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Ballinger, W. A.

Howard Baker



Plot Summary

The novel begins at the start of the 1916 Rising, depicting the frenzy inside the GPO as the building is taken over by rebel forces. The subsequent chapters flash back and forth between the past events leading to the rebellion and the present events unfolding at the GPO.

Margaret Kingston, an extremely wealthy young woman from County Cork, initially met Declan O’Donovan when she helped him hide after a raid on some ammunition wagons of the British Army. Intrigued and later seduced by O’Donovan, she calls off her engagement to Major Thomas Greyson and joins the rebels. But when Greyson and his men intercept an illegal consignment of arms, he finds out about Margaret’s involvement with the rebels. In the same episode, O’Donovan and his friends are identified by Greyson and only narrowly escape death.

By the time the Rising breaks out, however, Greyson is also in hiding; news of his broken engagement has made its way back to the money-lenders who were depending on Margaret’s riches for the repayment of Greyson’s debts. Stripped of his title and trying to remain invisible in Dublin, he happens upon a group of British soldiers who have lost their captain. The unknown soldiers are unaware of Greyson’s status and so he lies about his rank and demands that they follow his orders.

Marching around Dublin in an attempt to be part of an act of heroism that will make the courts forget about his debt, Greyson finds O’Donovan and the Kilcroom Brothers, who are outnumbered by the British. He locks them all in a cellar and tortures Margaret for information; when she refuses to talk, he starts on O’Donovan. But O’Donovan is not used to pain, and he quickly succumbs to the blows, riddling off a series of names and addresses and betraying his cause. Gleeful, Greyson leaves the cellar to deliver the new information, shooting and killing O’Donovan on the way out. Moments later, he too is killed by a sniper’s bullet. The novel ends with a hopeful oratory of Terence McKeon, who changes the story of O’Donovan’s death and makes him a hero.

Main Characters

  • Declan O’Donovan

  • Terence McKeon

  • Margaret Kingston

  • Major Thomas Greyson

Significant Minor Characters

  • James Connolly

  • Patrick Pearse

  • Peadar Casey

Publication History

The novel was first published in paperback by Mayflower-Dell (London) in 1966. Subsequently, it was published in hardcover as a Howard Baker library edition (London) in 1967. Novel is currently out of print.

The novel is an abridged version of Ballinger’s The Men That God Made Mad, which was first published in hardback in 1966 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (New York). Subsequent paperback and hardback editions were reprinted by Putnam (New York) in 1969; in the same year, it was simultaneously published in hardback by Longmans (Toronto). This novel is now out of print.

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