25 years after the guns had fallen silent following a decade of revolution, Ernie O'Malley wrote to his friend telling him of his plans to collect and record the stories of the Volunteers who had fought in that 1916 -23 period.
The advice he received was not to bother as these men would not divulge their experiences.
O'Malley replied: "The men will talk to me." So they did, almost 500 of them.
During 'the troubles' he gained a reputation as a fearless leader.
O'Malley was wounded in the Civil War while fighting on the Republican side and shunned politics in the new state.
In 1936 his own account of the war, On Another Man's Wound, was critically acclaimed.
Later, O'Malley recorded conversations of these men as they spoke, scribbling their every word in school copybooks with a hurried and almost indecipherable hand.
My grandmother, Madge Clifford, was his secretary during the first months of the Civil War and they remained close friends until his death in 1957.
Five years ago and out of the blue, Cormac O'Malley, Ernie's New York based son, sent me a copy of one of his father's interviews.
The colloquial style of the interview brought the history alive, so we conceived a project to bring these men's stories to a wider audience.
We transcribed the interviews that related to my native Kerry, a turbulent county in the period.
In the original hastily transcribed interviews, O'Malley did not stop to enquire of his subject the correct spellings of personal names or placenames -- these all had to be corrected.
The manuscripts contained only the interviewee's name and no other details, so I had to trace and contact their children.
Unfailingly and generously, they provided the missing details, biographical information and photographs of their parents, all of which allow the voices of these dead heroes to come alive again.
In the decades following Black and Tan and Civil Wars, the volunteer soldiers settled back into civilian life.
Many had seen the idealism of their young years destroyed in the flames of civil war and must have wondered what had it all been for.
It is not surprising that they spoke of these times in whispers and away from the ears of the next generation, if they spoke of them at all.
It was my privilege to be able to read these men's unique stories in their own words back to their children and grandchildren.
This was done with a little reticence as many of the incidents contained in the interviews described war in all its bloody horror, of men killing and being killed.
The 18 interviews that O'Malley did in Kerry reveal a wealth of information about hundreds of ordinary volunteers.
One such was Steve Rae of Keel, Castlemaine as he was recorded by O'Malley when Tom O'Connor of Milltown was relating his story.
My research led me to David Rae of Keel, who knew his father was imprisoned during the troubles and sentenced to death.
Typically, beyond that his own father imparted little detail of his part in the war.
I told David that his father was an intelligence officer for the Kerry No. 1 Brigade.
He was captured with a rifle following the famous Ballymacandy Ambush in Castlemaine on June 1 1921 in which five RIC men were killed.
He was brought to Cork to be sentenced to death by military court -- it was only the truce of July 11 that saved his life.
His comrades on the outside went to great lengths to prevent witnesses testifying and eventually Steve Rae (grandfather of the editor of this newspaper) was released with the last batch of prisoners to be freed by the British as they departed from Cork after 750 years.
On the evening of the launch of the collection of the Kerry Ernie O'Malley interviews, The Men Will Talk to Me, David Rae came along with an armful of books to be inscribed for his grandchildren.
And so the story of one combatant, will be passed unchanged, in a changing world, to his great grandchildren and beyond.
For me, and my co-editor, Cormac, our task was complete and I suspect the Ernie O'Malley and the men who talked to him were nodding in agreement in the Elysian Fields, or where ever it is that old soldiers go.
The Men Will Talk to Me -- The Kerry Interviews by Ernie O'Malley and edited by Cormac O'Malley and Tim Horgan was published by Mercier Press in June 2012.