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An Excess of Love

Spellman, Cathy Cash

New York: Dell


An Excess of Love

Plot Summary

When Elizabeth FitzGibbon’s sister Constance (Con) runs away to Dublin to marry the poor fisherman and aspiring poet Tierney O’Connor, she becomes caught up in her new husband’s involvement in the IRB. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s own marriage to the aristocratic Edmond Manningham leaves her lonely and disappointed. Her life also becomes intertwined with the IRB when, on an extended trip to Dublin, she falls in love with one of Tierney’s friends, Seaneen O’Sullivan. The two engage in a torrid love affair and Elizabeth bears her fifth child as a result.

In the years leading up to the Easter Rising, Con and Elizabeth are arrested; in prison they stage a hunger strike. After the women are released, Tierney and his son Tahg become involved in many of the IRB’s attempts to gather ammunition. On one of these gun-running missions, Tierney is caught by the Coast Guard and imprisoned. When the police make Tierney witness the torture of his friend Tommy McGowan in an attempt to glean classified information, Tierney—not wanting his friend to suffer but also not wanting to divulge any IRB secrets—tries to grab one of the officer’s guns, but he is outnumbered and fatally shot.

Con is stationed with Eamon de Valera at Boland’s Mill during the 1916 Rising; Tahg and Seaneen are at the GPO. When it becomes obvious that they are fighting a losing battle, Seaneen is ordered to try and escape to the countryside, where he might gather reinforcements. When all is over, all three are miraculously still alive, although Con is imprisoned. Elizabeth decides to go live with Seaneen permanently to take her rightful place in the IRA. In this capacity, she attempts to break her sister out of prison, but Con is killed when she shields Elizabeth from a bullet while they are escaping.

In the years after the Rising, Seaneen commands rebel forces in Tipperary while Michael Collins—with Tahg right behind him—continues to fight for Irish freedom in Dublin. In the meantime, though, Elizabeth’s oldest son Winston begins a campaign to capture and kill Collins and his men. Jealous over the beautiful actress Kitty O’Neill, he shoots Tahg. His younger sister, Angelica, is enraged by this and sets a trap for her brother; when he tries to hurt Tahg again, her own IRA friends are positioned in the shadows and they shoot Winston to death. In the ensuing years, when Collins attempts a political truce with the British, he enrages his more fanatical followers and is killed by his own men. Seaneen, sympathetic to Collins’s moderate stance, is saved from a similar death when his son is killed trying to protect him.

Main Characters

  • Elizabeth Manningham (née FitzGibbon)

  • Constance O’Connor (née FitzGibbon)

  • Tierney O’Connor

  • Seaneen O’Sullivan

  • Tahg O’Connor

  • Winston Manningham

Significant Minor Characters

  • Countess Constance Markievicz

  • Eamon de Valera

  • Michael Collins

  • Sean O’Casey

  • Angelica Manningham

  • Sean O’Sullivan (née Johnny Manningham)

Publication History

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