Ireland For Ever
by James Owen Hannay
An Extract from
Our Casualty And Other Stories
Lord Dunseverick picked his way delicately among the pools and tough
cobble stones. He was a very well-dressed young man, and he seemed out
of place amid the miry traffic of the Belfast quays. A casual observer
would have put him down as a fashionable nincompoop, one of those young
men whose very appearance is supposed to move the British worker to
outbursts of socialistic fury. The casual observer would, in this case,
have been mistaken. Lord Dunseverick, in spite of his well-fitting
clothes, his delicately coloured tie, and his general air of sleek
well-being, was at that momentit was the month of May,
1914something of a hero with the Belfast working man. And the Belfast
working man, as everybody knows, is more bitterly contemptuous of the
idle rich, especially of the idle rich with titles, than any other
The Belfast working man had just then worked himself up to a degree
of martial ardour, unprecedented even in Ulster, in his opposition to
Home Rule. Lord Dunseverick was one of the generals of the Ulster
Volunteer Force. He had made several speeches which moved Belfast to
wild delight and sober-minded men elsewhere to dubious shaking of the
head. Enthusiasm in a cause is a fine thing, especially in the young,
but when Lord Dunseverick's enthusiasm led him to say that he would
welcome the German Emperor at the head of his legions as the deliverer
of Ulster from the tyranny of a Parliament in Dublin, why thenthen
the rank and file of the volunteer army cheered, and other people
wondered whether it were quite wise to say such things. Yet Lord
Dunseverick, when not actually engaged in making a speech, was a
pleasant and agreeable young man with a keen sense of humour. He
evenand this is a rare quality in mensaw the humorous side of his
own speeches. The trouble was that he never saw it till after he had
A heavy motor-lorry came thundering along the quay. Lord Dunseverick
dodged it, and escaped with his life. He was splashed from head to foot
with mud. He looked at his neat boots and well-fashioned grey trousers.
The blade slime lay thick on them. He wiped a spot of mud off his cheek
and rubbed some wet coal dust into his collar. Then he lit a cigarette,
He stepped into the porch of a reeking public-house and found
himself beside a grizzled man, who looked like a sailor. Lord
Dunseverick turned to him.
Can you tell me, he said, where Mr. McMunn's office is?
Is it coal you're wanting? asked the sailor.
It is thus that questions are often met in Belfast with
counter-questions. Belfast is a city of business men, and it is not the
habit of business men to give away anything, even information, without
getting something in return. The counter-question may draw some
valuable matter by way of answer from the original questioner. In this
case the counter-question was a reasonable one. McMunn, of McMunn
Brothers, Limited, was a coal merchant. Lord Dunseverick, though a
peer, belonged to the north of Ireland. He understood Belfast.
What I want, he said, is to see Mr. Andrew McMunn.
I've business with Andrew McMunn myself, said the sailor, and I'm
going that way.
Good. Then we'll go together.
My name, said the sailor, is Ginty. If you're intimate with
Andrew McMunn you'll likely have heard of me.
I haven't But that's no reason why you shouldn't show me the way.
It's no that far, said Ginty.
They walked together, sometimes side by side, sometimes driven apart
by a string of carts.
If it had been Jimmy McMunn you wanted to see, said Ginty, you
might have had further to go. Some says Jimmy's in the one place, and
more is of opinion that he's in the other. But I've no doubt in my own
mind about where Andrew will go when his time comes.
You know him pretty well, then?
Ay, I do. It would be queer if I didn't, seeing that I've sailed
his ships this ten year. Andrew McMunn will go to heaven.
Ah, said Lord Dunseverick, he's a good man, then?
I'll no go so far as to say precisely that, said Ginty, but he's
a man who never touches a drop of whisky nor smokes a pipe of tobacco.
It'll be very hard on him if he doesna go to heaven after all he's
missed in this world. But you'll find out what kind of man he is if you
go in through the door forninst you. It's his office, thon's one with
the brass plate on the door. My business will keep till you're done
Lord Dunseverick pushed open one of a pair of swinging doors, and
found himself in a narrow passage. On his right was a ground glass
window bearing the word Inquiries. He tapped at it.
For a minute or two there was no response. Lord Dunseverick brushed
some of the mud, now partially dry, off his trousers, and lit a fresh
cigarette. The ground glass window was opened, and a redhaired clerk
I want to see Mr. McMunn, said Lord Dunseverick, Mr. Andrew
The clerk put his head and shoulders out through the window, and
surveyed Lord Dunseverick suspiciously. Very well dressed young men,
with pale lavender ties and pearl tie-pinsLord Dunseverick had
bothare not often seen in Belfast quay-side offices.
If you want to see Mr. McMunn, said the clerk, and I'm no
saying you will, mind thatyou'd better take yon cigarette out of your
mouth. There's no smoking allowed here.
Lord Dunseverick took his cigarette out of his mouth, but he did not
throw it away. He held it between his fingers.
Just tell Mr. McMunn, he said, that Lord Dunseverick is here.
The clerk's manner altered suddenly. He drew himself up, squared his
shoulders, and saluted.
The discovery that a stranger is a man of high rank often produces
this kind of effect on men of strong democratic principles, principles
of the kind held by clerks in all business communities, quite as firmly
in Belfast as elsewhere. But it would have been a mistake to suppose
that Mr. McMunn's junior clerk was a mere worshipper of title. His
salute was not the tribute of a snob to the representative of an
aristocratic class. It was the respect due by a soldier, drilled and
disciplined, to his superior officer. It was also the expression of a
young man's sincere hero-worship. The redhaired clerk was a Volunteer,
duly enrolled, one of the signatories of the famous Ulster Covenant
Lord Dunseverick had made speeches which moved his soul to actual
Come inside, my lord, he said. I'll inform Mr. McMunn at once.
Lord Dunseverick passed through a door which was held open for him.
He entered a large office, very grimy, which is the proper condition of
a place where documents concerning coal are dealt with. Six other
clerks were at work there. When Lord Dunseverick entered, all six of
them stood up and saluted. They, too, so it appeared, were members of
the Volunteer Force. The red-haired junior clerk crossed the room
towards a door marked Private. Then he paused, and turned to Lord
Might I be so bold as to ask a question? he said.
A dozen if you like, said Lord Dunseverick.
What about the rifles? It's only them we're wanting now. We're
drilled and we're ready, but where's the rifles?
You shall have them, said Lord Dunseverick.
The clerks in Mr. McMunn's office were accustomed to behave with
decorum. No more than a low murmur of approval greeted Lord
Dunseverick's words; but the men looked as if they wished to cheer
vehemently. The red-haired boy tapped at the door which was marked
Private. A minute later he invited Lord Dunseverick to pass through
Andrew McMunn is a hard-faced, grizzled little man, with keen blue
eyes. He can, when he chooses, talk excellent English. He prefers, when
dealing with strangers, to speak with a strong Belfast accent, and to
use, if possible, north of Ireland words and phrases. This is his way
of asserting independence of character. He admires independence.
His office is a singularly unattractive room. He writes at a large
table, and has a fireproof safe at his elbow. There are three wooden
chairs ranged against the wall opposite the writing-table. Four
photographs of steamers, cheaply framed, hang above the chairs. They
are The Andrew McMunn, The Eliza McMunn, and, a tribute to the
deceased Jimmy, The McMunn Brothers. These form the fleet owned
by the firm, and carry coal from one port to another, chiefly to
Belfast. On the chimney-piece under a glass shade, is a model of The
McMunn Brothers, the latest built and largest of the ships.
Good-morning to you, my lord! said McMunn, without rising from his
He nodded towards one of the chairs which stood against the wall.
This was his way of inviting his visitor to sit down. His eyes were
fixed, with strong disapproval, on the cigarette, which still smoked
feebly in Lord Dunseverick's hand.
Your clerk gave me a hint, said Dunseverick, that you object to
It's my opinion, said McMunn, that the man who pays taxes that he
needn't payI'm alluding to the duty on tobacco, you'll
understandfor the sake of poisoning himself with a nasty stink, is
little better than a fool. That's my opinion, and I'm of the same way
of thinking about alcoholic drink.
Lord Dunseverick deposited the offending cigarette on the hearth and
crushed it with his foot.
Teetotaller? he said. I dare say you're right, though I take a
whisky-and-soda myself when I get the chance.
You'll no get it here, said McMunn; and what's more, you'll no'
get it on any ship owned by me.
Thank you. It's as well to understand before-hand.
I'm a believer in speaking plain, said McMunn. There's ay less
chance of trouble afterwards if a man speaks plain at the start. But
I'm thinking that it wasn't to hear my opinion on the Christian
religion that your lordship came here the day.
McMunn, besides being a teetotaller, and opposed to the smoking of
tobacco, was the president of a Young Men's Anti-Gambling League. He
was, therefore, in a position to throw valuable light on the Christian
I came to settle the details about this expedition to Hamburg,
said Lord Dunseverick.
Well, said McMunn, there's no that much left to settle. The
Brothers is ready.
The McMunn Brothers. Thon's the model of her on the
Lord Dunseverick looked at the model attentively. It represented a
very unattractive ship. Her bow was absurdly high, cocked up like the
snout of a Yorkshire pig. Her long waist lay low, promising little
freeboard in a sea. Her engines and single funnel were aft. On a short,
high quarterdeck was her bridge and a squat deck-house. She was
designed, like her owner, for purely business purposes.
You'll have the captain's cabin, said McMunn. Him and me will
sleep in the saloon.
Oh, you're coming too?
I am. Have you any objection?
None whatever. I'm delighted. We'll have a jolly time.
I'll have you remember, said McMunn, that it's not pleasuring
we're out for.
It's serious business. Smuggling rifles in the teeth of a Royal
When I understand, said McMunn, and you understand, where's the
use of saying what we're going for? I'm taking risks enough anyway,
without unnecessary talking. You never know who's listening to you.
About paying for theertheerour cargo? Is that all
They'll be paid in bills on a Hamburg bank, said McMunn.
Won't they expect cash? I should have thought that in transactions
of this kind
You're not a business man, my lord; but I'd have you know that a
bill with the name of McMunn to it is the same as cash in any port in
Well, that's your part of the affair. I am leaving that to you.
You may leave it What I say I'll do. But there's one thing that I'm
no quite easy in my mind about.
If you're thinking about the landing of the guns
I'm no asking what arrangements you've made about that. The fewer
there is that knows what's being done in a business of this kind, the
better for all concerned. What's bothering me is this. There's a man
Who's he? I never heard of him before.
He's the Baron von Edelstein, if that's any help to you.
It isn't. He's not the man we're buying the stuff from.
He is not. Nor he wasn't mentioned from first to last till the
letter I got the day.
He turned to the safe beside him and drew out a bundle of papers
held together by an elastic band.
That's the whole of the correspondence, he said, and there's the
last of it.
He handed a letter to Lord Dunseverick, who read it through
This baron, he said, whoever he is, intends to pay his respects
to us before we leave Hamburg. Very civil of him.
It's a civility we could do without. When I'm doing business I'd
rather do it with business men, and a baron, you'll understand, is no
I'm a baron myself, said Lord Dunseverick.
Ay, you are.
McMunn said no more. He left it to be understood that his opinion of
barons in general was not improved by his acquaintance with Lord
I don't think we need bother about Von Eddstein, anyway, said Lord
Dunseverick. What harm can he do us?
I'm no precisely bothering about him, said McMunn; but I'd be
easier in my mind if I knew what he wanted with us.
We sail to-night, anyway, said Lord Dunseverick.
Ay, we do. I tell't Ginty. He's the captain of The McMunn
Brothers, and a good man.
I've met him. In fact
If you've met Ginty you've met a man who knows his business, though
I wish he'd give over drinking whisky. However, he's a strong
Protestant and a sound man, and you can't expect perfection.
Capital! said Lord Dunseverick. It's a great comfort to be sure
of one's men.
I wish I was as sure of every one as I am of Ginty, said McMunn.
I'm no saying that your lordship's not sound. The speech you made last
night at Ballymena was good enough, and I'm with you in every word of
Oh, speeches! said Lord Dunseverick.
He was uneasily conscious that he had allowed himself to be carried
away by the excitement of the occasion when speaking at Ballymena. It
was right and proper to threaten armed resistance to Home Rule. It was
another thing to offer a warm welcome to the German Emperor if he chose
to land in Ulster. The cold emphasis with which McMunn expressed
agreement with every word of the speech made Lord Dunseverick vaguely
Ay, said McMunn; your speeches are well enough, and I don't say,
mind you, that you're not a sound man; but I'd be better pleased if you
were more serious. You're too fond of joking, in my opinion.
Good heavens! said Lord Dunseverick. I haven't ventured on the
ghost of a joke since I came into your office! He looked round him as
he spoke, and fixed his eyes at last on the fireproof safe. Nobody
It's no what you've said, it's your lordship's appearance. But it's
too late to alter that, I'm thinking.
Not at all, said Lord Dunseverick. I'll join you this evening in
a suit of yellow oilskins, the stickiest kind, and a blue fisherman's
jersey, and a pair of sea-boots. I'll have
You will, said McMunn, and you'll look like a play actor. It's
just what I'm complaining of.
The McMunn Brothers lay, with steam up, at a single anchor a
mile below the Hamburg quays. The yellow, turbid waters of the Elbe
swept past her sides. Below her stretched the long waterway which leads
to the North Sea. The lights of the buoys which marked the channel
twinkled dimly in the gloom of the summer evening. Shafts of brighter
light swept across and across the water from occulting beacons set at
long intervals among buoys. Above the steamer lay a large Norwegian
barque waiting for her pilot to take her down on the ebb tide. Below
The McMunn Brothers was an ocean-going tramp steamer. One of her
crew sat on the forecastle playing the Swanee River on a melodeon.
McMunn, Ginty, and Lord Dunseverick were together in the cabin of
The McMunn Brothers. McMunn, dressed precisely as he always dressed
in his office, sat bolt upright on the cabin sofa. In front of him on
the table were some papers, which he turned over and looked at from
time to time.
Beside him was Ginty, in his shirt sleeves, with his peaked cap
pushed far back on his head. He sat with his elbows on the table. His
chin, thrust forward, rested on his knuckles. He stared fixedly at the
panelling on the opposite wall of the cabin. Lord Dunseverick, who had
a side of the table to himself, leaned far back. His legs were
stretched out straight in front of him. His hands were in his pockets.
He gazed wearily at the small lamp which swung from the cabin roof.
For a long time no one spoke. It was Lord Dunseverick who broke the
silence in the end. He took his cigarette-case from his pocket.
You may say what you like about tobacco, McMunn, he said, but
it's a comfort to a man when he has no company but a bear with a sore
Ay, said McMunn, you'll smoke and you'll smoke, but you'll no
make me any easier in my mind by smoking.
Ginty drew a plug of black tobacco from his pocket, and began
cutting shreds from it with a clasp knife. He was apparently of opinion
that smoking would relieve the strain on his mind.
I'm no satisfied, said McMunn.
I don't see what you have to grumble about, said Lord Dunseverick.
We've got what we came for, and we've got our clearance papers. What
more do you want? You expected trouble about those papers, and there
wasn't any. You ought to be pleased.
There you have it, said McMunn. According to all the laws of
nature there ought to have been trouble. With a cargo like ours there
ought to have been a lot of trouble. Instead of that the papers are
handed over to us without a question.
It's peculiar, said Ginty. It's very peculiar, and that's a
Then there's the matter of those extra cases, said McMunn. How
many cases is there in the hold, Ginty?
A hundred, seventy-two.
And the contract was for one-fifty. What's in the odd twenty-two?
Tell me that.
Pianos, said Lord Dunseverick. Look at your clearance papers.
'Nature of CargoPianos.'
You'd have your joke, said McMunn, if the flames of hell were
scorching the soles of your boots.
It's peculiar, said Ginty.
It's more than peculiar, said McMunn. I've been in business for
thirty years, and it's the first time I ever had goods given me that I
didn't ask for.
Well, said Lord Dunseverick, if we've got an extra five hundred
rifles we can't complain. There's plenty of men in Ulster ready to use
Maybe you'll tell me, said McMunn, why they wouldn't let me pay
for the goods in the office this afternoon. Did anyone ever hear the
like of thata man refusing money that was due to him, and it
It's out of the course of nature, said Ginty.
They told you, said Lord Dunseverick, that you could pay Von
Edelstein, and he'd give you a receipt.
Ay, Von Edelstein. And where's Von Edelstein?
He's coming on board this evening, said Lord Dunseverick. But you
needn't wait for him unless you like. We've got steam up. Why not slip
Because it's no my way of doing business, said McMunn, to slip
away, as you call it, without paying for what I've got I'm a man of
Talking of your principles, said Lord Dunseverick, what did you
bring on board in that basket this afternoon? It looked to me like
It was beer.
I'm glad to hear it, said Lord Dunseverick. Let's have a couple
Ginty took his pipe from his mouth and grinned pleasantly. He wanted
You'll be thinking maybe, said McMunn, that I'm going back on my
We don't think anything of the sort, said Lord Dunseverick. We
think that foreign travel has widened your principles out a bit That's
what we think, isn't it, Ginty?
My principles are what they always were, said McMunn, but I've
some small share of commonsense. I know there's a foreigner coming on
board the night, a baron and a dissipated man
Come, now,' said Lord Dunseverick, you can't be sure that Von
Edelstein is dissipated. You've never met him.
He's a foreigner and a baron, said McMunn, and that's enough for
me, forbye that he's coming here under very suspicious circumstances.
If I can get the better of him by means of strong drink and the snare
of alcoholic liquors
Good Lord! said Lord Dunseverick. You don't expect to make a
German drunk with half a dozen bottles of lager beer, particularly as
Ginty and I mean to drink two each.
There's a dozen in the basket. And, under the circumstances, I
consider myself justified I'm no man for tricks, but if there's any
tricks to be played, I'd rather play them myself than have them played
on me. Mind that now. It's the way I've always acted, and it's no a bad
Gosh, said Ginty, there's somebody coming aboard of us now. The
look-out man's hailing him.
He left the cabin as he spoke.
A few minutes later Ginty entered the cabin again. He was followed
by a tall man, so tall that he could not stand quite upright in the
It's the baron, said Ginty.
Guten Abend, said McMunn.
He possessed some twenty more German words, and knew that beer was
represented by the same sound as in English. The equipment seemed to
him sufficient for the interview.
I have the good fortune to speak English easily, said Von
Edelstein. Am I addressing myself to Mr. McMunn?
Ay, said McMunn, you are. And this is Lord Dunseverick, a baron
Von Edelstein bowed, and held out his hand.
I prefer, he said, my military title, Captain von Edelstein. I
believe that Lord Dunseverick also has a military title. Should I say
As a matter of fact, said Lord Dunseverick, I'm not in the Army.
I understand, said Von Edelstein. You are in the Volunteers, the
Ulster Volunteers. But, perhaps I should say general?
I don't call myself that, said Lord Dunseverick.
As a matter of fact, my rank is not officially recognized, in
England, I mean.
Ah, but herewe recognize it I assure you, general, we regard the
Ulster Volunteers as a properly constituted military force.
McMunn had been groping in a locker behind him. He interrupted Von
Edelstein by setting a basket on the table.
Beer, he said.
Von Edelstein bowed, and sat down.
Ginty, said McMunn, get some tumblers. And now Baron
Captain, said Von Edelstein.
Well get to business. What's in them twenty-two cases that was
dumped into our hold today?
Ah, said Von Edelstein, smiling. A little surprise. I hope, I
feel confident, a pleasant surprise, for my comrades of the Ulster
Ginty entered the cabin carrying three tumblers and a corkscrew. The
beer was opened and poured out Von Edelstein raised his glass.
To the Ulster Volunteer Force, he said, and to the day when the
pleasant little surprise we have prepared for you may prove a very
unpleasant surprise forthe enemy.
He bowed and drank.
What's in them cases? said McMunn.
Gentlemen, said Von Edelstein, something that will be of great
value to youmachine guns.
We didn't order them, said McMunn, and I'm not going to pay for
I am not authorized, said Von Edelstein, to reveal secrets of
State; but I think I may trust your discretion so far as to say that
one very highly placed desires that the Ulster Volunteer Force should
be thoroughly equipped for war. It is his wish:
Baron, said McMunn, here's a bill drawn on my firm for the price
of the rifles. I'll trouble you for a receipt, and in the matter of the
contents of them casesI don't say they're not machine guns, but I've
no way of knowing at present. If it turns out that they're any use to
us we may strike a bargain, but I'll no pay for a pig in a poke.
He laid his bill and a form of receipt on the table. Von Edelstein
pushed them aside.
Gentlemen, he said, between comrades in arms there is no question
of payment. It is the wish of one who is very highly placed that your
But look here, said Lord Dunseverick, we are not comrades in
arms, as you call it.
Ah, said Von Edelstein. Not to-day, not to-morrow perhaps. But
who knows how soon? When the word is given, and some batteries of our
artillery land in Belfast to support your excellent infantry
What's that? said Ginty.
And a regiment of Prussian Guards
There'll be no Prussians in Belfast, said Ginty, for we'll not
I am afraid, said Lord Dunseverick, that you've got some wrong
idea into your head.
But, said Von Edelstein, you cannot fight alone. You would
bewhat do you call it?you would be wiped out Even the English Army
could do that. You have no artillery. You have no cavalry. What are you
Who said we were going to fight the English Army? said Lord
If you think we're a pack of dirty rebels, said Ginty, you're
making a big mistake. We're loyal men.
But if you are not going to fight the English, said Von Edelstein,
God in heaven, who are you going to fight?
Young man, said McMunn, you're drinking beer in my ship, a thing
which is clean contrary to my principles, though I'm putting up with
it; but you're going beyond the beyonds when you sit here and take the
name of the Almighty in vain. I'll trouble you not to swear.
Von Edelstein stared at him in blank amazement Then very slowly a
look of intelligence came over his face. He turned to Lord Dunseverick.
I think I understand, he said. You do not quite trust me. You
fear that I may be a spy in the pay of infamous Englishmen. But you are
mistakenentirely mistaken. I offer you proof of my good faith.
General, be so kind as to read my commission.
He drew a folded document from his pocket, and spread it out before
It is signed, he said, as you see, by the Emperor himself. It
places my services, the services of Captain von Edelstein, of the
Prussian Guard, at the disposal of the Ulster Volunteer Force, as
Lord Dunseverick glanced at the document before him. He read parts
of it with close attention. He laid his finger on the signature as if
to convince himself by actual touch that it really was what it seemed
You see, said Von Edelstein, I am to be trusted. When you and I
are fighting side by side against the cursed English, your enemies and
Von Edelstein was still smiling. What happened then happened in an
instant Lord Dunseverick struck the German full on the mouth with his
fist Von Edelstein's head went back. His hands clutched convulsively at
the tablecloth. Before he had recovered, Lord Dunseverick hit him
again, beat him down on the cabin sofa, and struck blow after blow at
You infernal scoundrel, he said, do you take me for a traitor?
Quit it, said McMunn. Quit it when I tell you. You cannot kill
the man with your naked fists, and you'll break the furniture.
Ginty drew a long coil of rope from a locker. He tied up Von
Edelstein and laid him, a helpless figure, on the table.
It's my opinion, said McMunn, that we'd better be getting out to
I'm thinking the same, said Ginty.
He went on deck. Soon The McMunn Brothers was under way.
Lord Dunseverick looked at the prostrate Von Edelstein.
What are we going to do with him? he asked.
Drown him, said McMunn.
A trickle of blood was running down Von Edelstein's chin. He spat
out some fragments of broken teeth.
It appears, he said, that I have made a mistake about your
You've offered an outrageous insult to loyal men, said McMunn.
A mistake, said Von Edelstein, but surely excusable. I have in my
pocket at the present momentwould you be so kind as to feel in my
breast pocket? You'll find some papers there, and a newspaper cutting
Lord Dunseverick slipped his hand into the prisoner's pocket. He
drew out a number of letters and a newspaper cutting. It was a report,
taken from the Belfast News Letter, of the speech which he had
made at Ballymena a fortnight before. He had proclaimed the Kaiser the
deliverer of Ulster. His own words stared him in the face. McMunn took
the cutting and glanced at it. He thumped his fist on the table.
I stand by every word of it, he said. We will not have Home
You are a curious people, said Von Edelstein. I thoughtand even
now you say
That speech, said McMunn, was made for an entirely different
purpose. If you thought that we wanted a German Army in Ulster, or that
we meant to fire on the British flag
It is exactly what I did think, said Von Edelstein.
You're a born fool, then, said McMunn.
Perhaps, said Lord Dunseverick, we ought not to drown him.
Suppose we take him home, and hand him over to the Ulster Provisional
I wish you would, said Von Edelstein, I am a student of human
nature. I should greatly like to meet your Ulster Government.
You'll maybe not like it so much when they hang you, said McMunn,
and it's what they'll do.