Secret Spy from Drumshee
‘Daniel O’Connell is in deadly danger and you must be the secret spy
from Drumshee,’ says Mary Ann to her brother Ronan. ‘You don’t talk
much, so no one will notice you.’
Sharp-eyed and intelligent, Ronan watches and listens.
But Mary Ann doesn’t realise that the task she has given her crippled and
almost wordless brother will put his life in deadly danger.
Plunge into the dark events of 1828. Daniel O’Connell is fighting for a new
way of life for the Irish people, but there are enemies on every side. Can Ronan
save this Irish hero from an evil assassin?
Cora Harrison writes:
‘Ever since I read of how Daniel O’Connell was elected at Ennis after a
week of counting and re-counting of votes, I have wanted to write the story of
that dramatic week in July 1828.
Ennis is my shopping town and every time that I go there I can just imagine
that time in 1828 when its narrow medieval streets were crowded with
townspeople, country people, Irish, English, Anglo-Irish, protestants and
Catholics, soldiers and farmers.
Among these people were the names from history
books: Daniel O’Connell, Father Murphy of Corofin (and his dramatic sermon the
day before voting day), Father Coffey, Daniel O’Connell’s friends: Gorman Mc
Mahon, John Steele, the landlords: Mr Vandeleur and Vesey Fitzgerald; the part
they played in that week is all well-documented and I have tried to keep to what
is known as faithfully as possible.
During that week of vote-casting in Ennis, when all the Catholics were barred
by their priests from taking even a single drink, rumours were flying. Death
threats had been issued to Daniel O’Connell and there was an ugly rumour that
he was to be killed if he succeeded. This threat forms the basis of my story.
Daniel O’Connell, one of my favourite characters in the history of Ireland,
was a great letter writer so we know a lot about his private life, not just
about the role he played in getting tenant rights and Catholic Emancipation for
Ireland. We know, for instance, how much money he spent on various items like
his sons’ schooling at Clongowes Wood College, his doctor’s bill, presents
to poor relations in Kerry, and even how much he spent on a piano for his
The McMahon family, are of course, fictitious. Nevertheless, as I wrote about
kind gentle Michael who had lost his wife following the birth of the twins, and
who had cared for his daughter and his severely disabled son ever since; about
Mary Ann – a bit giddy, in her own words, but still with her father’s
sweetness of nature; and about Ronan, full of courage, humour and sharp-eyed
intelligence – these three became more real to me than any historical figure.
I hope that they will live in the reader’s imagination also.’
Click here to read the first chapter of the book
Back to Drumshee Timeline Series booklist
Days at Drumshee (book 12)