On Thursday 13th March 1997 at 4.43am, my Great-Uncle, a former British Army Officer by the name of Jerome Hegarty, passed away in a care home for the elderly and infirm in Coventry, England.
Among his material assets at time of death were an extensive collection of diaries, personal correspondence and official reports detailing a great number of episodes and events which he found reason to be involved in through his time on earth. It is a point of severe disappointment that some of the letters written by my Great-Uncle remained in the possession of their intended recipients and so only letters and postcards received by Captain Hegarty are amongst this collection. More happily I have discover that the ongoing correspondence with his wife, my sadly deceased Great-Aunt Emily Hegarty, is in a rather more complete state and seems to contain a far more clearly illustrated depiction of events.
After tiresome and unpleasantly drawn-out legal wrangling, I have been declared the sole heir to his assortment of self-produced literatures and have taken it upon myself to publish the most interesting of the old fellow’s work in the hopes it may inspire former colleagues, comrades or associated individuals to step forward and reveal more information about the man. Failing that, I hope a younger generation find the stories, no matter how wild and unverified, entertaining in some small degree or possibly even inlightening as to the former way of the world.
As such, please see attached for the first materials detailing a story of death, corruption and intrigue in the Irish Sea. I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy of the below document’s claims as attempts to verify the accounts have not been warmly received by various authorities, but can say I believe the original author to have been a brave and honest gentleman with little reason to fabricate.
All spelling and grammar are the original authors own and any annotations will be marked as such. For any enquiries or to provide information you believe relevant, please contact me through the appropriate channels.
Dr. Roderick Clarkson-Hegarty, Fellow of Anthropology, St Andrews University
Monday 4th April, 1921.
My dearest Emily,
I trust this letter finds you well and that the weather is rather more pleasant than that which I have endured over these last few days. I am pleased to report my safe arrival on my latest job this evening.
Once again I wish to apologise for the poor timing of my being called away but we have spoken about the nature of my work and as such I do hope you will understand and trust we will rearrange our tour of the Southern coast for later in the summer.
Any frustrations you may hold in this regard are shared at this end. It has been a frightful bother trying to this far flung and most foresaken of isles. St. Domhnall’s, indeed. In all my travels I haven’t heard the name and the few hours I’ve been here have displayed little reason why I should have done.
Regrettably, there wasn’t much opportunity to explain why I was called away for this assignment so I will try to provide some details.
You may recall around Christmas there were a few articles buried away in The Times and The Daily Mail covering some rather heavy handed raids by Commissioner MacReady’s Mobile Patrol Experiment (n.b, these days more popularly known as The Flying Squad) in Hackney and East Ham. Recalling these articles, the journalists rather vaguely indicated it was in line with the units remit to crackdown on organised gangs of petty criminals, con artists and general law breaking rif-raf. Now I have no reason to suspect this new unit don’t have a fine new collection of pick-pockets and postage stamp forgers to boast of, but from the meagre slivers of information I was able to pry from the agent who collected me from Liverpool Lime Street station in Saturday, it seems the honourable Mr MacReady may have been answering to some form of higher entity. If this agency is from a political office or strictly within the confines of the domestic intelligence network (n.b, MI5?) with whom I am currently employed, I am not wholely clear.
At any rate, it is my current understanding that the breaking up of these East London criminal networks was in fact a rather convient cover for the investigation of more sinister goings on, Communist and Trade Unionist activity no less. Perhaps this explains the liberal indulgence of violent force on the part of the arresting officers.
My escort on the journey onwards from Liverpool seemed rather pleased with himself to reveal that the raid led to the discovery of a veritable treasure trove of documentation, plans, diaries and written communications, within which was gleaned some information connecting these urban cells with highly sought after individuals within the Irish Republican movement, with specific mention of St. Domhnall’s Island.
And so, I have been summoned into duty and dispatched, via train, motor-car and ferry, to the Irish Sea to follow up on these documented connections and investigate if there is any case to proceed with and, if there is, which organisation would be best suited to pursue it.
My travel from London to Liverpool was wholly uneventful. I have developed a rather fun game to play on these journeys, to watch those around me and see if I can identify any of them as carefully planted “minders” who have been carefully positioned to monitor me. I don’t believe I’ve spotted any so far, but it keeps a mind mildly entertained on long journeys.
As mentioned, there was one “minder” who was quite easy to spot. A humourless young man called Bellamy who had been attached to collect me from Liverpool Lime Street station and even accompanied me on the ferry trip.
The chap cannot have been more than 25 years old but my word was he the most begrudging of travel companions. It took a great deal of probing and needling around the topic to extract any useful information out of him. They must be training their new recruits to mighty high standard at Whitehall Court these days. It did strike me however that a man of his years and occupation may well have been in France or Belgium when he was but a youth, which could go someway to explain any dourness in his nature. he brightened up somewhat when we got onto the topic of the East London raids, suggesting that activity was a point of pride. Maybe Bellamy was the overseeing officer?
The ferry brought a welcome chance to separate myself from the pocket of Officer Bellamy, as well as to get a word with some locals, both from the mainland and the Island. I know it saddens you to hear but I copped a few odd comments and queer looks. Possibly they were drawn by the Saville Row overcoat you gifted me this past Christmas! Certainly it stood out against the fisherman’s overalls and weather beaten farmers coats. Although I do concede my colouring is a few shades darker than they are used to in these parts.
Despite their unwelcoming expressions and rather gruff tones, they seemed moderately open to discussion. I learned I had caught a very important ferry, as this was the journey back from having negoiated that years agreements with butchers, cheese producers and wool merchants on the mainland, securing the island’s financial well being for the rest of the year. As such there is to be a traditional annual festival held in the coming days to celebrate this fact, which I understand is to be a major event. I will have to see if I can make the time to attend!
Now, as I was “on the clock” I did make a note of the names and faces I spoke to. These will have to form my first points of reference as I make sense of whatever happenings I will encounter out here. I wasn’t able to get any sense of anyone who might have been out of place, or might fit the description of the supposed terrorists I have been sent to uncover.
It was a short journey to the island and upon landfall Bellamy bid me adieu, advised I make myself down to the village pub to find my lodgings for the next week and to be prepared to deliver a report by the same time next week.
Emily, St Domhnal’s is a most frightfully dreary isle, to a degree which surely goes above a mere case of April showers! It is almost unlike any climate I have experienced before. Naturally, I anticipated that a craggy island in the Irish Sea would be a far sight less temperate than our visit to the Caribbean last summer, but I had not banked it being even more turgid, damp and grey than Flanders! Skies were grey as our boat crossed the sea but as soon as we landed, the heavens opened and rain came down frightfully. Me and my fellow passengers hurriedly made our way off the modest pier and into the narrow streets of St Domhnall’s village. The others seemed to barely flinch from the rain, so presumably it’s a common experience for locals as they seemed to shrug it off and disappear into their houses.
I on the other hand, had the misfortune of having to locate The Bronze Bull public house, which was at the far end of the street. I was soaked through to the skin by the time made it up to the bar and spoke to the owner, a balding, gaunt chap called Owen McManus.
He had been expecting me, although of course under a fictitious name and occupation, but advised me that arriving so late in the evening, especially with such miserable weather, meant it would be prefable for him to show me the village in the light of morning. I readily agreed and asked to be taken to my room for supper. He was perfectly obliging, but I was dismayed when he told me my lodgings were to be a small, stone outbuilding, set some 200 metres up a hill away from the rest of the village!
It is from this very fixture that I currently write to you. It is a bitterly cold excuse for a house despite my valiant efforts to ignite a fire and feels as though it offers little protection against the winds, which howl and bite through the walls. Mercifully, it does keep the rain out and I was able to get some form of fire going, which is currently drying out my overcoat. It is largely bare aside from a wire cot and mattres, wooden table and small wardrobe. McManus provided a small hamper with food for tonight and tomorrow morning, as well as a bottle of locally brewed ale. Although i am grateful for these rations, I will be missing your cooking while on this trip.
It is disappointing to be so cut off from the rest of the village, especially as this island is so far from the mainland. I miss you terribly and will be thinking thinking you constantly. I will write to you tomorrow, provided I have news. The grim atmosphere of this island has damped my mood and confidence considerably. Tomorrow I will begin my investigations, although into what and of whom I am currently somewhat unsure of.
Regardless of what goings on I uncover on this cursed isle, my main hope is, as always, to return to your arms safe and well.
All my love, endlessly,