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The Rising of the Moon: The untold story of the Irish potato famine PT 4

The stench of desperation had soon become more distinct as time went on and being accustomed to the ever present hollow sensation in my stomach. It wasn't just the hunger that we felt all day in and day out, but also the underlying tensions between all of Donegal and the Campbell’s as well as the other landlords. An aggressive strain that only needed one match to spark one explosion. According to Conor O’Brien, business was meager and at nights, riots broke out in bakeries and food stands to get what they could salvage. Up north rebellions had indeed sprung up most and aid would most certainly not on our way for taking the Ulster Castle. Rumors fluttered how the Brits were hoarding food as well as ammunition behind its walls. Mr. Connolly as well as the other Ulster Reds was keen on overruling them and returning the castle back into its rightful hands. These plans went on for days with endless strategic planning and attacks and maneuvers as well as also the supplies. “They have always had traditional of their way of fighting.” Mr. Connelly stated. “The marching in those ridiculous red coats already too obvious to the eye! But, if our ranks are small, our only true motive that may work is hit and run. Our hope would be to pick off any officers, Let the British run amuck, attack and take the Castle by force!” We all trained with vigor with the few weapons we could salvage, preparing with blades if we have the need to handle them in combat. The motions were simple, but with one false move, a life could flash before your own eyes. It soon became time where we planned an attack on Saturday night. “How will we know when?” Seamus asked. “By the rising of the moon,”Mr. Connolly replied swiftly. “It’s imperative we attack, with or without backup. May God help the man taken by the British.” We all drew our heads in solemn agreement. Every Irishman knew it was better to be dead than alive when it came to the British. The men drank their beers for a toast. “For Ireland and all her children!” Conor bid me good day as we saw each other off. I promised to be brave, and he promised to off the head of Officer Davies himself. I laughed despite his ambitious goals and he looked at me earnestly. “Fianna, when it comes to the fight tonight, we must be prepared to make sure that one day, Ireland will be put back into the hands she was made for.” “The day will come soon, don’t you fret.” I saw him walk off, hoping it wouldn't be the last time I laid my eyes on his old fisherman sweater with the stench of the sea. That day, I prayed with meaning, for my own family, for Coilin, for the Ulster reds fighting up north, and of course starving Donegal. I looked around at these remaining gaunt soldiers with slim faces that hunger has given us all. We were only bags of skin and bones with too much to lose and now Ireland herself hung in consequence. This battle would no doubt begin its course today.
Ma watched us with a wary grim face as we gathered in our attire. I dressed in an old pair of Seamus’ trousers and a black jumper with a musket slung over my shoulder ammunition cartridges lining my pockets. “Fianna, you stay out of rough brawls, and if you are defeated, you run for it. Do you understand me? I want you to run home away from this ruckus!” “Ma! There’s going to be a long ruckus, and I volunteered to fight, and so I will be in it until the Brits are yowling for mercy!” My pregnant mother gave me an intimation of a smile and kissed the top of my head. “Make me proud, eh? For all the O’Callahans!” Seeing my father and brothers prepared to leave she went to Pa giving him a long embrace. “Angus, I want the lot of you to come back home in one piece, please. That’s all I ask.” The long trek to the Ulster castle was tiring and extensive. As we saw our fellow Ulster Reds waiting for us in the forest bordering around the castle. A flash of red and a long shiny gun caught my peripheral vision. Mr. Connelly began his lecture.“Alright lads, their weakest part is down the Western wall; they barely have any men there and it will be simpler to enter and storm the castle. Remember, they are easy to spot, but harder to fight. Do not be reckless.” He spoke with caution eyeing my devious brothers sternly. The half moon was glowing ominously in the sky as we slowly made our way to the castle. I waited for Mr. Connelly’s signal, and went with Conor to the southern point of the western wall. The British officer looked unaware and standoffish. I signaled Conor and fired the first shot putting the officer on guard as he scanned the grounds and called to another Brit. Conor fired the second shot that caught in the soldier’s arm. The Brit cried out in alarm and a fire of continuous gunshots echoed as Conor and I moved out of the targeted area and heard the answering shots from the Ulster Reds’ side. We moved in on the perimeter of the castle and saw the inner defense falling as redcoats began flooding out of the castle. Connelly screamed and fired at a Brit on horseback as we attempted to pick off the redcoats. Several rebels from the meetings began dropping like flies, but we persevered and kept shooting. A few who ran out of ammunition began grabbing long blades trying to gain ground by combat. We kept shooting until a cry for retreat was issued. I was bloodied, and my clothing was in tatters and even though there were several bullets left, the Brits were gaining on us. Searching for Conor, I came up with the desperate conclusion that I was alone, which was not pleasant news. “Fianna” I squinted to see a mangled figure limp after me through the smoke from the rapid gunfire. “Hello? Conor, you there?” “You git, it’s me Seamus. Pa’s okay, I think but I still can’t find Kevin.” Seamus’ voice sounded foreign as the world felt increasingly unstable. “What do you mean you can’t find Kevin?” I peered at Seamus’ ruddy face. “I can’t find my bloody brother! Ma’s going to have my head,” he moaned. Seamus resembled walking death after only a few hours of fighting, and looked like a decrepit bag of skin and bones. “Well come on then! Stop wasting your breath; look for him!” Seamus and I scoured through the remains of the forest spotting glimmering glimpses of redcoats. We stumbled over a few unknown men who could barely be identified through the scruffy tatters until Seamus saw Kevin’s cap on a branch of a tree. “But where in the bloody hell is Kevin?” he growled. Gunshots reverberated overhead and the screams of fighting Irishmen bellowed around us. “Oi O’Callahan! Don’t step on me I can’t feel my arm!” We glanced down to see Kevin’s familiar red hair that could make the Devil himself jealous. “You bloody fool!” Seamus cried in relief. “Thought I lost you, mate. War isn't a sight for ordinary men to see. I saw old Connelly get blown.” Another flash of as redcoat drew closer as I silenced my brothers. “Find Pa, we need to leave now, we’re going to leave alive.” Slowly we clambered through the woods, but a redcoat kept on drawing close. “Bloody hell, that scum’s trailing us.” “Seamus, we’re this close to getting out, shut your-“ Seamus leaped out of the way and fired blindly at the lone solider. The unaware redcoat got shot, and collapsed to the ground. Cries of arriving Brits sounded as we rushed away from the forest, with a limping Seamus screaming bloody murder. “It’s ours, ya hear? Our land, you bloody scoundrel!” We clambered up the hill away from the ruckus, only briefly forgetting that one person wasn't with us. “Pa,” I breathed. “We forgot Pa.”



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