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About The Author

Albert John Samuel Crawford was born in Newry, County Down, in Northern Ireland, in 1930.  Albert’s father was a Royal Irish Constabulary man who had been born in Donegal, which later became part of the Republic of Ireland, despite being the most northerly county. After the War of Independence, or the ‘Rebellion’ as he would have viewed it at the time, Albert’s father decided his future would be brighter in the six counties of Ulster that remained in the United Kingdom.

Albert trained as a school teacher or ‘master’ as they were called in the 1950s, in Northern Ireland. His teaching career was spent teaching primary school children in a small country school in County Tyrone.  He became expert at getting his young charges interested in history and geography by teaching them about all the Irish connections with America, links that connected their own small town to figures like President Ulysses S. Grant and General James Shields.

Tragically, Albert lost his sight due to an hereditary condition while only in his 30s. This forced him to retire from teaching but he began a new career with BBC Northern Ireland, crafting educational programmes for primary school children.

Albert decided to write Traitor: A Story of Irish Freedom after his brother challenged him, a Northern Protestant and a loyal British subject of the Queen, to write a story about the War of Independence from the Republican point of view. Traitor transports its readers back to the drama of those days when young Irish men and women dared to be free. What would Albert’s father have made of his son’s Republican story? We will never know, but it seems a safe bet that the man who ended up as the Head Constable of the RUC in Dungannon, County Tyrone, and who was at the same time one of the few RUC men who had been educated in a Catholic school and spoke Irish Gaelic, would not have been too quick to call his son a ‘traitor’.

A note from the author

For some thirty-five years my family and I have been taking our summer break in Castletownshend, a few miles from Skibbereen in County Cork.

The beauty of the West Cork scenery and the generous welcome of its people have drawn us back yearly, and my brother, after a visit to us there, has purchased a summer house in the village and is a regular visitor three times a year.

His family and mine have roamed that area for three decades and indeed are as well known there as in my home town of Dungannon, County Tyrone. One day we came across the Kilmichael monument with the plan of the ambush and related tombstones, at which point he, my brother, challenged me to write a story from the Republican point of view, knowing that I was a Northern Protestant and a loyal British subject of the Queen, with a grandfather who had been a Sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary and a father who had served in both the RIC and then the Royal Ulster Constabulary, right through those troubled times.

I accepted the challenge and began to research the contemporary events and places and when I visited the site of James Connelly’s burnt-out home, the story started to take shape in my head.

I was a Primary School Headmaster and sadly had lost my sight. Fortunately, about that time I was lucky enough to have a children’s script accepted by a lady called Bernagh Brims, Chief Education Officer for the BBC Schools Programmes, thus beginning a lifetime’s friendship and a writing career for her programmes, and much more.

This book, then, is the fictional result of my wonderful holidays in Munster and, of course, my brother’s challenge.

A.J.S. Crawford


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