Meet Brotherly Love’s Caitriona Brady

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Caitriona Brady is twenty-six years old and is the widow of John Brady, the Brady champion who was killed in a faction fight two years ago. Caitriona and John were brought together by a local matchmaker and Caitriona was eighteen when she left her home in Dunmore Parish, married John, and began a life in a cottage on fifteen acres of rented land on a mountain in the remote parish of Doon.

Caitriona and John had no children and, after John’s death, Caitriona nursed John’s elderly mother until Bridget died. Finally her own mistress, Caitriona wants to make the most of her new found freedom. She wants to choose a husband this time and not have the decision made for her.

Michael Warner is new to the parish, is the most handsome man she has ever seen – and he loves her. So why are there so many obscacles in the way of their courtship? The Brady faction see Caitriona’s love for the priest’s brother as a betrayal of her dead husband. Caitriona’s ‘betrayal’ is used to begin a number of faction fights and she is very much afraid that she will be responsible for someone’s death. John Brady has been dead for two years and the Brady faction won’t allow him to rest in peace. Can the Bradys be persuaded to change their name and Caitriona allowed to move on with her life?

Michael’s brother, Father Liam Warner, disapproves of their courtship, too. He views Caitriona as dangerous, even if she doesn’t realise it herself, and wants nothing more than for Caitriona to return home to her family in Dunmore Parish. It seems nothing will change his mind about the ‘damned Brady woman’.

Even Caitriona’s brother-in-law, Thady Brady, has reservations about the courtship. Thady gave Caitriona permission to look for another husband and approves of Michael Warner, but not enough is known about Doon Parish’s ‘mystery man’. Thady persuades Caitriona to allow him to do some digging into Michael’s background at an upcoming cattle fair. What Thady discovers shakes Caitriona’s world to the core.

Can there ever be a solution to seemingly insurmountable obstacles? Is there no hope for Caitriona and Michael? Find out in Brotherly Love.

green-caitriona

Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_print_jpg

Excerpt:

Caitriona saw the shock in Thady’s eyes when she opened the door to Mary and him. Even Mary was stunned into an unusual silence, taking in her eyes – red and swollen from crying – her limp and undone hair hanging over her face and neck, and her creased and unkempt dress. Mary glanced at the blanket hanging over the back of the chair by the hearth, evidence that she hadn’t slept in either bed the previous night.

“Have you both come to tell me how I’ve been betraying my dear husband’s memory?” she croaked, walking back into the kitchen. “You’re the first today so maybe I’ll listen to you.”

“Were you not listening to what I told you last week?” Thady demanded. “John’s dead, let him lie.”

“But they won’t,” she replied wearily. “They’ll never let him lie.”

“Wait, wait.” Mary held up her hands, clearly lost as to the jist of the conversation. “What did you tell her, Thady?” she demanded.

Thady sighed. “I told Caitriona that as it has been two years since John died, she was free to look for another husband.”

Mary’s eyes narrowed. “Well, it didn’t take you long, did it? The priest’s brother, no less. You went off into the woods with him, I was told. You went off with him into the woods in front of everyone.”

“You were told?” Caitriona retorted. “You weren’t even there, Mary. Don’t think you know what happened because you don’t.”

“All right.” Thady laid a comforting hand on her arm. “I know we weren’t there but we did talk to Father Warner and to Michael. Father Warner wasn’t very happy-looking.”

“What about Michael?”

“He didn’t say much but he looked shocked. There was an almighty fight going on.”

“Well, it shows that no-one listened to a word I said at the wake.” She shrugged helplessly. “I just don’t know what to do, Thady.”

“I have no objections to Michael Warner courting you, though, I’d say his brother does. The next pilgrimage is next month to Tobar Dhoun. I’m John’s brother, I don’t fight anymore, so how about I go and talk to Father Warner then, maybe, he can say something at Mass. Everyone will have to listen, then.”

“Do you think they will?” she asked in a small voice. “I don’t know.”

“We can only try.” Thady smiled at her, ignoring his wife who was rolling her eyes heavenwards. “I only want you to be happy and if Michael Warner’s the man…”

“He is,” she replied quietly. “If he hasn’t been frightened away.”

“Not at all, though, maybe you should be a little bit more careful in future. Michael Warner hasn’t lived in the parish very long, people don’t know him, and he’s refused to be dragged into the fighting. People don’t know what to make of him yet. Just be careful.”

“You’ll want something done before Tobar Dhoun,” Mary said shortly. “That fight yesterday was a disgrace. You’ll kill someone yet, you stupid girl.”

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Meet Brotherly Love’s Michael Warner

michael-warner

Michael Warner is twenty-eight years old. One of four siblings, he and his elder brother, Liam, are the only two who lived to adulthood. He was born and brought up on a large farm and, like Liam, Michael was well educated. He can read and write in both Irish and English.

Michael and Liam have lived in a cottage outside the village of Doon for just over a year where they rent and farm fifteen acres of good land. Although Liam helps him at the busiest times of the year – saving the hay and the turf (peat) – Michael does the bulk of the farm work himself. But why did Michael choose to be a farmer in the first place? With his education, Michael could have had the choice of many careers.

Any newcomer to an area invites comment whether they like it or not, and it isn’t long before the people of Doon begin to ask questions about the parish’s ‘mystery man’. Why did Michael come with his brother to live and farm in a remote, rural, and mountainous parish? Why don’t the brothers take lodgings or employ a housekeeper? Why has Michael stayed out out of the faction fights which have divided the parish? Why is Liam so against Michael courting Caitriona Brady, the young widow of John Brady, the Brady champion killed in a faction fight two years ago. And how long will it be before these questions are answered and become public knowledge?

caitriona-and-michael

Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_print_jpg

Excerpt:

“Oh, stop.” Michael grabbed Caitriona’s hand and pulled her away from the dancers. “I’m fit to drop.”

The two of them sank down on the flat rock, fighting for breath, and Michael couldn’t help but stare at her. Caitriona’s blue eyes were shining, her face was flushed, and curls were blowing about her face and neck. She was so beautiful and he wasn’t going to wait a moment longer.

Taking her hand again, he led her away from the crowds, the music, and the dancers. They walked until they entered some trees and were out of sight then stopped.

Her expression was so solemn that his heart began to pound even more. He had tugged at his collar in the dance and it and his cravat were slightly askew. His long coat hung open and his hat was pushed to the back of his head. He knew he looked a mess but when would he get her alone again?

“I love you,” he told her, letting go of her hand, and waiting for a reply.

She seemed stunned at this sudden revelation and began to pull awkwardly at the skirt of her black dress. She then raised her eyes to his.

“I’m glad,” she whispered. “Because I love you, too.”

He was so shocked his mouth fell open and he gaped stupidly at her before roaring with delighted laughter. “Oh, thank God.” He laughed again. “Thank God.”

“I don’t know if He has much to do with it.” She laughed, too. “But thank Him if you must.”

“Thank you, then,” he whispered and kissed her.

He had never kissed any woman in the way he did now and surprised himself. Her hands were in his hair, pulling his face towards hers. His hands were on her back, pulling her body against his. His tongue left her mouth and began to blaze a trail down her neck to her cleavage. He was licking the hollow between her breasts, her hands still in his hair, when he felt her tense. When she froze, he quickly raised his head, feeling his cheeks burn. He had gone too far.

“I’m sorry—” he began but she covered his mouth with her fingers.

“Listen,” she whispered and he straightened up. Shouts and cries were drifting up to them on the breeze. “Oh, no. A fight’s about to begin and they’re not even drunk yet, there hasn’t been time.”

“Liam’s still down there,” Michael told her as she righted her dress. “I hope he’s had the sense to walk away and not try to break it up.”

He clasped her hand and picked up his hat, which had fallen to the ground, and led her out of the trees.

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Meet Brotherly Love’s Liam Warner

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Father Liam Warner is forty years old and is the eldest surviving child of four siblings. Liam studied for the priesthood at Maynooth College, County Kildare, which is just outside Dublin. He was the first in his family to become a priest and his mother worked herself into an early grave, taking in washing and sewing, and selling her butter, eggs, and bread at the local market in an effort to be able to afford to send him there.

Liam and his brother, Michael, have lived just outside the village of Doon for the past year where they rent and farm fifteen acres of good land. In 1831, Ireland had a population of 7,767,401 and with Roman Catholicism being the largest religion by far, the fees paid to parish priests by their parishioners for christenings, marriages, and burials etc., made them wealthy men – on a par with the Church of Ireland clergyman – and, in some cases, even wealthier. It was a hard life, however, priests spent long hours in all weathers travelling the length and breath of their parish.

With Liam’s income, he and Michael can afford to live in lodgings, so why do they need to farm the land at all? Why do they not employ a housekeeper? And why did Liam agree to be appointed priest of a remote, rural, and mountainous parish in the first place? So many questions. Discover the answers in Brotherly Love.

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Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_print_jpg

Excerpt:

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It is a week since my last confession.”

Liam rolled his eyes. Malachy Donnellan. How the man had the nerve… He listened to the usual impure thoughts rubbish Malachy spouted each week and began to absolve him, wanting eagerly to get rid of him, wondering how many Hail Marys to give him, when Malachy continued unexpectedly.

“Father, there’s something else that’s been on my mind lately, something you should know about.”

“Oh? Well, go on.”

“It’s about your brother, Father.”

“Michael?” Liam’s heart thumped. “What about him?”

“Well.” Liam heard Malachy scratch his head. “I’m not quite sure, Father, but I think he’s done something. Something he regrets. Something he wants to keep quiet..?”

Malachy ended on a high, questioning note and Liam leaned forward and glared at him through the grille.

“Like what?” he demanded.

“Oh, well…” For once Malachy was flustered, as if he hadn’t expected the news to affect the priest so badly. “I’m not quite sure, but it’s been on my mind for a while now and I thought you ought to know, being his brother and all…”

“Yes, well, thank you.” Liam sat back, closing his eyes in relief. At least Malachy didn’t know. “Is there anything else?”

“Well…” He heard Malachy scratch his head again. “It is wrong to break a promise, isn’t it, Father?”

“Yes,” he replied hesitantly. “Why?”

“Oh, it’s just that your brother and I were having a little chat the other day and now he seems to be under the impression that it isn’t wrong. Now you can tell him that it is. Can’t you, Father?”

Liam didn’t reply but leaned forward again and stared at Malachy in consternation as he grinned back at him through the grille.

“Is that all?” He found his voice.

“It is, Father, thank you.”

Liam quickly absolved Malachy and gave him five Hail Marys before sinking back in his seat as he heard the other man leave the confessional box. He touched his forehead and jumped, he was sweating profusely.

“Bastard,” he whispered and quickly crossed himself.

He opened the door and peered out into the chapel. Thankfully it was empty and he went out and began to pace up and down the aisle. What had Michael been up to, talking to that man? What had he said to give him those ideas? Without waiting for anymore confessees, he threw open the chapel door and strode along the road to the cottage without disrobing. He stood silently in the doorway for a few minutes watching Michael, who was sitting on his bed staring into space. He went into the bedroom and closed the door to the kitchen.

Michael started up and gaped wide-eyed at him. “You’re back early?”

“I had one confessee. One who was more than enough.”

“Oh?”

“It was Malachy Donnellan. He told me a lot about you, Michael. What the hell have you been up to?”

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Irish Holy Wells

holywell

Holy wells are places of religious devotion where people come to pray and leave simple offerings. The surviving names of many wells are a direct translation into English of the equivalent in Irish and the term for holy well in Irish is either Tobar Beannaithe, literally meaning ‘holy well’, or Tobar Naofa, meaning ‘saintly well’.

The healing power of water is recorded in the earliest sagas and holy wells were pagan sacred sites which became christianised and the legends associated with the wells were incorporated into the lives of Irish saints. These wells then became the focal point for the celebration of the ‘patron’ or saint associated with a parish or townland. Many legends relating to a particular well tell that the saint linked with the well used the water of the well to baptise converts from paganism to christianity which bestowed a blessing on that well. Days of special devotion were associated with many wells, usually on the feast day of the particular saint, a day which became known as Pattern (Patron) Day.

Many holy wells specialised in the curing of specific diseases and these are often reflected in the names given to the wells: Tobar na nGealt (Well of the Insane); Tobar na Súl (Eye Well) and Tobar na Plaighe (Well of the Plague). At some wells it was traditional to bathe a diseased part of the body with a piece of cloth. The piece of cloth was then attached to a nearby ‘rag tree’ – usually an ash, hawthorn, holly, or oak – in the belief that as the rag rots away, the illness does, too. In many cases, the piece of cloth was red as it was believed that the red colour would defy the power of evil spirits.

A ‘round’ or ‘station’ was also performed in order to receive a requested favour or cure of a particular ailment. This involves particular prayers being said while walking around the well an odd number of times in the direction of the sun, and drinking or bathing in the waters at specific intervals.

Under the Penal Laws, Catholics were forbidden to gather for mass in churches, so altars were erected beside holy wells and mass was said there in secret. In the early 19th century, Catholic Emancipation saw greater religious freedoms given to Catholics in Ireland and resulted in attendances declining at many holy wells in favour of churches. Drunkenness and faction fighting had also become common at holy wells on Pattern Days and both the Catholic clergy and the civil authorities discouraged attendance at wells. The result was a further decline in the popularity of wells. Holy wells are still popular today, people all over Ireland visit ‘shrines’ or holy wells looking for favours, offering thanksgiving, or paying penance.

old-man-at-holy-well

The old man at the Holy Well

Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead too and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_sqaure-400x400

Excerpt:

The people of Doon Parish flocked to St Mary’s Well on May Day, where Mass was celebrated. Afterwards, there would be music and dancing, and it was one of the many social events of the summer.    

Caitriona was determined to get there early and set off in plenty of time. Leaving the village, she was delighted to see Father Liam and Michael Warner walking ahead of her. She quickened her pace and they turned, hearing someone approach. On seeing it was a woman, both men touched their hats.      

“Oh, Mrs Brady, I’m delighted you’re coming this year.” Father Warner nodded at her.

“The past is buried now, Father,” she replied clearly. “It’s time to look to the future.”      

“I’m glad to hear that, Mrs Brady, I really am.”      

Crossing the stretch of bog and then climbing up a steep slope to reach the holy well field, Caitriona stumbled unintentionally and felt Michael Warner’s hand on her arm, guiding her along. She glanced up at him and smiled gratefully. He returned a weak smile and looked away but didn’t let her go.  

Arriving at the well, they saw people doing ‘the rounds’ – walking around it while reciting prayers – while at the other end of the large field, stalls had been set up selling whiskey, ale, and bread.      

“They’re supposed to be coming to this well to pray,” Father Warner muttered and exhaled an angry sigh. “I told them all that.” Leaving Caitriona and Michael together, he began preparing for the Mass.      

Michael pointed to a flat rock. “Would you like to sit there until the Mass starts?”                                                      

“Yes, thank you,” she replied. “I’m a bit out of breath after the climb.”      

“Were we walking too fast?”      

“No, not at all.” She went to the rock and sat down, making room for him to sit beside her. “I’m just a bit out of practice. Except for the market in Kilbarry every week, I didn’t get out very much these last few months.” She patted her chest. “I’ll have to dance later, and try and get fit again. That’s if your brother doesn’t object.” She laughed.      

Michael smiled. “No. I’d even go as far as to say that you’ll be seeing him have the odd glass of whiskey later on, no matter what he says now. He’s not one for the dancing, though.”      

“Are you?” she asked and he flushed, turning away as a large group of men passed them, doffing their hats to her but she barely noticed them as she waited for his answer.      

“I used to be.” He looked back at her. “I’m a bit out of practice, too. Would you dance with me later, Mrs Brady?”                        

Her heart leapt and she gazed into his eyes – beautiful and brown. She allowed him to see her blush and nodded.      

“I would be very honoured to dance with you later, Mr Warner,” she replied softly.      

“Thank you,” he replied, before they turned their attention to his brother who was asking everyone to gather around him for the Mass. He took her arm again and they moved forward, kneeling down to pray together.

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Pattern Day in Ireland

nov162

An Irish ‘Patern’ at Balla County Mayo – The ‘Long station’, engraved by Eugène Froment, in The Graphic 11 (23 January 1875).

The word pattern is derived from the Irish Patrun or English Patron and most Irish parishes had a patron saint. On the saint’s feast day, parishioners celebrated what was known as a Pattern Day at a holy well or another holy site.

Devotions at holy wells began with making what was called ‘the rounds.’ The people would walk around the well a certain number of times while saying special prayers. Part of the ritual included drinking the water and bathing with it. It was thought that water from a holy well had healing powers and some wells became famous for curing specific ailments.

Patterns were a common part of Irish rural tradition until the reforms of Cardinal Paul Cullen in the 1850s. The clergy had opposed the excesses of these celebrations – the (faction) fighting, the drunkenness, and the immorality. They also criticised the popular belief in the magical powers of holy wells and other holy sites.

This opposition had gained impetus in the late eighteenth century and bishops began to issue edicts forbidding the people to participate in such festivals. Pilgrimages did decline but this was due to the Famine and social change. It also coincided with the opening of schools and a decline in the Irish language. As the Irish language and culture waned, the traditional lore and rituals faded as well.

battle-of-the-factions

Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_print_jpg

Excerpt:

As Father Liam Warner celebrated the Mass, he stole glances behind him and noted two things. His brother and Mrs Brady were kneeling very close together and almost all the men in the congregation had blackthorn sticks at their side. His heart sank twice over.

Once the Mass ended, he watched as Michael and Mrs Brady returned to the rock on which they had been sitting before. He then turned as the rest of the congregation parted into two distinct groups – the Bradys, in honour of Mrs Brady’s late husband – and the Donnellans – in honour of Malachy Donnellan – their leader and champion. Once the alcohol started to flow there would be trouble, he knew it, despite all he had warned them.

He wearily turned back to Michael and Mrs Brady. It was clear they were attracted to each other and he grimaced. He didn’t want his brother to become involved with a woman whose name was synonymous with violence and death in the locality. Soon after his arrival in the parish, he’d had to bury three men who had been battered to death by the Bradys. Then, he learned what had happened to John Brady himself two years ago. Oh, Michael, he thought angrily, don’t be a fool and get involved with her, no matter what she says about her hating the fighting. She’s dangerous, even if she doesn’t realise it herself.

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Sticks and Stones: What is Faction Fighting?

 

faction-fight

The Party Fight and Funeral (Carleton’s Irish Peasantry by William Carleton, George Routledge & Co, 1854)

Faction fights were mass brawls at Irish fairs, markets, funerals, race meetings, and patterns (parish patron saints days) between hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people – usually families or parishes or estate tenants – whose weapons were usually sticks and stones. The fights often resulted in the deaths of one or more of the participants, and always resulted in maiming and injury. The tradition descended from one generation to the next as did the leadership of each faction.

Reasons for fighting ranged from a desire to display a family’s strength, conflicts over non-payment of dowries, fights over succession to land, and long-standing grudges often going back several generations. In many cases, the reasons behind some grudges were so trivial that it was not unusual for members of hostile factions to live and work peacefully together except for the days when the factions gathered together to fight.

The sticks used in faction fights were of holly, oak, whitethorn, and blackthorn. The blackthorn stick was popular because it was thought that a cut or a wound from a blackthorn would heal more quickly than those from a whitethorn. Sticks were also weighted at one end to cause maximum injury.

Reports in 1839 that faction fighting had all but come to an end were proved false as on 30 June 1845, fair day in the village of Ballinhassig, Co Cork, the Ballygarvan and Ballinhassig factions met to fight. When the leaders of each faction began fighting, the police attempted to stop the fight by arresting ‘Ranter’ Sullivan, the leader of the Ballinhassig faction and imprisoning him in the village Dispensary. When both factions joined forces to release Sullivan, the police opened fire and eleven people were killed, including a woman, Julia O’Callaghan. A plaque in the village commemorates those who lost their lives.

The Ballinhassig faction fight and aftermath appear to have been the final significant incidents of its kind. There were some isolated faction fights following the Famine and the last recorded faction fight took place at Cappawhite, County Tipperary in 1887.

Many thanks to Mixed Messages on Twitter for bringing the Ballinhassig Faction Fight to my attention.

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Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_print_jpgExcerpt:

At the edge of the wood they stopped and stared.      

Liam, his hands on his hips, was watching in clear despair as the two factions lined up against each other. Malachy Donnellan, waving a blackthorn stick which must have been over two yards long, was wheeling – walking up and down between the factions, taunting and challenging Tommy Gilleen of the Bradys to fight.      

“It didn’t take her long to forget him, did it?” Malachy was shouting. “John Brady – the supposed best fighter ever. He didn’t seem the best fighter ever to me when I last saw him.”      

Michael saw Caitriona bite her bottom lip. Why couldn’t they let John Brady rest in peace? He gripped her hand tightly as Tommy Gilleen was at last provoked.      

“Caitriona Brady has betrayed her husband,” Tommy screamed back. “She doesn’t deserve to have the name Brady. Her husband was the best fighter ever in this parish. She may not love him anymore, she may have forgotten him, but we never will. Why do you think we’re still called the Bradys?”      

“None of you have the imagination to think of anything else?” Malachy replied innocently. “You’re just not good enough to lend your name to your lot.”      

“Aragh, you bastard.” Tommy rushed forward with his stick, swinging it around his head. He struck out but Malachy met the stick with his own. This was the signal for general ructions to begin and within seconds the entire congregation who, only minutes before had been knelt together in prayer, were beating the living daylights out of each other. 

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Print ISBN: 9781541002692

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