Ireland in the early 20th Century – or a metaphor for Ireland in the 21st? All changed – changed utterly - or barely changed at all.

By Fionnbarr O'Luain

Finbarr Lambe


Cover: Unknown Warriors - Two Unidentified Volunteers, General Post Office interior, Easter Week 1916

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A Story of a divided community, set in early 20th Century Ireland, during the turbulent years of the Home Rule Crisis, Ireland’s participation in the First World War, The Easter Rising, The Anglo-Irish War and the subsequent Civil War. The story follows the fortunes of young people from both traditions in a small east coast community ‘Brayspoint’; a small seaport destined to find itself on the border of a partitioned island.

Sean, the main Catholic character finds himself drawn into militant Nationalism. He fights in the Easter Rising. In the newly formed IRA and experiences the trauma of the Anglo-Irish War and War of Independence. Eventually, The Black & Tans come to his hometown. Mai Casey watches their arrival at the quayside. At once she is filled with a grim foreboding.

Robert the main Protestant character. Proves a reluctant soldier but family pressure leads him to  join the British Army. He experiences the inhumanity of the trenches and the carnage of the Somme Battlefield.

The onset of Ireland’s Civil War brings yet more division of friends. Sean’s lifelong friend. Eamonn is confronted with a very personal dilemma.
Myles Flanaghan, another key character - Sean’s Mentor and ruthless revolutionary.

‘Star Crossed lovers’ - Andrea, Robert’s sister, falls in love with Sean. The two experience the demands of divided loyalties. Is their eventual union a harbinger of hope for the future?

The story ends with Mai Casey, the other woman in Sean’s turbulent life, departing Ireland for a new life overseas. 

Mai is left to Brayspoint dockside by Fred Gant; local character and pony & trap driver. Fred gives us his considered take on it all as he watches Mai’s departing steamer, sail down the Lough which now marks Ireland’s new border.

“Free State Indeed! Northern Ireland! What a load of ballocks! What a load of mad dog’s shite! Gerup thereMacushla!”

The characters are caught in the maelstrom of War, Rebellion and the bitter divisions of Civil War. A tale of 20th century Ireland - or a metaphor for its 21st century? 'All changed - changed utterly?' Or not changed at all?