Posted tagged ‘Terrorists’

The Ribbon of Death

March 2, 2011

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It had been a few months since we last held a meeting. The authorities had cracked down hard on our activities and our band of disenfranchised rebels was dwindling. As I still retained my membership I was summoned to an extraordinary reunion of the Ribbonmen.

The venue chosen brought tears to my eyes. It was in this holy place that I said a final goodbye to my kid brother. Everybody loved Gerry, from the little kids to the old rummies. He never got mixed up in schemes of Nationalism. Gerry was always exploring, on the move making new friends but the Good Lord had taken him in the prime of his life.

This land, our land, is exactly as the poets portray: windswept, wild and free. Villages and farms and people and livestock might well have been invisible such was the width and breadth of our Emerald isle. If stealthy enough, it was relatively easy to go unnoticed. Using discretion I made my way to the nocturnal meeting with a detached mind. My brother’s death had changed my attitude towards the nefarious actions my society had perpetrated in the past. I admit there was a tang of jealousy that his temperament, different from mine, made him a better man than me.

At length I arrived at the parish chapel. Greeted by fellow holders of the green ribbon I was presented to the Captain, the leader of our brotherhood, who offered me a glass of whiskey.

“Drink, comrade to your good health then join the others as we take the sacred oath.”

Memories of Gerry flooded my thoughts and I could not concentrate on the Captain’s words. Shuffled in the middle of a pack of fifty Ribbonmen, I felt lonely and yearned to go home. My lamentable ruminations were in contrast to the sinister sermon being preached from the pulpit. This ended and was replaced by fiendish yells as the house of God turned into a congregation of shrieking satanic hordes. Armed with sticks, spears, flaming torches, guns and pistols the doors of the chapel were thrown open and the braying mob made their way onward with fury. Trapped in the middle of the mass, in the squeeze I was catapulted headlong against my will.

Guiding the swarming rats over peat bogs as the rain cried Mary and Joseph; the Captain led his troupe of creatures to a house that I knew: the abode of Gerry’s friend, Andy Lynch. The Captain’s every feature represented a death mask of malignant revenge. Using a combustible he enveloped one side of the house in flames. A few Ribbonmen stepped back when they heard the raging cries of anguish inside and one of them tried to snuff out the fire. Pistols full of vengeance were pointed at the liberator.

“Any man who shows mercy will be a corpse,” declared the Captain “I want to hear Lynch scream. He will pay for the fire in his loins. Kill them. Kill them all.”

The realisation of why we were here dawned on me. A rumour had started that Andy Lynch was conducting an affair with James Connelly’s wife. James Connelly was the Captain. Our organisation was mutating as it seemed we no longer just poured violence on the occupiers. Connelly had made this personal, not business. And a searing perception like a flash of lightning hit me. Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone; it’s with Lynch in the grave.

From a blazing window the burning heads of Andy Lynch and his wife screamed in agony. Bayonets from the incensed Ribbonmen pushed the couple back into the fiery elements of thick flames. Filled with sorrow I hung back and moved to the side of the house that was less engulfed with the inferno. From a small bunker in the ground I heard movement. Digging from the burrow was a child wearing a dress blackened by soot. Her exposed skin was burned through to the bone. Hiding Andy lynch’s daughter in my long cloak I moved away from the carnage.

The angry arsonists were too engrossed in watching the bonfire and whooping with delight when a part of the house fell to notice that I had removed myself from the scene. Cradling the girl to safety I put her down on our soft forgiving soil. I could feel the ghost of Gerry at my side.

“Run, little angel. Run far, far away.”

I watched as the tiny figure departed into nothingness on the horizon leaving only one fixed image that waved as if saying goodbye -the pink ribbon that fluttered in the little girl’s hair.

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This is based on a true story by William Carleton which can be found here.