A Discarded Son: Available to Pre-order

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Dublin, Ireland, 1881. Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother, Martha, marries solicitor James Ellison but an unexpected guest overshadows their wedding day. Martha’s father is dying and he is determined to clear his conscience before it is too late. Lewis Greene’s confession ensures the Ellisons’ expectation of a quiet married life is gone and that Isobel’s elder brother, Alfie Stevens, will be the recipient of an unwelcome inheritance.

When a bewildering engagement notice is published in The Irish Times, the name of one of the persons concerned sends Will and Isobel on a race against time across Dublin and forces them to break a promise and reveal a closely guarded secret.

Read An Excerpt From Chapter One…

Dublin, Ireland. Saturday, December 10th, 1881

Will exchanged a smile with Isobel as she came slowly down the stairs from the nursery holding his nephew, John, by the hand. His wife’s matron-of-honour dress was a high-necked emerald green satin creation with a gold-coloured trim and ribbons of the same green were woven into her thick brown hair. By contrast, the three-year-old boy didn’t look at all happy, glaring at his navy blue sailor suit with disgust.

“You look wonderful,” he said all the same and kissed them both.

“I hate my dress,” John declared and Will glanced at the knee-length box-pleated skirt. “Why can’t I wear a frock coat and trousers like you?”

“It’s only for Grandmamma Martha’s wedding,” he assured the boy for what seemed like the umpteenth time. “And she did choose it especially for you. Afterwards, you’ll be back in your short trousers, I promise.”

“But it’s a dress. Everyone will laugh at me.”

“Well, to be precise, it’s a skirt.” Crouching down, Will tilted John’s chin up and met the boy’s dark eyes, a legacy from his Indian mother. “If anyone says something nasty to you, tell them Roman soldiers wore what could be described as skirts and no-one dared to laugh at them. Isn’t that right, Isobel?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Are Ben and Belle fed and asleep?” he asked, mentioning the twins in the hope they would take the boy’s mind off his ‘dress’. “Good,” he replied as John nodded. “Shall, we go? We can’t keep Grandmamma Martha waiting on her special day.” Picking the boy up, they went downstairs to the hall where Zaineb, one of their house-parlourmaids, smiled at John before opening the front door for them. “Thank you, Zaineb,” he said as they left the house. “See you later.”

It was a chilly morning but, thankfully, there were no signs of rain and they walked around the private railed-off Fitzwilliam Square garden to number 55 – home to Isobel’s mother and brother. Two carriages were waiting outside and Alfie Stevens gave them a grin from the front door as they approached.

“The Fitzgeralds – good morning. Isobel, I think our darling mother is going to be late. May has been sent to the servants’ hall for something or other twice since you left.”

“Everything was fine fifteen minutes ago,” Isobel muttered, shaking her head. “I’ll go and hurry Mother up.”

She went inside and Alfie shrugged his shoulders as he came down the steps to the pavement.

“It’s hired,” he explained, gesturing to his frock coat. “And I think I’m the first man to have worn it. You both look very smart.”

“Thank you.” Will peered at his own new frock coat and silver-grey cravat. “But John doesn’t like his outfit, it was all Isobel and I could do to persuade him to wear the ‘dress’,” he told Alfie in a low voice.

“It’s only for today,” Alfie reminded the boy. “After the wedding, I’ll be back in my far more comfortable morning coat and you’ll be back in your short trousers. Yes?”

“Yes,” John replied firmly and Alfie gave him another grin.

Fifteen minutes passed with Will and Alfie glancing impatiently at each other and their pocket watches until Isobel and her mother came down the stairs to the hall. Mrs Henderson’s wedding dress was identical to Isobel’s, only that it was gold-coloured satin with an emerald green trim and ribbons of the same gold were woven into her greying brown hair. She paused to lift a bouquet of gold and emerald satin roses from the hall table before continuing on out of the house with Isobel following her. Alfie assisted his mother into the first carriage, gave Will a quick wave then climbed in after her.

Relieved they weren’t going to be excessively late, Will helped Isobel and John into the second carriage. He got in and lifted the boy onto his lap so John could see out of the window and the short procession left Fitzwilliam Square.

* * *

Isobel and young John took their places behind her mother and Alfie at the door to St Peter’s Church on Aungier Street. Will hurried inside and, less than a minute later, the wedding march began. Almost halfway up the right-hand aisle, an elderly man with a snow-white beard and hair and wearing small round spectacles caught her attention. His black woollen overcoat was far too big for him and a long white scarf was wound around his neck. He was seated twisted around in his pew while everyone else was standing to view the bridal party so Isobel couldn’t help but stare until the penny dropped and his eyes also widened in recognition as she passed him. Nearing the chancel steps, John tried to pull his hand away from hers and she looked down at the boy, realising she had been squeezing it tightly.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, rubbing his fingers with her thumb.

Taking the bouquet from her mother, she and John sat beside Will in the front pew as the ceremony began. Will lifted John onto his lap so the boy had a clear view of his Grandmamma Martha and soon-to-be Grandpapa James before clasping her hand.

“What is it?” he whispered anxiously during the first hymn. “You’re both freezing and on edge.”  

“I’ve just seen Mr Greene – Mother’s father,” she replied and his jaw dropped.

“Here in the church?” He threw an incredulous glance behind them. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. Mother has only one photograph of her parents and her father has aged, of course, but it’s definitely him. He is sitting behind us in this central block of pews about halfway down the church and is wearing a white scarf. I don’t know why he’s here – he and my grandmother broke off all contact with Mother when she ran away from home to marry Father against their wishes.”

“What do you want to do?” he asked and she gave a helpless little shrug.

“I don’t know, because Mother and James are going to greet everyone at the door and I’m dreading a scene.”

He nodded as the hymn ended and they sat down. She did her best to enjoy the service but it was all she could do not to push past Will and John, run down the aisle and drag her grandfather out of the church. Alfie gave their mother away and joined them in their pew and, as the wedding concluded, she reached over and touched his arm.

“John would like to walk out of the church with you,” she said and both Alfie and the boy smiled. “And Will and I shall walk out together, too.”

Standing behind the new Mr and Mrs Ellison with Alfie and John bringing up the rear, they proceeded down the left-hand aisle. Spotting her grandfather through a sea of faces, Isobel noted how his eyes were fixed only on his daughter and that, thankfully, she had not seen him yet.

They greeted the happy couple at the church door, Isobel kissing them on both cheeks so she could quickly whisper in James’ ear;

“Lewis Greene – Mother’s father – is in the church. He is wearing a black overcoat and a white scarf wound around his neck.”

Her step-father’s brown eyes bulged in alarm but he nodded and she and Will moved on towards the gates to Aungier Street.

“Isobel?” Hearing Alfie’s fierce whisper, they both turned. “What on earth is the matter?” he demanded, leading John towards them. “You and Will were whispering through every hymn and now you’ve told James something that’s made him go as white as a sheet and—” He broke off and gasped as he recognised the elderly man emerging from the church clutching a top hat and a walking cane.

Mrs Ellison’s eyes widened in first disbelief and then shock before she forced a smile and greeted her father warmly and no different than anyone else. James shook his father-in-law’s hand then Mr Greene walked on and, to Isobel’s consternation, made a beeline for the four of them.

“You must be Isobel,” he said, leaning on his cane and looking her up and down. “You know exactly who I am.”

“I do. What do you want?”

One of her grandfather’s eyebrows rose at her bluntness but he didn’t respond and turned to Alfie.

“And you must be Alfred?”

“Yes, I am, but everyone calls me Alfie.”

“And who is this?” Her grandfather nodded to John, who was still clutching Alfie’s hand. The boy’s dark eyes were darting from Alfie to her and to Will, clearly sensing the animosity and suspicion amongst the three of them towards the stranger. “Your son?”

“No, my nephew, John Fitzgerald,” Will replied, holding out a hand. “I am Isobel’s husband, Dr Will Fitzgerald.”

“I see,” Mr Greene replied but made no attempt to shake Will’s hand.

“You haven’t answered my question,” Isobel persisted as Will picked John up. “What do you want?”

“I would prefer not to discuss the matter here in front of all and sundry.”

All and sundry? It was just as well the other members of the congregation were paying them little attention.

“Well,” she replied stiffly. “I am afraid it is here or not at all.”

Her grandfather’s eyebrow rose again. “I am dying, Isobel,” he said with equal bluntness and she heard Alfie gasp again. “And I wish to make my peace with your mother and get to know my new son-in-law and you and your brother before I die.”

This time, Isobel looked him up and down. Mr Greene was leaning heavily on his walking cane, beginning to wheeze and she hoped he had a cab waiting for him.

“Mother and James leave for a week’s honeymoon in London late this afternoon. It is bad enough you turn up at their wedding without warning but you will not break such news to Mother until she returns to Dublin. Is that understood?” she insisted and her grandfather exhaled a phlegmy laugh.

“I learned of your mother’s wedding purely by chance, I can assure you. But I understand.”

“Where are you staying? The Shelbourne Hotel?”

“Your grandmother and I have rented a house on Fitzwilliam Square,” he replied and Isobel’s heart sank. “Number 7.”

“I live on Fuzwillan Square with Will and Isobel,” John announced. “So does Grandmamma Martha. And Grandpapa James will live there, too.”

Her grandfather glanced at the boy in surprise before looking up at Will plainly of the opinion that children should be seen and not heard. “This boy lives with you, Dr Fitzgerald?”

“John is my late brother’s son,” Will explained. “He lives with Isobel and I and Ben and Belle.”

“Ben and Belle?” his grandfather-in-law inquired with a frown.

“Our twin son and daughter,” Isobel informed him. “Your great-grandchildren.”

“I have great-grandchildren.” Mr Greene produced another phlegm-filled laugh. “Your mother was a twin.”

“So I was told. Please do not upset her further on her wedding day – please go – and we shall call on you tomorrow.”

“Until tomorrow, then.” Putting on his top hat, her grandfather walked away and was soon lost in the crowd which had spilled out onto the pavement.

“Isobel?” A hand grabbed her arm from behind and she turned to face her mother. “Where is he? Where is my father?”

“I’m afraid he had to leave.”

“Had to leave?” her mother echoed incredulously and James turned briefly to the street. “Whatever was he doing here?”

“He and Grandmother live in Dublin now.”

“Where?” James asked.

“He did not say,” she lied.

“Oh, Isobel, I can hardly believe it.” Her mother fought back tears. “I thought I would never see my father again.”

“Never say never,” Isobel replied with a smile. “Congratulations again, Mother. And you, too, James.”

“Thank you, Isobel,” he replied and gestured to the gates. “I think we should make our way to our carriages.”

“I agree,” Will added. “It is far too cold to stand about here.”

As soon as they returned to number 55, Mrs Ellison insisted on speaking to her in private and, reluctantly, Isobel followed her mother into the morning room. Closing the door, she looked at the hearth. A fire had been set that morning but not lit and the room felt unusually cool.

“You may now tell me the truth,” Mrs Ellison began. “Where are my father and mother living?”

Isobel grimaced. Was she so bad a liar these days? “I don’t—”

“The truth, Isobel,” her mother interrupted crisply.

“They have rented a house here on the square – number 7,” she said and Mrs Ellison went straight to the window and looked out at the street. “And you will call on them when you return from London.”

“No. I want them both here – now.”

“Mother, no,” she begged. “You have been looking forward to this day for such a long time don’t allow them to ruin it.”

“They are my parents,” Mrs Ellison replied, her voice rising.

“The same parents who cut you off when you married Father and who are now suddenly here in Dublin for your marriage to a gentleman they approve of.”

That made her mother flinch and Isobel hoped she hadn’t gone too far.

“I want them both here – now,” Mrs Ellison repeated quietly, walking to the rope and ringing for a servant.

“Very well.” Isobel reached for the doorknob.

“And I want you, Alfie, James and Will here when they arrive.”

Letting her hand drop to her side, Isobel walked to the window turning momentarily to the door as the butler came in then watched a ginger cat squeeze between the railings surrounding the Fitzwilliam Square gardens before disappearing from view.

“You rang, Mrs Ellison.”

“Gorman, please, send someone to number 7 and ask that Mr and Mrs Greene join Mr and Mrs Ellison for luncheon and to meet their families. Oh, and this means there will be two extra for luncheon.”

“Yes, Mrs Ellison.”

“And ask my husband, son and son-in-law to join myself and my daughter here.”

“Yes, Mrs Ellison.”

The butler left the room and Isobel pulled a face, only turning around again when the door opened and James, Alfie and Will came in.

“I have sent for my parents,” Mrs Ellison announced and Isobel met Will’s brown eyes for a moment. “And, no, Isobel does not approve of my decision but I want them both here on my wedding day.”

There was no response, Mrs Ellison gave a little shrug and the five of them waited in a tense silence until voices were heard in the hall and the butler came into the room.

“Mr Greene,” Gorman announced, the elderly gentleman walked in and Isobel peered behind him. Where was his wife? Why wasn’t she here? And why hadn’t she accompanied her husband to St Peter’s Church?

“Martha.” Mr Greene went to his daughter reaching out his hands. “Oh, let me look at you.” Clasping her hands, he stood back with a smile. “Oh, how I have missed you.”

Isobel clenched her fists and banged them against her thighs in frustration as her mother burst into tears. How could she be so forgiving?

“And I have missed you.” Her mother smiled through her tears. “Oh, Father…” Holding him to her, the two cried unashamedly.

Isobel glanced at Will who returned a helpless expression while Alfie began to shuffle uncomfortably and James examined his hands.

When the two finally stopped sobbing, Mrs Ellison wiped her tears away with her fingers and looked over her father’s shoulder.

“I must introduce you to my family, Father. This is James Ellison – my husband.”

James joined them and greeted his new and unexpected father-in-law with admirable calm politeness.

“Alfie?” his mother called and he shuffled forward. “My son, Alfie, is a medical student at Trinity College.”

“A budding doctor, eh?” his grandfather commented.

“I have wanted to be nothing else,” he replied.

“And this is my daughter, Isobel, and her husband, Will,” her mother continued and she braced herself as Will took her hand, led her to them and her grandfather inclined his head politely.

“Your concern for your mother is commendable, Isobel.”

“I do not wish to see my mother upset – especially on today of all days.”

“But I am not upset,” her mother protested with an almost hysterical laugh which made her cringe. “I am absolutely delighted to have my father here today.”

“Where is Grandmother?” she asked on behalf of them all and he gave her a little smile, no doubt having expected her question.

“Resting,” he answered simply and she didn’t believe him for a second.

Quickly realising she wasn’t going to reply, her mother gestured to Will.

“This is my son-in-law, Dr Will Fitzgerald.”

“Are you a Dublin man?” Mr Greene inquired.

“Yes, I am,” Will replied. “I was born and brought up on Merrion Square.”

“Isobel and Will have twins – a boy and a girl – Ben and Belle – who are five months old,” Mrs Ellison went on. “And they are raising Will’s nephew, John, who is almost four.”

“I am a great-grandfather.” Mr Greene smiled and shook his head. “Good gracious me. I may be as old as the century, but this news makes me feel utterly antiquated.”

“I think we should go upstairs and introduce Mr Greene to our guests,” James suggested and his wife nodded.

“And luncheon will be served soon.”

They went up the stairs to the pleasantly warm drawing room where Mrs Ellison introduced her father – wheezing after the climb – to the guests. Will’s mother, in particular, was astonished, Sarah having assumed her friend’s parents were both long dead.

“You don’t seem at all happy to finally meet your grandfather, Isobel,” Will’s father commented and she sighed, taking his arm and leading him to a relatively quiet corner.

“My grandparents cut Mother off when she ran away from home to marry my father just days after her twenty-first birthday and yet here they both are in Dublin – twenty-five years later.”

“Your grandfather has the pallor and laboured breathing of a very ill man,” he said as they observed Mr Greene now leaning heavily on her mother’s arm and she nodded.

“Grandfather is dying and my mother does not know – and will not know – until she and James return from London.”

“Of course. They live in Co Mayo, don’t they?”

“They did, but not anymore, apparently. They are renting number 7.”

“Here on Fitzwilliam Square?” John Fitzgerald’s eyebrows shot up.

“Yes. I think their move to Dublin and my grandfather’s ‘sudden’ appearance at the church were very carefully planned, despite his words to the contrary,” she said as Will came to them.

“James seems rather stunned, what do you think of all this?” his father asked.

“Poor James is walking on eggshells,” Will replied. “He did not expect to acquire parents-in-law. I agree with Isobel that Mr Greene’s ‘sudden’ appearance has taken careful planning, so I am rather… wary.”

“Well, do not agree to be your grandfather-in-law’s doctor whatever you do.”

Will shot his father a sharp look. “I’m sure Mr Greene already has a doctor.”

“My namesake didn’t look too happy to be wearing a skirt.” John swiftly changed the subject.

“He wasn’t happy,” Will confirmed. “He hated his ‘dress’. But when I left him at number 30 with Zaineb, he went running up the stairs ahead of her for his short trousers immediately.”

A quarter of an hour later, they all sat down to the wedding luncheon – a place setting for Mrs Greene having been added and then quickly taken away. Isobel glanced at Will’s estranged parents, placed opposite each other at the huge dining table. Living separately – although under the same roof at number 67 Merrion Square – John and Sarah had behaved impeccably at Ben, Belle and young John’s joint christenings and could put on a show of togetherness when required.

Isobel was seated between John and one of James’ brothers and, although she spoke politely with both men, she couldn’t rid herself of the shock and anger of her grandfather’s unexpected arrival. She had rarely thought of either her paternal or maternal grandparents over the years. Her father’s parents had both died long before Alfie and she were born and she had never expected to meet her mother’s father and mother.

Mr and Mrs Ellison were to leave by cab at five o’clock. It would take them to the North Wall Quay passenger terminus and the boat to Holyhead in Wales. From there, they would travel to London by train. Isobel went upstairs with her mother and helped her to put on an exquisite three-quarter length ‘going away’ coat and hat made from the same gold and emerald green satin as the wedding dress.

“Promise me one thing,” Mrs Ellison said as Isobel opened the bedroom door. “Promise me you won’t row with your grandfather while James and I are in London. I know you are not at all happy at his rather sudden appearance.”

“I cannot promise you that, Mother,” she replied truthfully.

“In that case, I would like you to keep away from him – and your grandmother.”

Isobel’s jaw dropped. “Keep away?”

“Yes, Isobel, keep away. Yes, they hurt me deeply – cutting me off when I married your father – and I appreciate your wish to protect me from any further distress. But until I have the opportunity to sit down with them and determine whether their move to Dublin is temporary or permanent and what either could mean for us all, I would like you to keep away from them – please?”

Isobel gave a little shrug. “I can only promise you that I shall not call on them. But if they call on me…” She tailed off intentionally and her mother sighed but nodded.

“Yes, it is natural that they would wish to see their great-grandchildren.”

Is it, Isobel wondered. Today was the first occasion Mr Greene had set eyes on his grandchildren, never mind his great-grandchildren, even though he has no doubt known of us all and where we live for quite some time.

“And now it is time for you to go,” she said, hugging and kissing her mother. “Have a lovely time in London.”

“I’ll try.”

They went downstairs and she kissed James goodbye. He smiled before giving her a firm nod, silently telling her he would ensure his new wife enjoyed her honeymoon.

The wedding guests stood on the steps of number 55 waving the cab off and as it left the square Mr Greene turned to her.

“I shall take my leave now, too.”

“Goodbye,” Isobel said simply and her grandfather’s eyebrows rose, no doubt having expected something a little more acerbic. Turning away, she went back into the hall with Will following her. “My grandfather is returning to number 7,” she informed Gorman who lifted Mr Greene’s overcoat down from the stand. “And I hope the other guests leave soon as well,” she added to Will. “Because I don’t know for how long I can remain polite and make inane small talk.”

It took two hours for the last guests to leave and as soon as Will closed the drawing room door, Isobel exploded – throwing her hands up into the air.

“Twenty-five years—”

“Isobel.” Will clasped her hands and kissed them. “Let’s try and remain calm – we need to remain calm. Alfie, tell me what you know about your grandparents while I pour us a drink.”

“Well,” Alfie began, rubbing his forehead as Will went to the drinks tray. “They live – or lived – at Greene Hall in Co Mayo – not far from Westport. Their estate borders the Marquess of Sligo’s estate.”

“Their estate?” Will echoed, reaching for one of the decanters. “How much land do they have?”

“A lot,” Isobel replied, trying to recall what she had been told over the years. “About ten thousand acres. Some of it is peat bog and mountain and only fit for sheep, but there is also some good land. The house is large, too, according to what Mother used to say. But I’ve never seen a painting or a photograph of it, so I don’t know how accurate her description is. Mother took one photograph of her parents with her when she ran away to marry Father, that is all.”

“And they cut your mother off completely?” Will asked her while pouring the drinks. “There was no secret correspondence?”

“Not as far as I know. Do you know any different, Alfie?” she asked and he made a helpless gesture with his hands. “What about when Father died?”

“When Father died, Mother and I both decided to move to Dublin more or less straight away. If there were any letters, I knew nothing of them.”

Will passed her a glass of brandy and Alfie one of whiskey before holding up his own whiskey glass.

“Well, apart from your grandfather appearing, the day was very pleasant. Long life and happiness to the Ellisons.”

They touched glasses and drank.

“Today would have been an emotional one for your mother even if your grandfather hadn’t turned up at the church,” he continued. “So, let’s see what her state of mind is when she returns from London.”

“Hopefully, James will be able to talk some sense into her,” she added as the door opened and Gorman came in.

“Mr Greene has called and is asking to speak to Mr Stevens and Mrs Fitzgerald.”

“What does he want now?” Isobel muttered, rolling her eyes.

“Mr Greene needs to sit down, Dr Fitzgerald,” the butler added. “He is puffing and panting rather alarmingly.”

Will quickly put his glass on the mantelpiece, her glass and Alfie’s joined it and they went downstairs to the hall. Her grandfather was standing at the front door, leaning heavily on his walking cane and wheezing. Taking Mr Greene’s arm, Will guided him into the morning room and sat him down on the sofa while Alfie and Gorman lit the gas lamps.

“Breathe as slowly and deeply as you can,” Will instructed as she closed the door.

Mr Greene exhaled a phlegm-filled laugh. “That is easier said than done.”

“Would you like whiskey, sherry or brandy?” Isobel asked and he glanced up at her in surprise.

“Brandy. Thank you.”

She nodded and went to the decanters. Returning with a large glass of brandy, she passed it to him but his hand shook and Will had to grab the glass before it fell onto the rug. With Will holding the glass, the elderly man took a sip and sat back, pulling a handkerchief from his overcoat pocket and mopping his forehead.

“I don’t like sherry,” he announced. “I can tolerate a single malt whiskey, but I much prefer brandy.”

She almost smiled, as she had exactly the same taste in alcohol. Who knows what else she had in common with him.

“Why come to Dublin?” she asked and the butler discreetly left the room. “Why turn up unannounced at Mother’s wedding? Why did Grandmother not attend the wedding with you? Why did she not attend the wedding luncheon? Why is she not here with you now?”

“Because, Isobel,” he said, taking the glass from Will. “I am about to tell you something your grandmother wishes to keep secret.”

“Well?” she prompted irritably as he enjoyed another sip of brandy and handed the glass back to Will.

“It was wholly my idea to attend your mother’s wedding,” he told her. “Your grandmother wished to stay away but I wanted to see my daughter marry so I insisted I attend, even though it went against my doctor’s strict advice. I have chronic lung disease,” he added, with a glance towards both Will and Alfie. “I am dying, and there are many things I have done over the course of my life I want to try and put right before it is too late. I wish to get to know my darling daughter again. I wish to get to know my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren. But I also have a son and it is my dearest wish that I see him once more before I die.”

Fitzgerald series Books

Explore my blog for more excerpts, character profiles and historical background information

A Discarded Son: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Three will be published on 7 August 2019

Pre-order A Discarded Son: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Three for 99c/99p  

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Amazon ASIN: B07V1C41X2

Paperback ISBN: Coming Soon

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Discarded Son

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin

Genre: Irish Historical Fiction

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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A Scarlet Woman: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One is on a virtual book tour organised by Goddess Fish Promotions. I will be awarding a US$25 Amazon/B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour so check out the reviews below and leave a comment! 

July 8: Enchanting Reviews
July 8: The Avid Reader
July 15: Fabulous and Brunette
July 22: Long and Short Reviews
July 29: KayBee’s Bookshelf, A Literary Blog
July 29: Straight From the Library

If you haven’t read A Scarlet Woman yet, the Kindle edition is currently 99c/99p! 

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Cover photo credit: Wilhelm Roentgen (1845-1923), German physicist, received the first Nobel Prize for Physics, in 1901, for his discovery of X-rays in 1895: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com and Portrait of a man in a top hat and morning suit holding a cane: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com
Cover photo credit: Florence Court, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland: phb.cz/Depositphotos.com
Eugène Delacroix – Portrait of Léon Riesener: Photo Credit: irinaraquel via Flickr.com / CC BY 4.0
Lily Langtry, The Lily of Jersey: Photo Credit: the lost gallery via Flickr.com / CC BY 4.0
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The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series

As I publish each book in The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series – a gritty family saga set in 1880s Ireland – I’ll be adding blog posts with character profiles, location histories and general background information. Below, I’ve listed all the posts so far and categorised them so they are easier to locate. All the posts contain an excerpt from the books. You can subscribe to my blog by clicking the Follow button or the RSS Blog Feed Reader link in the sidebar on the right so you won’t miss a post.

Love, trust, family ties and secrets…

The Books 

Book One: A Scarlet Woman

Can an idealistic young doctor and a fallen woman find love when Victorian society believes they should not?

A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel eBook Cover

Book Two: A Suitable Wife

Can Will and Isobel hold the Fitzgeralds together when tragedy and betrayal threaten to tear the family apart?

A Suitable Wife by Lorna Peel Kindle Cover

Book Three: A Discarded Son

Can Will and Isobel right the wrongs of the past without hurting those closest to them?

A Discarded Son by Lorna Peel Kindle Cover PNG

Character Profiles

Mrs Langtry  Meet Isobel Stevens

Eugène Delacroix  Meet Dr Will Fitzgerald

Sarah  Meet Sarah Fitzgerald

George_Bernard_Shaw_1925  Meet Dr John Fitzgerald

Fred Simpson  Meet Dr Fred Simpson 

edith_wharton  Meet Margaret Simpson

Location Histories

  A Map Of Dublin, Ireland

Merrion Square  Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland

Guinnesses  The Liberties of Dublin, Ireland

Elliot Place 1930s  Monto: Dublin’s Red Light District

450px-Fitzwilliam_Square_West_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1410337  Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, Ireland

History

Mountjoy_Square,_Dublin,_Ireland_(January_2010)  The Great Snow of January 1881

Irish History YouTube Videos (Not By Me!)

Wrong date – should be 6 May 1882

The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series is

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Meet A Scarlet Woman’s Isobel Stevens

Lily Colourised

Isobel Stevens is twenty-two years old. She was born in County Galway, Ireland, the youngest of two children of the Reverend Edmund Stevens, a Church of Ireland (Anglican) clergyman, and his wife, Martha. Her parents’ marriage was an unhappy one. Reverend Stevens was a cruel and vindictive man who beat, not only his wife but his children, too.

Despite his cruelty, Reverend Stevens wanted what was best for his children. Both Isobel and her elder brother, Alfie, were well-educated. Alfie was sent to Harrow public school in London, England while at the age of twelve, Isobel was sent to Cheltenham Ladies College in Gloucestershire, England. With Isobel’s beauty and education, Reverend Stevens hoped to arrange a good marriage for her.

Unfortunately, this was not to be. Isobel was seduced by James Shawcross, a neighbour’s son, and she fell pregnant. James wouldn’t stand by her and Isobel was forced to tell her father about her pregnancy. Incensed, Reverend Stevens whipped Isobel and threw her out of the Glebe House.

Disgraced and disowned, Isobel pawned the jewellery she was wearing and travelled to Dublin not knowing what she was going to do. In Dublin, Isobel approached a girl standing outside the railway station and asked her if there was anywhere she could work in exchange for bed and board. The girl said yes, and brought Isobel to Sally Maher’s brothel on Montgomery Street in Monto, Dublin’s red-light district…

A_Scarlet_Woman_SQUARE-1

Dublin, Ireland, 1880. Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father’s medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practise medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father’s hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an excerpt from Chapter One…

She woke feeling Will stirring beside her. His brown eyes stared blankly at her for a moment before he smiled.

“You remember me, then?” she asked, fighting an urge to explore his now heavy stubble with her fingers.

“Yes, I do. Good morning.” He rubbed his eyes. “Thank you for putting up with me last night. I don’t often drink to excess. I hope I didn’t pry too much and upset you.”

“It was nothing,” she lied, giving him as bright a smile as she could manage.

“I’d better go.” Throwing back the covers, he got out of the bed and went to the chair and door for his clothes. “Any sounds from the other bedrooms?” he asked as he got dressed.

“I don’t think they’ll be stirring for hours yet.”

“Well, I’m afraid Fred and Jerry need to stir right away. Fred’s getting married in—” He took out his pocket watch. “Three hours.” Putting his watch back in his waistcoat pocket, he went to the dressing table and bent in front of the mirror finger-combing his hair into place.

“Use my brush.” She pointed to it lying beside a bottle of overly sweet scented perfume.

“Thank you.” He reached for the brush, tidied his hair, then turned to face her. They observed each other for a couple of moments until she smiled self-consciously and pulled the bedcovers up to hide her breasts. “Why don’t you—” he began, then stopped abruptly and flushed.

“Find more suitable employment?” She shrugged. “I’m all but unemployable. I was schooled to be a lady.”

“But think of what you might catch here?”

“I am clean, Will,” she replied tightly. “You needn’t worry.”

He flushed even deeper. “You could go into domestic service?”

“Yes, I suppose I could.”

“I can only advise you to leave this brothel while you are still young and healthy.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” Getting out of the bed, she quickly put her robe on and went to the door. She lifted his hat down from the hook before opening the door for him. “Good morning to you.”

“Good morning.” Taking the hat from her, he went out. She closed the door, hearing him knocking loudly at the two other bedroom doors on the landing, ordering his friends out of bed and home at once.

Standing in front of the dressing table mirror, she opened her robe and surveyed herself. He was right. A few years of this and she would be as coarse as Lily down the landing and would probably have syphilis or herpes into the bargain as well. It was time to leave.

Pouring some cold water from the ewer into the bowl, she got washed and dressed, then pinned up her hair before going downstairs to the kitchen. Sally was seated at the table breaking her fast, seeming to thrive on as little sleep as possible.

“That tea in the pot is still hot,” Sally told her.

“Thank you.” Sitting down opposite Sally, she poured herself a cup and added milk, then cut a slice of soda bread.

“Your fella gone?”

She nodded as she buttered the bread. “Yes, he’s just left. He’s a doctor. All three are doctors.”

“We did well out o’ them. Hope they come back.”

“Yes. Mine was nice.”

Sally grunted. “So, what will you do with yourself today?”

She took a sip of tea. “I thought I might go into town and look at the shops. I haven’t done that for a while.”

“Do.” Sally nodded. “You deserve a day out. You’ve worked hard of late. Here.” Sally reached into the pocket of the white apron she was wearing over a gaudy yellow dress, lifted out some coins, and passed them to her. “Treat yourself to a bite to eat. But you didn’t get this from me, all right?”

She smiled, trying not to stare too much at Sally’s freshly dyed copper-coloured hair. “Thank you.”

“Finish that tea and bread and be off with you.”

In her bedroom, she counted the coins and dropped them into the small black leather handbag she had bought after seeing it for sale in a pawn shop window. Two shillings and sixpence ha’penny. Sally wasn’t usually so generous.

Donning her best dress – a navy blue relict from her pre-Dublin life with a square neck and buttons up the front – and a fashionable hat in matching navy blue she had purchased from a second-hand clothes stall, she walked to St Stephen’s Green. It was the last day of July and the trees of the park, newly opened to the general public, were lush with leaves of varying greens. They reminded her of Ballybeg but she blinked a few times to banish the memory. For now, she was going to find a spot in the sunshine, watch the ladies and gentlemen parading past, and mull over what she could possibly gain employment as.  

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Amazon ASIN: B074LJJWJW

Paperback ISBN: 9781547079698

Explore my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Scarlet Woman

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One

Genre: Victorian Historical Romance

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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(Book Cover): Mrs Langtry: Photo credit: The National Archives, ref. COPY1/373/215
Gun Powder Office (Book Cover): Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions  
Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. “Lily Langtry, Photo File A” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47df-1081-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Meet A Scarlet Woman’s Will Fitzgerald

Eugène Delacroix

Dr Will Fitzgerald is thirty years old. He was born and brought up at number 67 Merrion Square, Dublin and is the younger son of Dr John Fitzgerald and his wife, Sarah. Will’s elder brother, Edward, is a major in the British army and is serving in India.

Will studied medicine at Trinity College, Dublin with his best friends Fred Simpson and Jerry Hawley. He then joined his father’s prosperous medical practice but quickly grew tired of treating rich hypochondriacs. Will left the practice and set up his own medical practice in the Liberties area of Dublin, living in a gable-fronted Dutch Billy style house on Brown Street South.

When A Scarlet Woman opens, Will is nursing a broken heart and is expecting to be a poor and lonely bachelor doctor for the rest of his life. His fiancée, Cecilia Wilson, has ended their engagement. Will had agreed that after their marriage they would live at number 67 with his parents but he refused to stop practising medicine in the Liberties and rejoin his father’s practice. Cecilia did not want to be the wife of a doctor whose practice is in a poorer area so she married Clive Ashlinn, a rich barrister, instead.

On the eve of his wedding, Fred Simpson brings Will and Jerry to a brothel in Dublin’s red light district, known as Monto. Little does Will know as he reluctantly follows Fred and Jerry inside that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets that night will alter the course of his life and he will soon put Cecilia well and truly behind him.

A_Scarlet_Woman_SQUARE-1

Dublin, Ireland, 1880. Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father’s medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practise medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father’s hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an excerpt from Chapter Two…

Reaching Merrion Square, he found a gate to the gardens ajar. He hadn’t been in the gardens for months so he decided to make a circuit in the evening sunshine. About half way around, he stopped dead when he saw Cecilia seated on a bench with a book open on her lap. As if sensing she was no longer alone she turned.

“Will?” she said, in faint surprise.

He moved forward reluctantly, taking off his hat. “Mrs Ashlinn.”

“Please call me Cecilia.”

“I would rather not. I am due to dine with my parents, so if you would—”

“You hate me, don’t you, Will?” she interrupted.

“I wouldn’t describe it as hate – more of a disappointment in you for not having the decency to tell me in person that our engagement was over.”

She flushed. “I have hurt you deeply and I can only apologise. You will find someone worthy of you, I’m sure of it.”

“Someone who will be content with a husband whose medical practice is in the Liberties? I can only hope so. Please excuse me, Mrs Ashlinn.” He put on his hat and walked away from her, his heart thumping.

His mother took one look at his face as he was shown into the morning room and got up from the sofa. “Oh, no, you’ve seen Cecilia,” she said, putting a glass of sherry down on a side table then kissing his cheek.

“Whiskey, Will?” His father, dressed more like an undertaker than a doctor, in a black frock coat, trousers, and black cravat, was standing at the drinks tray in a corner of the room with a crystal decanter in his hand.

“Yes, please, Father,” he replied, before turning back to his mother. “I hadn’t been in the gardens for a while so when I saw an open gate, I decided to make a circuit. Unfortunately, she was sitting on one of the benches. She saw me before I could avoid her. Thank you.” He accepted a glass of whiskey from his father. “When are she and Clive moving?”

“Tomorrow,” his father replied.

“And I’ve ruined her last evening here. What a pity.”

“You weren’t too rude, were you?” his father asked as they sat down.

“No, just rude enough. Good health.” He raised his glass and drank, noting the dark circles under his father ’s eyes. Unlike his mother ’s hair, his father ’s hair was now all grey and turning white at the temples. “You look tired,” he commented, and his father ’s eyebrows rose and fell.

“I had a long night last night, Will,” he explained. “I was sitting with a patient who died just after four o’clock this morning. She was briefly your patient at the practice – Miss Harris.”

“Miss Harris…” Will tailed off and racked his brains. “Miss Harris – yes – good God – she must have been a great age.”

“Ninety-nine,” his father replied. “She put her longevity down to not being married, and she very much wanted to live to a hundred, but it wasn’t to be.”

“I’m sorry to hear she has passed away, I used to enjoy chatting with her,” he said as his father stifled a yawn. “Have an early night tonight, if you can,” he added, and his father nodded.

“You’ll meet someone worthy of you, Will,” his mother told him, and he fought to hide his irritation at her steering the conversation back to Cecilia.

“That’s what Cecilia said, Mother.”

“I hear Frederick and Margaret are back from London.” His father swiftly changed the subject. “I cannot believe Frederick is married now. It seems like only yesterday when the three of you were starting at Trinity College. How is Jerry, by the way?”

“Oh, the same as ever,” Will replied. “I showed him around Brown Street last week.”

“And?”

Will smiled. “He wished me good luck. He said he would find a spot for me on Harley Street if I was so inclined.”

“Except you are never going to be so inclined.”

“I’m not in it for the money, Father, how often—”

“I know,” his father interrupted. “I just don’t want to see you struggling in Brown Street in ten years time, no better off in any way than you are now.”

“You think I’m going to end up a poor and lonely old bachelor doctor, don’t you?” he asked.

“Your mother is not the only one who worries about you.”

“Edward has everything – army career – wife – and now a child. I have a medical practice in the Liberties and not even a fiancée anymore. Sorry about that, Father.”

“Will,” his mother warned. “Don’t.”

He peered down into his glass. “I’m sorry. Once Cecilia is gone from the square, and people stop commiserating with me, it will get better. I suppose it is getting better already. I faced her. I spoke to her. Not very civilly, I admit, but I did. Soon I’ll be wondering what I ever saw in her.”

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Amazon ASIN: B074LJJWJW

Paperback ISBN: 9781547079698

Explore my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Scarlet Woman

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One

Genre: Victorian Historical Romance

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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(Book Cover): Mrs Langtry: Photo credit: The National Archives, ref. COPY1/373/215
(Book Cover): Gun Powder Office: Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions 
Eugène Delacroix – Portrait of Léon Riesener: Photo Credit: irinaraquel via Flickr.com / CC BY 4.0

Merrion Square

Merrion Square is one of Dublin’s finest Georgian squares. Three sides are lined with red brick townhouses, while the fourth side faces Government Buildings, the Natural History Museum, Leinster House (seat of the Oireachtas or Irish parliament), and the National Gallery of Ireland.

12-Merrion-Square-0-1-2

Merrion Square South

After the then Earl of Kildare (later the Duke of Leinster) built his Dublin home, Leinster House, on farmland on the edge of the city in the 1740s, the area became fashionable. Merrion Square, named Merrion after the seventh Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion, was laid out after 1762 and was largely complete by the beginning of the 19th century. Two other residential squares were built in the area – St Stephen’s Green and Fitzwilliam Square.

Richard_Fitzwilliam_of_Merrion

The Hon. Richard Fitzwilliam, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion

The plots for each house differed in size, although most were for houses of three bays. The standard height for each house was for four storeys over basement but this also varied from one house to the next, resulting in a variation in roofline height. As it took more than thirty years for the square to be built, changes in architectural styles can be seen. 

Merrion Square North

Merrion Square North

The proportions of doors and windows in many of the houses are different. Some houses have decorative ironwork, such as first-floor balconies, and not all of the houses were fronted in granite on the ground floor. Inside, the townhouses contain magnificent ceiling plasterwork, ornate fireplaces and staircases.

800px-Merrion_Square,_Nov_2017

Merrion Square Park

Up until the 1970s the central railed-off garden was only open to residents in possession of a private key. It is now a public park managed by Dublin City Council and contains a statue of Oscar Wilde who resided in number 1 Merrion Square from 1855 to 1876. On Sundays, artists hang their works for sale on the railings surrounding the park.

A_Scarlet_Woman_SQUARE-1

Dublin, Ireland, 1880. Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father’s medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practise medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father’s hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an excerpt from Chapter One…

By four o’clock on Sunday afternoon, she was fit to drop as she arrived at the Harvey residence on Merrion Square. Mrs Black brought her upstairs to a tiny attic bedroom, which she was to share with the other as yet unnamed parlourmaid. She longed to simply crawl into the narrow single bed allocated to her and sleep, but she had to go back downstairs to the servants’ hall to meet the other servants at dinner.

Mr Johnston sat at one end of the long dining table and Mrs Black sat at the other. Mrs Harvey’s lady’s maid, Edith Lear, Mrs Gordon the cook, Claire – the other parlourmaid – and Bessie and Winnie – the two housemaids – sat along one side. Down the other side, she was placed beside Frank, the footman, and Mary, the tiny kitchenmaid. She couldn’t help but notice a large number of servants for what was actually a very small household.

They all seemed friendly, asking her where she had been born, why she had come back to Ireland after her mother’s death, and telling her the Harveys’ were a good and fair couple to work for.

As early as she dared she excused herself, and climbed the stairs to the bedroom with a small oil lamp. Unlike the rest of the house, Mrs Black informed her, none of the servants’ bedrooms was lit by gas lighting. There was no rug on the bedroom floor either, only a small threadbare mat, and the window and door were draughty. She smiled all the same, as she unpacked her few belongings and ran her fingers over the two uniforms. She really needed two of each, but the others would have to wait until she received her wages. Being a parlourmaid was going to be hard work but it was infinitely better than being a prostitute.

She was sitting up in bed, plaiting her hair, when Claire came into the bedroom and gave her a smile.

“I’m glad I’m sharing again.”

“What happened to the last maid?” she asked, as Claire began to undress.

Claire pulled an awkward expression. “She got pregnant by a footman across the square. Both had to go.”

“Oh, I see.”

“So, you were in England? I’d love to go to England one day…” Claire tailed off and watched her yawn.

“Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t sleep well last night. A bit nervous, you know?”

“You’ve nothing to worry about here.”

“I’m glad. You’ll probably have to give me a nudge in the morning.”

Poor Claire almost had to pull her out of the bed. Used to not getting up until all hours, having to get up at six in the morning and being called Maisie, were completely foreign to her. Still half asleep, she washed in lukewarm water and got dressed in the dull grey dress and lace-trimmed white apron and cap, before following Claire downstairs.

In the hall, Claire explained the house to her. The morning room and breakfast room on the ground floor were for the Harveys’ everyday use. The drawing room and dining room on the first floor were only used when the Harveys’ had guests but still had to be attended to. The library – created when the drawing room was divided in two – also had to be attended to, as it was used each day by Mr Harvey. To escape his wife, Claire added with a grin. The lighting of the gas lamps in the house was one of the footman’s tasks and, finally, the Harveys’ bedrooms on the second floor were the responsibility of the two housemaids.

Mary, the kitchenmaid, had already removed the ashes from all the hearths, blackened the grates again and set new fires, so she and Claire only had to light them. She followed Claire’s lead, only pausing for their breakfast after the table was laid in the breakfast room, the morning room had been done, and the serving dishes, milk, tea, and toast had been carried up to the breakfast room. They were placed on the sideboard as Mr and Mrs Harvey helped themselves at breakfast.

They continued on all morning, clearing away after the Harveys’ breakfast, and setting the table for luncheon. Then, the cleaning, polishing and dusting in the hall, drawing and dining rooms, and the library had to be completed until, at last, they went downstairs to the servants’ hall for their mid-day meal. 

Claire was friendly and chatty and she warmed to her. Returning to the servants’ hall after changing into their black uniforms, Mr Johnston informed them that Mr and Mrs Harvey were having guests to dinner on Friday evening.

A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel eBook Cover

Buy A Scarlet Woman for   

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Amazon ASIN: B074LJJWJW

Paperback ISBN: 9781547079698

Explore my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

goodreads11-1024x409

Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Scarlet Woman

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One

Genre: Victorian Historical Romance

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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facebook-48x48  twitter-48x48  pinterest-48x48  mewe-500-2  goodreads-48x48  Wordpress  instagram_app_large_may2016_200  newsletter  BookBub Icon

(Book Cover): Mrs Langtry: Photo credit: The National Archives, ref. COPY1/373/215
(Book Cover): Gun Powder Office (cover): Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions
Richard Fitzwilliam of Merrion: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Merrion Square: Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Merrion Square (Park): Photo Credit: NTF30 from Wikimedia Commons and used under CC BY-SA 4.0
Merrion Square North: Photo Credit: Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States from Wikimedia Commons and used under CC BY 2.0 

The Liberties of Dublin

Dubline

Dublin in 1610

The Liberties is an area in Dublin, Ireland, located to the southwest of the city centre, and is one of Dublin’s most historic districts. In the 12th century, King Henry II of England ordered the Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr to be built on a site close to where St Catherine’s Church on Thomas Street stands today. The abbey’s Augustinian monks were granted lands to the west of the walled city and were also granted privileges and powers to control trade within their ‘liberty’. The Liberty of St Thomas Court and Donore became very wealthy and the abbey gave its name to St Thomas Street, which runs along the ancient western route into the city of Dublin. 

St Catherine's Church

St Catherine’s Church, Thomas Street

Following the dissolution of monasteries in the 16th century, the abbey lands passed into the ownership of William Brabazon. The Brabazons, who later became Earls of Meath, were landlords in the Liberties for the next three centuries.

Cork Street Fever Hospital


Cork Street Fever Hospital

In the late 17th century, construction began on houses for the weavers who were moving into the area. Settlers from England were involved in the woollen industry, while many French Huguenots’ trade was silk weaving. They built their own traditional style of gable-fronted houses in the Liberties, known as Dutch Billies.

dutchstylehouse

Dutch Billy on Kevin Street

English woollen manufacturers felt threatened by the growing Irish industry and heavy duties were imposed on Irish wool exports. The Navigation Act was passed to prevent the Irish from exporting to colonial markets and then, in 1699, the Wool Act was passed which prevented any exports whatsoever. This put an end to the woollen industry in the Liberties and, coupled with economic decline which set in after the Act of Union in 1801, many of the once-prosperous houses became poverty-stricken tenements. This prompted a number of housing developments by the Earls of Meath and the Guinness and Power families in the late 19th century. Modern houses were built for workers on Gray Street and John Dillon Street by the Dublin Artisan Dwelling Company and the Iveagh Trust Buildings on Patrick Street were the first flats built for Dubliners.

pimlico

Pimlico

During the 18th and 19th centuries, brewers and distillers moved into the Liberties, most notably the Guinness family who, in 1759, established the world’s largest brewery at St James’ Gate. Powers and Jameson also established distilleries in the Liberties, and the area had its own harbour linking it to the Grand Canal, and a mini-railway through the St James’ Gate brewery.

Guinnesses

Guinness’ Brewery

Today, the Liberties retains its distinctive character and its evocative street names, such as Weaver Square, Engine Alley, Cross Stick Alley and Marrowbone Lane. If you’re on a visit to Dublin, make sure you visit the Liberties.

A_Scarlet_Woman_SQUARE-1

Dublin, Ireland, 1880. Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father’s medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practise medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father’s hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an Excerpt from Chapter Two…

At five minutes past five in the morning, he was called out to a woman experiencing a prolonged and difficult labour. Ten minutes later he was on the third floor of a tenement house being watched both anxiously and suspiciously by the mother-to-be and two neighbours. Their eyes widened as he lifted his stethoscope out of his medical bag and placed it over the mother-to-be’s abdomen. There was absolute silence from both inside and out as he listened for a heartbeat. The baby was most likely dead, poor little mite.

At a quarter past seven, the woman was breech delivered of a large baby boy. It was as he had feared – the child was dead. If only they had called him out sooner. If only…

Mrs Bell was cooking his breakfast when he returned to Brown Street and frowned when she saw his face.

“Delia Brennan’s baby was born feet first and dead,” he explained, and Mrs Bell crossed herself. “It was a boy and was dead before I got there. If only they had called me out sooner, but there’s no point in saying that now.” Lifting the kettle off the range, he poured some hot water into a bowl in the sink, added some cold water from a bucket and washed and scrubbed his hands.

“I was all set to ask you whether you had enjoyed the dinner last night.”

He gave her a little smile as he dried his hands. “It was pleasant enough.” And all the better for discovering he hadn’t been responsible for ‘Rose Green’ killing herself, he added silently.

“Good. Now you sit yourself down and eat this.” He sat at the table and she put a bowl of porridge down in front of him. “You can wash and shave afterwards.”

“Thank you.”

“That boy would have been Delia’s seventh.” Mrs Bell poured them each a cup of tea. “Tragic, but probably a blessing in disguise.”

“I suppose so, yes.”

“It’s strange, isn’t it?” his housekeeper mused, as he added milk and sugar to the porridge. “Delia’s been married seven years and she’s had a child every year. Maggie Millar, now, she’s been married donkey’s years and nothing.”

“George Millar drinks like a fish.”

“Could that be it?” she asked.

“It could be. It could be a lot of things.”

“Do you want children?” she added suddenly.

He grimaced. Sometimes she could come out with the most probing questions when he least expected them. “One day,” he replied. “I’m only thirty. I’ve plenty of time.”

“But don’t leave it too long, will you?”

“I need a wife first and they haven’t exactly been queuing up of late.”

“Did Amelia Belcher give you the eye last night?” Mrs Bell smiled.

“Yes, but I ignored it.”

“You told her that you were staying here. Take it or leave it.”

He nodded. “And she left it. And I’m relieved. I’m still battered and bruised after Cecilia.”

He finished his porridge and two slices of soda bread and marmalade, drank his tea, and went upstairs with a jug of warm water. When he had washed and shaved, he went into the surgery and lifted some notepaper out of his desk drawer.

A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel eBook Cover

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Amazon ASIN: B074LJJWJW

Paperback ISBN: 9781547079698

Explore my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Scarlet Woman

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One

Genre: Victorian Historical Romance

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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(Book Cover): Mrs Langtry: Photo credit: The National Archives, ref. COPY1/373/215
(Book Cover): Gun Powder Office: Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions 
Dutch Billy on Kevin Street: Photo Credit: Lorna Peel
St Catherine’s Church, Thomas Street: Photo Credit: Lorna Peel
Pimlico: Photo Credit: Lorna Peel
Cork Street Fever Hospital: Photo Credit: Lorna Peel
Guinness Brewery: Photo Credit: jraffin on Pixabay used under Creative Commons CC0 1.0
Dublin in 1610: Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons: Public Domain Mark 1.0

Monto: Dublin’s Red Light District

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Monto is the nickname for Dublin’s red light district derived from Montgomery Street, now named Foley Street. Monto encompassed an area bounded by Talbot Street, Amiens Street, Gardiner Street and Gloucester Street (now Sean McDermott Street). Between the 1860s and the 1920s, Monto was reputed to be the largest red light district in Europe and, according to popular legend, the then Prince of Wales, Prince Edward (later King Edward VII), lost his virginity there.

Montgomery Street

Montgomery Street

Monto emerged as a red light district in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. In the 1860s and 1870s, prostitution in Dublin had centered on the fashionable Grafton Street area. In 1863, police statistics counted 984 prostitutes in Dublin. By 1894, Dublin had 74 brothels, mostly located in Monto.

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Monto flourished due to its location being far enough away from upper and middle-class residential and shopping districts and, crucially, due to the authorities turning a blind eye. Its proximity to Amiens Street Station (now Connolly Station) provided plenty of innocent young women from the countryside looking for work, plus Dublin’s port and Aldborough Military Barracks brought in plenty of clientele.

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Nelson’s Pillar from Carlisle Bridge (now O’Connell Bridge)

The number of women working as prostitutes in Dublin in this period was extremely high, caused by chronic unemployment and the lack of any kind of industrial employment opportunities for women. In 1870, Manchester recorded 1,617 arrests for prostitution, London 2,183 and Dublin 3,255.

Lower Gardiner Street

Lower Gardiner Street

Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 and the establishment of the Irish Free State, the departure of the British Army from Dublin took away a large part of Monto’s income. The rise to power of the Roman Catholic Church in 1920s Ireland meant prostitution would no longer be tolerated. Although various religious groups hadn’t turned a blind eye to Monto over the years, it was the Association of Our Lady of Mercy (better known as the Legion of Mary) which had the greatest impact on ending prostitution in Monto.

Elliot Place 1930s

Elliot Place in the 1930s

The Legion of Mary received the co-operation of the Dublin Police Commissioner, General William Murphy, and a police raid on 12 March 1925 ended with a large number of arrests. While this raid didn’t shut Monto down completely, prostitution in the area petered out and dispersed over the following years. With subsequent street clearances and street renaming, almost nothing now remains of Monto’s infamous past.

A_Scarlet_Woman_SQUARE-1

Dublin, Ireland, 1880. Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father’s medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practise medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father’s hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an excerpt from Chapter One…

Dublin, Ireland. Friday, July 30th, 1880

Will blinked and fought to stay awake as the cab rattled along the dark streets. It was years since he had been this drunk. The night of their graduation, wasn’t it? Fred, seated between Jerry and himself, was clapping his hands. Whether it was in an effort to keep warm or that it was because he was just as drunk but more intent on keeping awake, Will didn’t know.

“Nearly there now,” Fred announced.

“Eh, what?” Jerry slurred.

“Oh, you two are hopeless. It’s my last night of freedom. We haven’t had that much to drink.”

“We have,” Jerry stated firmly.

“Where are we going now?” Will wiped some condensation away and peered out of the window but couldn’t see a thing. “Where are we, Fred?”

“My dear Dr Fitzgerald, we are about to have the night of our lives. My treat, to thank the two of you for being such good friends to me over the years. You don’t get out enough, either of you. You with your swanky London practice, Jeremiah. And as for you, William.” Fred kicked his ankle. “The less said the better.”

“Where are we?” Will demanded. He knew what Fred thought of his practice and didn’t need to be reminded. “Fred?”

“Monto,” Fred shouted triumphantly as the cab stopped. “Sally Maher ’s kip.”

“A brothel?” Will straightened up, sobering a little. “No, Fred, I’d rather not.”

Fred just laughed, irritating him. “Don’t be ridiculous. I said I’ll pay.”

“You know damn well it’s not that.”

“I’m not listening. I’m getting the first pick of the girls, though. You two can toss a coin if you can’t agree. Don’t fall asleep, Jerry, we’re here.”

The three of them got out of the cab and Fred paid the fare. He and Jerry went straight inside while Will glanced up at the brothel. It was a commonplace terraced house if a little run down. Reluctantly, he took off his hat and followed them.

“Will?” Fred bellowed at him, and he jumped violently before turning away from the supposedly seductive red furnishings in the narrow hallway. “We’re fixed up. What sort of a girl do you want?”

Fred, Jerry, and the brothel madam all waited expectantly. Will sighed. He hadn’t a clue.

“I don’t know… black-ish hair?” Cecilia’s hair was blonde but he forced her face out of his befuddled mind. “Yes, black-ish hair.”

“Good, you can have Rose.” The madam turned away. “Maggie. Lily. Rose,” she roared up the stairs.

Three young women appeared at the top of the stairs. The first was a redhead, the second a blonde, and the third his brunette. Will watched her come down the steps. She wore a red silk robe, her dark hair was loosely pinned up, and wisps fell over her face and neck. As she reached the foot of the stairs, Will also saw to his relief, that she was in her early twenties, tall, and quite shapely. Good. Cecilia was as thin as a rake and a year older than him. His brunette nodded to the brothel madam then gave him a little smile.

“I’m Rose.”

“Will.”

“Hello, Will.” Taking his hand, she led him up the stairs, along the landing, and into a bedroom. “I hope you’re not expecting anything too outlandish,” she said as she closed the door. “Because you won’t get it from me.”

Again, he was relieved. He had never been very sexually adventurous and recently he had lived like a monk.

“No, I’m not,” he replied, shrugging off then hanging his frock coat and his hat on a hook on the back of the door.

Glancing around the room, he noted that apart from a double bed, it housed a dressing table and stool, a wardrobe, a bedside table with an oil lamp and ewer and bowl standing on it, and an armchair upholstered in red fabric. A fire was lit in the hearth but the coal was producing more smoke than flames.

“Good. Shall I help you with your clothes?” she offered.

“I can manage.”

He began to fumble with his cravat and collar, eventually managed to get them off, then set to work on his cufflinks. Minutes passed, he had made no progress whatsoever, and he swore under his breath.

“Allow me,” she said softly. He stood meekly while she undid them before proceeding to completely undress him. “Celebrating?”

“Fred’s getting married tomorrow.”

“Are you brothers?”

“No. We were at Trinity College together. We’re doctors.”

“Doctors? I see. Are you married?” He hesitated before replying and she glanced up at him. “I won’t mind if you lie.”

“I won’t lie,” he replied tightly. “I nearly was married but I’m not.”

“I’m sorry. There.” She laid his clothes on the back of the faded and threadbare armchair then gave him a long look while taking the pins from her hair. How did he compare with the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men who had passed through this bedroom? Cecilia had found him handsome. But ultimately not handsome enough. Thick dark brown hair fell down Rose’s back and she slipped off her robe before throwing it over his clothes on the back of the armchair. He blinked a few times. She had a very shapely body and firm full breasts. This might not be such a bad idea after all.

A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel eBook Cover

Buy A Scarlet Woman for   

Kindle

Or read A Scarlet Woman FREE with 

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Buy the A Scarlet Woman paperback at

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Amazon ASIN: B074LJJWJW

Paperback ISBN: 9781547079698

2

A Suitable Wife: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Two is out now!

Buy A Suitable Wife for

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Or read A Suitable Wife FREE with 

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Amazon ASIN: B07FDB3B3W

Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

Explore my BLOG for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Scarlet Woman

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin

Genre: Historical Fiction/Victorian Family Saga

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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(Book Cover): Mrs Langtry: Photo credit: The National Archives, ref. COPY1/373/215
(Book Cover): Gun Powder Office: Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions 
Grafton Street: Image from page 431 of “Picturesque Ireland : a literary and artistic delineation of the natural scenery, remarkable places, historical antiquities, public buildings, ancient abbeys, towers, castles, and other romantic and attractive features of Ireland”. Photo Credit: Internet Archive Book Images / No known copyright restrictions
Nelson’s Pillar from Carlisle Bridge: Image from page 388 of “Picturesque Ireland : a literary and artistic delineation of the natural scenery, remarkable places, historical antiquities, public buildings, ancient abbeys, towers, castles, and other romantic and attractive features of Ireland”. : Photo Credit: Internet Archive Book Images / No known copyright restrictions
Elliot Place in the 1930s: Photo Credit: The Frank Murphy Collection (Old Dublin Society)
Lower Gardiner Street: Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/337488565799148189/
Montgomery Street / Old Dublin Housing: Photo Credit: ImageShack 
Map of Dublin: The Sunny Side of Ireland. How to see it by the Great Southern and Western Railway … With seven maps and over 130 illustrations, etc. Image Credit: The British Library / Public Domain, from the British Library’s collections, 2013