The Angles of Thos Carmody

Spoilers! If you have not read Light of the Diddicoy and Exile on Bridge Street, the first two books in the Auld Irishtown trilogy, you will find out all kinds of secrets below.

In 1894 my mother said I was born in a place called Dungarvan where the waterfront borders the neighborhoods and the ships bring in goods, just as they do in New York.
Well, I don’t remember any of that.
On the ship manifest they shortened my name from Thomas, to Thos.
Now I’m Thos Carmody, Treasurer, New York. 2146 new york old days boy preparatory drawing

Like other kids on the Chelsea docks, I had to fight to get noticed. But by the time I was ten, I was running envelopes for the Tammany and letting Dick Butler and King Joe Ryan fight over me.
Seems I had a brain that worked good.

Thing is, you don’t really have to fight if you have strong eyes and established men backing you.
On top of that, I had twenty kids on my pay that walked with me throughout the day, from pier to dock giving orders for Silent Charlie of Tammany and King Joe of the longshoremen union.
I was apparently so well-liked that those two big shots weren’t willing to risk the chance of fighting over me.
I sat smiling between them.

One day Owney Madden himself sent a tough named Tanner Smith to get me to pay tribute in his neighborhood.
Two weeks later, Owney was sent up Sing Sing way and I told Tanner Smith to fuck off.
Tanner didn’t like that much.
And I sent my mother to Poughkeepsie for good, just in case.

In the Hudson street saloons, I heard stories about Red Shay Meehan.
The Potashes, they called themselves. Greenwich Village bhoys. A motley bunch o’ West Ireland micks.
A big family, the Meehans, until they weren’t.
The Hudson Dusters had it out for the Meehans and within a year the whole gallop of’em died off except an eleven year-old cousin named Dinny, who crossed the ferry to Brooklyn on a stormy day with his dying father.
Landed on Bridge Street.
Times had changed on’em. And for some, time is a curse.

But what’s the difference between a curse and a prayer anyway?
Depends on the angle, if you ask me.
That’s what I’m good at, angles.
You see, things change and you gotta change with’em to stay on top.
What’s right one day, might be wrong the next.
The truth is a moveable feast in New York.
As long as you remember that.

ila

ILA men

Eventually I traded up from King Joe to T.V. O’Connor, President of the International Longshoremen’s Association. O’Connor noticed me and took me under his wing, showered me with promises.
Promises, that is, that were connected to his big plans for expansion of the ILA.

“I want you to take over Brooklyn, turn them hayseeds into red-blooded, card-holdin’ ILA men,” O’Connor said in his old country burr.

That was 1914, after the war started in Europe, but by the looks of them Brooklyn Irish bhoys, you’d think it was 1714. mugshot
Not a damn one of them had ever seen a lightbulb in his span, damn bunch of diddicoy mucks that named themselves the White Hand.

The Meehan child had grown up and re-appeared as leader of the Irish in the north Brooklyn docks, while Il Maschio, an Italian with a white streak in his hair, who worked for Frankie Yale, ran the Black Hand guinnea south.

I didn’t know where to start, so I went to Red Hook, right in the middle of them both.
Wasn’t long before Jonathan G. Wolcott himself put some big numbers on my head for trying to recruit longshoremen into the ILA.
$500 I heard, impressive.
But the New York Dock Co. has unlimited funds for keeping the union out of their territories.
No different than the gangs, really.

I saw the hit as a compliment. You know you’re important when the bid’s that high.
But I admit, I was still learning about how they did things in Brooklyn.
In Manhattan where I dragged up, it was a bit more civilized.
In Brooklyn, the past informed the Irish in the north docks under the bridges, and their ways came from the old world.

I heard from an old fellow known as The Gas Drip Bard that Dinny Meehan was summoned by the prayers of the old famine survivors of Irishtown.
Well I don’t believe much in curses and prayers, as I mentioned, but the old timers in Irishtown sure do.
And to look in Dinny Meehan’s stone-green eyes, you’d know there was something of the ancient in him.

Apparently Wolcott paid Dinny to kill me.
But Dinny passed the job off to one of my old enemies, Tanner Smith.
Owney Madden, Tanner’s old boss, got sent up by then, so Tanner tapped Dinny for a way back in the game.
But it was the ILA Tanner was gaming for.

You see, Tanner knew what it took to move up, but at heart he was a laborer and success always eluded him.
Instead of killing me, Tanner asked me to put in a good word for him at the ILA and told me to disappear for six months.
But I knew that by backstabbing the gypsy leader Dinny Meehan, Tanner and I would tangle, if you look close enough at the angle.
Only one of us will survive.

In the meantime, I high-tailed it up to Poughkeepsie to visit my Ma, then up to Buffalo where my boss T.V. O’Connor was.
But after my six month banishment, O’Connor sent me back to Brooklyn.
I hated him for that.
O’Connor wanted nothing to do with Tanner Smith, of course, and now I was being sent back down into the afray.
For the first time in my life I hadn’t succeeded in what I’d set out to do. If I couldn’t turn Brooklyn to ILA, no one could.
And now O’Connor was rubbing my nose in it.

I showed up in Brooklyn again like an angry ghost. They all thought Tanner had killed me, so I put the fear of death in superstitious fools like The Swede, one of Dinny’s larrikins.
In the Navy Yard I planted one of my guys named Henry Browne to get on the good side of the White Hand’s dockboss there, Red Donnelly.
That was my way in.

But when Bill Lovett, backed by Wolcott and the NY Dock Co., killed one of Dinny’s

ny-dock-co2

Red Hook and the NY Dock Co

enforcers and proclaimed sovereignty in Red Hook, the game changed suddenly.
In chaos, I look for opportunity.
It’s the Stoics said that, if you were wondering.
Fuel to feed the fire.
I read that once.

I was determined to make the angles come together for me in Brooklyn this time. And so Brooklyn finally turned at my demand.
Here’s how I did it.

The Adonis Social Club is owned by father and son Jack and Sixto Stabile, associates of the Prince o’ Pals, Frankie Yale. I told them we needed to make Vincent Maher, an enforcer for the White Hand who frequents the bawdyhouse females, help us send an offer to Dinny Meehan to make a trinity (the Irish love references to God):
White Hand plus Black Hand plus ILA.
Together, we’d war against Lovett and his backer, Wolcott and the NY Dock Co.

You see, you don’t go to people with an offer, you go to them with a resolution.
But things don’t turn easy in Brooklyn.
And violence ruptured the waterfront labor racket.

Under my suggestion, so to have the Italian and the Irish to work together, Dinny Meehan allowed a dago hitman to kill Lovett in Red Hook.
When that didn’t work and Lovett survived, we got a deal done with the District Attorney to charge Lovett with the murder of Sammy de Angelo (the failed hitman).
Lovett bargained out though, and was sent to the French trenches and an assured death in the Great War.
By hook or by crook, Lovett was supplanted.

And to prove myself to both the Irish and the Italian, I set up a gimmick with Maher (in the Italian side of Gowanus) to kill some kike thug of Wolcott’s.
Silverman was his name. The third confirmed man I ever had to kill, at that point.
Wolcott resigned from the NY Dock Co. not long afterward.
And so, the angles came back in my favor.

Times were good after that, except they went bad.
I got sent to the war too, and upped my confirmed kills to sixty-eight.
I was winning against life, sixty-eight to nothing.
Makes you nervous, thinking of it that way.

Bill Lovett

Wild Bill Lovett

Well, guess who I met in the blood trenches?
Wild Bill Lovett.
You’d think he’d try to kill me right then and there, but no, we were battle brothers, in the thick.
I watched that man butcher and cut Huns in half with a machine gun. Never saw a man so elated by the rush of murdering another.
No mortal man keeping count could tally Lovett’s confirmed kills.
Them Brooklyn bhoys, I’m telling you.

A shell or a grenade burst right next to me in the trench one day.
Next thing I knew I was back in the USA just as a great fever was breaking out.
An influenza that we veterans brought home with us, so it’s said.
What a life.

They brought me back among the living in a Carolina hospital, and once I got my bearings I craved the chaos of war again.
So I moved back to Brooklyn.

I found that T.V. O’Connor’s popularity was suffering.
O’Connor had made black-handed criminal Paul Vaccarelli a VP of the ILA.
That was dumb, the ILA was mostly Irish back then.
You can guess what the reaction was.
This made King Joe, one of my old mentors, eyeball the presidency.
Well he couldn’t do it alone, of course.

With bandages only recently removed, I stormed into King Joe’s office and told him that Bill Lovett was the future of Brooklyn labor.
He listened.
I’d almost been killed twice, but I was still on the fucking job.
And the Irish always shut their mouths and open their ears when you speak of how the dead will influence the living.

“Bill Lovett ain’t dead,” I assured King Joe. “I don’t care what the Army says. He’s going right now to kill Mickey Kane in Red Hook and take it over again. He’s a crazy fuck.”

“Mickey Kane he’s gonna kill?” King Joe asked, standing up. “Dinny Meehan’s cousin?”

“That’s right,” I said.

“Right now?” King Joe hoarse-coughed.

King Joe

King Joe Ryan

I nodded my scarred face at him, “In chaos you will find opportunity. Fuel to feed the fire.”

He sat down, then smiled at me, “Treasurer, New York?”

Yeah, I’ve earned it.
Treasurer, New York.

But before I kick back behind a desk, there’s only one last thing to settle.

I need to get Tanner Smith.
Before Tanner Smith gets me.

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Brooklyn, 2017

Like most people, I was ready for 2016 to end. Unfortunately, I don’t see things getting all that better for the evolution of humankind. We’re going to take a step backward in time from some of the progress we’ve made. But as some have pointed out, it’ll probably be good for punk rock, at least. Let’s hope it’ll be good for books about Brooklyn! Particularly those connected to the Auld Irishtown trilogy.

I’m very lucky to live in the same place I write about. Although I’m working on a different book between Exile on Bridge Street (2016) and Divide the Dawn, which we are expecting to release in Fall 2018.

Every day I am amazed to be living close to Green-Wood Cemetery, Prospect Park, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway andOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA the Gowanus Canal (haha) and only a few blocks away from where one of my characters (three characters actually) was murdered in 1925. It’s true, Richie “Pegleg” Lonergan was murdered by Al Capone and other Italians on the corner of 4th Avenue and 20th Street, a five minute walk.

richie-needles

Adonis Social Club circa 1925 at 4th Ave & 20th St

The Adonis Social Club was a rundown brothel owned by the Stabile family, who were associates of Capone and the Prince o’ Pals, Frankie Yale.

The building, shown in the photo, was made of wood and is gone now, obviously, but the old neighborhood is still quite working class. Yes there are lots of hipsters, but also a very large Puerto Rican, Mexican, Arabic and Asian population as well.

Immigrants. What all Americans were at some point or other. I happen to appreciate them more than your average New Yorker. Luckily I speak Spanish too, so I can talk to them if I like. Most of the time I’m too shy though, so I just listen to their conversations at the grocery store and on the R, W, N and D trains.

I don’t pray to any Gods, but I do hope for their safety in the coming year. I understand that they have limited opportunities. That they often come from violent

al-noor

al-Noor is dedicated to teaching Islamic culture and religion on 4th Avenue

countries and that those circumstances are not their fault. I also understand that they are conflicted here. Even in New York there are a lot of people who don’t care that immigrants have their own culture and struggle to learn ours.

On my street, we have an Islamic school and Mosque, a Spanish church and funeral home, a Turkish restaurant next to a Peruvian restaurant, a Jewish bakery and a busy bodyshop owned by a Polish family. I feel honored to be around them. I appreciate them and I know they are good, solid Americans.

This year I’d like to ask you something. Talk to a person of a different culture. Find out what is important to them and compare those concerns with your own. And most of all, welcome them. Tell them about your immigrant story and where your family originally came from and the trouble that caused them to come to America.

Go on then 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EXILE ON BRIDGE STREET: A book with heart

Exile book coverSince the beginning, the historical Exile on Bridge Street was dependent on readers to spread the word. Without much of an advertising or marketing budget, like most successful books that are pushed in front of eyeballs online, we have relied solely on merit and word-of-mouth.

Thanks to so many people in the US, Ireland and UK that have felt strongly about this book, we have been able to inspire reviewers to take a look at it. But we need more help. If you know someone who may enjoy a book about a teenage Irishman who is sent to work in Brooklyn one hundred years ago, get it for her/him. Tell your friends, post it on social media, order it online or at your local bookstore. Booklist logo.jpg

Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association, recently included it
in its widely distributed newsletter. This is a huge win for Exile on Bridge Street. The thousands of libraries and bookstores in the US now know about it and can consider purchasing.

Here’s what Booklist said: “Loingsigh brings the time and place to life with rough action and dialogue in Irish brogue, but he doesn’t just glorify the violence of the gang rivalries. Instead, he portrays the families that struggle with the cold realities of a city more interested in money than the value of human lives.”

wirbAlso, Washington Independent Review of Books, a highly respected national reviewer ran a wonderful piece here.

“An intimate look at criminals whose lives have been hardened by oppression and weathered by storms, while inside their rough shells they hide soft hearts.”

There have been many other reviews as well. On top of the excellent reviews, there have been readings to packed houses in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Below are some photo highlights.

cranford

Cranford, NJ library Nov. 14, 2016. Sold every copy we brought!

cambridge

Cambridge, MA, Nov. 4

Exile on Bridge Street continues to sell extraordinarily well in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. You can find copies at http://amazon.co.uk and search for the book title.

awow

At the Artists Without Walls Showcase, The Cell Theatre Nov. 22. Sold out! photo by Mitch Traphagen

mysterious

Mysterious Bookshop, Warren Street in Manhattan, Nov. 1.

tj-eamon

Famous non-fiction writer TJ English introducing Eamon Loingsigh at Mysterious Bookshop.

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Early Praise for EXILE

Available now for pre-order Exile on Bridge Street, due for release in the middle of this month, is already being talked about all over the place.

Irish Central, the hugely popular New York City based Irish-American magazine said,

“On the surface, Loingsigh’s book mines Brooklyn’s gory and glorious Irish past.
But it is also the quintessential read for 21st century Brooklyn.”

bk-rail-logoBrooklyn Rail, a very popular culture magazine in New York City, raved about Exile on Bridge Street saying;

“Loingsigh has an urgent story to tell. And he tells it well. This is a street-level history of how the other half has always lived, the kind of story rarely worried over in classrooms or political campaigns. Loingsigh’s great strength is his unsentimental take on the immigrant experience.”

goodreadsGoodreads, a website dedicated to books and moderated by librarians and top reviewers, Exile on Bridge Street is very popular with over 600 people scheduled to read the book when it is released.

There are many reviews there already, however, due to some librarians and top reviewers having access to advance reader and digital copies. Here’s what they are saying;

Exile book cover“From the very first pages I was taken back to this time, fully immersed in this time period. . . extremely well written. . . so authentically portrayed and covered a period I hadn’t read before, and I quite liked Liam.”
~Diane S

“At once poetic and gritty, the docks and streets in Irishtown are depicted. . . It’s a
coming of age story as well as a wonderful piece of historical fiction, written beautifully.”

~Angela M.

“This is an astonishing story of the Irish Immigrant families arriving trying to bring their families over and living in New York City. A well-researched, thought out book – with a heart wrenching sad accounting of life in the early 1900’s.” 
~Lynn Demsky

 

publicity-roundup

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Book Release: Exile on Bridge Street

100716-exileonbridgestreet-launch

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Who was Vercingetorix?


It is nearly always invisible dangers
that are most terrifying. 

With these words by Julius Caesar do we get to know Vercingetorix, a Celtic tribal leader that led a revolt in Gaul against Rome in 52BC.

vercingetorix

Vercingetorix as portrayed by Giovanni Calcagno in the HBO series Rome.

After defeat at Avaricum, Vercingetorix and the thousands of Celtic troops that pledged to him retreated with heavy hearts and deep concern to Gergovia, his tribe’s biggest fortified town for a last stand.

On the precipice of extinction, the Gallic tribes trembled. Many knew that if they lost, their ancient culture would capitulate forever. Others though, saw opportunity in begging Caesar’s mercy and assimilating within the conquerer’s culture.

At Gergovia Vercingetorix won triumphantly. The Celts must have been elated. Winter had come, and everyone thought Caesar would head south, back to Italy.

Although Caesar claimed that he hadn’t lost (his account is all we have of the Gallic Wars) it was apparent he’d been routed. Eventually though, in open battle, Vercingetorix was overcome by treachery within his own leadership, lack of resources and outdated war strategies. Among the most important things against the Celts in Europe, however, was time and change.

julius-caesar

Marlon Brando in JULIUS CAESAR (1953) wearing the classic ‘Scarlet Cloak’ that he used to intimidate his enemies

Julius Caesar’s siege tactics, superior battle techniques, along with the full might of Rome behind him proved too much, and Gaul fell under the mighty weight in the siege of Alesia.

In the Auld Irishtown trilogy, there are parodies to the rise of Rome and the fall of the Celtic world.

In a place called Irishtown in Brooklyn, in the very same neighborhood where their ancestors landed after the Great Hunger seventy years earlier, a gang keeps the Anglo-American law and culture outside its neighborhood borders.

(Listen to The Story of Irishtown)

In 1900 Christie Maroney, the newest gang leader plans to change Irishtown and allow outsider to run prostitution, gambling, labor tribute in the old neighborhood until Dinny Meehan murders him in 1912.

Statue de Vercingétorix

Statue of Vercingetorix in France

Meehan pulls every gang under his umbrella, and calls it The White Hand, in anticipation of an Italian invasion (just like Caesar) from the south. But it is not only Italians like Frankie Yale that want to take Dinny Meehan down and banish their culture, just as it wasn’t only Julius Caesar that took down  Vercingetorix.

 

Exile book cover

Due out Oct, 2016, Exile on Bridge Street is the second book in the Auld Irishtown trilogy

Call The White Hand a gang if you like, but they can also be seen as soldiers. Soldiers of the Dawn, who show up early in the morning to load and unload all of the ships that come into the busiest port in the world so that they can feed their people. And stick to their ancient ways, instead of the culture of the Anglo-ascendency in New York.

Dinny Meehan warns his followers in Irishtown not to fear the invisible dangers of their enemy, but to take a last stand, too.

(Pre-order Exile on Bridge Street here)

Video Trailer for: Exile on Bridge Street:

 

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