The Bleeding Hills

The Bleeding Hills – Life Held No Print Or Plan – Part I

The Bleeding Hills - A Novel by Wilfried Voss
Click on image for the Table of Content…

The phone rang and interrupted Finn’s narrative, so I went to pick it up.

“Hello?”

“Let me talk to him!”

“Hi, Honey! How are you doing? I’m well, thanks. I love you too.”

“Let me talk to him!”

“How are the kids?”

“They’re sleeping, of course! Let me talk to him!”

“How come you’re still up? It’s almost one o’clock in the morning.”

“We are watching the Red Sox game.”

“Oh, are they playing overtime?”

“Extra innings, honey, extra innings. No, they’re not in extra innings. They’re on the West Coast, the Anaheim Angels, and they’re playing like crap. Let me talk to him!”

I handed the phone to Finn, shrugging my shoulders. “My wife wants to talk to you.”

Finn put on his best behavior. “Hello, Madam. This is a lovely place you have here.”

Unable to hear exactly what she was saying, but sensing from the tone and knowing my wife, she probably said something like, “No time for pleasantries.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he said. He straightened up and listened while I excused myself for a trip to the bathroom. Tea, just like coffee, is diarrhetic and, just like coffee, it keeps me running. When I came back, they had already finished their conversation, and he handed the phone back to me. His demeanor had grown more serious and not as relaxed as before.

I was curious, so I asked, “So, what were you two chatting about?”

The answer was not what I expected. “Domhnach na Fola.”

“Dom… What?”

“Domhnach na Fola,” she said.

“Domhnach na Fola,” he said.

“He’ll explain,” she said.

“We will get to that later,” he said.

My wife’s voice was warmer now, whether it was because of Finn’s charm or the assurance that he was not a ruthless villain invading her home and harming her husband, I’m not sure.

“He’s good. He knows his stuff,” she said. “You’ll have to tell me more when we come home. Have a good night, and I do love you! Most of the time, anyways.”

“I love you too!”

“And don’t forget to put out the garbage.”

“Will do.”

I put the phone back in its cradle on the kitchen wall and turned to Finn.

“Sorry about that. She can be a bit protective at times.”

“That is all right.”

I went back to the kitchen table to pick up my empty cup.

“I am not entirely sure why she married me, though,” I continued. “She is an avid Red Sox fan, and I know nothing about baseball. But when I dare to ask, she is the worst when it comes to explaining the rules.”

He laughed while I went over for another refill.

“You have two kids, right?” he asked. For the first time since his arrival he sat down and helped himself to a sandwich.

“Yes,” I answered proudly. “A boy and a girl. Kieran is six and Leah is three.”

He looked surprised. “Your son’s name is Kieran?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Oh, nothing,” he assured me. “Those are good Irish names.”

“Yes, they are.”

I felt tempted to ask him about his family, but yet another rule of our agreement was not to ask for present personal information.

He remained silent and, to keep the conversation going, I went on.

“Just yesterday my wife and my daughter had a terrible fight. I thought it was a little early for the everlasting mother-daughter conflict, but Leah decided to give her mother the worst-possible punishment.”

“And what is that?” he asked.

“She vowed to become a New York Yankees fan.”

He looked at me in disbelief.

“Well, I am not a baseball fan,” he said. “But I hear the New York Yankees are a fine team. On the other hand, I understand Red Sox fans are very dedicated to their team.”

“Oh, you have no idea!” I laughed. “I couldn’t care less, but my wife was mortified. I’m telling you, it can be a curse to have smart kids. They cause a great deal of trouble occasionally, and they do it with a passion, but after all, we love them very much.”

He seemed genuinely intrigued by my account of family life, but I felt that it was time to shut up and let him continue with his narrative. After all, I was dying to learn how he met his brother.

“As they say, love is a many-splendored thing,” he said. It appeared he was ready to resume his story.

Obviously, pacing helped him concentrate, so he stood up again and continued to walk back and forth in our small kitchen. He would stop occasionally to look at me, determined to maintain contact with his eager listener, his cup of tea never leaving his hand.

“I can say with the utmost confidence that I spent my childhood in a fairly protected environment, just like your kids do right now. My foster parents gave me all the love they had, and, believe me, there was plenty of it. Not being able to have your own children will either break a marriage or make it stronger. In the case of my foster parents, it made them stronger. When I came into their lives, they put all their strength and love into providing for me.”

He paused briefly during his never-ending pacing, wrapped both hands around the warm cup, and continued.

“I was in my mid-twenties when they died. I spent most of my time in Northern Ireland maintaining trouble for the British invaders. It was in May of 1976 when I received a message that Mary, my foster mother, was ill, and so I traveled back home. By the time I arrived, she was already dead. They found my foster father, Brendan, her husband of more than fifty years, dead in the chair right beside her bed. When she died, he lost the strength and the will to live without her, and quietly went with her. They had lived a simple life, not as dramatic as Romeo’s and Juliet’s, but their love was as strong and as true.”

He sighed and went on, “I myself was blessed to love and marry the most beautiful woman I had ever laid my eyes on. And when the wheel of life runs down, and if the mighty Lord allows, I want to be buried at her side at the place between the hills and sea.”

Anticipating the many questions that came to mind, he preempted me before I could ask.

“But I am getting ahead of myself. Where were we? Is there more tea?”

It was not only time for another refill but also time to start a new kettle.

“You were about to tell me about your brother.” I filled the water and put the kettle on the gas flame.

“My brother. Yes. You will need some background information, so bear with me.”

He cleared his throat and stood there for a few moments to collect his thoughts.

“When I was about ten years old, my foster parents sent me to visit some distant family members, Uncle Ryan and Aunt Bridget. Technically, they were not my aunt and uncle, but I had to call them that. They lived in Derry in Northern Ireland.”

Derry is commonly known as Londonderry, but, according to Finn, a true Irishman only uses the native Irish name, or, as he put it, “The name that was used before the dark forces came to town.”

I didn’t tell him that, ironically, New Hampshire has both a Derry and a Londonderry. We Americans do have the particular prerogative of dealing with such issues differently, but I didn’t dare to interrupt his monologue. He seemed well educated, so he probably already knew of the two towns.

“These visits to Derry became a recurring event usually a few weeks after New Year’s Day, and I had mixed feelings about it every time. I loved Aunt Bridget’s warmness, and I very much enjoyed our long conversations. She, too, was a staunch Republican. Her husband, on the other hand, avoided contact with me as much as possible.”

“He was a real bastard,” he remembered. “He treated me like dirt from the beginning, and I believe, if it wasn’t for Aunt Bridget, he might have liked very much to kill me. But then, he was also a disgraceful coward.”

Northern Ireland, during the time of Finn’s upbringing, was a place at odds with the rest of the civilized, Western world. The pride of defeating Nazi Germany was still remarkably alive in the United Kingdom and fighting Communism had become the prime directive. However, in contrast to the self-proclaimed image of defender of the free world, their halo paled as they turned a blind eye on the oppression of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland was a place where the treatment of the Catholic minority came with the foul stench of Kristallnacht, the night when the Nazis coordinated an attack on the Jewish community in Germany as part of Hitler’s anti-Semitic policy.

“Surely, in the history of humankind there has been no greater crime to humanity than the Holocaust,” Finn commented. “But the English shouldn’t be the ones to throw the first stone.”

The water kettle started whistling, and Finn, this time without asking for permission, went over to remove the whistle and turn off the flame.

“Well, I am not here to give history lessons,” he said. “I am sure you are familiar with the topic.”

As a matter of fact, I had just recently started to look into the history of Northern Ireland in more detail, starting with the Government of Ireland Act of 1920, but especially the development during the 1960s, the years that marked Finn’s childhood.

Forces within the IRA had begun to recognize the ineffectiveness of their own strategy and, consequently, they began losing the support from the people they were trying to free from British rule. The same period also saw the emergence of the Provisional IRA and the separation from the traditional IRA.

Another catalyst to the explosive, political landscape in Northern Ireland was an incident that took place in the Bogside area of Derry on January 30, 1972, most prominently known as Bloody Sunday. During a civil rights march on that Sunday, members of the 1st Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment shot twenty-six demonstrators. Thirteen people, six of whom were just seventeen years old, died at the scene, with five of those wounded shot in the back.

Bloody Sunday in particular strengthened the IRA’s position and resulted in the recruitment of a substantial number of new members determined to fight British rule.

While the study of such a tense, historical subject seemed promising, I found that good literature on the topic was difficult to come by. Most books were either politically tainted to an extend that their credibility had to be taken with a considerable grain of salt, or, to say it bluntly, the writing style utterly defies the basic rules of good and fluent readings. It is my firm belief that writing about history should not only catch, but also keep, the reader’s attention. Otherwise, the writing turns out to be a vain attempt to record historical events.

I felt discouraged after I had purchased and read several horrible examples from a myriad of available books on recent Irish history. One work in particular, written by a former member of 14 Company, at one time considered the most secret undercover operation of British Intelligence, was written in the style of an adolescent with an inferiority complex the size of Wisconsin describing a violent video game. Accompanying photos were plenty, and one of them showed an example of how a pistol was properly tucked into the backside of a woman’s jeans with the subtitle “A fine example of a nicely shaped butt.” A headshake is in order now.

All these thoughts raced through my mind at that moment, but I did not dare to tell my new friend and mentor. Admittedly, my present source on recent Irish history, Finnean Michael Whelan, may not have been the most objective, but it was certainly fascinating to listen to an eyewitness account of the time from someone who had a definite opinion and who stayed with the facts as he knew them.

Finn continued telling his story while he filled four more scoops of loose tea into the tin-pot. He did not bother dumping the old tealeaves we had used for the previous brew, and I was looking forward to the strongest tea I had ever tasted.

“It may not be polite to say,” Finn continued, “but I was not saddened when my so-called uncle died. It was during the wake when Aunt Bridget took me aside to confront me with the truth, the whole truth about my family.”

The steaming water made its way into the teapot, and we both stood there, side by side, watching the tea brewing.

“She said that ours were extraordinary circumstances, and, regardless of what I would hear from her and what other people might call me, I was to be assured that I was and would always be an Irish Catholic.”

He had stopped the pacing to take care of the tea but, while waiting for the tea to brew, he resumed his walk as he continued telling his story.

“She told me, ‘I always felt you should know the truth, but my late husband would not allow me to talk to you about it. Well, there is not much that he can do about it now, is there?’ ”

Ryan and Bridget Dunne were married for nearly eight years before they had their only child, a girl they named Annie. There were no other children, and Ryan made it abundantly clear who was to blame for the lack of another offspring, always reminding his wife that she denied him the son he felt he deserved. Their marriage decayed to a mere sharing of quarters, and they kept it that way to keep up appearances. Divorce was not a choice for an Irish Catholic couple, so Bridget focused all of her attention on raising their daughter, and Annie grew up to be a handsome woman.

At the age of eighteen, she married young Robert Byrne, who was learning the hotel business in Derry and whose father owned a hotel in Cahersiveen in County Kerry. After only a few months of living in Derry, they moved to Cahersiveen where Robert was to take over the business from his father. Annie became pregnant, and in 1950 she gave birth to their son, Seamus.

During the summer of 1951, Annie went to visit her parents who had not seen their grandson until then. Bridget had never approved of Robert, and Annie’s father, Ryan Dunne, didn’t care after all.

It was during that visit that uniformed forces of the RUC, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, raided the Dunne’s flat to evict them. A twenty-year-old Protestant woman, whose uncle was an RUC officer, had put a claim on their flat, because it was closer to her new job than her former home, and Ryan Dunne had ignored all previous requests to vacate the building.

“The RUC always was a Protestant force for Protestant people,” Finn added calmly and matter-of-factly.

They had come with a truck and a bunch of civilian workers whose job it was to remove the furniture and other belongings.

A young Constable, clearly in charge of the operation, stood near the living room window overseeing the eviction, occasionally shouting out an order or some instructions, but always keeping a keen eye on Annie. Suddenly, he moved toward her, took the baby out of her arms, and shoved him over to Annie’s mother. He forced Annie into her parents’ bedroom and closed the door behind them.

“Wait a minute!” I couldn’t help to cry out. “Annie was your mother!”

“Yes.”

“But that also makes the Dunnes your grandparents!”

“Right again.”

I opened my mouth for further questions, but, slowly and surely, everything became clear and made sense. A rape, even nowadays, is not something you want to share with the world. An abortion was not and still is not a choice for Irish Catholics. A solution had to be found, and their answer to the problem was to give the child away and hide the truth under a tight blanket. Finn watched me with a faint smile but didn’t say a word.

“How did you deal with it?” I asked. “I mean, that was a ton of life-changing information within a short time.”

“Oh, I got drunk, beat up some Prods – that sort of stuff.”

Prods is an offensive term referring to people of Protestant faith. At first I thought he was joking, but the smile on his face had vanished, and I realized he had spoken the truth.

“You said your mother was already dead when you found out the truth about your family,” I interrogated further.

“Yes, my grandmother told me that as well.”

“When and how did she die?”

He took a deep breath. “She died only a few years after I was born and whenever I asked about the circumstances of her death, I was confronted with a wall of silence. As my grandmother put it, ‘There are things in this life that should be left untouched. Let grief be a fallen leaf and take care of the living. You have a brother now.’ ”

He looked at me. “You already know his name.”

“Seamus,” I guessed.

“Yes.” He nodded. “My mother, just like your wife, had a fable for Gaelic names, and Seamus is the Gaelic version of James.”

By now the tea had been brewing far longer than necessary, but that didn’t bother Finn as he, yet again, filled both cups, and I used the extra time for more questions.

“When did all this happen?” I asked. “I mean, how old were you when you found out?”

“Oh, let me think,” he answered. “That was in January of 1969, just a few months before my 17th birthday.”

“You said your brother gave you your mother’s photo. Didn’t you ask your grandmother?”

Finn took a sip of the steaming tea and shook his head.

“I did ask her, but after the rape of my mother, Ryan Dunne, my grandfather, had destroyed everything that reminded them of her, including her pictures. As I said before, he was a strange and vengeful man.”

“A few days later,” he continued, “after my grandfather’s funeral, I traveled back home, but stayed only for a night. The next day, in the early morning, I was on my way to Cahersiveen. I had a small motorbike in those days, and the ride took only a few hours.”

The region around Cahersiveen is famously known for the Ring of Kerry, a string of roads leading around the Iveragh Peninsula. It had become one of the most visited tourist attractions of Ireland, but the beauty of the scenery was the last thing on Finn’s mind.

He stopped at a gas station in town, asking directions to the Byrne’s Horse & Jockey Lodge and recommendations for a cheap but decent place to stay overnight. He didn’t expect to be welcome at the Byrne’s house, and from what he had learned from his grandmother, he didn’t think he could afford to stay at their hotel.

While the town itself is close to the shores of the Bay of Dingle with a breathtaking view over Valentia Harbor, the Horse & Jockey Lodge was several miles inland. A long and winding driveway led to the beautiful building that was once commonly known as the Byrne mansion. It took only a few misfits in the family at the beginning of the twentieth century to exhaust the vast financial resources and force them to share their home, including horses and stables, with strangers.

When Finn arrived at the bottom the driveway, he stopped for a few minutes to admire the view, the magnificent mansion, the stables in the background and the busy traffic of riders and barn hands. He kicked the bike into gear and drove up the hill.

He saw a young man with dark hair, probably a few years older than Finn, who had just helped a young woman onto her horse. He came running toward him now, waving both arms.

“Would you mind turning that thing off?” he yelled at Finn. “You are scaring the horses!”

Finn complied immediately and apologized. “I am sorry!”

“That’s all right. No damage done.”

The young man looked at Finn, curiously.

“Well, you don’t look like you are searching for accommodation,” he said. “So, I am guessing you are looking for a job. Let me tell you right away, they are not employing any more help at this point.”

“I am not here for a job, but I do need to talk to the proprietor.”

“What for?”

“I am sorry, but this is strictly a private matter, if you don’t mind.”

“All right. I can bring you to the owner. Follow me.”

Finn pushed the bike to the edge of the driveway where he was certain it would not interfere with guests and horses. He followed the young man through the wide doorway into the reception area, where the only person present was a tall man in a black suit, white shirt, and black tie standing behind the reception counter and studying some papers.

“Excuse me, Sir,” the young man said. “This fellow here says he needs to talk to you.”

The man in the black suit looked first at Finn and then at the young man.

“What are you doing here?” he snapped at him. “Don’t you have business to attend to?”

“Yes, Sir. Right away, Sir.”

The young man rushed through the door to the outside while the man, who, according to Finn’s guess, was most certainly Robert Byrne, watched him leaving. Then he turned to Finn without looking at him.

“What?” he barked.

His brusque tone did not have the intimidating effect he expected.

“Well, Sir, let me first introduce myself,” Finn answered sternly. “My name is Finnean Michael Whelan.”

Byrne turned pale and, after a moment of digesting the impact of the statement, put his papers down and looked around to make sure there were no prying ears overhearing their conversation. Then, assured they were alone, he turned to Finn and, for the first time, looked straight into his face.

“What do you want?” he asked.

“Sir, you are obviously familiar with my name, and it must be obvious to you right now that I have come to know my true heritage. I know that Annie Byrne, your late wife, was also my mother. I am here to ask you…”

“I will not give you any money! Leave at once or I will have you removed by force!” Byrne shouted.

Finn didn’t show any intention to budge. “Sir, I am not here to ask for your money. All I am asking for is a picture of my mother. I would not bother you, but you are the only person who can help me. I asked my grandmother, but she was not allowed to keep any pictures. Also, I would like to meet my brother. Please, Sir, this is all I am asking for.”

“Leave, and leave now!” Byrne yelled at Finn.

“All right, Sir, but be assured that I will return.”

Byrne’s voice nearly choked. “Leave!”

Finn, surprised by the intensity, but not scared by Byrne’s emotional outburst, looked firmly at him and then, slowly, turned around and left the building. Once outside, he walked over toward his bike, but then he saw the young man who had helped him before. For a moment he thought about asking him for his brother, but, remembering Byrne’s threat, decided against it.

He called out, “Hey, can you give me some directions to the Lighthouse Inn?”

The young man looked surprised. “Why are you staying at that dump?”

“Well, obviously I cannot afford to stay here. Is it that bad?”

The young man nodded. “Oh, yes, it is. You can do better! Why don’t you go over to Durty McCarthy’s? It is a pub, but they do have some decent rooms for a good price. Ask for Ryan McCarthy. He is the publican’s son. We went to school together.”

He continued by giving Finn detailed directions to the pub. Durty McCarthy’s was on the other side of town next to the N70 motorway, which was part of the Ring of Kerry. The drive took Finn less than thirty minutes on his small motorbike. Ryan McCarthy turned out to be a helpful young man and the room he showed exceeded Finn’s expectations.

It was late afternoon. He stood at the window with a clear view on the Bay of Dingle. Somewhere over there, only a few miles away, was the farm of Brendan and Mary Whelan, the place he had called home. At that moment, he wasn’t sure anymore where his home was. He loved his foster parents, and he loved the place where he grew up, but his life had turned in a different direction, and he was not sure where that road called future would take him.

He had no plan for the next day, no plan for how to continue his quest if indeed it was a quest. He felt confused and decided that a nap until supper was in order.

It was already dark outside when he woke up. He went to the sink to splash some cold water in his face and combed his hair before going downstairs to the pub. The great number of people there surprised him before he remembered it was a Friday night. In the far corner of the pub, he noticed a session in full swing, two fiddlers and a young woman playing the accordion. A black-and-white television set was mounted high on a wall adjacent to the counter. It showed a preview of the weekend’s football, cricket, and rugby games.

“Hey, come over here sleeping beauty!” he heard someone yelling, and realized it was Ryan McCarthy tending the bar that evening.

“Have a seat right here,” Ryan said while pointing to the seat in front of him. “My mother will fix you a good supper, and I will work on a well drafted pint.”

The food was plentiful, and the afternoon sleep had taken the worry away from Finn. When he had finished the meal, he felt relaxed and in lively spirits. He sat there watching the world around him and enjoyed himself.

Later in the night, he saw the entrance door open and, to his surprise, the young man whom he had met earlier that day at the Byrne hotel walked in. Their eyes met and the young man made his way straight toward him. Without a word, he took the stool next to Finn’s.

“Hey, Ryan, get me a draught, will you?” he called out to the bartender who already had seen him. He came over with a full glass of beer.

“Enjoy, Seamus,” he said as he put the glass on the coaster in front of the new arrival.

Finn’s head turned around faster than he intended. With his eyes wide open, he looked at the young man, unable to hide his surprise.

Seamus turned to Ryan and said, “I see you have met my brother already.”

He pointed to Finn.

“You have a brother?” Ryan asked surprised.

“It seems that way, but that’s a long story and shall be told another time.”

Seamus turned over to Finn. He had a bright grin on his face, and he punched his fist into his brother’s left shoulder.

“Hey, brother,” he said. “Nice to finally meet you!”

Finn was still in shock. It took him a few moments before words came back.

“How did you find out?” he asked.

“Oh, I overheard your fight with my father.”

Finn recalled his conversation with Seamus’ father earlier the same day.

“I do not think he will much like you telling everybody,” he commented.

Seamus shrugged his shoulders. “There is plenty that my father does not like about me and, believe me, I have reached a point where I can live with that. By the way, I have something for you.”

His hand reached into the side pocket of his jacket. He pulled out an envelope and handed it to Finn, who opened it reluctantly. Inside he found two photos of a young and handsome woman.

“This is our mother two years before she died,” Seamus explained, pointing to the pictures. “Keep one of them and give the other one to our grandmother.”

He noticed Finn’s surprise.

“Yes,” he nodded. “I have met her a few times, despite my abrasive father. I like her very much, you know? But I did not know she did not have any pictures of our mother. She never said a word about it.”

Finn carefully placed the envelope close to him on the counter.

“So, brother, tell me,” Seamus asked, anxious to learn more. “Where do you live? Who are your folks? Please, tell me everything about your life.”

“Hold on¼brother,” Finn cautioned him. “Before we get to telling the stories of our lives, there are a few things I need to know.”

Seamus waited patiently, until Finn had summoned his thoughts.

“When and how did our mother die?” he finally managed to ask. “And, after all, where is she buried? I would like to bring some flowers, and…”

Seamus felt great sympathy for his younger brother’s emotional state, and he thought about the answer carefully.

“She died when I was about five years old,” he finally said. “I have only vague memories of her, but they are all good memories. She was a kind woman and a good mother.”

He sighed. “They told me she died after a long sickness, and while I believe there is a bit of truth in it, I had my doubts, but, honestly, I have given up asking. Everybody who knew her is keeping their silence.”

He took another sip of beer. “I am guessing you are here to stay a few days, right?”

Finn nodded.

“If you would join me for mass on Sunday,” Seamus continued. “After church we will visit her grave.”

He deemed it was time to change the subject, and he was eager to learn more about his brother.

“Enough of these dark thoughts for tonight,” he grinned at Finn. “Now, tell me about your life so far.”

Time went by quickly as they exchanged stories of their lives. Finn genuinely enjoyed his newly found brother, and the feeling was mutual.

Later in the night, while Finn was listening to one of Seamus’ childhood stories, he noticed an open door near the counter space, which he assumed lead to the kitchen.

In the background he spotted a young and beautiful girl staring at him. She seemed a bit younger than him. He could make out her large, dark green eyes, her small, pointy nose, her brown hair pulled behind her head, and her face full of freckles. She wore a white apron, yellow rubber gloves, and black rubber boots.

Their eyes met for only a few moments, but then, suddenly, someone he couldn’t see closed the door.

To his surprise he felt a pain in his heart. It was a feeling he had never before experienced. His heartbeat had increased rapidly, and his face had turned red.

Seamus looked at him, concerned by the sudden change in Finn’s face. “Are you all right, brother?”

Finn nodded.

“I am fine,” he lied. His mind was working frantically trying to fathom the newly experienced emotion.

He took a large gulp from his beer and Seamus ordered more.

“Good evening, Seamus,” came a female voice from behind Seamus’ back, and he turned around.

Finn felt like he was losing control of his bodily functions, felt like he was slipping from his chair, and he had to use both hands to hold on to the counter.

It was the girl from the kitchen!

She looked different, though. The apron and rubber gloves were gone, and the rubber boots had been replaced by pretty, shiny black shoes. She was wearing nicely fitting blue jeans and a red blouse. Her curly brown hair was flowing well beyond her shoulders.

Seamus smiled. “Good evening, Shauna. You are looking beautiful as always.”

How did she change so fast? Finn wondered.

Shauna looked straight at Finn. “So, who is your new friend, Seamus?”

“Well, Shauna, meet my brother.”

She is beautiful, Finn thought.

“I did not know you had a brother! Does he have a name?”

“Yes.” Seamus looked at Finn but didn’t get any reaction from him.

“His name is Finnean. I believe his friends call him Finn,” he said while watching his brother in amusement.

“Can he talk?”

“Oh, he did just a few minutes ago, but I’m not so sure anymore.”

He punched his fist into Finn’s shoulder.

“Wake up, brother! Say hello!”

“What?”

“Hey, meet Shauna, the publican’s daughter.”

“Hullo,” was all Finn could mumble. He was still staring at her.

She has beautiful eyes, he thought.

Her smile grew even larger. “Hello, Finn. It is a pleasure meeting you.”

They shook hands, and Finn slowly returned to life.

“Likewise,” he said and finally managed to smile at her. “You have beautiful eyes.”

It was her turn to blush. “And so do you,” she said.

Seamus rolled his eyes. “Oh, please!”

He got up from his chair. “Here, Shauna, have a seat.”

“Thank you, Seamus,” she smiled at him but turned almost immediately back to Finn, who, red faced, watched her every move.

“Well,” Seamus grinned. “It is refreshing to see, how quickly my little brother lost interest in my life.”

He looked back and forth at the two of them, and, without a response from either, he turned away and shrugged his shoulders.

“I will be over there,” he said while pointing at the other end of the bar. They didn’t hear him.

“Hey, Ryan. Draft me another pint, will you,” he yelled to the bartender. He took the next free stool at the bar and curiously watched the two lovebirds from afar.

What a day, he thought. First, he meets his brother and now, the way it looks, he has found the love of his life.