelyn is tracing the history of Ireland in a saga called 'The Irish Century' . . . Ms. Llywleyn's work interprets the Irish Troubles in a fictional setting that helps outlanders understand their complexity and bitterness."-The Richmond Times-Dispatch

"A wonderful, and exciting book-a great reading pleasure."-Irish American News

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Llywelyn's second novel in the series she inaugurated with 1916 (1998) furthers her investigation of Irish history by focusing on Ireland's struggle for freedom from Britain. This volume begins in 1917 in the aftermath of the Easter Rising and carries through to the civil war and the establishment of the Republic of Ireland. That Llywelyn knows her Irish history, culture, language and ambience is unquestionable. Unfortunately, in her attempt to amalgamate her encyclopedic knowledge of Ireland with the fictional adventures of Henry Mooney, a journalist torn between the traditional demands of family and personal ambition and his commitment to his country, she produces a story that is as dense as an Irish bog and nearly as confusing to navigate. Henry, a supporter of the Republican cause but a political moderate and neutral observer by nature, moves with alacrity among the various factions, apparently enjoying journalistic immunity as he uses his pen to further the Irish cause and attack the British. As the situation in the country deteriorates, Henry's personal life becomes more complex. Smitten with passionate S le Halloran, but unable to possess her since she is the wife of his best friend and Easter veteran Ned (protagonist of 1916), Henry falls in love with beautiful Anglo-Irish siren Ella Rutledge, further dividing his loyalties. Often sliding into essayistic prose, with footnotes supplementing the text, the novel depicts events and political developments in exhaustive detail. Though the account of the civil war is thorough and nuanced, readers of 1916 and other popular books by Llywelyn (Lion of Ireland; Bard, etc.) may be taken aback by the historical heft of this offering. (Mar.) Forecasts: Llywelyn is a popular writer and this book won't hurt her sales record, boosted as it will be by an excerpt in the mass market edition of The Last Prince of Ireland (due out March 1), an eight-city author tour, national ad/promo and the availability of a reading group guide (the book is caboosed by 17 pages of source notes and bibliography). Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After a fat handful of Irish historicals about legendary figures like Finn Mac Cool, Llywelyn strode into modern times and Ireland's Easter Rising in 1916 (1998) and now in 1921 chronicles the separation of Ireland into two states, basing much of her narrative on reportage by her own journalist grandfather. She includes as well source notes for each chapter and a lengthy bibliography. Narrator Henry Mooney, based on Llywelyn's grandfather, joins other real-life people as he seeks the truth behind bloody events, then falls for Ella, a Brit who has been taught Irish history by Ireland's conquerors and thinks Henry unwise to follow about Michael Collins and the rebels. The love story stays afloat with Ella getting pregnant, while Llywelyn supports her lively pages with hundreds of daily clippings pasted throughout. A nation's agony, with sequels forthcoming. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812570793
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 3/15/2002
  • Series: Irish Century Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 4.27 (w) x 6.67 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Since 1980 Morgan Llywelyn has created an entire body of work chronicling the Celts and Ireland, from the earliest times to the present day. her critically acclaimed novels, both of history and of mythology, have been translated into many languages. She is an Irish citizen and lives in Dublin.

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Reading Group Guide


Morgan Llywelyn has brought the stirring depth and richness of Irish history and culture to life in a manner that few writers have ever accomplished. Her books have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, and have been translated into dozens of languages. Among her most highly acclaimed historical novels are the stunning New York Times bestseller Lion of Ireland, chronicling the legend of the ancient Irish warriorking Brian Boru, and Pride of Lions, which continues that heroic epic with Boru’s young son Donough and his struggle to hold together his father’s kingdom.

Among the awards Morgan Llywelyn has received are the Poetry and Prose Award for Bard, and the Best Novel of the Year Award for The Horse Goddess from the National League of Penwomen and the American Library Association. The Horse Goddess was also named a Book-of-the Month Club Selection, as was her The Last Prince of Ireland. She lives in Ireland.


“Whereas the Irish people is by right a free people: 

And whereas for seven hundred years the Irish people have never ceased to repudiate and has repeatedly protested in arms against foreign usurpation:

And whereas English rule in this country is, and always has been, based upon force and fraud and maintained by military occupation against the declared wish of the people:

We solemnly declare foreign government in Ireland to be an invasion of our national right which will never tolerate, and we demand the evacuation of our country by the English Garrsion:

In the name of the Irish people we humbly commit our destiny to Almighty God who gave our fathers the courage and determination to persevere through long centuries of a ruthless tyranny, and strong in the justice of the cause which they have handed down to us, we ask His Divine blessing on this last stage of the struggle we have pledged ourselves to carry through to freedom.”

—from the Irish Declaration of Independence

For more than seven hundred years, the Irish people suffered beneath the yoke of British subjugation, their national identity stolen away by their English overlords. Throughout the long centuries, however, the vibrant spirit of the Irish was never broken, and while the celebrated Easter Rising of 1916 may have ended in failure, the harshness of the English response merely served to set the stage for the next irresistible struggle for Irish freedom.

In bestselling novelist Morgan Llywelyn the Irish have finally found their own vibrant voice for history. With 1921, Llywelyn has combined her consummate storytelling skill with impeccable research to vividly recreate the turbulent struggle for Irish independence after the First World War. Seamlessly meshing fictional and historical characters into an unforgettable epic, Morgan Llywelyn chronicles the rise of Sinn Fein and the IRA, unabashedly relating the indiscriminate violence and unsung heroism that would result in the founding of the Irish republic. Richly detailed and moving, 1921 is a story of blood and sacrifice, tragedy and ultimate triumph, which unmistakably shows why Morgan Llywelyn is today’s preeminent writer of Irish historical fiction.

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