The Life of Captain Robert  Halpin

By Jim Rees

184pp; 17 b/w illus. Paperback €14.95; isbn 0 9519239 0 0

The biography of one of the best known Irish seamen of the nineteenth century. Went to sea at age 11, shipwrecked twice by age 22, ran supplies to the Confederate ports in the American Civil War, but best known as the commander of the ss Great Eastern, the greatest ship on the planet at that time. His later life was involved in local politics and contested the 1892 general election in the wake of the Parnellite split.

Gay Byrne Radio Show:  “a spanking good read”.

Published by Dee-Jay Publications 1992 reprinted 1994, 1996, 2000, 2009.

A Farewell To Famine

By Jim Rees

174pp; 50 b/w illus., Paperback €14.95;  isbn   0 9519239 1 9

In 1850 an ageing priest led a group of over 1000 people from their homes in south-east Ireland to start new lives in the American Mid-West.  This was no blind flight from famine, but a concerted attempt organised by the Bishop of Little Rock to establish an Irish Catholic colony in Arkansas.  A series of setbacks broke the cohesion of the group which splintered into six, settling in places as diverse as New Orleans, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and Iowa.  This book follows their progress, showing the other side of the famine emigration experience - what happened when they got to America. The names of 847 of those people form a fascinating appendix to this story. 

Sunday Press
(Dublin):  “A gem of a book”.

Irish Times: “ ...a brave and audacious adventure... this account is timely and necessary ...” 

Books Ireland: “An Irish Schindler’s List ..... a highly readable account of one community’s transplantation..” 

Irish Echo (New York): “A valuable document for students of Irish-American history”.

Published by Dee-Jay Publications 1994; reprinted 1995, 2005

The Trial of Billy Byrne of Ballymanus

 80pp: Paperback €9.95: isbn 09519239 2 7

Billy Byrne was one of the most romantic figures of the 1798 Rebellion.  His monument in front of the courthouse in which he was tried in Wicklow symbolises the noble figure of folklore.  But just what was his role in the rebellion?  Shortly after his trial in 1799 an edited version of the transcript was published in Dublin.  The testimony of crown and defence witnesses, Byrne’s summation of the case against him, along with his own testimony, have provided historians with primary source material ever since.    Now, for the first time in almost two hundred years, that transcript is re-issued to give a wider readership an opportunity to judge for themselves Byrne’s role in the rebellion.

Sunday Tribune:     “.. gives a fascinating flavour of the proceedings that led to Byrne’s execution ...”
An Phoblacht/Republican News:     “A filmscript waiting to be taken up”.
Enniscorthy Echo:   “.. a valuable and important work ...” 

Published by Dee-Jay Publications 1996

Arklow – the story of a town

 By Jim Rees

347pp; 69 b/w illus. Paperback €18.95; isbn 0 95192393 5

It is not possible to say how old Arklow is. Evidence of human activity in this area goes back thousands of years, and much of that activity has been recorded in books and journals. For anyone who wants to know more about Arklow’s story the problem is where to begin. This book gives a comprehensive overview of how Arklow became the town we know today. It is written specifically for the general reader, but includes extensive source notes for anyone who would like to dig that bit deeper.

Published by Dee-Jay Publications 2004

All For A Game – the history of Arklow Town FC 1948-1998

By Brian Rees

276pp; 70 b/w illus.  Paperback €14.95

Excellently researched and well written history of a club which has become a model for others to emulate.  This history, particularly the early chapters are as much a social history as they are a sporting history.

Wicklow People:  “… an excellent publication”.

Published by Arklow Town Football Club 1998

Split Personalities ( Arklow 1885 - 1892 )

By Jim Rees

304 pp.  Illustrated. Paperback  €14.95

Ireland in the 1880s was in a state of political and social upheaval. The twin campaigns for land reform and home rule were at their height as the National League united disparate elements in the push to end landlordism and establish at least some degree of political autonomy from Britain.

But just how united were those disparate elements? There had always been tensions within the loose coalition of Roman Catholic clergy, trade unionists, liberal politicians, hard-line Fenians, businessmen, socialists, merchants and publicans.

Split Personalities puts these relationships under the microscope of a small town environment. It shows how the various characters interacted, each wary of the other’s motives. While they shared broad aims, the details of their particular visions were often contradictory and led to confrontation. The local branch of the National League was constantly at odds with the central branch; moderate home rulers were opposed to militant republicans; women’s suffrage, workers’ rights, boycotting, manipulation of public bodies to secure posts, evangelical street preaching were all part of the mix long before the Parnell-Katherine O’Shea story hit the newspapers.

In the County Wicklow town of Arklow, these divisions are best represented in the changing relationship of two men, the parish priest Fr James Dunphy – often acting through his curate Fr Laurence Farrelly - and the local medical officer Dr Michael Molony. Split Personalities charts their hardening attitudes as they each became the personification of a particular mindset. What happened to them was what was happening throughout Ireland, but only with a local focus can we begin to understand the human cost of these national events.

Published by Dee-Jay Publications November 2012

Surplus People: from Wicklow to Canada

By Jim Rees

156 pages; 16 bw illus; paperback €12.99 (also available as e-book); 9781848892040

The Great Famine in Ireland was a catastrophe of immense proportions. Eviction, emigration, and death from starvation were widespread. Landlords, eager to dispose of 'surplus' tenants, engaged in 'assisted passages', whereby tenants were given financial incentives to emigrate. The clearances of uneconomic tenants from the 85,000-acre Coolattin Estate in County Wicklow by Lord Fitzwilliam were the most organised in Ireland during and after the Famine years. From 1847 to 1856 Fitzwilliam removed 6,000 men, women and children and arranged passage from New Ross in Wexford to Canada on emigrant ships such as the Dunbrody. Most were destitute when they arrived in Quebec and New Brunswick. Hunger and overcrowding at quarantine stations, such as the infamous Grosse Île, resulted in further disease and death. Jim Rees explores this tragedy, from why the clearances occurred to who went where and how some families fared in Canada.

Enniscorthy Echo: "Tells a fine story".
Irish Times: "Well researched and very readable".
Leinster Leader: "A fine contribution".
Books Ireland: "Rees knows his stuff".

Published by Collins Press, see

To the Banks and Beyond: A history of Arklow Lifeboats 1826-2013

By Jim Rees

224 pages; 58 col/48 bw illus; paperback €15; no isbn

Hundreds of lives have been saved by Arklow Lifeboat crews since the RNLI opened its first Irish station here in 1826. This book tells the story of that proud tradition, highlighting the more dramatic rescues - some of which read like adventure stories - while also giving a glimpse of routine services. It is a story of courage, skill and determination. While it honours the men and women who have been crew members, it also acknowledges the vital work of all the support teams. The presence of a lifeboat station in Arklow is as vital today as it has ever been. The story continues ...

Published by Arklow Lifeboat Station: ALL PROCEEDS GO TO ARKLOW LIFEBOAT STATION.