Behind the Mask. How my research for ‘Progeny Of A Killer’ took me to jail.

progeny of a killerThe sentence wasn’t lengthy, merely a couple of hours, although I wish it had been longer. I would have loved to have spent the night. I have never visited such a place that held so much sorrow and tragedy as Dublin’s Kilmainham gaol. I knew I wanted to include it in my novel. In Progeny Of A Killer, Danny Corrigan is the son of a deceased IRA man who vows revenge on the British refers to the gaol to Aidan McRaney – who is also Irish – as McRaney is sent into to infiltrate Corrigan’s lair.

“You ever see the solitary black cross in Kilmainham?”

“Sure I saw it. When I was a kid. But I didn’t understand. I just didn’t understand.”

I had to admit the memory of visiting Kilmainham, of seeing the black cross over the solitary mound, had given me nightmares. It was the fear that those long dead heroes would ultimately rise from the mound and amorphously drift into my room at night.

Corrigan is obsessed with the Uprising, and their leader James Connolly in particular. It is historical fact that after being wounded in the leg, Connolly was taken by ambulance to Kilmainham, where he was tied to a chair and executed.

But the saddest tale of all has to be that of Grace Gifford who married Joseph Plunkett, another of the  rebels. Their wedding night took place in the chapel at Kilmainham. The next morning, Joseph faced a firing squad. Although the chapel has been refurbished, there is no disguising the poignancy and desolation of that place.

The visit made a great impression on me. I could easily imagine Joseph and Grace, knowing the only night they shared was to be their last, taking their vows. Then they would spend their wedding night in one of those narrow dingy cells. No amount of refurbishment can eradicate that. The entire building is steeped in sorrow and bloodshed.

Having researched Irish history quite predominantly over the years, I knew a story had to be written. Perhaps the aftermath of the Troubles. How many others like Corrigan entertain the desire for revenge? Except I am sure no one is as obsessed with Irish history as this man. Enough to exact his vengeance, not by bombs and doorstep assassinations, but by kidnapping children and inviting paedophilia and white slave trafficking,

Corrigan is also  a collector of porn and of  children being  tortured. He also collects beautiful girls of a certain age for his brothel. The girls are usually no more than 15 or 16. He has ‘buyers’ and the girls are sold to them.

I had already planned my novel. The characterisation. The plot. Then I visited Kilmainham saw the black cross and knew it deserved a mention, as does the Easter Uprising. As it is its centenary next year, maybe I’ll pen another book in relevance.


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