New book launched about freedom fighter and miner leader Nixie Boran in North Kilkenny


A new book on Nixie Boran, freedom fighter, social revolutionary and leader of minors, will be launched at Moneenroe Hall on December 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Written by his daughter, Anne Boran, it explores his life from 1903 to 1971, an era that encompassed Irish independence but also conflicts over what independence meant to the mass of working people.

Nixie was born in Massford, Castlecomer, almost the focal point of Castlecomer Coalfield, at a time when the state lands of the Wandesfordes were divided among small farmers. The collieries, however, remained in Wandesforde’s hands, and the coal basin was the local context in which the post-independence battles were fought for part of Ireland’s future.

Nixie was a miner and then a Republican freedom fighter during the Civil War. He was threatened with execution and endured life on the loose before returning to his roots in mining. These experiences exposed the tensions inherent in notions of freedom and converted Nixie to socialism as a path to true workers’ freedom.

In the 1930s, Nixie and the miners challenged the powerful – the mine owner, the Free State, and the Church – to give them the social freedoms and conditions they deserved. They took the radical stance of forming a communist union in the heart of rural and Catholic Ireland and suffered the consequences – a divided community, expulsion from the Church and a fierce battle for their rights.

Learning from their failures and joining the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (IT & GWU), they never gave up until they got decent working conditions and pay.

Nixie was at the heart of this struggle and became a respected member of the community as well as an influential figure in the national labor movement.

Anne’s Book, with its fascinating illustrations and many new sources, is a gripping and moving exploration of a remarkable man and his time.


Thelma J. Longworth