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There Will Be Fighting

O’Donnell, Peadar

New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons


There Will Be Fighting

Plot Summary

When Catholic Republican family Godfrey-Dhus decide to buy Montgomery's store (having spent significant time and energy fixing it up) bitterness ensues among Orangeman families who themselves have descended from the Montgomery’s. The Godfrey-Dhus soon notice that their nods are not being returned by neighbouring farmers; Orangeman Sam Rowan and The Knife (Brian Godfrey-Dhu) get into a brawl. Then, late one night, Hugh Godfrey-Dhu is badly wounded in his own bedroom by the sniper Billy White.

Meanwhile, Home Rule is on the doorstep for County Donegal, and those of the middle class begin to queue up for the offices to be given out. Other men, however, call on the people to push forward in arms for complete separation from Britain: the result is the violence of the Easter Rising in Dublin. Everyone at the Lagan comes out strongly against the perpetrators of the Rising, who they see as the enemies of Home Rule, except for the Godfrey-Dhus and a few of their servants. With his republican leanings, the Knife becomes a known enemy within the Lagan. One night, the Godfrey-Dhu home is raided by police, and when he tries to escape, Billy White shoots at the Knife. The Knife is quicker than White, though; the latter is left wounded and the Knife goes immediately the run.

However, it isn’t long before the Knife runs out of places to hide. Eventually, James Burns—having taken one of the aforementioned positions offered up at the onset of Home Rule—catches up with the Knife at the apartment of Doctor Henry, who is actually an Orangeman wishing to simply lend a hand to a friend. He and the Knife are imprisoned and tortured. Having no evidence with which to charge them, Burns tries to figure out a plan. When one of his own men accidentally shoots another, though, he is presented with the perfect solution and arranges to have the shooting blamed on his two captives.

Before their execution, however, the Knife’s younger sister Nuala convinces Sam Rowan to help her plan an escape for the wrongly accused. Willing to do whatever will make him a hero in her eyes, Sam throws his politics to the wind and agrees to involve the Orangemen. On the morning set for execution, he, Nuala and his men wait until the Knife and Doctor Henry are paraded outside, where they stage a violent break against the police. Afterwards, everyone escapes into the back woods and mountains.

Main Characters

  • Sam Rowan

  • Nuala Godfrey-Dhu

  • Brian Godfrey-Dhu (“The Knife”)

  • Doctor Henry

Significant Minor Characters

  • Billy White

  • Hugh Godfrey-Dhu

  • James Burns

  • Nora Dan Sweeney

  • Dan Sweeney

Publication History

The novel was published once in hardcover by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (New York and London) in 1931.

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