The book comprises correspondence between two brothers, Michael, and John Moynihan, who came from a prominent political family in Tralee, Co. Kerry. It covers the period 1909–18, during which Michael attended university in Dublin, joined the Inland Revenue, moved to London, became a Territorial volunteer with the Civil Service Rifles in March 1914, fought in the Great War and was killed in June 1918, just five months before the Armistice.
The letters between Michael and John are unpredictable and encyclopedic in their range of reference. They cover such topics as Kerry, Irish and international politics, religion and church-state relations, unionism, the Irish language, the Easter Rising, the trial of Roger Casement and conscription. Last but by no means least, the correspondence after March 1914 increasingly reflects Michael’s preoccupation with his military life and training, the progress of the war and life at the front.
The correspondence provides a vivid portrait of two young men and their family growing to maturity in one of the most significant decades in twentieth-century Ireland. The family was politically prominent in their native Tralee but was to achieve national importance in the decades after independence with John and his younger brother Maurice being appointed in succession as Secretary to the Government.