Tom Reilly (author)

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Tom Reilly (born 1960) is an Irish author and former regional newspaper columnist (Life of Reilly, Drogheda Independent), who has written books on Oliver Cromwell and religion, (Hollow Be Thy Name) as well as a book based on his own newspaper columns among others. He is currently the manager of Ardgillan Castle, located between Balbriggan and Skerries in Ireland. To date in total, he has published ten books, three of which have been conventionally published, the other seven have been self-published. A native of Drogheda, County Louth, Reilly is a director of a local printing company, Burex Manufacturing Ltd. of Dunleer, Louth. He spent most of his working life in the printing and allied trades and is an avid local historian. He set up the Drogheda Heritage Centre along with his wife, Noeleen in 1999 in St Mary's Church of Ireland, Drogheda, the site of Cromwell's entry into the town in 1649. The Centre caused a storm of controversy when Cromwell's death mask was displayed for two months under the slogan 'He's Back! The lowest ebb of the affair was when local protestors, led by the Deputy Mayor of Drogheda, Frank Godfrey daubed tomato juice on the walls of the graveyard surrounding the Centre.' 'Cromwell Was Framed (Ireland 1649)', the first major book from new imprint Chronos Books appear on the bookshelves in 2014. Drogheda's Forgotten Walls (and other stories) hit the shelves in December 2015. Reilly is an obsessive runner. He has run eleven marathons and has a PB of 37.09 for 10k and 18.12 for 5k. He lived all of his life in Drogheda and still lives there. He is still running five times a week (30 miles) in his mid-fifties. He is married to Noeleen (Crinion) and has two children, Cathy and Eoin.

Reilly's best-known work on Cromwell is the highly contentious tome, Cromwell – An Honourable Enemy: The Untold Story of the Cromwellian Invasion of Ireland (1999), which holds that Cromwell did not intentionally target civilians during the campaign. He was quoted as stating: "Cromwell's entire Irish mission was fought on a purely military basis, and it is to his enormous credit that he never once departed from those parameters."[1]

Cromwell – An Honourable Enemy: The Untold Story of the Cromwellian Invasion of Ireland[edit]

Positive reviews[edit]

  • The Sunday Times review of the book called it "... an important book ... scrupulous in [his] examination of evidence ... assiduous in research and [he] quotes primary sources extensively. Above all, he understands that the past should not be judged by the standards and fashions of the 1990s."[citation needed]
  • A 2008 study by historian Philip Graham McKeiver, A New History of Cromwell's Irish Campaign, supports Reilly's thesis: This spirited new account of Oliver Cromwell's Irish Campaign of 1649–50 is based upon close reading of printed primary sources, especially Thomas Carlyle's edition of Cromwell's letters and speeches, and a wide range of secondary works... in each case beginning by setting out a number of myths, misunderstandings, and misconceptions and then seeking to correct and demythologise those points... Some of these myths and false ideas are quite easily and quickly disposed of... the author's vigorous reinvestigation ruefully but surely correctly notes that it suited both nations to magnify the actions of Cromwell in Ireland, in ways that prostituted history to political and religious propaganda.[2]

Negative reviews[edit]

  • Eugene Coyle's lengthy review of Cromwell – An Honourable Enemy concludes: "There is a need for a new book on the Irish Cromwellian campaign but unfortunately this is not it."
  • Rewriting Cromwell: A Case of Deafening Silences, by historian and President of the Cromwell Association, Professor John Morrill, opined that the work constituted a "major attempt at rehabilitation was attempted by Tom Reilly ... but this has been largely rejected by other scholars."[citation needed]

Reilly responded to academic criticism by publishing a further work 'Cromwell Was Framed (Ireland 1649)', in which he counters his academic detractors (Prof. John Morrill, Prof. Micheál Ó'Siochrú, Dr. Jason McElligott and Dr. Pádraig Lenihan), by the inclusion of contemporary documents.

Amongst Reilly's assertions, is the identity of two contemporary individuals of whom he cites as personally responsible for creating the alleged myth that Cromwell deliberately killed unarmed men, women and children at both Drogheda and Wexford, and that a 1649 London newspaper reported that Cromwell's penis had been shot off at Drogheda.



  1. ^ [1] "Cromwell town apology", Ronan McGreevy. The Irish Post Online News Page. Saturday, 1 May 1999[dead link]
  2. ^ A New History of Cromwell's Irish Campaign at