No; they were real. Out in Armoy, Christy even then was busying his Napoleonic self in sober daylight, was shaving maybe, or eating his breakfast, or driving in the cows; and Moran was there in his Sunday clothes, and Pat, and Ned, and all the rest; and the hills there beyond the window were the hills I had trod last night, the hills in which more than stones lay buried, the hills which soon would echo the tramp of the Armoy commando.Another book that I picked up from the Interwebs thanks to Jack Fennell's Short Guide to Irish Science Fiction. His summary of it there is a bit misleading; he wrote it up in much more accurate detail in his longer monograph on Irish SF. It's a pretty awful book. James "Red" Shaw, a middle-class Protestant veteran of the Boer War, returns to Fermanagh around 1904 (when the book was published), and is co-opted as commander of the local Nationalist militia, changing sides partly because the Protestant girl he loves is in love with another man. The national uprising is successful and a revolutionary Republican government takes power in Dublin and across most of the island; but Ulster descends into sectarian violence, with Shaw and his Red Leaguers taking it out on his own co-religionists locally. A lot of this was eerily reminiscent of more recent times in the Balkans. The narrator gets to Dublin with the girl (who remains unimpressed and terrified) but sees social cohesion disintegrating under a lazy and corrupt administration. As the Great Powers (Britain, Germany and the USA) prepare to invade Ireland to restore order, he makes his escape to France.
The protagonist is such an unpleasant character - presiding over ethnic cleansing and monstrously intimidating the unfortunate Leah - that it's difficult to engage with the book. It's a little redeemed by considering the wider picture: the author was based in London, and wrote a number of novels with the same Fermanagh setting as The Red Leaguers (but without the revolution timeline) in which the protagonist, clearly based on himself, is the chap who Leah is really in love with. So perhaps Shaw is the romantic but wrong side of his personality, seduced by revolutionary ideals. It's still not a great vindication.