Previous: In her desperate bid to be Cathal’s mother, Leona becomes increasingly distressed by his seeming unwillingness to respond to her, resulting in a shocking outburst of physical aggression which results in Cathal’s arm being broken.
When Cathal reaches the school age, Leona’s mental health further deteriorates, and she withdraws from life, crippled with fear that Cathal’s true identity will finally be discovered through his school attendance, and also distraught that he is growing beyond her control. However, a shirt time into his schooling, Cathal’s physical deformities prevent him from continuing to attend school with the rest of the children from the village. Leona is delighted by this new development, however Cathal resents once again being confined at home with her.
5 August, 1969
The Ulster Volunteer Force has planted their first bomb in the Republic of Ireland, damaging the RTÉ Television Centre in Donnybrook. There were no reported injuries.
19th October, 1969
Thomas McDonnell, a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force, was gravely injured when a bomb he planted exploded prematurely at a power station near Ballyshannon in County Donegal.
29th October 1969
The Ulster Volunteer Force exploded a bomb at the gravestone of Wolf Tone, the founding father of Irish Republicanism, in Bodestown, Sallins, County Kildare. The Blast occurred at 5am and destroyed a headstone.
A suitcase lay open on the bed. Her arms tightly crossed, Leona watched Aidan pack from the bedroom doorway.
“How long do you think you’ll be gone?”
“It’s hard to say at this stage,” said Aidan. “A week, maybe. My brother says Mam is really quite sick.”
“I’m nervous, Aidan. All those stories in the news, the attacks. Do you really think you should be leaving now?”
Aidan turned to her, placing his hands on her shoulders.
“I’ll be fine,” he insisted. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. The Higgins are there if you need anything.”
He kissed her on the head and picked the suitcase up, slipping past her through the door.
On 13th November, 1969, a co-ordinated attack was carried out by the Loyalist Paramilitary Group in Kerry. The attack, a car bombing, took place outside McQuaid’s Pub. The blast killed Doctor Aidan Kelly of Kinvara, who was in town visiting relatives. Aidan was walking past the pub on the other side of the street when the blast occurred. He was struck in the head by flying shrapnel, and died in hospital shortly after.
People arrived from neighbouring villages and farms to the Kelly household to offer their condolences. Leona greeted them at the door and took them into the room where Aidan’s body had been laid out. They stood for a few minutes to pay their respects and say a prayer, and then were taken into the living room where Leona offered refreshments.
Friends and neighbours brought cakes and plates of sandwiches to help with the grieving effort. The women made tea and sandwiches and washed dishes, while the men congregated outside the house.
The seemingly constant stream of visitors had eased, and Leona sat down at the kitchen table. Deidre Higgins was making a pot of tea. She set a teacup and saucer down in front of Leona and sat adjacent to her at the table. She reached over and placed her hand over Leona’s.
“Everything will be alright, love. It will, I’ll make sure of it.”
Leona deteriorated into sobs, and Deidre took her into her arms, holding her and soothing her.
On the day of the funeral, six male villagers carried Aidan’s coffin from his house. A hearse led the procession up along Main Street to the church, family and friends following behind the pallbearers. As a sign of respect to the deceased, villagers who were not part of the funeral celebration stopped in the street and allowed the procession to pass.
The funeral mass lasted for forty-five minutes. At the end, the pallbearers carried the coffin out of the church, followed once again by the villagers to the cemetery.
Standing on the edge of the uneven stone of the pier wall, Leona looked out across Kinvara Bay. Two boats were out of water, perched up on the wall. A few smaller vessels bobbed up and down in the waters several feet below. Dunguaire Castle was just off to the right of her view. Cathal sat with his legs dangling over the wall, poking a stick at a deteriorated wooden rowboat floating on its rope just below his feet. The crisp wind picked up suddenly, catching Leona’s brown curls and sweeping them off her face.
“Can we go home now?” Cathal called.
Leona looked up to the sky and took a deep breath into the wind, exhaling it slowly.
The wind swept up dust and leaves in the street as they walked toward home. Street lanterns and hanging signs swung about on their chains. As Leona and Cathal approached the house, an upstairs window shutter banged open.
“Go and play quietly in your room, Cathal,” Leona instructed as they stepped inside.
Later that evening, Leona lay curled up with Cathal on his bed, reading him a story. Her hand rested on Cathal’s back as he lay with his head in her lap. Halfway through the story she paused, looking down to see him sound asleep. She carefully lifted him off her lap and guided him down to his pillow, pulling the blanket over him. She turned down the kerosene lamp until the light was gone. She then lay down next to him, cuddling up to him and closing her eyes.
Thank-you for following my Camp NaNoWriMo April Project! I will be tackling my Irish novellas again for Camp NaNoWriMo in July, I look forward to sharing the end result with you then!