From 16 September, ‘Burke in Ireland’ will be just 99p on Kindle for five days. Sales of the Burke books have fallen off a little over summer so I decided to do a price promotion on one of them and, from an admittedly limited selection, this was the one readers came up with.
‘Burke in Ireland’ is quite a good place to start reading the series. Although the first book, ‘Burke in the Land of Silver’ begins with Burke’s experience in the French army before he even started fighting for the British, ‘Burke in Ireland’ tells the story of his first adventure in espionage. It’s so early that the trusty William Brown, who plays a major role in all the other books, only arrives in this one at the end.
‘Burke in Ireland’ is the darkest of all the Burke books, reflecting the fact that England’s military occupation was an uncomfortable period – one that reaches across the centuries to the Troubles and England’s longest ever military operation. The English rigged the courts and, if that failed, were happy to use torture and brutality to maintain control. French agents were actively spreading sedition and the English countered them with a network of spies of their own.
Burke, Irish by birth, is plunged headlong into this world of plots and counter-plots. He finds himself sympathising with many of the Nationalists but shocked by the thuggery of some of their leaders – a thuggery that he is soon caught up in as he seeks to penetrate their organisations.
The story centres on the breakout of Archibald Hamilton Rowan from Dublin’s Newgate prison in 1794. Hamilton’s escape combines face and tragedy in equal measure. It’s a story that is completely true, but difficult to believe. I give Burke a role in the escape which goes some way to making it more credible. Who knows? Perhaps British agents were involved which might explain how a rebel leader was able to just walk out of gaol and make his way to France (where the French promptly arrested him).
Burke’s experiences in Ireland go some way to explaining his cynicism later in his career. It’s an important story in his life and a fascinating glimpse into the history of Ireland. I hope you enjoy it.