1:Long Island. September 1904
Liam Vessy is an old man reflecting on his life, a process that invariably leads him to remember his friend Finbar Blake. Liam recalls how they met at the mass rally of Daniel O’Connell’s supporters at Tara in 1843. How he realised from their first conversation that Finbar was a ‘man of the big picture.’ Visionary, exciting, fun to be around but without doubt, a liability to have as a friend. After studying together at Trinity College Finbar had decided that gaining independence for Ireland was always going to be more fun than being a lawyer. The old man chuckles at the realisation of how Finbar had saved him from a life of comfort and security, exchanging it for the opportunity of becoming a lifelong fugitive after trying to kidnap the Queen of England.
2:Dublin. Winter 1847
Finbar has returned to Dublin to take up his final year at Trinity. His Catholic family are relatively shipping merchants in Galway. In his first two years at college, Finbar had been living in comfort at Liam’s family home. Vessy Bank was one of the oldest in Ireland and when Liam was dispatched to an overseas secondment Finbar decides to move into lodgings. He immediately becomes friendly with a fellow lodger, Tom Mangan. Mangan, in his mid-twenties had recently resigned a career commission in his father’s regiment, the Connaught Rangers. Mangan is gregarious and good company but secretive about the ‘project’ he is working on. Finbar has taken up an offer made to him the previous term by Gavin Duffy, the Editor of the ‘The Nation, ’ to be a part time contributor for the nationalist newspaper. Finbar makes a name for himself writing a critically controversial obituary for Daniel O’Connell. He follows up with a hard-hitting piece about not placing hopes for support for Irish independence coming from the new revolutionary government in France.