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.

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?

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.

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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Image from page 22 of “Waynesburg, prosperous and beautiful : a souvenir pictorial story of the biggest and best little city in Pennsylvania” (1906). Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images via Flickr.com / No known copyright restrictions

Fairs and Markets in Ireland

 

 

The fair is one of the oldest known gatherings of people which we know of. Fairs are known to have been held by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, who utilised the religious games they played for trading purposes.

In Ireland, the aenach or fair, was an assembly of every social group without distinction. It was the most common kind of large public meeting and its objectives were the celebration of games, athletic exercises, sports and other pastimes. One of the most important fairs in ancient Ireland was that at Tailltenn, now Teltown on the river Blackwater between Navan and Kells in Co. Meath. It was attended by people from all over Ireland and also from Scotland. It was held yearly on or around August 1 and marriages formed a special feature of it. Another important fair was held at Nenagh, Co. Tipperary and has given its name to the town. Nenagh in Irish means ‘the fair’.

At many of the fairs, the chief men would sit in council in places specially allotted to them and discussions would take place. Each day but the last would be given over to the games of each social group or tribe. Among the entertainments was the recitation of poems and romantic tales. Music also formed an important part and there were many harpers, pipers and fiddlers. There is no mention of dancing and it is probable that the ancient Irish did not dance as we know it. Other performers included showmen, jugglers and clowns similar to what we see in circuses today. Prizes were awarded to the best performers and were publicly presented by the most important person present, whether it was a king, queen or a chief.

Buying and selling was a very important feature of the fair. There were often three markets. A market of food and clothes, a market of livestock and horses and a market for the use of foreign merchants who sold articles made of gold and silver. Space was also assigned for cooking. The cooking would have taken place on a very large-scale to feed the large numbers of people present.

When the evening of the last day had come, all the men of the council would stand up, at a signal from the chief and make a great clash with their spears. Each man would strike the handle of the next man’s spear with the handle of his own. This was the signal for the crowds to disperse.

After these, the most ancient of the Irish fairs, others developed over the next one thousand years. When St. Patrick introduced Christianity into Ireland in the fifth century, the Pagan customs were discontinued and Christian ceremonies were introduced. The fairs were organised by the local chieftain in his area. The Gaelicised Normans later continued this tradition. Many patents were issued by King James I in the early seventeenth century, granting authority to towns to establish fairs. It would be much later, however, before many of these fairs would become a reality.

The Cromwellian policy of land confiscation, ‘To hell or to Connaught’, and later the Penal Laws, suppressed the customs previously practiced by the Irish people and denied them ownership of anything over £5. However, as the eighteenth century wore on the laws were relaxed and Catholic Emancipation was finally granted in 1829. Despite this, the Irish people largely did not own any property, renting the land from landlords. From this time onward many fairs and markets were set up. These fairs were used mainly by the landed gentry and the landlords for the buying and selling of the herds of cattle and sheep from their estates. The tenant farmer’s land could only support one cow and as time went on, the growing population and the division of the farm amongst all the farmer’s sons made it nearly impossible to do more than grow potatoes for eating and enough grain to pay the rent.

In those pre-Famine times the weekly markets provided an outlet for cottage industries, butter, linen and potatoes. It was only after the Famine, at the time of the Land War of 1879-1881, that the majority of Irish people made the transition from the market to the fair. The Land Acts which gave the tenant farmers fair rent, free sale and fixity of tenure and the opportunity to buy out their farm from the landlord, gave them the personal and economic independence to do so.

The building and extension of the railways in Ireland in the mid-to-late nineteenth century meant that cattle could be easily transported around the country to various fairs. It also brought about improvements in the breeding of livestock. Better animals were now for sale at the fairs due to the importation of different breeds of bulls and rams from abroad.

In the rural towns and villages the markets gave way to fairs held on the fair green. Gradually the fair moved onto the streets, no doubt encouraged by the business people but not by the residents as the streets would be left in a mess. The first cattle would appear in the town at about seven o’clock in the morning, some having been walked as far as ten miles to it during the night. They would be met by cattle jobbers who would buy and sell the cattle later on to bigger dealers at a profit. The buying and selling of the cattle followed a set pattern. The price would be enquired of the farmer, the farmer would then ask the dealer how much he would give. The animal’s mouth would then be examined to determine its age and a bid made. If the bidding became prolonged a third man, a friend of either the farmer or the dealer, would appear. He would enquire how much money was dividing the two and try and settle the deal by catching the hands of the farmer and dealer, slap them together and spit on them to seal the deal. A ‘luck penny’ was then given to the dealer by the farmer as a gesture of goodwill.

In the larger towns the market would be held on the streets and would be especially busy from October to Easter. This was regarded as the Christmas period when the country people would do their buying. Goods were displayed on stands lining the streets, with each range of items having its own special location. Frieze, flannel and clothing material in one location, wooden dishes in another, followed by shoes and brogues of all sizes and quality; hats, pottery, butter, flax seed, pork and beef, sally rods for scallops (used in thatching roofs) and rushes for lights. Hosiers, tailors and pedlars did not use stands, preferring to carry their wares- stockings, ready-made waistcoats, pins, needles, brass buttons and other items through the streets.

Most shoppers went straight home after the fairs and markets but some headed for the whiskey-houses (sheebeens) and the pubs, both of which had been open since six o’clock that morning. In the sheebeens, the drinking often went on all night. Unsold cattle would be stored in yards which the publicans made available to their customers.

Throughout the 1960’s the fairs and markets came under threat from the cattle marts. In the beginning the farmers would drive their cattle past the mart to the fair on the streets. As time went on, however, the farmers made less use of the fairs and markets, the majority dying out thirty to thirty-five years ago. At many marts today, it can be seen that a lot of business is still done outside on the streets in the fair tradition.

Some fairs and markets are still in existence today. The horse fair at Ballinasloe, Co. Galway and the Old Fair Day, held every year in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo are two such examples. They prove that the fair and market, in existence for well over a thousand years still have a place in the modern world.

 

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Horse sale in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim, Ireland: As well as the horses, there were hens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, goats and donkeys for sale

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 stood in the middle of the kitchen floor and looked around her. The cottage was hers. The rents from sub-letting ten out of the fifteen acres of land would be coming straight to her now, too. She spent the next half hour gathering all of Bridget’s belongings together and piling them up at the door. The next time she saw Thady or Mary she’d ask if they wanted them, otherwise she’d burn them.

Walking around the side of the cottage and shooing the six chickens out of her way, she gazed at her land bathed in late Spring sunshine and beyond it to her long and narrow turf bog plot. The first field fed Áine, the small black Kerry cow, and her calf. The second and third fields – full of potatoes and oats – fed her, and the oaten straw kept Áine going through winter. Any surplus eggs, butter, and milk was sold at the weekly market five miles away in Kilbarry.

On acquiring Tommy Gilleen as a tenant, following John’s death, they had come to an agreement that Tommy would help her with both the oats and the turf in return for her help on his bog and a slight reduction in the rent. She had an income, she had food, and she had fuel. She nodded to herself, she’d be all right.

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Pattern Day in Ireland

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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.

!A Discovered Diamond

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.

Documentary on Faction Fighting from TG4 – Ireland’s Irish language TV channel – in English and Irish with English subtitles

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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?

!A Discovered Diamond

brotherly_love_print_jpgRead an Excerpt…

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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Meet Into The Unknown’s Kate Sheridan

Kate Sheridan

Kate Sheridan is an only child, born in Co Galway, Ireland to an Irish solicitor father and an English mother. Her father had wanted Kate to go to America in search of work and live with his cousin but her mother persuades him to let Kate go to London to live with Kate’s aunt and uncle, despite the threat of war.

Although Kate is only eighteen when she arrives in London on the morning of 3 September 1939, she is very independent, having been sent away from home to boarding school at the age of twelve. She has recently completed a course in a Commercial College so she knows short hand, typing and book keeping, which she hopes will help her in her search for work.

Unfortunately, Kate’s nationality and accent hinder her job search, as many people resent the Irish Free State’s decision to declare itself neutral. It is quite a while before she is employed by a local butcher, who thinks she’s Welsh, as his book-keeper. Mr Graham turns out to have wandering hands and by Christmas 1939, Kate has had enough of having her bottom pinched. She decides to leave and join the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, known as the WAAF.

Kate meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler on Christmas Day when they both have the same idea to walk off their Christmas dinner. She is immediately attracted to him and agrees to go to the pictures with him but is put on her guard when her aunt and uncle tell her Charlie is a womaniser who only lives for the here and now.

When Charlie asks Kate out a second time, her aunt and uncle are shocked. Charlie Butler has never asked the same woman out twice and Kate’s aunt forbids her to go. Should Kate heed her aunt and uncle’s advice and turn Charlie down? Or should she trust her own judgement and risk a relationship with an RAF pilot whose life will probably be in danger? Find out what she decides in Into The Unknown.  

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London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will Kate and Charlie’s love survive separation, parental disapproval and loss?

Fashion girl in sketch-style

Read An Excerpt…

“What?” His head jerked up, making her jump. “You’re only nineteen?”

He seemed so horrified, her heart began to thump for all the wrong reasons.

“Yes. Why? What age did you think I was?”

“Twenty-two, twenty-three, at least,” he gasped. “Oh, God.”

My clothes and make-up, she thought, getting to her feet. “Charlie, we seem to have been very much mistaken about each other.” She reached for her gas mask case, hoping she wouldn’t cry, and cursing herself for not believing Helen and Bob and letting her guard down. “I’m very sorry.”

“No, Kate, please?” He stood up so quickly his chair toppled over backwards, just missing his own gas mask case, and grabbed her arms. “Please stay?” he pleaded, his hands sliding down to hers and squeezing them. “Please?”

When she nodded, he released her hands, and she re-took her seat. Picking up his chair, he sat down, rubbing the side of his nose, and she waited for him to gather his thoughts.

“Kate, I’m sorry. I did think you were older. I mean, I’m twenty-seven. You don’t look or act like a nineteen-year-old.”

She gave him a weak smile. “When I arrived in London, I looked like a scarecrow and Helen refused to be seen out with me. As soon as she could, she bought me clothes, shoes, and make-up, and got my hair cut and styled. We thought it would help me to get a job but looking back I realise it was very over the top. I did get a job, but it brought me the trouble with Mr. Graham, so now I’ve modified my style so I don’t look like a scarecrow or a clown anymore.”

“Mmm,” he replied, and she frowned. “I saw you,” he explained. “I was driving back to base. I saw you getting out of a cab. I only saw a glimpse of you, but it was enough for me. Kate, can we start again? Please?”

Kate looked down at her hands and heard Charlie sitting back in his chair. It creaked, and he sighed. How should she answer? What about Bob and Helen’s warnings? What about what her father would say? What about her feelings for Charlie? There was no denying she had some and she bit her bottom lip. This was only the second time they had gone out together. Was this all happening far too soon?

“Be careful.” Bob and Helen’s words echoed around her head and she couldn’t ignore them so she leaned forward. “Are you really sure you want to go out with a nineteen-year-old girl from Ireland?” she asked.

Seeing indecision in his eyes, her heart sank. “I need to know, Charlie. I’ve let my guard down once and I’m not doing it again unless I know.”

“Bob warned you about going out with me again, didn’t he?” he asked instead of answering. “No, it’s all right, I’d be amazed and disappointed in him if he hadn’t. Charlie Butler—be careful, he gets through more women than hot dinners. Kate, if you just want to be seen with a pilot on your arm, who makes you feel all grown up, then I will find a cab and send you back to Dunstan Street right now.”

“Bob warned me the first time, it was Helen who warned me about going out with you again. And I can also hear my father shouting at me in my head. You’re British, Charlie, and you’re in the British armed forces, so he’s going to hate you.” His dark eyes widened in shock, but she continued. “Charlie, I don’t need someone like you to make me feel all grown up. I’ve been all grown up since the age of twelve when I was sent away from home to boarding school. I’m here, despite Bob, despite Helen, despite my father, and despite my own reservations because I like you very much and I want to get to know you better. So, if you aren’t all grown up enough to handle that, then I will be the one calling a cab and sending you home.”

He stared at her. She returned his stare defiantly before he leaned forward, resting his arms on the table. “Yes, I am grown up enough,” he said. “And, yes, Bob’s right, Helen’s right, my father’s right, I have been with a lot of women, but none of them have ever had the effect that you have on me. So, Kate Sheridan, aged nineteen, from Ireland, would you like to go out with me?”

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Life in Ireland during World War Two

rationing

Ireland remained neutral during ‘The Emergency’, as the Second World War was called there – the only member of the British Commonwealth to do so. An estimated seventy thousand men and women served in the British armed forces, including almost five thousand members of the Irish Defence Forces who deserted to fight.

Into The Unknown‘s Kate Sheridan’s father, mother and grandmother lived in Co Galway on the west coast of Ireland. Kate’s father was a solicitor and despite having a good job, they couldn’t afford to be extravagant. He had a car but with petrol priced one shilling and sixpence per gallon and rationed, the car was only used to get him to and from work. By 1942, petrol was so scarce that most private cars were off the road.

During The Emergency, every person was issued with a ration book. Goods rationed included tobacco, butter, tea, sugar, flour, soap and clothing. Inside each ration book were several pages of instructions in both Irish and English followed by pages of numbered squares, either marked by the product name (Flour, Tea, etc.) or containing a letter to be used for different purchases. Space was also provided for keeping details of when, where and what was bought.

Kate’s mother had approximately four pounds per weeks for housekeeping. She cooked on a rather antiquated solid fuel range which was powered by a turf (peat) as coal was no longer available for domestic use. Overall, the Sheridans did not fare too badly as, unlike in the United Kingdom, eggs and meat were not rationed as most people had their own birds and animals to provide these necessities.

Mrs Sheridan kept chickens to produce eggs and for eating and any surplus eggs would be bartered for other commodities at the local shop, where she also bought flour for baking in eight-stone bags. In January 1941, the tea ration was two ounces per person per week, but by April it was reduced to one ounce. Like in the United Kingdom, rationing continued long after the end of the war.

Censorship of the press was rigid. Critical commentary was not allowed and no weather reports were printed so, apart from letters which were read and censored, the Sheridans would have known relatively little about the war and Kate’s part in it.

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London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will Kate and Charlie’s love survive separation, parental disapproval and loss?

Fashion girl in sketch-style

Read An Excerpt…

“You don’t know much about my family, do you?” She frowned. “I’ll tell you, seeing as we’re stuck here for the time being. My father is a solicitor in Galway but he met Mummy at a wedding here in London. They live a few miles outside Galway now, beside the sea. Granny Barbara can’t stand him and makes no secret of the fact that she thinks Mummy married beneath her. Daddy and Granny Norah are Catholic but Mummy is Church of England, and when Mummy announced she wanted to marry Daddy there was uproar. Granny Barbara and Granddad Thomas were completely against it, but Mummy and Daddy were completely for it.”

“So what happened?” Charlie asked.

“Granddad Thomas and Daddy came to an arrangement. Mummy could marry Daddy, but any children they had who were born in Ireland would be brought up Church of England, not Catholic. It’s always amazed me that Daddy agreed, but Granddad Thomas was quite frightening, from what very little I remember of him. He died when I was five, a few months after Mummy, Daddy and I were here on a visit.”

“He was,” Charlie smiled, “very Victorian in his outlook. He used to frighten the life out of me. He caught me smoking in the garden once. I was about fifteen and I can remember him bellowing at me, ‘Are you smoking a cigarette, boy? A gentleman smokes a cigar.’ He gave me a cigar and the thing almost gave me bronchitis, so I stayed with cigarettes.” He laughed. “So were you brought up Church of England?”

“I was baptised Church of Ireland, which is Anglican, too. Apparently, Daddy stood outside the church and refused to go in.” She sighed. “They really needn’t have bothered because I’ve no time for religion. Poor Mummy, she tries so hard. She’s on every committee there is, but means well, even if the locals do still call her the ‘blow-in’ after twenty-two years.”

“Why?”

“She sounds exactly like Helen and Granny Barbara—that very posh English accent—and it rubs some people up the wrong way because they think she’s putting it on. Poor Mummy; she’ll never fit in, no matter how hard she tries. Daddy’s only brother, Michael, fought in the Irish War of Independence against the British. He got shot shortly before the Truce in 1921 but didn’t die for a long, long time. Daddy paid for him to be looked after in a nursing home. I was about four when he died. That’s why Daddy is a bit, you know, about Britain. There’s no reasoning with him. Everything is all Britain’s fault, according to him, but he’s not involved in anything. I know you were wondering, Charlie,” she finished softly.

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Operation Pied Piper

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When Kate Sheridan arrived in London on the morning of 3 September 1939, the evacuation of children out of the city and into the countryside was well under way. The evacuation during World War Two was designed to save civilians in Britain, mostly children, from the risks associated with aerial bombing of cities by moving them to areas thought to be less at risk. Some of the children Kate saw at Euston Station were sent to stay with relatives, but others were sent to live with complete strangers.

At the station, children had labels attached to them and they didn’t know where they were going to or if they would be split from their brothers and sisters. The government recommended that in addition to their gas mask and identity card, the child evacuees had the following items with them:

Boys:

2 vests

2 pairs of pants

Pair of trousers

2 pairs of socks

6 handkerchiefs

Pullover or jersey

Girls:

Vest

Pair of knickers

Petticoat

2 pairs of stockings

6 handkerchiefs

Slip

Blouse

Cardigan

Other items packed in their suitcases included:

Overcoat or mackintosh

Comb

1 pair of Wellington boots

Towel and facecloth

Soap

Toothbrush

Boots or shoes

Sandwiches

Packet of nuts and raisins

Dry biscuits

Barley sugar

Apple

The children arrived in the countryside, tired, hungry and uncertain of whether they would ever see their families again. They were taken to the village hall, where they were met by the billeting officer and the host families haggled over the most presentable children while the sicklier and more scruffy children were left until last.

There were no big bombing raids on Britain in the first months of the war (known as The Phoney War) and as a result by early 1940 many children had returned home. They were evacuated again when heavy bombing raids began in the autumn of 1940 (known as The Blitz) and then again in 1944, when Germany attacked Britain with V1 Flying Bombs and V2 rockets.

Over the course of World War Two, Operation Pied Piper relocated more than 3.5 million people including 827,000 schoolchildren, 524,000 mothers with children under the age of five, 12,000 pregnant women and some disabled people.

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London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will Kate and Charlie’s love survive separation, parental disapproval and loss?

Fashion girl in sketch-style

Read An Excerpt…

Kate Sheridan opened the train door and, with butterflies fluttering in her stomach, stepped down onto the platform. London at last. Her journey from Ireland had taken three days. Where could she hear the latest news? The ultimatum to the Germans to withdraw from Poland was due to run out this morning. War was all but inevitable.

Glancing up and down the platform for her aunt and uncle, all she could see were hundreds of sobbing children, clinging for dear life to their equally upset parents. She knew it was rude, but she couldn’t help but stare.

“Come on, my love,” a voice from behind her shouted and she jumped. “You’re in the way.”

Picking up her suitcase, Kate moved aside as a man in an army uniform jumped down from the train with a sack-like bag slung over his shoulder.

“Why are all the children here?” she asked.

“The evacuation began the other day,” he explained, lowering the sack to the ground, and taking off his side cap. “They’re all being sent to the country for safety. You’re not a Londoner, are you, Miss? What part of Wales are you from?”

“I’m from Ballycarn,” she replied, wincing as a little boy—he couldn’t have been more than six—was pulled screaming away from his mother. “It’s not in Wales, it’s in the west of Ireland.”

The soldier laughed. “Sorry, I thought you were a Taffy, but you’re a Paddy instead. Still, you’d like to hear what old Neville has to say, wouldn’t you?”

“Neville?”

“Neville Chamberlain? The…our Prime Minister. Let’s find a wireless so we can hear him, though I know what he’s going to say.”

Replacing his side cap and hauling the sack onto his shoulder, he grasped Kate’s arm without asking permission, and she had to grab her suitcase. They hurried along the platform, weaving in and out of distraught families and porters, until they came to a railway guard who took their tickets.

“Is there a wireless nearby we can listen to?” the soldier asked.

“Yes, there’s one in the ticket office,” the guard replied. “Wait outside.”

“Good. Come on, let’s find a seat.”

They sat down outside the ticket office, Kate glancing anxiously around for her aunt and uncle. Had they given up after she hadn’t been on yesterday’s train? If only she hadn’t listened to that woman and followed her ridiculous advice. Still, if they were here, it wasn’t surprising they couldn’t find her in all this chaos.

“Shh.” The soldier nudged her arm even though she had been quiet. Don’t talk to any strange men, unless you absolutely have to, her mother had warned, and now look at her. Not five minutes off the train and she was sharing a bench with a soldier, listening to the wireless, expecting Chamberlain to tell them Britain was at war.

Her father had wanted her to go to America to find work and live with his cousin and family. America was the land of opportunity for so many Irish people, far away from Europe and the threat of war. Her maternal aunt and uncle then offered to take her and help her find work in London. So, despite her father’s grumblings, close family in London were chosen over a cousin she had never met in Philadelphia.

“…and against them, I am certain that the right will prevail.” Chamberlain’s speech ended and a long silence followed.

“You picked a great day to arrive.” The soldier turned to her with a wry smile. “There’s another train going out in a few minutes, you can get on it if you’re quick?”

“No,” she replied. “I’m staying.”

Hearing the opening bars of God Save The King, the butterflies in her stomach began to riot. Should she stand or not? She was Irish but Mummy was English, so she stood respectfully as the small group around the wireless sang the anthem as if the Germans were watching them at that very minute.

When the wireless was switched off, the soldier smiled at her. “What are you Paddies doing in Ireland now, eh? Do you have a National Anthem?”

“Yes, we have an anthem,” she told him. “It’s called The Soldier’s Song.”

He roared with laughter. “That’s priceless. We could do with an anthem like that now. Do you want to swap?”

“No.”

“Please yourself.” He saluted her and Kate wasn’t quite sure if he was poking fun at her or not. “I’d better be off. Good luck.”

“Thank you. You too.”

Feeling very alone, she watched him go. No-one had come to meet her so she would have to continue on to her aunt and uncle’s home herself. Wondering if she should take the underground train or the bus, she heard a loud wailing sound, and people began hurrying past her.

“Oi, Irish?” It was the soldier beckoning to her. “Quick.”

Fighting the urge to cry with relief, she grabbed her suitcase again, and ran to him on shaky legs. “What, what is it?” she stammered.

“Air-raid siren,” he said, pulling her out onto the street. “Come on, down here.”

Taking the suitcase from her, he pushed her in front of him, and down some steep steps. “This is an air-raid shelter; you’ll become familiar with them now you’re staying.”

They sat down on one of two benches parallel to each other and she took the suitcase back.

“Thanks for coming back for me.”

“Don’t worry about it. I knew you wouldn’t know what to do.”

The shelter quickly filled with people. By their white faces, they felt as frightened as she did.

“How long do these air-raids last?” she asked.

“Don’t know,” he replied, lighting a cigarette. “But take my advice, Irish, go to wherever you’re going—and fast. Who knows what’s going to happen now.”

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ISBN: 9781670076434

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Why I Chose This Setting and Era

The Schulten Bakery

The Schulten bakery on Jonker Fransstraat, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

I chose London and the south east of England as a setting mainly because I have no close family connection with either area and I wanted Into The Unknown to be a work of fiction and not a family memoir.  

I chose the Second World War because my grandparents’ experiences of the war couldn’t be more different. In 1939, my maternal grandparents were living in The Netherlands while my paternal grandparents were living in Ireland.

Opa (my late grandfather) joined the Dutch Army. When it surrendered to the Germans in May 1940, he was taken as a prisoner of war to Bremen, Germany and was put to work clearing and developing sites to be used as graveyards. His father was a commissioner in the Dutch police and head of Group I – the economics offences group which investigated smuggling, counterfeiting and drugs – a difficult job at the best of times, never mind under German occupation.

Oma (my late grandmother) spent the war in boarding school and in Rotterdam, which was almost destroyed by aerial bombardment by first the Luftwaffe and then the RAF and USAF.

The Schulten bakery

Oma’s father was a baker with a bakery on Jonker Fransstraat and there is a family story that he and other bakers chartered a ship and brought flour back to Rotterdam from America. I have no idea whether the story is true and if anyone can dismiss or confirm the story, I’d love to hear from them.

When Oma’s family home was destroyed in the 1940 bombing of Rotterdam, they moved into the bakery. The family photographs survived, having been given to one of Oma’s sisters for safekeeping while she was away at boarding school.

The Schulten bakery after the 1940 bombing  with Oma in the doorway. As the bakery was mostly built from concrete, it remained partially intact and it became an emergency shop for the population

Meanwhile, in neutral Ireland, my paternal grandfather worked as an insurance inspector and his father was a clerk in the Transport Department in Guinness’ Brewery in Dublin until his retirement. My paternal grandmother’s parents were farmers and kept Granny and Grandad supplied with chickens, eggs, turf (peat) and also a goose each Christmas. Despite rationing and shortages of commodities, to them, the war must have seemed a very long way away.

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London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will Kate and Charlie’s love survive separation, parental disapproval and loss?

Fashion girl in sketch-style

Read An Excerpt…

“It seems like I’ve known you for years,” she told him.

“A year since Christmas Day.” He kissed her. “I love you so much, Kate.” They both jumped as they heard a bomb fall some way off and more planes approach.

“Bastards,” he whispered. “Leave us alone.”

“I wonder if there are people like us in Germany, sitting in shelters like this—frightened—not knowing when it’s going to end. They can’t all support Hitler.”

He’d never thought of that. “I suppose not,” he conceded. “But Hitler has brought it upon them all. Kate.” He turned her face towards his. “Your father wants you home, doesn’t he?”

She nodded. “He wanted me to go to America. It was Mummy who persuaded him that I come here. Now he really hates Bob because he thinks Bob put me under pressure to join up.”

“Is your father…” Charlie began. How could he put this delicately? “A bit anti-British?”

“He doesn’t like the British, Charlie; there’s no point in me denying it. He conveniently forgets that Mummy is British. The censor has had a field day with his letters. Churchill isn’t his favourite politician in all the world.”

“So he does hate me?” Charlie asked. “Like you said he would?”

She sighed. “He’s never mentioned you, even though I write about you in all my letters. It’s his loss.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Oh, Charlie, don’t be silly.” She kissed him. “Mummy likes the sound of you, though. Even Granny Norah does. If anyone should be able to persuade Daddy otherwise it’s her. He’s a bit of a mammy’s boy at heart.”

But an idiot apart from that, Charlie thought angrily, but smiled to placate her. Bloody hell, the man could support the IRA, or be in it for all he knew.

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ISBN: 9781670076434

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