top of page

The Scorching Wind

Macken, Walter

London: MacMillan


The Scorching Wind

Plot Summary

The novel begins in the West of Ireland around 1915. The main character, Dominic Duane, is about to begin medical studies in Dublin, and wants nothing to do with the politics permeating his country. His father, who is widely known for his Republican tendencies, is displeased with his son’s lack of passion for politics. However, he is nowhere near as angry at Dominic as he is at his other son, Dualta, who has just joined the British Army.

During Easter week in 1916, Dominic’s father is imprisoned; local police suspect Mr. Duane may have something to do with the rising in Dublin. While in prison he contracts pneumonia and he dies soon after he is released.

The death of their father engenders a change in Dominic and Dualta and, in the months and years following, they both become implicated in the Republican movement. For Dualta—who has retired from the army as a result of an injury—this change is almost immediate; Dominic, however, becomes a part of more and more attacks as he witnesses more and more injustice. By the time the Treaty is signed, he has been both imprisoned and tortured, and one of his closest friends has been killed. Having been through such ordeals, he is disgusted at those on his side who have chosen to sign. He feels that the Republican leaders have too easily given up the chance to finally be free from Britain. Dualta, however, decides that he has seen enough and chooses to join the Free Staters.

The novel ends directly after Dominic leads a raid against a house being guarded by the Free Staters. In the fracas, Dominic discovers Dualta’s body and realizes with horror that he may actually have been the one to have killed him. Distraught, he loads his brother’s body into a car and makes the journey home to face his mother.

Main Characters

  • Dominic Duane

  • Dualta Duane

Significant Minor Characters

  • Finola Brady

  • Lowry

  • Sam Browne

  • Poric Murray

  • Peter Flaherty

  • Sergeant Nick

  • Morgan

  • Skin

  • Mac

  • Fourcoats

  • Joe Two

Publication History

The novel, which is the third book in Walter Macken’s Irish Trilogy (the first two are Seek the Fair Land and The Silent People), was first published in hardcover and paperback in 1964 by MacMillan (London and New York). MacMillan (and its subsidiary Pan MacMillan) reprinted the book several times: in 1965 (London and New York—hardcover), 1969 (paperback), 1971 (London—paperback), 1972 (London), 1976 (paperback), 1978 (London—paperback), and June 1988 (London—paperback). In 1969, Pan Books (London) also published all three books in the Irish Trilogy together in one paperback volume.

The novel was also been published outside of MacMillan, by the Irish Book Centre (New York—paperback) in June 1966 and by Britain Books (London—paperback) in December 1966. According to one bookseller, by 1972 the book had already reached its 13th printing. It is currently in print through Pan MacMillan.

bottom of page