I’m delighted to be welcoming Lindsey Allister to the blog today.
Lindsey thought that where she called home was the most boring place ever … until she started researching local history for Newtownards in the Great War. Lindsey’s sharing an extract which has intrigued me. I want to find out more! Enjoy.
Before the Great War began, Ireland had already began to take up arms. Conflict and political unrest was at the forefront of everyone’s mind as the country was trying to liberate itself. Newtownards was to become the centre in the eye of the storm which would shape the country for the next hundred years. But when War threatens the lives of countless people, it was the men of Ulster and Ireland that answered the call. Newtownards in the Great War tells the tales of the men and women who were prepared to sacrifice everything they had in order to be free from persecution and serve their King with pride. From the beginnings of the UVF to the division of Ireland, Newtownards and the Ards peninsula held the secrets of the men and shaped the world in a way no-one thought would be possible.
Newtownards in the Great War by Lindsey Allister is published by Pen & Sword Military and is available to purchase in paperback format.
I had never planned to write about history. If you had asked me what my plan was 20 years ago when I was a smart mouthed teenager, I would have told you I was going to be an artist (which I was briefly), I was going to travel the world (which I didn’t), and I would be living in Paris in my 30’s, sipping coffee and smoking thin cigarettes in quiet cafes with the smell of bread and pastry hanging in the air. Obviously I haven’t done that either. Instead, I’ve had babies, gotten married and remained in the town that I believed was the most boring place on the face of the planet. Apart from the possibility of getting blown up (it was the 90’s and the Troubles were still a thing), nothing exciting ever happened. But you know what they say, it is always the quiet ones that are full of surprises. Newtownards is as quiet as they come.
As I was researching my book, Newtownards in the Great War, I discovered so much about the little town that I thought was boring. There had been murder, scandal, and plenty of things that people were hoping that would be forgotten. Here is an extract about a murder that shook the town to its core.
“Murder most foul
William “Willie” Quinn was a 23 year-old young man who was well known and liked in the town. But on 14 February, the town was shaken with the news that he had been murdered outside his home at Flush Hall. He had lived with his step father Samuel Heron, Samuel’s wife, and Samuel’s son. Flush Hall was located on the Scrabo Road at the base of Scrabo Hill, not far from the Mayne family home of Mount Pleasant on the Belfast Road. Three years after the death of William’s father, William’s mother had married Samuel Heron. After her death, Samuel had become William’s guardian, and he had remarried again. The family tree had become slightly complicated because of the deaths and marriages over the years.
Shortly after midnight, Mrs Heron, Samuels new wife whom he had married a few years after the death of William’s mother, heard something outside the home. She was woken from her sleep and when she went to investigate, Mr Heron came in through the front door. She believed the noise was dogs fighting outside, and after her husband had assured her it was nothing, she returned to bed. It was a few hours later that she would be woken again, this time by the doorbell ringing. This time it would be William she would meet at the door. Badly beaten and bloody, William had crawled from the garden to the front door and rang the bell before he collapsed on the porch. William had been walking home after meeting some friends in a public house in the town when he was attacked just outside his home. When he walked through the gates at Flush Hall, he was attacked and brutally beaten by someone who was hidden in the darkness. When he was found by Mrs Heron, she saw immediately that Willie had been badly beaten. He was covered in blood and dirt from the garden.
Mrs Heron summoned the doctor and the police to the house immediately. When the doctor arrived, William claimed that he wasn’t drunk and he hadn’t seen his attacker. At first, he believed he was the victim of a robbery as his silver pocket watch was missing. But the watch was later found in the garden where he had been attacked. With no other items missing from him, it became clear that he had been beaten for a far more sinister reason. But who would want to hurt such a lovely young man? With no suspects or witnesses the police had very little to go on. Even William didn’t know who had hurt him or why.”
See what I mean. What? Why? Who? 🙂
Lindsay Allister was born in Belfast and raised in Newtownards where she discovered how the unremarkable history of the town shaped everything that she knew. She studied at Movilla High School in Newtownards and remains active there as a parent. She is currently a freelance writer who has worked locally and nationally with various papers. She discovered her love of history after her father made her take part in the Brownie Guides history badge project. She is currently working on various projects including her blog, lattelindsay.com and her fantasy novel series.