C IS FOR CORK, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

C

A STORY OF CONFLICT IN CORK, IRELAND

‘The bastards wouldn’t let us put out the fires. The city has burnt to the ground.’

‘Sit down, Conor, please.’ Imogen pleaded with her husband. ‘You’ll wake the baby.’

‘It won’t end now. The Republicans will want revenge. They’ll hit back harder. I saw Jimmy heading away with O’Donoghue. I hope to God he isn’t doing something stupid.’

‘He shouldn’t have joined the army in the first place. I told him that. Why didn’t you stop him?’

‘He’s a grown man, he can make his own choice.’

‘Jimmy’s your brother. You could have spoken to him. Told him how dangerous it would be to get mixed up with the IRA. And now this. What will they do?’

Conor finally stopped pacing the room and sat down in his armchair next to the fire. The dark nights of winter had arrived and the cold in the air threatened the first snowfall. He slumped back and Imogen saw the tiredness in his blackened face.

‘It was senseless. I saw them. British soldiers setting buildings alight. Blacks and Tans joining them. I never thought I’d see the day, Irishmen burning the houses of their countrymen. We tried to put the fires out and the British shot at us.’ He paused. ‘They shot at us for trying to save Cork from burning. They cut our hoses.’ Conor leaned forward, his head in his hand.

‘I told you this would happen. The bleedin’ IRA brought this on us. Attacking patrols around the city, killing and wounding soldiers.’ Imogen said.

‘It wasn’t soldiers tonight, Imogen, it was innocent people. Civilians like you and me with no stake in this bloody war. Beaten by British soldiers.’ He stood again, his fists balled in anger. ‘You need to be careful what you say about the Republicans, Imogen. If they hear you bad-mouthing them…’ Conor trailed off, leaving the threat hanging in the air.

‘Oh, it’s like that is it, Conor O’Mahony? Well, you married an Irish girl with an English father, so what does that make you? Maybe you wish you never had proposed to me?’

‘Dammit, woman. We can’t just sit here and let them tear this country apart. Maybe the Republicans are right. If we want to protect our country, we have to fight for it. The British won’t leave us alone until either they win or we do.’ He picked his jacket up off the chair and pulled it on.

‘Where are you going, Conor? You can’t go back out, not with the soldiers still on the streets.’

Conor looked at her. She saw the Irish pride and anger in his face. He walked out the living room. The front door slammed closed, bringing a draft of cold air rushing through the house.

The baby started to cry in the bedroom. Imogen went through and picked her up, cradling her in her arms.

‘Ssshhh, little girl,’ Imogen comforted her, rocking backwards and forwards. Conor was right, it wouldn’t end here, she thought. Neither side would back down. There was no easy solution. The Republicans wouldn’t rest until the British left the island. The British would continue to oppress them until their army was defeated. Between the two armies the ordinary people were trapped living in fear.

‘Do you know what your name means?’ she asked the bundle in her arms. ‘Saoirse means freedom. Liberty. One day you might get to see that for Ireland.’ The baby girl stopped crying, tucking herself into her mother’s bosom. Imogen looked out the window at the dark night. She knew Conor would join the fight. There was nothing she could do to stop him, or the war.

‘One day.’ She closed her eyes and carried on rocking gently backwards and forwards, her daughter in her arms.


Written as part of The A to Z Challenge 2018. Click HERE for more details of the challenge.

Each day in April we will visit a different town or city in the European Union, whose name will begin with the letter of the day – today it’s a scene from history in Cork in the Republic of Ireland – for a story based on a theme also corresponding to the same letter.

Over the course of the month and 26 stories, we will visit all 28 member countries to complete a farewell tour before Britain leaves the political union next year, touching on the history, politics, culture and people at the heart of Europe.

For a full list of stories, visit here: THE A TO Z CHALLENGE 2018.

Click the link for more information on the Burning of Cork: Wikipedia.

153 thoughts on “C IS FOR CORK, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

    1. Well, there is a part of me that thinks with the endless arguing and bickering, the EU may well be delighted to see Britain just go away in the end! Certainly there are parts of history that Britain should be not so proud of, to say the least.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Another truly compelling tale. I love the way you have created a fine blend of history and characterisation. Very immaculate story writing indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hope prevails. I am happy that the story ended on the positive note though at the background there is lot of bloodshed.
    Now I know one city that starts with “C” and is in Ireland. Good for me to play the game of “Atlas” with my daughter!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You know Iain, I once read a book by the title “The eagle has landed” written by Jack Higgins. There was a really tough IRA man in the book by name Liam Devlin. He was a short man like me but a brilliant fighter. When I was a kid I always used to daydream about being physically tough. I used to model myself on Liam Devlin of the IRA. I used to think of guns and bullets as macho. Later in life, I came to realize how senseless violence is and how foolish it is to glorify violence. Your article brings back memories of my childhood days and how I came out of one of my childish fancies and got around to accepting myself just the way I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jaya, very inspirational story. I think a lot of kids grow up wanting to strong and confuse that with violence. Fortunately the majority mature out of this. Thank you for reading.

      Like

  4. Love this! I’m slightly obsessed with Ireland, and Cork is definitely on my list of places to go. I lived in the UK for a brief period of time, but I well remember there were still IRA attacks going on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Powerful stuff Iain, brought back memories of the bloody period and injustices on all sides. Bullets rarely solve disputes of any kind. They polarise populations instead of healing them. The wounds live long in years too. Well written indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Gary, while travelling around Europe (on my laptop, not in real life!) for these stories I found that war and conflict have shaped so much of the continent, both in the past and recently too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. History is something successive politicos seen unable to comprehend. Not helped by the media hunting negative “news” either. Thing I’ve learnt through blogging is people can get on given half a chance. They just need to given one.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. My most vivid memory of Ireland is the jail in Dublin. As my son and I walked about this old building, I could almost hear the voices of political prisoners. I enjoyed your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love the little onomastic bit near the end. Also, feeling the relevance having cork be closer to home (I’m from NI). Looking forward to the rest of your April 👌🏻 and thanks for your support with my own, much appreciated 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m loving these little pieces of Historical Fiction! For someone with very little awareness of European history, your stories are very fascinating and educative. Nice depiction of what normal citizens experience at the time of bloodshed. Loved it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved this Iain! It’s easy to forget that the IRA didn’t start out as a terrorist organisation but a revolutionary army fighting against occupying army. I lived in Ireland for 7 years and it’s still my “soul home” – once I’ll be ready to settle, I’ll move back there. Thanks for making me homesick (there’s no satire in this, I do feel it’s good sometimes to remember the longing). Great wee story, I really love your theme, and the execution!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland but never got to but it is on my bucket list. I was lost in the narration, in a good way. It was as if I was in the room with the couple. Great post! Thank you so much for sharing and keep up the awesome writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What an intriguing take on the theme Iain! I liked the story even before I got to the end and read the theme, and then I really liked it. A powerful testimony to history and culture and how there’s always hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Shirley. Yes I had to plan my posts ahead to make sure could find a place to match each letter of A to Z and in each country, then a little research on each to find a story. Not all will be historical though. Am now writing a few days ahead, so far managing to keep up!

      Like

  12. Hi Iain.
    Thank you for visiting my blog because I’m here visiting yours now. Such a well thought out and unique theme–I’m impressed.
    How do you pronounce “Saoirse “?
    I’m fascinated by the way Irish names are spelled 🙂
    Cheers.

    Like

  13. Hi Iain.
    Thank you for visiting my blog because I’m here visiting yours now. Such a well thought out and unique theme–I’m impressed.
    How do you pronounce “Saoirse “?
    I’m fascinated by the way Irish names are spelled 🙂
    Cheers.

    Like

    1. Thank you Lindsay. I had to plan out where I was going each day to match all the letters and I’m writing a few days ahead of posting. Managing to keep up so far!

      Like

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