Before there was the novel, there were the stories...

by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at

Monday, May 18, 2009

Old Stories: Shannon's Journey 767 AD

f I remember correctly, I did this diary for Shannon because I was on some sort of trip myself, perhaps moving from Sacramento, CA, to Chicago, IL. That puts the accuracy of the month in doubt, but it's all relative. And I think you get to meet a bunch of Shannon's relatives in this one.

The most significant event of this story is the introduction of the virtually iconic Rory McGuinness, who was named also for a character in The Proud Man..

September 767

September 1 - This morn I awoke with Heather at me side. Long I held her to me, for I could hardly bear to leave her. But go I must, so the woman and I arose. I dressed and took a hasty meal. Me saddlebags were packed and me horse saddled. (I was only taking a mount t make me journey shorter.) Heather came out to the courtyard, where I kissed her, silently cursed Sean O'Connery, bade goodbye to me sisters (1) and rode away. That day, otherwise, was uneventful.

The purpose of me journey is to

(a) bring home me illegal son, Seamus and
(b) to encounter me father in Dublin and avenge me mother's grief and death.

I spent the night at a nobleman's manor, me services as a minstrel for an evening in exchanged for food and a bed.

September 2 - I arose early this morn and rode southwest in Alba (2) for Holy Loch. I was able to engage a ferry to Erin. When I was on board, who should greet me but Rory McGuiness. He learned in surprise of me marriage, and that of dear Ronald and Kathleen. We spoke happily together of Erin, both excited for to see home again.
Rory had been in alba a three-month, while it to me was a four-month I had been fro Erin. When we saw Erin's rocky coast in the glint of dawn, we could not conceal our joy.

September 3 - When the ferry had landed and the plank was down, Rory and I rushed out to kneel down and kiss the sand. We got our horses and rode together to Red Bay, where the Scot MacDonnell lives, in Antrim. There was great feasting and celebrating in our honor. I got very drunk and was helped to bed. It was nearly dawn.

September 4 - Dozing off, I felt someone put a light weight on the bed. Then I felt a warm, soft body press against mine. "Heather," I thought absently, but suddenly it occurred to me that she was not with me. I leapt up, naked as I was, and swore. The wanton, a young, fair female, rose in haste, threw half her clothes on and scampered away. Rory McGuinness was at the door roaring with laughter. "Ah, me big, red, O'Neill! Ye must be ill!" He ducked a blow and left. I slept until late morn, and we'll have more celebration tonight. I shall get drunk again.

September 5- Aye, drunk again. I was, but loyal. Heather seems to not know that tho' 'tis not against honor to take a woman when ye are single, it's truly a crime if ye are married, and are bein' unloyal to your spouse. Even an O'Neill. Tonight, another feast, but tomorrow morn, Rory and I shall set off for Dublin. We'll spend as long as I need there, then off to Connemara to get Seamus, and a stop in the region of the Burke clan, then Dungannon, Red Bay, a ferry, the Highland man's manor, and then home. Rory'll stay with me all the way. Oh, how I miss ye, macushla.

September 8 - Yet in Dublin. Not much has happened in the last three days. Oh, how I miss Heather! Me dreams are solidly of her. Sure an' Irish girls are the most beautiful in the world, but Heather is an angel, the most beauteous of them all.

September 9 0- 'Tis Rory McGuinness writing for the O'Neill for he is laid up with a broken arm and three broken ribs. He met up with his father, found out the true story of his birth (illegal) and fought. We've not seen this father again.

September 18 - I have mastered me left arm to write. We are leavin' for Connemara on the morrow. I will see me son who, strangely, I love dearly. Heather is truly a saint to take him. She does not realize me love for her. I wish she did. But, fare well.

September 22 - Plenty has happened to me in the last several days. I hardly know where to start. Of course, Heather has never written. I am angry with her. The second day of our journey here to Connemara, we stopped at a small inn. A bawd came up to me and asked if I wanted a nice, clean place to stay. I answered her, "I had a nice, clean place to stay, but I came here!"

Next, I wanted to say that I have seen wee Seamus. He called me "Daddy" a couple of times, and seems to like me. I love the child so, and am remorseful for the way in which he was beget. But there is nothing I can do now, but give him a home. Third, I shall make thee happy(?) announcement that I am to be excommunicated, for striking a bishop, along with what has gone on all me life. Me father was excommunicated. I hope Heather will have me after this.

September 30 - Och, it has been a month I've not seen her. By Padraig I shall surely shrivel up! But I will be home soon, I'm in Wales now, in Trelane, with Lawrence. He has changed, and I like it not. 'Tis an evil change. He hath little heart. I believe it must be his wife did it. I have heard, and I only, from him of his iniquity. He hath and betrayed his wife. And she only reproaches him.

Ah, women. Like I've said, worthless the whole lot! Heather will do this to me, Emily to Sean, Kathleen to Peter. I take it for granted the only reason my mother did it not to me father is because he was never there to have it done to him, and her loved her not, so 'twould not work. But I care not, I do love. I was just a while ago thinking of the group of four boys I once was one of. There was me, Lawrence and two others, Gregory and Christopher (3). I made predictions that Lawrence would succeed, and I would be the happiest. I was right. Here Lawrence is King, I am a gay troubadour, Gregory was tortured to death in war, and Christopher went mad with a girl having jilted him. Now I see Lawrence on the verge of insanity, and I fully expect to die in this new feud. I am to go to Ratherwood in a few days to meet the Queen. I hears she is a most beautimous woman. I'll not stay long, for both my sake, and McGuinnesses' Well, I must go.

October 7, 767 - McGuinness and I are in Ratherwood now. When we first came, the Queen was all sorrow and loneliness, but word came from her dear husband and has almost been making us ill with her gaiety. She's turned the castle inside out to clean it and get it ready for him. She weeps when I sing me love songs.

She is very beautiful, and a wonderful woman. Sometimes I am tempted to kiss her, and Rory says he feels this, too. She is beloved by all, and tho' awhile ago I cursed her for what was happening to Lawrence, it takes someone like Erik to be on his side often knowing the fair Queen. At times I fell if I were not wed, and Josephine were not wed also, I would ask her to be me wife. But, I be happy in Heather, and lover dearly. And the Queen, tho' obviously weak to Rory's, Erik's and me presence, loves and wants Lawrence. I envy him his bed. I shall be leaving soon. The war in Erin has been delayed by talks, so I may have more time with me family.

October 14 - Home I go in a few days. This will be the last entry of my log, so I'll fill up the page.

Seamus doth grow inpatient for a mamma now. He's beginning to doubt I really mean to give him one. But Jo is substituting well, and little Peter is a wonderful brother for him. But soon he'll have a real one, or at least a half one.
McGuinness has decided he is madly in love with Jo, The Queen. That'll ne'er do!

Well, truly I have naught to say but that I will soon be happy in the arms of me love!

Shannon O'Neill


(1) I can only guess this should be "sister" and refer to Shannon's sister Kathleen. She is married to Sean's brother Peter. None of these people made it into the novel.
(2)Scotland, where it appears Shannon set out from, making remarkable time.
(3)I have no memory of Gregory or Christopher.

Sounds like a map is in order.. tomorrow.

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About the author

Nan Hawthorne now writes under the name Christopher Hawthorne Moss. You can contact Christopher at .