Meet A Discarded Son’s Martha Ellison

Martha Ellison

Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother, Martha, was born in 1835 and is the only daughter of Lewis and Matilda (Tilda) Greene of Greene Hall, near Westport in Co Mayo, Ireland. She grew up an only child, believing her twin brother, Miles, died of whooping cough at a year old. She had a typical landed gentry upbringing, living in the nursery on the third floor of Greene Hall with a nursery maid and nanny until the age of twelve. The nursery then became the schoolroom and Martha had her own governess.

Martha was ten years old when the Great Famine began and she admits to Isobel that she was wholly oblivious to the tenants on the Greene Hall estate dying of starvation, being evicted from their homes and land and leaving the estate forever. Little wonder, with her secluded upbringing, Martha defied her parents and ran away from home to marry the first man to turn her head.

That man was the Reverend Edmund Stevens who was curate in the local Church of Ireland (Anglican) parish of Ballyglas. Upon his marriage, Edmund is given his own parish – Ballybeg in Co Galway – and a son, Alfie, is born ten months after his parents’ marriage and Isobel is born in 1857. Edmund ruled his wife – and later his son and daughter – with an iron fist, but while he controls his wife, he cannot completely control his children. Alfie has always wanted to become a doctor and refuses time and again to follow his father into the church and is beaten time and again. Isobel falls pregnant following a seduction, ruining all of Edmund’s plans for her to marry well, and she is whipped, disowned and thrown out of the Glebe House.

Edmund dies suddenly of a heart attack in January 1880 and Martha and Alfie leave Ballybeg and move to Dublin. Martha believes Isobel has gone to Dublin and Alfie seizes the opportunity to study medicine at Trinity College. Martha now needs her own solicitor to administer Edmund’s estate and she is introduced to Ronald Henderson. Within a few months, they are married and Martha is mistress of a grand home at 55 Fitzwilliam Square.

Martha is reunited with Isobel in November 1880 but her joy is short-lived. Ronald dies of a heart attack in a brothel in Monto, Dublin’s red-light district. She then discovers that not only did he own the brothel, but he had been there with a man. Poor Martha doesn’t think she will ever recover from the betrayal. She had believed herself to be in love with Ronald but Ronald had married her solely for companionship.

Solicitor, James Ellison, is a widower in his fifties and was Ronald’s business partner for thirty years. He settles Ronald’s estate but continues to call to number 55 on one flimsy pretext or another and appears to be courting Martha. Isobel confronts James as it is only a couple of months since Ronald’s death. James admits he and Martha are deeply in love, he knows they must be circumspect, and that when a year has passed since Ronald’s death, he will marry Martha.

A Discarded Son begins on Martha’s wedding day. Can Martha’s marriage to James Ellison be third time lucky for her?

Martha Ellison

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.

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Read an Excerpt from Chapter One…

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.

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

The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series

Buy A Discarded Son: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Three for

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Amazon ASIN: B07FDB3B3W

Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

Fitzgeralds Series ASIN: B07W4WRWGM

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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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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
Photo credit: John Singer Sargent – Mrs Henry White – Irina via Flickr.com / CC BY 4.0
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Meet A Discarded Son’s Alfie Stevens

Alfie Stevens Large

Alfred (Alfie) Stevens was born in 1856 at Ballybeg Glebe House, Co Galway, Ireland son of the Reverend Edmund Stevens and his wife Martha. His sister, Isobel, was born the following year. Theirs was not a happy household. Edmund Stevens ruled his wife and children with an iron fist. Alfie has always wanted to be a doctor but his father wanted Alfie to follow him into the church. When Alfie refused time and again, he was beaten time and again. Alfie also bravely stood between his father and his mother and sister on many occasions and took the beatings so they wouldn’t have to.

Alfie is gay but kept his sexuality a secret from everyone but Peter Shawcross, the son of a neighbour, who is also gay. When Alfie and Peter were caught together by Peter’s brother, James, he blackmailed Alfie into making sure Isobel is left alone with him. James seduced Isobel and when she told him she was pregnant, he left Ireland for America. Isobel was forced to tell her father who whipped her, disowned her and threw her out of the Glebe House.

Naturally, Alfie blamed himself but when his father dies suddenly of a heart attack in January 1880, he and his mother seize the opportunity to move to Dublin in the hope of finding Isobel and so he can study medicine at Trinity College. His mother marries solicitor Ronald Henderson and they move into number 55 Fitzwilliam Square but Ronald dies a few months later. His mother’s hysterical reaction to discovering her husband died in a brothel he owned and that he had been there with another man, makes Alfie swear to himself never to tell her he is gay, too.

Alfie and his mother are reunited with Isobel and, shortly afterwards, Isobel marries Dr Will Fitzgerald and they move into number 30 Fitzwilliam Square. At Trinity College, Alfie meets David Powell, who is also a medical student but in his final year, and they fall in love. When Will and Isobel accidentally find them together, Alfie makes them promise never to tell anyone.

When Will needs to employ another doctor at the Merrion Street Upper medical practice, Isobel suggests David even though he is less than a year qualified. Will takes him on and David proves to be an excellent doctor and even assists in the births of Will and Isobel’s children.

When Alfie and David are attacked outside a club for gay men and Will’s father hears a delirious Alfie calling out for David, he puts two and two together and is furious. Isobel persuades John to turn a blind eye and he reluctantly agrees. But can John Fitzgerald be trusted to keep Alfie and David’s relationship a secret?

954px-Long_Room_Interior,_Trinity_College_Dublin,_Ireland_-_Diliff

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.

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Read an Excerpt from Chapter Two…

Isobel was shown into number 55’s morning room at just after three o’clock the following afternoon. The room was empty and she turned to the butler with a frown.

“Is my mother not at home?”

“Mrs Ellison – and then Mr Ellison – have gone to call upon Mr Greene,” Gorman told her. “Mr Stevens is upstairs in the library.”

“Oh, I see. Thank you.”

The butler closed the door after him and Isobel grimaced as she went to the window, wishing her mother had not called to number 7 so soon. Hearing voices in the hall, she glanced at the door as it opened and Alfie came in.

“Why didn’t you go with Mother and then James to number 7?” she asked.

“Because until James asked me – and then we asked Gorman – where Mother was, we didn’t realise she had gone out,” he replied. “I thought it best that James go after her to number 7. We had been discussing Miles. James has asked me to become Miles’ legal guardian. I had expected for it to be James but he explained why he should not. And why it should be me.”

“You sound as if you don’t want to do it.”

“I will do it—” Alfie stopped abruptly and spread his hands helplessly. “But James has told me he wants the Greene Hall estate to pass to me and not Miles when the time comes. Yes, it would be better not to have Miles be made a ward of court but, even so, I can’t help but think the Greene Hall estate should be his – not mine.”

“Alfie, we shall all be on hand to help and advise you.”

“Isobel, I will never be married – I will never have a son…”

“And neither will Miles.”

“But, unlike Miles, I shall be expected to marry and – when I don’t – my bachelor status will be commented on.”

“You will be a doctor with a busy Dublin practice with no time for marriage. There are plenty of bachelor doctors—”

“Who probably all have a ‘secret friend’ as I do.”

Two cabs stopped outside and Will got out of the first. Seeing her at the window, he smiled and she waited for him to be shown into the room.

“Mother and James are at number 7,” she told him before he could ask where they were and he rolled his eyes before peering past both her and Alfie at the street. “Have you asked the cabmen to wait?”

“Yes, and I hope your mother won’t stay too long – not because of the cabs – but because seeing your mother again will be upsetting for your grandfather. I wish she hadn’t called on him without my being present and I wish she hadn’t called on him until after visiting Miles.”

“Mother went first without telling James and I and James had to follow her,” Alfie explained and Will swore under his breath. “Is Mother going be too emotional for Miles?” Alfie added. “Especially as Miles needs a quiet home?”

“I need to speak to James and – oh – there they are now.”

Her mother and James were crossing the street, her mother waving her hands in the air in an agitated manner as she spoke to him while James simply shook his head before stopping and holding his arms out from his sides then letting them drop.

“Let’s go outside.” Will opened the door and then the front door for her. “James?” he called as the three of them left the house and James held up a hand to acknowledge him.

“I’m sorry, Will, but Martha took it upon herself to call to number 7, despite my having told her to wait until this evening.”

“Do I need to call on Mr Greene?” Will asked.

“No, he is as well as can be expected. Despite having to deal with the unexpected caller.”

“My father was delighted to see me,” Mrs Ellison announced proudly.

“Did you or he mention Miles?” Isobel inquired.

“I had to,” her mother replied and Isobel’s heart sank. “James told me the hospital requires written consent from my father for Miles to come and live here – which I now have,” she continued triumphantly, holding up an envelope.

“Did you see Grandmother?” Isobel added as Will opened the door of the first cab and James helped his wife inside and she sat down.

“Mother was ‘resting’. Whether she does or does not wish to see me is entirely up to her but Father – oh, Will – that contraption – the face mask – the oxygen cylinder…”

“Your father needs it,” Will replied. “To be blunt, Martha, your father cannot now live without inhaling oxygen and he must not be upset or agitated unnecessarily and I would have preferred that you had not called on him this first time without my being present.”

Mrs Ellison flushed at Will’s stern tone but raised her chin defensively. “So James told me – but he is my father – I had to visit him.”

“And he is my patient – and I am trying to ensure he receives the best of care – please consider his needs in future and not your own.”

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

Fitzgerald series Books

Buy A Discarded Son: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Three for

Kindle

Or read A Discarded Son: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Three FREE with 

download

Buy the A Discarded Son paperback at

amazon  Book Depository  blackwells  Booktopia  Fishpond AU  Fishpond NZ  BAM  Indie Bound  TRB

Amazon ASIN: B07FDB3B3W

Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

Fitzgeralds Series ASIN: B07W4WRWGM

goodreads11-1024x409

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

newsletter-295x300

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

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
Photo credit: Cabinet card young man – Photographer: Wilber, Chardon Ohio – Property of LOST GALLERY and website owner. Used under CC BY-SA 4.0
Photo credit: The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin by Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Meet A Discarded Son’s Lewis and Tilda Greene

Tilda and Lewis Greene Colourised

Lewis Greene is eighty-one years old and is landlord of the Greene Hall estate near Westport in Co Mayo, Ireland. His wife, Matilda (Tilda) Greene, nee Walker, is seventy-five years old. They married in 1834 and Tilda fell pregnant soon afterwards but it wasn’t until she gave birth that it was discovered she was carrying twins. Martha, Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother, was born first but the second baby took a long time to be born. It was a boy – an heir to the Greene Hall estate – and he was named Miles.

Soon, however, it became evident that Miles was not developing like other children. He was examined by the Greene’s doctor and he was deemed to be – in the terminology of the time – a ‘simpleton’ or an ‘idiot’.

Tilda blamed herself and could not bear to even look at her son and when she claimed he was beginning to frighten Martha, Lewis made the decision to send Miles away to St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin – an asylum where he could be cared for properly. Lewis watched his year-old son being driven away in a carriage down the drive then let it be known that Miles had died and a large funeral was held for him.

Lewis and Tilda hoped they would have another son who would inherit the estate, but it was not to be and Martha had an isolated childhood, spending most of her time in the nursery with her nanny and nursery maid and then with her governess when the nursery became the schoolroom. A few days after her twenty-first birthday, Martha ran away to elope with the Reverend Edmund Stevens, the Church of Ireland (Anglican) curate of Ballyglas Parish and her parents disowned her.

Having lost both his children, Lewis’ interest in the Greene Hall estate dwindled and, as he aged, he spent more and more time in his library with his books. Tilda had more of an interest in the estate but the land agent, Mr Dudley, took no notice because she was a woman. Mr Dudley was given a free rein and, like many land agents, became feared and hated in the locality.

When Lewis’ health began to decline, Tilda devoted all her time to caring for him. But when Lewis’ doctor informs him that he has lung disease and it will kill him, Tilda is appalled and fearful when, not only do his thoughts turn to their son, but he resolves to go to Dublin and see Miles. Tilda does not want to go – both her children are dead to her – but Lewis insists and he has Knox, his butler, make inquiries as to the whereabouts of their daughter. Martha and her children are easy to locate, especially when the notice announcing the engagement between Martha and James Ellison is published in The Irish Times.

Lewis rents a house on Fitzwilliam Square and his granddaughter Isobel spots him in the congregation in St Peter’s Church on Aungier Street on her mother’s wedding day. That evening, Lewis confesses a secret to Isobel, her husband, Will, and her brother, Alfie – one which has been kept for over forty years – his son is alive – and he wants to see Miles one last time before he dies. This presents a huge conundrum. Martha believes her twin brother died at a year old and what, if anything, has Miles been told about his parents and family? How will he react when he is told that his mother does not wish to be reunited with him but that the father who sent him away to an asylum does? Will Lewis Greene ever get his dying wish?

Florence_Court_frontage

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.

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Read an Excerpt from Chapter One…

Hurrying to the east side of the square as heavy drizzle began to fall, [Isobel] saw a small group of people bending over a figure lying on the pavement which surrounded the railings and the gardens.

“I am Dr Fitzgerald, stand back, please,” Will instructed and they did as he asked. She crouched down on one side of Mr Greene while Will knelt on the other and felt her grandfather’s neck for a pulse. “He’s alive,” he told her before running his fingers across the elderly man’s scalp. “But only just. And he’s very cold but, thankfully, there is no head injury. Are all of you servants in number 7?” he asked the group and one smartly-dressed man in his fifties stepped forward with Mr Greene’s top hat and walking cane in his hands.

“Yes, we are, Dr Fitzgerald,” he replied. “I am Knox, Mr and Mrs Greene’s butler.”

“Please ask for some water to be heated and round up as many hot water bottles as you can find.”

“Yes, Dr Fitzgerald.” The butler turned to a maid who accepted the top hat and cane from him and ran across the street and down the areaway steps.

“Please help me carry Mr Greene upstairs to a bedroom.”

Isobel picked up Will’s medical bag as he took Mr Greene’s shoulders and Knox gripped Mr Greene’s ankles. She tailed them as her grandfather was borne across the street, up the steps and into the gas-lit hall but she halted at the front door.

“Where is Mrs Greene?” she asked a red-haired maid about to go down the areaway steps.

“I am here,” a severe voice announced from behind her and Isobel turned around.

At five feet eight inches, Isobel was considered tall for a woman. Standing in the morning room doorway, her grandmother was equally tall but as thin as Isobel was curvaceous. Plaited wavy grey hair was wound into a bun at the nape of her neck and she wore a purple satin dress. Mrs Greene looked her and then Will up and down, taking in her hastily tied-back hair and his lack of hat, collar and cravat. An eyebrow rose and Isobel fought to control a flush of embarrassment.

“Tell me what is needed and you shall have it,” her grandmother added crisply.

“Thank you, we shall,” Isobel replied before closing the front door and following the others up the stairs.

Her grandfather was brought to a large bedroom on the second floor at the front of the house and laid on the double bed. Will unbuttoned Mr Greene’s overcoat and raised him into a sitting position so the butler could peel it off. Discreetly turning her back, Isobel accepted her grandfather’s clothes from Knox as they were removed layer by layer. The overcoat was wet and the other clothes were damp and couldn’t be hung up in the huge mahogany wardrobe so she draped them over the back of a balloon-back bedroom chair so they could be taken away to be dried and aired.

When she turned back, Mr Greene was lying on the bed dressed in a white nightshirt and Will was returning a thermometer to his medical bag. Lifting out his stethoscope, he raised her grandfather into a sitting position again and Knox held Mr Greene’s shoulders while Will listened to his phlegmatic breathing and put the stethoscope away fighting back a grimace. Her grandfather was painfully thin and as Will lifted him up, Isobel pulled the bedcovers back. Mr Greene was placed in the bed and she covered him up to his chin.

“I asked for hot water bottles, where are they?” Will asked.

“I’ll go and see, Dr Fitzgerald.” The butler strode to the door and left the room.

“Does he have hypothermia?” she asked.

“No, but it could develop,” Will replied as the door opened again and her grandmother came in. “He must have been lying on the pavement since he left number 55 two hours ago.”

“My husband was determined to return there and speak with you and I assumed he was still with you,” Mrs Greene informed them. “Did not one of you offer to escort him back here?”

“I did,” Will said. “But he declined.”

“Will he live?” she asked, walking to the bed and gently smoothing long and bony fingers over her husband’s sparse white hair.

“Mr Greene is very cold but his temperature must be raised slowly,” Will said as a footman and two maids hurried into the room each carrying two hot water bottles and Isobel lowered the bedcovers. “Place all of them in the bed – not too close to Mr Greene – good. Thank you.”

“Can nothing else be done for him?” her grandmother asked as the servants left the bedroom and Isobel pulled the bedcovers up again.

“Sit with him, Mrs Greene, have the hot water bottles refilled every two hours, and raise his temperature.”

“Well.” Mrs Greene went to the bedroom chair and sat down, clasping her hands tightly together on her lap. “The boy has finally proved to be the death of my husband. My husband insisted on coming to Dublin. He insisted on reacquainting himself with Martha. And he insisted on telling you about the boy.”

‘The boy’ was now a man in his mid-forties but Isobel bit her tongue.

“You did not want Grandfather to meet Mother again?” Isobel asked and her grandmother fixed a cold stare on her.

“Your mother could have married into Lord Sligo’s family but she chose to run away from home and marry the curate of Ballyglas Parish. I knew the marriage would be disastrous and so it proved. She sent many letters bemoaning her situation and begging my husband and I to take her and her children in but, as you make your bed, so you must lie in it.”

“She told you Father was violent and you did nothing?” Isobel demanded.

“I burned the letters,” her grandmother replied matter-of-factly. “Your mother had made her choice and so she must live with that choice.”

“I did grasp your initial meaning,” Isobel replied tightly.

“I am so glad the items she stole from Greene Hall to pay for your excessively expensive education at Cheltenham Ladies College and for your brother’s at Harrow didn’t altogether go to waste.”

Isobel’s jaw dropped. “She stole from Greene Hall?”

“You thought that despite our pleas to your mother not to marry a man unworthy of her, your grandfather paid her marriage portion?” Mrs Greene smiled humourlessly. “No. He did not. Yours and your brother’s education were paid for by stolen property. Unfortunately, you chose to waste every penny by whoring yourself to a farm boy.”

“I did not whore myself to James,” she retorted, clenching her fists but unable to stop herself shaking with rage. “He seduced me.”

“You exude an overt sensuality, Isobel, which men are unable to resist,” her grandmother told her crisply, making a point of looking her up and down again. “I doubt very much if he needed too much of an excuse to get you on your back.”

“That is enough,” Will snapped and Mrs Greene gave him an icy smile.

“Took a fancy to Isobel in her parlourmaid’s uniform, did you, Dr Fitzgerald? Most men would not wish to touch soiled goods.”

“You have said quite enough. Isobel – we’re leaving.”

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Fitzgerald series Books

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Amazon ASIN: B07FDB3B3W

Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

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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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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
Photo credit: A portrait of an elderly couple: The digital photographic collections of the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County, based in Belleville, Ontario: Public Domain Mark 1.0
Photo credit: Florence Court, near Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland – by Andrew Humphreys and used under CC BY-SA 2.5

St Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

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St Patrick’s Hospital was the first psychiatric hospital to be built in Ireland and one of the very first in the world. Its foundation was brought about by the will of Jonathan Swift, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric who, upon his death in 1745, left £12,000 to ‘build a house for fools and mad’. He was keen that his hospital be situated close to a general hospital because of the links between physical and mental ill-health, so St Patrick’s was built on a site between Bow Lane and Dr Steevens’ Hospital in the west of Dublin city.

The motivation for Swift’s legacy grew from his involvement with the day-to-day problems of the Irish people, not only as an individual but also as dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. In the eighteenth century, there were no specific provisions for the mentally ill. The first record of public provision for the mentally ill were the cells erected in the Dublin City Workhouse in 1708 and three years later ten cells were allocated for insane soldiers at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham. Mostly, if not being cared for by their families or found wandering the streets or countryside, the mentally ill would be confined with criminals in prisons, with the poor in a workhouse, or with the sick in a hospital. Swift had firsthand knowledge of these conditions having served as a workhouse governor and as a trustee of several hospitals.

Bethlem Royal Hospital in London had been the first to house the mentally ill in 1377. By the eighteenth century, it had become infamous and known as ‘Bedlam’. It had a reputation for cruelty, neglect and poor living conditions, with an inadequate diet, rough clothing and inactivity. Worse still, the patients were displayed as entertainment – as a ‘freak show’, a ‘spectacle’, a ‘menagerie’ from which ‘both provincial bumpkins and urban sophisticates could derive almost endless amusement’ for a fee.

After a visit to Bethlem Royal Hospital, Swift got himself elected one of its governors in 1714. By 1731, Swift had decided on his legacy, intending his hospital to be charitable and more humane than Bethlem Royal Hospital.

Following the layout of the seventeenth century updated structure of Bethlem Royal Hospital, architect George Semple designed St Patrick’s with a basement, first floor, and second floor. Each ward was a long corridor with an iron gate, a keeper’s room at the entrance and cells opening from it. The eight by twelve-foot cells had sturdy doors and high windows.

St Patrick’s Hospital opened in 1757 with sixteen patients and a staff consisting of a master, male and female keepers, cook, laundry maid, housekeeper, porter, and surgeon. Lack of funds quickly required admitting chamber boarders (paying patients) along with pauper patients.

By 1793, two expansions provided more rooms and more staff but they had no special training to deal with the mentally ill and treatments were limited to baths, purges, bleedings, drugs or restraints and care was still primarily custodial. However, conditions for the comfort of patients in the early decades at St Patrick’s were superior to those at Bethlem Hospital.

On each ward, two apartments of sixteen feet by twelve were for the accommodation of chamber boarders who, in 1825, paid sixty guineas per annum. There were seven other apartments for the use of chamber boarders in the front of the building. In 1825, the occupants of these apartments paid one hundred guineas per year and had a servant for their own use exclusively.

Heating came from coal fires in the corridors and the cleanliness of patients and their surroundings was a priority. Paupers were supplied with stools, wooden beds, and bedding (straw was only used for violent patients). Meals consisted of porridge at breakfast, potatoes plus meat three times a week at dinner, bread and milk at supper and beer occasionally. Chamber boarders brought their own furnishings and would have had a higher-quality diet.

The hospital grew significantly throughout the 19th century. By 1817, two building extensions saw the patient population rise to over one hundred and fifty and by 1872, the number of staff was over fifty.

Dr Richard Leeper was appointed medical superintendent in 1898 and was largely responsible for transforming St Patrick’s from an asylum for the maintenance of the mentally ill to a modern hospital for their treatment and cure. Dr Leeper abolished the use of restraints, introduced the segregation of female and male wards and oversaw the construction of bathrooms and day rooms providing work and leisure activities for the patients.

Dr Leeper’s successor, Norman Moore, removed the old prison-like doors on the cells, introduced occupational therapy (including crafts and farm work) to the patients and challenged the assumption that the mentally ill were a danger to themselves and society and should be locked away.

After the introduction of deinstitutionalisation in the late 1980s, the hospital went into a period of decline but in 2008 the hospital announced the expansion of its outpatient services to a series of regional centres across Ireland. Today, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services is Ireland’s leading not-for-profit mental health organisation, with over 700 staff members delivering 12% of the country’s total inpatient care and treatment needs.

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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.

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Read an Excerpt from Chapter Two…

They got out of the cab at the gateway facing St Patrick’s Hospital. Will paid the cabman then introduced himself to the porter, explained their reason for visiting and they were admitted to the grounds.

The porter escorted them to the seven-bay, two-storey over basement hospital which had further buildings to its rear she could only partially see as they approached. The area in front of the hospital, separated from Bow Lane by a substantial wall, was planted with trees and had a lawn surrounded by a gravel path. Outwardly, it all appeared very serene.

They went inside, up a beautiful cantilevered staircase and she and Alfie waited in the entrance hall while Will and the porter went in search of the matron. The sounds of a man sobbing echoed towards them and Isobel exchanged a nervous glance with Alfie.

“…No, Dr Fitzgerald, Miles is not on one of the wards.” They turned as Will, the porter and a middle-aged woman dressed in a black dress and a white nurse’s cap walked towards them. “I am Matron Rice,” she said, shaking first Isobel’s and then Alfie’s hands. “You are very welcome to St Patrick’s Hospital. Miles is what is known as a chamber-boarder. He has his own apartment and a servant.”

“An apartment and a servant?” Isobel exclaimed and the matron nodded.

“Oh, yes, Mrs Fitzgerald. Miles is very comfortable here.”

“How…” Isobel tailed off, racking her brains. “Is he?” she concluded the question feebly.

“Miles is a very gentle soul. Although, he is not as sharp-witted as you or I, he is certainly not considered an ‘idiot’ or a ‘lunatic’.”

“Then, should he really be here?” she asked.

“To be quite honest with you, Mrs Fitzgerald, Miles is here simply because his parents did not want a ‘dim-witted’ son.”

“We did not know of his existence here until yesterday,” Isobel said quietly.

“So your husband told me. It is nothing to be ashamed of, many families tuck their husbands, wives, sons and daughters away in establishments such as this. Please, come with me,” she said and they thanked the porter as he took his leave.

They followed Matron Rice along a gallery with windows situated high enough to be out of the reach of patients until the matron halted outside a door to their left.

“It would be best if you went in one at a time. Perhaps, you first, Mrs Fitzgerald. Miles, it’s Matron,” she said, opening the door. “I have a visitor for you.”

Isobel went inside, her heart thumping as Matron Rice closed the door, and couldn’t help but gaze around the parlour in a mixture of pleasant surprise and relief. The large window was sited at a standard height which could only mean the occupant was not deemed to be either at risk of trying to escape or taking their own life. The walls were papered with a pattern of green leaves on a cream background and on the floor was a rug, also with a leaf design.

To the right of the door was a small dining table and two chairs and to its left was a tall mahogany bookcase overflowing with volumes of all sizes. Two armchairs upholstered in green velvet stood on either side of the fireplace, above which hung a huge mirror. Sitting at a walnut writing desk at the window and reading a book was her uncle. He twisted around in the chair and looked her up and down, taking in her coat and hat’s leaf pattern and she smiled. Like his father, he had a beard but wore no spectacles.

“Good afternoon, Miles,” she said softly.

“Are you a new nurse?” he asked, getting to his feet and doing up the buttons of a black morning coat.

“No, my name is Isobel. What are you reading?” she asked, edging forward.

Jane Eyre.”

“Are you enjoying it?”

“Yes, I am. Do take a seat,” he said, gesturing to one of the armchairs.

“Thank you.” She sat down, trying not to make it obvious she was staring at him as he retook his seat at the desk. Dark-haired like her mother, he also had her mother’s high forehead and brown eyes and reminded Isobel of Mr Parnell, leader of the Home Rulers and president of the Land League.

“If you are not a nurse then, who, may I ask, are you?”

“Has anyone spoken to you about your family?”

“I have no living family,” he replied, turning his attention back to the book.

“That is not true,” she said and he lifted his head. “Miles, you are my mother’s brother – you are my uncle.”

He stared at her and she smiled again as he digested her words. “I am your uncle,” he stated and she nodded. “Why have you not visited me before?”

“Because until yesterday I did not know you were here. Out there,” she gestured to the gallery, “are my brother and my husband. Would you like to meet them?”

“Are you going to bring me home with you?” he asked and she stared at him in consternation.

“Matron Rice says you are very comfortable here,” she said instead of answering. “You have a lovely parlour and a lovely view,” she added, stretching her neck and catching a glimpse of the lawn and gravel path.

“I am lucky. Some of the other patients have cells. I am really your uncle?”

“Yes, you are,” she said. “My name is Isobel Fitzgerald and I have one brother called Alfie. My husband is called Will. Would you like to meet them?”

“Yes, I would, thank you.”

“I’ll go and fetch them.” She got up, went to the door and opened it. “Come in and meet Miles.”

They followed her into the parlour and she caught Alfie glancing around the room in surprise, having expected, like her, for it to be far more austere.

“Miles,” she said and he got up from the chair. “This is my brother, Alfie Stevens. And this is my husband, Will Fitzgerald.”

“I am delighted to meet you.” Miles greeted them formally. “Do you live in Dublin?”

“We all live on Fitzwilliam Square,” Alfie replied. “And I am studying medicine at Trinity College.”

“I am a doctor,” Will told him. “But I’m off duty today.”

“Are you going to bring me home with you?” Miles asked again and Alfie threw her a startled glance.

“No, we are not,” Will replied gently and Miles’ face fell.

“But we shall come here and visit you regularly,” she added. “I would very much like to take a walk with you around the lawn.”

“Why will you not bring me home with you?” Miles persisted.

“When did you last leave this hospital?” Will pointed to the gates.

“I…” Miles tailed off and his shoulders slumped. “Never.”

“We will come here and visit you,” she repeated, hesitantly reaching out and squeezing his hand. “Now we have met you, we will not forget you.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

“Good. That’s settled, then.”

“Is there a book you would like me to bring you when I come to visit?”

“Well.” Miles’ face creased as he pondered her question. “I have almost finished Jane Eyre and I would like to continue with the Brontës – perhaps Wuthering Heights?”

Wuthering Heights it is,” she said.

“When will you visit again?”

“In the next few days, I promise.”

“Thank you.”

Isobel returned to the gallery and rejoined Matron Rice with Will and Alfie following, hoping she wouldn’t cry. Alfie closed the door to the apartment and they went downstairs.

“You will visit again?” the matron inquired.

“Yes, we will,” she replied.

“Good, because we have had promises before.”

“I don’t make promises I will not keep,” she said. “Miles has asked for a book – Wuthering Heights – is it suitable for him?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And mince pies?”

Matron Rice smiled. “He will enjoy them very much.”

They walked in silence to James’ Street where Will hailed a cab. They climbed in and sat down but she couldn’t stop the tears coming.

“There is barely anything wrong with him,” she sobbed.

“Matron Rice explained that he appears to have the reasoning of a fifteen-year-old boy,” Will said, putting an arm around her. “When we return during the week, I will speak with Dr Harrison the medical superintendent.”

“When he asked me if we were going to take him home with us, I didn’t know what to say.” She fumbled in her sleeve for a handkerchief and blew her nose. “We can’t take him home with us.”

“But I could take him home with me,” Alfie said and grimaced. “What I mean is – if it would benefit Miles not to live in a hospital, then, number 55 would be ideal.”

“I shall mention it to Dr Harrison,” Will told him. “But there is the small matter of your mother and James, who are expecting to return from honeymoon to a quiet married life. As well as that, your grandmother doesn’t want anything to do with Miles, so we must not tell her husband we have seen him in case it causes friction between them. There are many things to take into account but first and foremost is what Dr Harrison has to say. We do nothing until I have spoken to him.”

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

Fitzgerald series Books

Buy A Discarded Son: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Three for

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Amazon ASIN: B07V1C41X2

Series Page ASIN: B07W4WRWGM

Paperback ISBN: 9781089743835

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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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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
St. Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin. Photo credit: DubhEire [CC0] via Wikimedia Commons
Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas. Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

A Discarded Son: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Three is Out Now!

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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

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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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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

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.

The Books 

Love, trust, family ties and secrets…

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

Tilda and Lewis Greene Colourised  Meet Lewis and Tilda Greene

Alfie Stevens Large  Meet Alfie Stevens

Martha Ellison  Meet Martha Ellison

Miles Walker Greene  Meet Miles Greene

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

533px-Jonathan_Swift_by_Charles_Jervas_detail  St Patrick’s Hospital, 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 Suitable Wife’s Sarah Fitzgerald

Sarah

Sarah Fitzgerald, née Crawford, was born in 1824 in York Street, Dublin, Ireland the second of three daughters. Sarah’s father, William, was the son of a draper from Parliament Street and became a surgeon at Mercer’s Hospital through hard work and stubborn determination on both his part and his father’s. Draper Crawford had to ensure he earned enough to keep his family fed and clothed and ensure William had the means to be bound as an apprentice to a prominent surgeon.

Continually reminded that he has ‘come from trade’ by certain sections of Dublin society, Surgeon Crawford wanted Sarah to marry well. His former apprentice, Duncan Simpson, had married Maria Wingfield of Rutland Square (now Parnell Square), but Duncan introduced Sarah and her father to his best friend, John Fitzgerald. A doctor with a home on Merrion Square and heir to a prosperous medical practice on Merrion Street Upper, John is the ideal husband.

Sarah and John married at St Peter’s Church, Aungier Street in 1845. Their son, Edward, was born in 1846 and joined the army while Will was born in 1849 and became a doctor.

At the start of A Suitable Wife, Sarah has been married for almost thirty-six years and believes herself to be still in love with John. But did Sarah marry John, a stern and rather secretive man ten years her senior, simply to please her father?

A_Suitable_Wife_SQUARE

Dublin, Ireland, 1881. Will and Isobel Fitzgerald settle into number 30 Fitzwilliam Square, a home they could once only have dreamed of. A baby is on the way, Will takes over the Merrion Street Upper medical practice from his father and they are financially secure. But when Will is handed a letter from his elder brother, Edward, stationed with the army in India, the revelations it contains only serves to further alienate Will from his father.

Isobel is eager to adapt to married life on Fitzwilliam Square but soon realises her past can never be laid to rest. The night she met Will in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding has devastating and far-reaching consequences which will change the lives of the Fitzgerald family forever.

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Read an excerpt from Chapter Seven…

Will was quiet as they strolled home arm-in-arm, his mind clearly on his father. As they approached number 30, she could hear raised voices and they stopped. Tess, Will’s parents’ house-parlourmaid who doubled as his mother’s lady’s maid, was hurrying down the steps to a waiting cab while Mrs Dillon pleaded with someone from the front door.

“Doctor and Mrs Fitzgerald will be home soon. Please come inside and calm yourself.”

“But I have no money to pay the cabman.” Will’s mother emerged from behind the cab smoothing down the skirt of her black dress and, to Isobel’s horror, sank down onto the kerb bursting into tears.

“Christ,” Will whispered and they ran to her. “Mother?”

“Oh, Will…”

“I’ll pay the cabman, Mother. Isobel will escort you inside.”

“Sarah.” Clasping her mother-in-law’s cold hands, Isobel raised her to her feet. “Come into the house, you’re freezing.”

“Tess, too?” Sarah asked and Isobel glanced at the girl. Usually, a capable maid, Tess’ face was ashen. What on earth had she heard or witnessed?

“Yes, Tess, too. Come inside.” Slowly they climbed the steps and went into the hall. “Mrs Dillon, this is Tess. Tess, this is Mrs Dillon. I think we could do with some tea – all of us,” she added with a nod towards the maid, and the housekeeper took Tess’ arm.

“Yes, Mrs Fitzgerald.”

“Come into the morning room, Sarah.” Isobel led her inside and sat her down on the sofa, hearing the front door close then silence as Will most likely hung up his hat and overcoat before his footsteps could be heard approaching the door.

“What’s happened, Mother?” he asked, coming in and closing the door behind him.

“Oh, Will,” she said in a shaky voice. “I don’t know where to begin.”

“Take your time.”

“I have separated from your father.”

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Buy A Suitable Wife: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Two the sequel to A Scarlet Woman for   

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Amazon ASIN: B07FDB3B3W

Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Suitable Wife

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Two

Genre: Irish Historical Fiction

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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Photo credit: Hubert von Herkomer – Emilia Francis (née Strong), Lady Dilke, is a derivative of irinaraquel, used under CC BY 4.0