Thoughts Of An Emerald Isle
by Amanda B
Author's Notes: I've been sitting on this fic for a while now. It's a definite AU from the regular ATF scenarios that we've seen. Some may not like the content, so if the thought of past violence due to 'The Troubles' between the IRA and SAS/UDA disturb you, please don't read further.
And no, I don't agree with either side and find the entire situation deplorable.
Rating: A strong PG-13 or 14.
Disclaimers: I do not own "The Magnificent Seven" or its characters. MOG owns the Mag 7 ATF universe. I also have to say that despite this very political and controversial subject, I DO NOT support either side in the Troubles. I've just been interested in the subject since I first heard about it in 1984 on the CBC radio show, "As it Happens" (you gotta love the CBC!) Also, the history of the Troubles is way too long, so consider this to be a very abridged version of events as seen from our favourite undercover agent's point of view. I got the idea for this story after watching the DVD "U2 Live at Slane" and Bono's additions to "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (it's a little different from the "Elevation" DVD). I also used the names of (in alphabetical order) Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Ian Paisley and David Trimble without permission. Seamus and Danny O'Malley are of my own thoughts, along with Ezra's family.
Here I am, sitting in an uncomfortable chair in the 'glamorous' Kennedy Airport, waiting for a connecting flight to the emerald isle. I have in front of me, my carry-on luggage with its special cargo safely tucked within it.
I glance to see Mr. Larabee reading a western novel. My superior, brother and friend, insisted on accompanying me and while I initially protested, I am glad to have acquiesced. And consider what novel he wished to originally bring, I feel that the western is the better of two evils-though while I admit that there are many western books that are excellent, they will never replace Shakespeare. As for the Jack Higgins text for the overnight flight... Well, we do not need the delay going through customs, especially with my familial background.
I experience slight apprehension of going back there, particularly due to my reasons for doing so.
It began four months ago. My Mother whirl-winded into town and arrived at my abode at precisely seven o'clock in the morning. I knew that something was amiss due to the look in her eyes and demeanour. She seemed too... nice. Then when she apologised for dropping in on my unexpectedly-which she normally does-I definitely knew that something was wrong. As we had no case as of that particular time, and considering of how I had already finished and turned in my reports, I phoned Mr. Larabee and demanded a day off. He gave it a little too quickly, but then considering of how it was before 7:30 in the morning, it would not take a 'rocket scientist' to figure out that something was wrong. Especially as how I was awake with full senses on the go.
After showering and changing into something a little less formal than my usual attire-at my mother's request-I came upon her in the kitchen, putting my tea kettle on the table. At first, we spoke of non-descript subjects, then she dropped a bombshell on me.
After asking if she was sure, she replied on how she had seen two of the best oncologists in New York and of how both had stated the same prognosis. When she explained more intently of what had been discussed, I pounced on the aspect that both doctors had stated that the cancer could be slowed down with intense treatments of chemotherapy. I insisted that she be examined by an oncologist in Denver and at least begin treatments before deciding against them. Despite our rocky relationship, I did not want to lose my mother just yet. Contrary to what my teammates had previously thought, Mother had not always been that way. There was a reason for this change.
I remember Maude taking one long gaze at me; I could feel her searching my eyes for something, but I did not know what. Eventually she agreed with me. Two days afterwards, she had gotten in to see an oncologist who announced the same conclusion as his colleagues in New York did, and Mother began chemotherapy soon after. I had to explain to Mr. Larabee of the reason why I desired a lesser workload and he did agree. It was after that conversation in his office that the rest of the team soon began dropping in on my townhouse, looking after my mother, offering to drive to her to appointments, etc... Eight weeks afterwards, upon it being revealed that the chemo was not having any effect in slowing down the cancer, Mother opted to forego further treatments. I cursed, cajoled, tried emotional blackmail and finally cried to no effect. After hearing of her decision, the team also expressed sorrow but understood. They understood better than myself, especially Mr. Dunne, whose own mother had died of cancer.
With the cessation of the chemotherapy, Mr. Larabee took it upon himself to get Judge Travis to grant me compassionate leave. He also offered the use of his ranch for Mother and I to stay at for however long we wanted.
We took it.
It was nice being on the ranch. Mother was her 'real' self, the person whom she used to be-which dumbfounded the others at first. After all, they were used to the selfish, conniving Maude; not the mother who was loving, attentive and fairly carefree. This was the mother that I remember as a young child.
It was during one weekend that Mother asked if she and I could go riding on our own, just the two of us. I retrieved Chaucer and Clyde (whom Mr. Dunne generously offered) from the stable, gathered up some gear and went off into one of the pastures. We were nearing the stream when Mother slowed down, came to a halt and got off of Clyde. I followed suite with Chaucer and walked to the bank as Mother sat down beside it.
Then she began to talk.
She spoke of my father, her beloved Phillip, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and of what she wished for me to do after her death. She wished to be cremated and for her ashes to be spread in the stream on the farm of one of my great-uncles in Ireland; the same stream that my parents were married by. It surprised my co-workers that evening when they heard this, but we were originally from Ireland, Northern Ireland to be more exact. Mother was born and raised in the West Belfast neighbourhood of Ballymurphy from birth until the age of eight when her family moved to Georgia. There, they lived for eight years before moving back to Belfast. Mother had quickly adopted a Southern accent while Stateside, for she had been mercilessly teased due to her Irish accent. My father on the other hand, was from the Northland Road area in Derry-or Londonderry as it is officially pronounced on many maps. From these neighbourhoods, one could easily tell which religions my parents were affiliated with. Ballymurphy was a Catholic neighbourhood, while Northland Road was decidedly Protestant. They had met in an economics class at University of Dublin, Trinity College. I recall Mr. Dunne wondering aloud of how Maude Aoife Pearse ever began speaking to Phillip Eric Standish. With her eyes smiling in memory, Mother replied of how she had been the better student, and that it was my father who had gone to her for help.
Despite of how the Troubles were beginning to brew once more-they had for the most part, remained dormant from the 1930's to the 1960's-my parents had no love of sectarian politics, and had become friends, but later found themselves falling in love. However, for two years, they had kept this from their respective families, especially considering how both sides of the family became deeply entrenched in their specific 'side.' Mother's family was staunchly Republican while Father's was Pro-Stormont/Pro-British. According to my Grandma Cuimhne Pearse, both families had near conniptions and forbade the proposed marital union from ever happening. The Standish's wanted nothing to do with the Republican Catholics Pearse's and the Pearse's wanted nothing to do with the, 'uppity no- good Pro-Stormont' Standish's! However, despite all of this, Grandma Pearse and Grandma Eunice Standish did become good friends (albeit while they were hesitant to converse with each other at first, they eventually came around).
The families, upon seeing of how they were driving their children away, reluctantly caved in to 'allow' the marriage to occur. Then the hostility began of which Church they were to be married in, thus whether it would be officiated by a Priest or Minister. It was my Great-Uncle Caeoimhin who finally offered his farm as a marriage site (after much bullying by Grandma Cuimhne), and there would be both a Priest and Minister to officiate. There was no reception as my parents did not want to risk a fight their respective families, particularly my uncles. My parents moved to Derry where Father worked for the City of Londonderry and Mother taught Economics at the University of Ulster, Magee College in Derry. Our house was in a mixed neighbourhood near Foyle Road, surrounded by the Bogside, Brandywell and Fountain areas. Mother and Father wished-and emphatically told their families-that they did not want to choose sides, and if pressed to do so, then they would leave Ireland and cut themselves off from their families. It would hurt, but they wanted no part of the Troubles whatsoever.
This did not mean that they were not politically active-for they were-but not in a sectarian way. They had been members of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association-NICRA. Despite the fact that the association was later filled and directed by those either in, or had sympathies with the IRA, NICRA originally had quite a number of Protestants in their ranks who were incensed of how the Stormont Government treated the Catholics, from housing to voting (at one point, voting was tied to housing and the latter was gerrymandered by the commissions in certain key areas, to keep Catholic votes low).
I was born a year later on August 12, 1969, during the Battle of the Bogside, as it is now called. With thousands marching in the Apprentice Boys parade and little organisation in keeping the crowds restrained; not to mention the fact that tensions between the two factions were... well, 'strained' would be putting it mildly. Then again, the Royal Ulster Constabulary did not help matters by standing by, watching as many on-lookers threw stones at the marchers--with some constables joining in--on William Street. Also, with the anger that many within the march were feeling, they were ready for a fight. The Loyalists looking on and their taunts did not help the situation as well along with the IRA. Needless to say that everything was quite complicated and the hospitals were chaotic on the eve that I was born.
After two years of intense family arguments was I finally allowed to be baptised, and it was that of Catholicism. While we could be seen at St. Eugene's every Sunday morning, we also attended St. Columb's Anglican Church with my paternal grandparents after the first Mass. For a while, I thought that it was normal to attend two churches on Sunday, at least until I learned better.
I was three when Bloody Sunday occurred. My parents wished to witness and take part in the march because of what it stood for, a protest against internment without trial. We left when my father noticed the large gathering of soldiers on William Street and so we turned onto Ross, as the parade organisers said. However, many kept going along William Street. Between 3:30 and 4:10 pm, chaos reigned. When my parents heard the gunfire on William Street, they were afraid that it may spill onto the meeting point, so we left. This is a subject that was deemed to never be spoken about by the families in my presence. Mother would not allow it.
But despite what many would think, violence did not occur on a daily basis, or even a weekly basis. We got up, went to school and work, ate and slept, played, visited friends and family, went to the movies and swimming and even shopped, to name a few activities. While violence did happen, we would continue on with our lives. Most of the time, the Troubles did not affect our immediate family, except for a couple of incidences with the first happening when I was a toddler. I remember being told of how the RUC's and SAS surged into our house one morning during breakfast, and dragged my father off to an internment camp, hence the reason why my parents were quite interested in the Bloody Sunday march. The RUC's and SAS did the same for Uncles Aidan and Owen Pearse, along with Uncles William and John Standish. Aidan and Owen were with the Provos-or Provisional Wing of the IRA-while William and John were with the UDA. Contrary to what most think, the British interned not only the IRA, but also members of the UDA as well. However, most of the people who had been interned were not with either 'side;' they just knew people affiliated with either side, or else some were interned by mistake. My father had been interned for five months before he was released. We never found out why he had been taken. We assume that it was due to familiar relations, but could not access his file to determine the exact cause. Uncle John was interned for four months and Uncle William for a year. Uncle Aidan was also interned for a year, while Uncle Owen got out in eight months. None of them received a trial before being interned.
The second time that the Troubles invaded my immediate family was when the 'incident' happened. I had been eight at the time.
I had been riding my bike on my way home from my friend Eamon's house, in Bogside.
I remember seeing a black van.
I remember hearing a noise which I had come to know as gunfire.
I remember feeling pain. I remember being in pain.
Then I do not remember anything at all.
Apparently, members of the UDA who had been in that said van, had been high and bored. They decided to show those, 'Provos Catholics were was boss.' At least, that is what I overheard later on.
And I was an unfortunate victim, along with one other person who had been shot in the leg, as well as several houses, fences, cars and one garbage can.
From what I gathered, I was not too far from Mrs. O'Reilly's who had been friends with my parents. She came out, saw me and had her son call for an ambulance. According to both grandmothers, everyone was at the hospital with the Pearse's on one side of the waiting room wall and the Standish's on the other, both sets of uncles were glaring at one another. My maternal uncles became uneasy when members of the RUC came to speak to Mother and Father. The constables had interviewed Mrs. O'Reilly and had received a description of the van. From the tone of the senior constables' voice, they were 'fairly' sure of who owned the van and from they way he was speaking, everyone knew that nothing would be done about it. This ticked off all of my uncles-especially the Pearse's. Luckily they said and did nothing as the junior constable had been looking for any reactions. But this did not stop Uncle William. He left for a few hours.
From what I overheard later on as my uncles discussed those few hours with my parents -who had demanded to know everything - Uncle William had spoken to one of his RUC friends and found out to whom the van belonged to and realised why arrests would not be forthcoming. Two of those in the van were related to high ranking UDA 'soldiers', while the last man was with the RUC. Uncle William had then gone to the UDA CIC of the area but could not get them to 'deal' with my attackers. However, this was not the first time that these particular men had done something quite public and thus were beginning to become an embarrassment. After some discussion a decision had been made; Uncle William would go to Uncle Aidan-a known IRA 'soldier'-and give the information on who was responsible for my requiring life-saving surgery. While this may have seem strange to many who had been told and taught that the UDA and IRA had nothing to do with each other except for killing one another, this was not so. There were times when the two collaborated with each other, such as supplying information to one another when a member of their respective side grew a bit 'cumbersome' and therefore required to be dealt with. If, for some reason, they could not deal with their own member, they would inform the other side of the 'soldier's name and of where he could be found at a particular time. These opportunities were rarely not taken advantage of.
Uncles Aidan and Gearoid went to a contact of the main Derry cell and told the CIC of what had transpired and of the validity of what had been passed onto them. I overheard later on that Uncle Aidan himself did the 'job' as he pulled rank, seeing as he had been an enforcer at the time though not being from Derry.
Mother, Father and I left Ireland a year later. My parents decide to move to Atlanta, where my father was granted a scholarship to pursue his Ph.D. in political science. He was killed by a drunk driver a year after the move, while he was on his way home from the campus.
That was when Mother changed. She did not want to be without her beloved Phillip, but had no choice. She had me to raise.
I have always loved Ireland and miss it, but not the Troubles. I despise it in how it has divided my family. While I love my aunts, uncles and cousins, I detest the way I feel pressured of making a 'choice' of whom to 'support,' as it always happened whenever we visited. I hate that and refuse to do so. In this aspect, I am immensely relieved that Mother sent me to all of those boarding schools and not with the family that I love so much. It used to tear me apart hearing the politics and not-so-subtle suggestions.
After public school - or private school as they are called in America - I went to Harvard. It was acceptable to both sides of the family. There was - and is to this day - a large Irish presence, as Mr. Dunne can attest to. There were also supporters from both sides, although there were more pro-IRA supporters than anything else. I remember finding a nice pub with some classmates and enjoyed going there. At least until I went there one evening and was greeted with a NORAID function. I felt the need to leave and turned around to do so when the pub owner, Seamus O'Malley came over to me. He handed me a letter that was from my Uncle Gearoid. I gazed at him in confusion, seeing my uncle's handwriting. Seamus looked at me with understanding and brought me to the back, but not before pouring out two pints of Guinness, and telling Danny - his son - of where we would be.
Just by thinking about it, I feel like I'm back there, sitting down, looking at my pint after I had placed the glass on the desk before me. Then Seamus is there explaining to me that another customer had recognised me from one of my visits to Belfast. Apparently, he had made some inquiries and gotten facts before informing Seamus - of why, I still do not know. Seamus then mused of how he could not imagine of how I must feel, but of how he could empathise; being caught between two worlds, two religions, two politics. And I felt dense. I could not comprehend - and still cannot comprehend -of how I had never noticed before then that the pub had a decidedly, 'Up the IRA' feel to it. Or maybe I did, but refused to whatever reason, to fully comprehend this. But I remember looking up and asking if any other of his regular patrons knew of my family situation. Lord, some of those men loved to gossip as much as they claimed that their wives did!
I was mortified when Seamus replied, "Nearly everyone." I wanted to run and hide, to never show my face anywhere in Boston. Then Seamus furthered that it had been ordered that I was to be treated as I had before, that I was not to be forced into choosing a side; and that when speaking to me, they would not mention the Troubles or my family. Although, I have to admit that not everyone did; Sean Ryan would call me a 'half-breed' every so often. However, Seamus continued that I must love all sets of uncles, aunts and grandparents equally, as evidenced by the fact that I visited and stayed with all of them, when in the North. He also said that I was a good lad, and that he respected my parents for keeping me out of the Troubles as best they could. He furthered that he respected them for letting me have the option of staying out, or 'joining' up should I have felt the desire to do so. I could have replied that my parents drove it in me that both sides were filled with undesirable aspects, was one reason why I should stay out. But it was mostly due to the fact that they taught me that violence only begets more violence and that Northern Ireland would never find peace, would never find a way to resolve its Troubles, until that violence was settle. They nicely set aside the fact that my uncles were part of that violence. However, it was mainly because I loved my family and I had seen what it was doing to them. I did not want to be part of that.
I still went to the pub after that night, but Seamus or Danny always notified me well in advance of when there would be NORAID function. I usually either went to another pub that night or did some homework, but I always made plans to be elsewhere.
When I ponder on the subject, I wonder about several things. The first is how we were ever allowed into the United States. I guess that it was due to the fact that we arrived in 1979, before the Reagan/Thatcher alliance. It could also be due to the fact that my parents left NICRA when the IRA garnered too much power in that organisation. Another point to wonder is how I was even able to join the FBI. I suppose that they did not do a thorough background check on my past or my family. But that is ludicrous; they must have as it is standard procedure. Perhaps they correctly assumed that I had - and still have - no loyalties to either side. Then again, seeing to whom I was related to would certainly raise questions, especially seeing as how federal agents were always at NORAID functions - including the lone one I went to that night by accident, ergo, my name must be in a file somewhere, especially considering how my some of my Uncles Owen and James had prison records. And I definitely know that my name had been mentioned at other functions as well, because I was seen as a 'novelty,' so come to think of it, I would probably have a file all of my own. That alone should have impeded my entrance in working for the government.
I close my eyes. This line of questioning always gives me a headache.
I feel someone looking at me. I open my eyes and turn to its source.
"You okay, Ez?"
I nod. He continues to gaze at me, concerned, than goes back to his reading.
We will be staying with my grandparents and all of my aunts and uncles, or at least those still alive. There are times that I wish that I did not have to do this, but that is not the family way of doing things. Also, this is my way of reiterating that I choose no side. Eventually we will go to Great-Uncle Caeoimhin's farm and spread Mother's ashes in the same stream that we did for Father's, much to the horror of his side of the family.
I think about how grateful I am that there is the Good Friday Agreement, but that does not mean that everything will be - or has been - 'hunky-dorey,' as Mr. Wilmington puts it. There have been times when the Agreement has been threatened, and to be honest, I am of the opinion that it will be like that for quite some time. But, according to my grandmothers, it is working to a certain degree, though this can be negated with the Orange Day Marches and the IRA refusing to publically destroy their arms. I had tried to explain this to Mr. Tanner, who caught onto most of it, but not all. Only Josiah and JD truly understood the tenuous situation. Mr. Sanchez, due to the fact that he had spent some time in Ireland and got to know the 'politics of the Troubles'; Mr. Dunne, due to the fact that he grew up in Boston and that his grandparents 'knew people.' He did not further the explanation. He did not have to and in retrospect it is probably best that we don't know.
Uncle Owen will be picking Chris and myself up at the airport, and it is at this thought that I think of how the Troubles have truly affected my family.
Uncle Aidan was killed in his house by 'unknown men' using military precision. According to the neighbourhood, some of the 'men' were mostly likely SAS and/or UDA, but probably the latter. Uncle William had been murdered in a grisly way by the IRA, that I sometimes get nightmares over just remembering it. Both had sons join up with their 'respective organisations' soon afterwards. Aidan's son, Sean, was caught in an IRA safehouse with explosives to be used on the local military barracks and put in Armagh Prison for ten years. He only got out two years ago. William's son, Greg, was lucky enough that he had never been caught and even remained alive. But what I remember most is how both uncles had 'grand funerals' (the organisations' term, not mine), attended by the 'dignitaries' of each organisation; Adams and McGuinness on the one hand, with Paisley on the other. I dislike attending funerals as a rule, but for Uncle William's... Needless to say that for Mother and myself, while we were glad that we were under 'protected status,' it did not prevent us from feeling that others present saw us as the enemy.
"Ez?" I cease my thinking and turn to my boss. "This book won't last me the rest of the trip. Want to come with me to the bookstore?" I nod, get up and grab my carry-on, with Mother's ashes inside and follow Chris. "And don't worry, I won't get a Jack Higgins novel - at least one involving Dillon." At my glare, he smiles. "You gotta lighten up a bit."
I can only shake my head.
I wonder what my family will think of Mr. Larabee and vice versa. I also ponder if I should mention to him that the reason why his hard glares have no effect on me, is because that it does not even come close to those of my uncles. All of them.
My surviving uncles are now in politics. Uncles Gearoid and Owen represent Sinn Finn, with Uncles John and James representing the Unionist Party. Both parties know of how my uncles are acquainted and most find the situation to be half-amusing. Others such as Ian Paisley find the situation mainly horrifying and therefore, distrust my uncles to a certain degree. Tensions will always remain, but according to my grandmothers, none of them want to blow each other heads off anymore.
As we enter the bookstore, I wonder how Mr. Larabee would react if I stated that there is a chance that both Adams and McGuinness will be at Mother's memorial service along with John Hume and David Trimble?
But most of all, I wonder how they got Great-Uncle Caeoihmin to even agree to have a memorial dinner at his farm with Protestants attending it?
If you enjoyed this story, we're sure that Amanda would love to hear from you.
IRA - Irish Republican Army
Officials - Official Republican Army. They remained in Northern Ireland after the split but were more prevalent in the South.
Provos/PIRA - Provisional Irish Republican Army. After 1969, the IRA split with the Provos/PIRA becoming the more radical/active of the two groups. They were prevalent in the North.
UDA - Ulster Defence Association. Formed in the 1970's. It's precursor was the B Specials
B Specials - Group of Protestant militants against the Catholics getting more rights in Northern Ireland.
CIC - Commander in Charge
NICRA - Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.
RUC - Royal Ulster Constabulary.
SAS - Special Air Service. Is now considered to be a British special anti-terrorist force. It was mostly because of the situation in Northern Ireland that they honed in their anti- terrorist craft.
St. Columb - An Anglican Church in Derry/Londonderry, County Derry, Northern Ireland
St. Eugene's - A Catholic Church in Derry/Londonderry, Country Derry, Northern Ireland.
NORAID - The Irish Northern Aid Committee. It's an organisation based in North America that Dillon - Sean Dillion is a character in some Jack Higgins novels. He is a former IRA enforcer who left and after being rescued from a Serbian prison, began working for the British government.
The part of the 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' song by U2, "Live at Slane" DVD that made me think of this story (along with my Irish History course).
Put your hands in the sky
Put your hands in the air
If you're the praying kind
Turn this song into a prayer
Put your hands in the sky
Put your hands in the air
No power troops
No petrol bombs
We're not going back there
Put your hands in the sky
Put your hands in the air
As we thank the brave men
Who made a brave choice.
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