A Suitable Wife: Out Now

A Suitable Wife by Lorna Peel Kindle Cover

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.

Read an Excerpt from Chapter Two…

At half past three, they were seated at a corner table in a café on Grafton Street and Isobel smiled as she stirred milk and sugar into her cup of coffee.

“What is it?” he asked.

“I wrote the character reference I used for the position of parlourmaid at the Harveys’ over there.” She pointed to a table at the window. “And I wrote quite a few other letters to you here as well.”

“I loved receiving your letters,” he said, reaching out and squeezing her hand.

“I refused to admit it to myself that I loved receiving yours. I was falling in love with you even though I knew I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t help it. Can we do this again? Come here for coffee, I mean, because when I sat here writing to you I never dreamt that one day I’d be sitting here with you as your wife.”

“Of course we can,” he replied softly. “I still have to pinch myself, too. I love you, Mrs Fitzgerald.”

They strolled around the frozen lake in St Stephen’s Green, before walking the short distance to number 1 Ely Place Upper. They were shown into the morning room, which thankfully wasn’t as oppressively hot as on her previous visit. Seated in an armchair, Fred uncrossed his legs, got up and threw his cigarette into the fire. He tensed on seeing Will but smiled and nodded politely to her.

“Margaret is lying down. I’ll just—” He went to ring for a servant but she caught his arm.

“Let Margaret rest, Fred,” she told him and he nodded again. “Will and I called to invite Margaret and yourself to dinner. You and Will have important matters to discuss.”

Fred stared at her, realisation dawning on his face that she knew of the incident at the practice house. “Yes, we do.”

“Tomorrow evening or the evening after that?” Will suggested.

“Tomorrow?” Fred asked. “We have no other invitations. Margaret is beginning to feel very self-conscious of her size. A small private dinner will be very nice, thank you.”

“Tomorrow it is. Seven o’clock. It’s good to see you, Fred.” Will held out a hand and, after a moment’s hesitation, Fred shook it. “Please give our regards to Margaret.”

“I will, and thank you for calling,” Fred replied and saw them out himself.

She decided on onion consommé, poached salmon with steamed vegetables and a fruit salad with cream to follow and spoke with Mrs Dillon as soon as they got home. The housekeeper began compiling a list and Isobel left her to it.

“It’s nothing too elaborate and I’m not fond of meals with umpteen courses,” she explained to Will as she joined him in the morning room. “But it’s a solid enough meal.”

“It sounds delicious.”

“Yes.” She sat down on the sofa and wrung her hands. “I also instructed Mrs Dillon to prepare the dining room and drawing room as it would look very odd if we didn’t eat in the dining room but…” Tailing off, she shuddered.

Will moved up the sofa and put an arm around her. “Don’t think of that meal,” he whispered. “This house is ours now and the dining room looks completely different.”

It was true. Since her short-lived meal with Hugh Lombard, who had been intent on making her his mistress and, as with the rest of the house, the dining room had been decorated and all the furniture replaced.

“You’re right. I’m sorry, I’m just being silly.”

“No.” She felt him kiss her hair. “Just always remember that this house is ours now.”

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Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Suitable Wife

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: Hubert von Herkomer – Emilia Francis (née Strong), Lady Dilke, is a derivative of irinaraquel, used under CC BY 4.0
Cover photo credit: Penny Farthing / National Library of Ireland on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions
Eugène Delacroix – Portrait of Léon Riesener: Photo Credit: irinaraquel via Flickr.com / CC BY 4.0
Lily Langtry, The Lily of Jersey: Photo Credit: the lost gallery via Flickr.comCC BY 4.0 
Shelbourne Hotel Dublin. County Dublin, Ireland; St. Stephen’s Green Park, Dublin. County Dublin, Ireland; Sackville Street and O’Connell Bridge, Dublin. County Dublin, Ireland; College Green, Dublin. County Dublin, Ireland: Photos Credit: The Library of CongressNo known copyright restrictions

Meet A Scarlet Woman’s Isobel Stevens

Lily Colourised

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

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

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

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

A_Scarlet_Woman_SQUARE-1

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

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

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an excerpt from Chapter One…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But think of what you might catch here?”

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

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

“Yes, I suppose I could.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your fella gone?”

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

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

“Yes. Mine was nice.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel eBook Cover

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

Meet A Scarlet Woman’s Will Fitzgerald

Eugène Delacroix

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

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

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

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

A_Scarlet_Woman_SQUARE-1

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

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

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an excerpt from Chapter Two…

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

“Will?” she said, in faint surprise.

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

“Please call me Cecilia.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tomorrow,” his father replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s what Cecilia said, Mother.”

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

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

“And?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Will,” his mother warned. “Don’t.”

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

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

Merrion Square

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

12-Merrion-Square-0-1-2

Merrion Square South

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

Richard_Fitzwilliam_of_Merrion

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

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

Merrion Square North

Merrion Square North

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

800px-Merrion_Square,_Nov_2017

Merrion Square Park

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

A_Scarlet_Woman_SQUARE-1

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

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

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an excerpt from Chapter One…

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m glad I’m sharing again.”

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

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

“Oh, I see.”

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

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

“You’ve nothing to worry about here.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monto: Dublin’s Red Light District

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At the bottom of this post there is a map of the Dublin area with locations which feature in The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series.

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

Montgomery Street

Montgomery Street

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

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

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

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

Lower Gardiner Street

Lower Gardiner Street

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

Elliot Place 1930s

Elliot Place in the 1930s

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

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

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

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Read an excerpt from Chapter One…

Dublin, Ireland. Friday, July 30th, 1880.

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

“Nearly there now,” Fred announced.

“Eh, what?” Jerry slurred.

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

“We have,” Jerry stated firmly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You know damn well it’s not that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m Rose.”

“Will.”

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

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

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

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

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

“I can manage.”

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

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

“Fred’s getting married tomorrow.”

“Are you brothers?”

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

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

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

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

A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel eBook Cover

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I’ve created a map of the Dublin area with locations which feature in The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series. As a few locations don’t exist anymore, some are approximate but I’ve been as accurate as I can. Tap/Click in the top right hand corner to open the map.

Amazon ASIN: B074LJJWJW

Paperback ISBN: 9781547079698

    

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

Available Now: A Scarlet Woman: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One

I’m delighted to announce the publication of my Irish historical romance A Scarlet Woman: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One on Kindle, in paperback and on Kindle Unlimited.

A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel eBook Cover

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

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

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an excerpt from Chapter One…

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

She found a suitable spot on the grass near the lake but found the ducks and pigeons far more entertaining. A little boy in a white sailor suit was throwing pieces of bread into the water for them and there were heated battles between the birds for possession. A little further along the lake shore, a gentleman folded his newspaper and got up, leaving it on the grass as he walked away. Immediately, she got to her feet and retrieved the newspaper. It was the previous day’s Dublin Evening Mail.

Out of curiosity, she went through the pages until she found the Situations Vacant columns. Her eyes rested on one advertisement for a parlourmaid but her heart sank when she read that references must be presented. She bit her nails for a few minutes before twisting around and glancing through the trees at the imposing red-bricked facade of the Shelbourne Hotel across the street. She tore the advertisement out of the newspaper before closing and folding it, placing it on the grass, and putting the advertisement in her handbag.

Leaving St Stephen’s Green, she adjusted her hat so it sat on her head at a jaunty angle, and crossed the street. She entered the hotel as if she knew exactly where she was going. Taking a quick glance around the foyer, she went to the reception desk. Scrutinising it, she saw just what she wanted. The concierge was dealing with a guest at the other end so she took a chance and grabbed a few sheets of notepaper and some envelopes. Hiding them in the folds of her skirt – trying desperately not to crumple them too much – she nonchalantly left the hotel, the doorman lifting his hat to her as she passed.

Her heart raced as she walked along the footpath towards the top of Grafton Street. She had never stolen anything before in her life. Retrieving the items from her skirt, she saw that she had three sheets of notepaper and two envelopes before halting. The name of the hotel was printed at the top of the notepaper and her heart sank. How stupid not to have realised that. Well, she wasn’t going to go back with them now. She carefully folded the sheets of notepaper and put them in the envelopes before carrying on. Now to find a pen and some ink. A pencil was out of the question.

She wandered slowly down Grafton Street, passed a café, then turned back and peered inside. A young man was busily writing something in a notebook with a pen at a window table. She would have to part with some of the two shillings and sixpence ha’penny on tea or coffee. She went in, sat at the next table and ordered a cup of coffee, the young man only glancing briefly at her.

“Excuse me?” she began before he bent to write again.

“Yes?” he replied rather shortly, clearly not having liked being disturbed.

“I hope you don’t mind, but could I please borrow your pen? I have an urgent letter to write.” She pulled a sheet of the Shelbourne Hotel notepaper out of an envelope, laid it on the table, and he stared at it curiously. “Please? It is very urgent.”

“All right.” He passed his pen and pot of ink to her, reached for a teapot, and poured himself a cup.

“You’re very kind, thank you.” She smiled at him and then up at the waitress who brought her coffee.

She dipped the nib into the ink, took a deep breath, and wrote a character reference in the nearest she could manage to her mother’s handwriting.

The Glebe House

Ballybeg

Co Galway

To Whom It May Concern:

Maisie Byrne was a house-parlourmaid in my household from June 1876 to July 1879. During that time she proved to be a hard worker, good timekeeper and was always polite, tidy, courteous, and willing.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Maisie Byrne for any future household position she may apply for.

Martha Stevens (Mrs)

She signed her mother’s signature with a flourish and read the reference through twice. Maisie had left because her own mother had fallen ill. They had never seen her again and the chances of her turning up in Dublin were scarce.

She added milk and sugar to the coffee and sipped it, waiting for the ink to dry. The young man leant over, read the reference, and laughed.

“I hope you get the position.”

She smiled and placed the envelope containing the unused notepaper in her handbag. “So do I. I really need it. Thank you very much for these.”

“Not at all,” he replied, taking the pen and ink back.   

“Are you writing a book?” she asked, glancing at the pages of neat handwriting in the notebook, and he rolled his eyes comically.

“Trying to.”

“I hope you get published.”

“Thank you… Maisie.”

Twenty minutes later, she stood outside a terraced Georgian townhouse on Merrion Square and took a deep breath to compose herself. She went carefully down the steep areaway steps and rang the bell. A maid, barely five feet tall, wearing a grey dress and white apron and cap, opened the door and looked her up and down.

“Yes?”

“I’ve come about the position—”

“Yes, yes, you’re the ninth since it was advertised. Come in.”

A little dejected, she followed the maid into the servants’ hall. The cook, another maid, and a footman were seated at a long dining table and gawped at her curiously while the tiny maid knocked at then opened a door to her left.

“Good morning,” she said politely.

“Morning,” the cook replied, reached for a teapot, and poured herself a cup as the tiny maid returned.

“Mr Johnston will see you now. In the butler’s pantry – there.” The maid pointed to the door she had just opened and closed.

“Thank you.” She walked to the door, braced herself, and knocked.

“Come in,” replied a loud voice in a harsh Ulster accent and she complied. The butler and a woman, presumably the housekeeper, were seated behind a table. “Stand there.” The butler pointed to a spot right in front of the table. “I am Mr Johnston, the butler. This is Mrs Black, the housekeeper.”

“Good morning, Mr Johnston, Mrs Black.”

Mr Johnston glanced up at her, then leant back in his chair. He was a gaunt red-haired man of late middle age, while the housekeeper was a little younger, her dark hair tied in a bun at the nape of her neck. Both were dressed in black. Mr Johnston wore a black coat, white shirt with wing collar, and a black cravat, while Mrs Black’s dress was tightly buttoned almost up to her chin. She stood meekly as they noted her accent and their eyes took in her general appearance, face, figure, hair and posture.

“Name?” the butler asked.

“Maisie Byrne, Mr Johnston.”

He nodded and held out his hand for the reference. Heart thumping, she handed it over and watched as he read it before passing it to Mrs Black.

“You have not worked since July 1879,” he said. “That is a year ago. What have you been doing during that time?”

“My mother had consumption, sir, and couldn’t look after herself,” she told him, hoping she sounded convincing. “I left my position at the Glebe House and cared for her until she died a month ago.”

“And where was that?”

“Gloucestershire in England. My mother had moved there to care for her sister. Aunt Mary also died of consumption. I have come back to Ireland because I now have no relatives left in England.”

“Do you have relatives here in Dublin or in—” The butler leant over and peered at the reference in Mrs Black’s hands. “Ballybeg?”

She shook her head. “No, Mr Johnston, but Ireland is my home, and I am more likely to find another position here in Dublin than in Co Galway.”

“Number 68 is the residence of Mr and Mrs James Harvey, Maisie. Mr Harvey is a barrister. Mr and Mrs Harvey entertain frequently, their guests often not leaving until the early hours. Despite this, parlourmaids at number 68 are expected to rise every morning at six o’clock. They are expected to work very hard.”

Six o’clock in the morning. She almost winced. Quite often, she didn’t go to sleep until six in the morning. “Yes, Mr Johnston. I am prepared to work very hard.”

“The wages are twenty pounds per year,” the housekeeper informed her, passing the reference back to the butler. “There is one-half-day off per week and every second Sunday. Servants at number 68 are also required to provide their own uniforms. Parlourmaids wear grey for mornings, and black for afternoon and evenings.”

Servants had to buy their own uniforms? Had she enough money for them? “Yes, Mrs Black,” she replied all the same.

“And last, but certainly not least, parlourmaids – indeed, all servants at number 68 – must have no followers.”

“Followers?” She was mystified and fought to stop herself grimacing. Had she just given her lack of knowledge of domestic service away?

“In your case, Maisie, men friends. Male admirers.”

“No, Mrs Black,” she replied quietly.

“Good.”

The butler glanced at the housekeeper, who gave him an almost imperceptible nod, and he got to his feet.

“Come with me, Maisie. Mrs Harvey is in the morning room and wishes to see each applicant.”

“Yes, Mr Johnston.”

Her heart thumping again, she followed him upstairs to the hall, and almost walked into him when he stopped suddenly.

“Wait here,” he said and went into a room at the front of the house.

She gazed around the rather cluttered hall. Two narrow mahogany tables stood along one wall and a mahogany grandfather clock stood across from what she now knew to be the morning room door.

“Maisie.” She jumped as the door opened and the butler held it open for her.

She walked into a large bright room. Two huge brown leather sofas stood opposite each other at right angles to the fireplace and on the walls, she counted four gas lamps. Before she could take in more of the room, a woman in her fifties with greying reddish-brown hair piled elegantly on top of her head got up from a writing desk at the window with the reference in her hands.

“I have never received a reference written on Shelbourne Hotel notepaper before,” Mrs Harvey said, by way of a greeting.

“When I received the telegram from England telling me my mother was very ill, I left the Glebe House as quickly as I could so I wouldn’t miss the Dublin train,” she replied, hoping it wasn’t glaringly obvious she was making the story up as she went along. “Mrs Stevens kindly told me I could request a character reference at a later date so, when my mother died and I was preparing to return to Ireland, I wrote to Mrs Stevens. That is the reference I received, Mrs Harvey.”

“Probably in town visiting her dressmaker,” Mrs Harvey murmured, smoothing a hand over a beautiful high-necked day dress of gold silk satin. “Well, Maisie,” Mrs Harvey continued, folding the reference. “You begin on Monday. You may move in tomorrow.”

She was so flabbergasted she almost forgot to reply. “Thank you, Mrs Harvey.”

Mrs Harvey nodded and dismissed her from the morning room.

Her head spinning, she followed the butler back to the servants’ hall.

“Mrs Black will be expecting you tomorrow afternoon or evening, Maisie,” he told her, and all she could do was nod as she left the house.

Climbing the areaway steps up to the pavement, she walked away in the direction she had come.

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(Book Cover): Mrs Langtry: Photo credit: The National Archives, ref. COPY1/373/215
(Book Cover): Gun Powder Office: Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions 

Meet Brotherly Love’s Caitriona Brady

caitriona-sand-tint

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?

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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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Amazon ASIN: B01NCR1FNN

Print ISBN: 9781541002692

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

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