A Long Road to Freedom The Life of Patrick McCrystal An Irish Soldier’s Cry for Peace By Mary Mc Cartan Most men returning from World War 2 never spoke about their experiences. Still in their youth they simply closed the book on the past and started a new life. The young Irish fellas returning, especially to the North were forced to bury their history even further down and completely deny it for their own safety. Patrick Mc Crystal was one of those men who arrived home alive with a story of horror. But he locked that story inside for 53 years before being forced to tell it. This is his story. A first hand experience of a life time of war through the eyes of one Peace-loving man who has seen the devastation of some of the most gruesome attacks on civilian populations in the 20th Century. Patrick found himself in Malta in 1940 trapped in the most bombed place in world history. After surviving that siege he ended up in the frontline as the Germans slaughtered British Troops on Leros. As a POW Patrick helped bury the tens of thousands of German civilians killed in Dresden by Allied attacks. On returning home to peaceful normality, war found him again in 1969. Raising a family through the Northern Ireland Troubles was difficult and Patrick suffered the loss of his own daughter in the bombing of his hometown of Omagh in 1998. This is the survival story of a man who has seen the best and worst of human nature and truly understands the price of freedom
An Long Road To Freedom The Life of Patrick McCrystal An Irishman's Cry for Peace The old saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” is possibly very true and it certainly instills a great sense of bravery and endurance. But, regardless of the newfound strength that survival bestows, it also bequeaths a cautiousness that no doubt influences the survivor’s future decisions. So in my case, it is understandable, that when a man has experienced many of the great traumas and horrors that this world can throw at him, he becomes very content to settle down to a quiet life and to try to forget the appalling destruction and deplorable evil, humankind can wreak upon each other. The memory of living in that wasteland of rubble and human massacre still turns the blood in my veins to ice and the acid in my stomach into a burning, gnawing pain deep within me. Witnessing war, up close and personal, had taught me never to underestimate the power of hatred on all sides of a conflict. The crimes of the Nazis against the innocent millions of Europeans has been well documented and I experienced that brutality first hand, but I had also witnessed the destruction of the ordinary German people as they suffered at the hands of, not only their own countrymen, but also our own Allied armies. In war there maybe two sides, but everyone suffers, especially the people in the middle ground with no side to protect them. No matter how neutral or passive your resolve may be, when war pushes its ugly face up against yours, it will do everything it can to force your hand and pick a side; otherwise, it simply crushes you in between.
Mary McCartan has been a Managing Director in a number of business sectors with a career in Nursing, Montessori Education and more recently in Educational Tourism. She lives on a small farm with her husband and two sons in Northern Ireland.This is her first novel and prior to Patrick's request to write his biography Mary had no experience of publishing. This project has been a huge research and creative endeavour for the author and hopefully will not be her last.