(c) 2016 Mount Merrion Historical Society
8.00pm, Thursday 7th November, 2019
Mount Merrion Community Centre
Illustrated talk by Terry O'Reilly
Man of War to Man of Peace
During the Irish War of Independence, George Lennon became the youngest leader of a Flying Column operating from the Comeragh Mountains and fought in the battle for Waterford City at the outbreak of the Civil War. Yet he withdrew when it became obvious that the war was a lost cause and this became the first step on his path towards pacifism and eventually Zen Buddhism.
In later years he was haunted by his experiences, not least his execution of an RIC sergeant in 1921. Emigrating to the US in 1927, he later returned to Ireland where he made earnest efforts to develop the economy through the Irish Tourist Board. Speaking out against the Catholic Church’s stance on Spain, Lennon married a Kingstown Presbyterian and baptised his son a Presbyterian in defiance of the Catholic Church’s destructive Ne Temere decree. Disillusioned with 1940s Ireland, Lennon permanently emigrated to the US in 1946 where he became a dedicated pacifist, protesting against the Vietnam War and establishing one of America’s first Zen Centres.
Terence O’Reilly is a former artilleryman and member of staff of the Defence Forces Library. He has published extensively in modern Irish military history.