William Brosnan – Auld Irishtown

William Brosnan – Character in the Auld Irishtown trilogy

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Detective William Brosnan fears his son-in-law Daniel Culkin has fallen into an arcane, malevolent prophecy. 

“They’re comin’ now, just slow. Gatherin’ up like a giant swell, they’ll swallow ye like the great suck o’ the ocean and leave ye bathin’ in a welter o’ yer own blood and bones, all o’ ye. Oh they’re comin’, sure enough. Slow and sure o’ themselves.”
~William Brosnan


William Brosnan
 (b. 1864, Dublin), also known as the Tunic, is a detective with a dark past and father-in-law to eager, blackjack-swinging Patrolman Daniel Culkin. While his young wife was giving birth during the Great Blizzard of 1888, Brosnan was on patrol in Irishtown when he found a baby in the rubble of a fallen tenement. He desperately ran the baby to a hospital, where he found out his wife died during childbirth. Moments later, he was told the baby he found in the fallen tenement survived. Despondent, Brosnan came to believe that a darkness followed him. The baby he saved turned out to be Garry Barry, the grimmest, most malevolent of street urchins. Barry, Brosnan believes, is a wraith and has a role to play in the dark, pre-Christian prophecies he heard as a boy back in Ireland, “When the veil between life and death is thinnest during the storms of dawn, we are exchanged like pieces on a chessboard.” Brosnan concludes that his wife’s life was taken for Barry’s to fulfill a prophecy that has its origins in Ireland’s Great Hunger (potato famine) where “the keening songs of the banshees croon hastens an ascension, like the rising of the moon.” A single father, Brosnan raised his daughter on a patrolman’s salary until she married the eager Culkin. Since Barry was reported to have died in 1918 of injuries from a White Hand gang beating, Brosnan’s superstitious fears were allayed. But in 1919, during the “Storm of Slanting Snow,” Culkin finds Barry alive. Shaken again, Brosnan is convinced another death must be exchanged for Barry’s life and worries it’ll be Culkin. Or worse, as his daughter is pregnant.


In 1915, Brosnan and Culkin show up in the Dock Loaders’ Club after Wild Bill Lovett murdered an immigrant for pulling a cat’s tail. Before the Donnybrook in Red Hook, Brosnan was forced to accept payment from the White Hand to look the other way.
In 1916, Brosnan is promoted to detective for getting the conviction of Non Connors, who wrongly was named leader of the White Hand. A year later he is publicly reprimanded by the Waterfront Assembly’s Jonathan G. Wolcott and the newspapers for looking the other way while gangs run the waterfront. Brosnan and Culkin show up at the Dock Loaders’ Club and demand an increase in their hush money and angrily say that they will all fall prey to the Anglo-American ascendency, who has the real power in New York.
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Sixto Stabile – Auld Irishtown

Sixto Stabile – Character in the Auld Irishtown trilogy

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Sixto Stabile was raised in South Brooklyn, educated at Harvard.

“They shooed the whore away an’ tied me to the bed. Then this Ivy League dago comes in, duded up like he’s some gaudy business man with a pinky ring. But you can’t put a blond wig on a guerrilla and convince me her name’s Mary.”
~Vincent Maher

Sixto Stabile
(b. 1893), also known as the Young Turk, is a self-assured, sardonic and overly polite South Brooklyn Italian who graduated from Harvard University. Sixto’s Italian father paid for his schooling via a bawdyhouse (brothel) he owns, the Adonis Social Club on 20th street & 4th avenue, protected by Frankie Yale and the Black Hand. In 1916, Yale’s man Il Maschio was murdered by the Irish White Hand. For safety reasons, Yale agreed to send young Al Capone to Chicago. Still angry that Red Hook is populated with Italians, yet the dock winnings are collected by the Irish, Yale decided to temporarily emphasize friendlier relations with the powerful White Hand gang’s Dinny Meehan. Highly educated Sixto was a perfect fit to smooth things out. Working with the ILA’s Thos Carmody, Sixto helped put together a brilliant three-way peace deal, which gave the Italians the southern terminal of Red Hook in exchange for the murder of Wild Bill Lovett, while both the White and Black Hand longshoremen unionized.


Does not appear
With the assistance of Jonathan G. Wolcott‘s NY Dock Co, and headquartering his new gang in Red Hook, Lovett seceded from the White Hand in 1917. Dinny Meehan was backed into a corner, so Sixto sprung into action. At the Adonis, Sixto and Carmody kidnapped White Hand enforcer Vincent Maher and gave him peace terms that would break Lovett’s stronghold in Red Hook and kill Wolcott’s strategist and muscle, Silverman. The plan succeeded. Even though Lovett survived, he was sent to the Great War in a plea deal after murdering a Black Hand assassin. In 1919, after Maher is jailed, Sixto and Yale visit him and offer him a job in Chicago, warning him that Meehan plans on setting him up for the robbery of the Hanan & Son shoe factory, just as he’d set up Pickles Leighton, Non Connors, and even Lovett before him.
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Sadie Leighton – Auld Irishtown

Sadie Leighton – Character in the Auld Irishtown trilogy

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Sadie Meehan must choose between her husband, and her son (art by Sebastian MacLaughlin)

“Sadie looks up into my eyes and smiles. She wipes a tear away and hugs me. And so does L’il Dinny, hugging me by the leg. She whispers to me, ‘Now you need to start makin’ a plan for yourself an’ your family, to escape Brooklyn.’”
~Liam Garrity


Sadie Meehan
(née Leighton, b. 1891) faces a terrible decision: Staying with her gang leader husband, or leaving him in order to keep her son safe. Sadie was raised in the terrible poverty of East London. In 1910, her cousins Darby and Pickles Leighton paid her passage to Brooklyn, New York where she again lived in desperate conditions. She was courted by both Dinny Meehan and Harry Reynolds of the White Hand gang, but when Meehan was arrested for the murder of Christie Maroney, Reynolds came to her the night before the trial. Her cousin Pickles was then convicted, while Meehan, McGowan, and Vincent Maher were exonerated. Feeling closer to Meehan and seeing that he could best pull her out of poverty (Meehan also promised to get her cousin out of prison), she shunned Reynolds. Sadie cared for three orphans that Dinny brought home and helped groom them as productive gang members. Within months of Meehan’s release, she gave birth to a son, Li’l Dinny.


Sadie takes in the homeless immigrant teenager Liam Garrity.
Sadie gives Garrity a haircut, flowers and advice on courting women when Dinny attempts to betroth him to Anna Lonergan. She is startled when her cousin Darby sneaks up on her and L’il Dinny, who shames her for marrying the man who banished him and set up Pickles for the murder of Maroney, then offers her a cryptic warning. When Darby and Anna throw rocks through Sadie’s window while Dinny is in jail, she goes to Garrity, but Reynolds says he “can’t talk to Sadie.” Garrity then pays for her and L’il Dinny to stay in a hotel on Long Island. Scared to go back to Brooklyn and the coming gang war, she plans on keeping her son far away.
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Darby Leighton – Auld Irishtown

Darby Leighton – Character in the Auld Irishtown trilogy.

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Exiled, Darby Leighton lives with the shadows (art by Sebastian MacLaughlin)

“Knowing things is what I’m known for, and I’m the guy waiting in the long shadows to use them against you.”
~Darby Leighton

Darby Leighton – (b. 1890) is a man of the shadows. Sickly and with calm, dead eyes, he has the look of a lost soldier as he’s been banished from the White Hand gang. He has never been able to decide his own fate, but now is married, has a daughter and is ready to emerge. Having been abandoned as children in 1900, Darby and his brother Pickles Leighton lived under a rotted pier in Brooklyn until joining an early version of the White Hand gang. When a young Dinny Meehan appeared, they became profitable. Darby was the one who saved money to bring his cousin Sadie Meehan (née Leighton) to Brooklyn. Darby looked up to Meehan, but was made to follow his brother Pickles in joining Wild Bill Lovett’s upstart Jay Street gang one block over. When Pickles was convicted of murdering Christie Maroney, Meehan’s enforcer The Swede beat Darby to “death’s door” and “eightysixt” him to the shadows. Having lived under cover for so long, he’s learned to spy on the gang and has worked in the background to gather valuable information against it.


Light of the Diddicoy
In 1915 Darby is seen running from The Swede again on the streets of Irishtown. Later, a gang member who openly questioned Darby’s exile was murdered.

Exile on Bridge Street
From the shadows, Darby snuck up on Sadie and son, L’il Dinny. Feeling she’d left him to rot while marrying the man who banished him, he gave her a cryptic warning, “One day Bill Lovett’s gonna kill ya husband, and I’m gonna know about it ahead o’ time.” But in 1917, Lovett’s revolt against Meehan failed, leaving Darby deeper in the shadows than before. In 1919, Lovett reappeared, seemingly from the dead, and gave him his .45, telling Darby to get it to Richie Lonergan in order to kill Meehan’s cousin, Mickey Kane. With Lovett returned, Darby hopes to overthrow Meehan and become a dockboss to support his young family.

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Pickles Leighton – Auld Irishtown

Pickles Leighton – Character in the Auld Irishtown trilogy

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Pickles Leighton won the War for the Inside and could provide many paroled soldiers to Lovett in the blood feud against Meehan.

 

“It’s all about the Leighton brothers. As long as Pickles sits in Sing Sing and Darby’s eighty-sixt, Lovett’ll never get wit’ us. Even after givin’ it to McGowen like they did.”
~The Swede

 

Pickles Leighton (b. 1889), also known as King of the Inside, is a murderer and prisoner in Sing Sing. He does not appear in the books, but is often spoken of. In 1900, he and his brother Darby Leighton were abandoned. By 1908, Pickles clashed with Dinny Meehan and joined upstart Wild Bill Lovett’s Jay Street gang. In a show of solidarity, Lovett allowed Pickles to go with Meehan to murder Christie Maroney in 1912. But Pickles was the only one convicted. Meehan grew concerned over controlling the inside of Sing Sing and the many convicts that could support an uprising against him, so he had his righthand McGowan plea guilty to a small charge in order to kill Pickles in Sing Sing. In the War for the Inside, many battles occurred that maimed Pickles, including losing an eye, but in the end Lovett paid a screw (prison guard) to beat McGowan to death. Now that Lovett has returned from the Great War alive, Pickles’ release could provide him a great many paroled soldiers in the gang war against Meehan and the White Hand.


Light of the Diddicoy
When Vincent Maher meets Liam Garrity in 1915, he brings him to McGowan’s Wake. Drunkard Mick Gilligan blurts that if no one has proven Lovett and Pickles are responsible for the murder of McGowan, then why is Darby Leighton banished to the shadows?
Exile on Bridge Street
In 1917, Dinny Meehan is shot and wounded by two recent parolees from Sing Sing.  The Gas Drip Bard tells the story of the sensational trial for the murder of Christie Maroney where Pickles was incorrectly named the leader of the White Hand gang. In 1919, Italian Blackhander Frankie Yale tells a jailed Maher that he is the next man Meehan is planning to set up, just like what happened to Pickles.

 

 

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Vincent Maher – Auld Irishtown

Vincent Maher – Character in the Auld Irishtown trilogy

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Vincent Maher has a sexual intelligence. (art by Sebastian MacLaughlin)

“Vincent Maher has no moral issue in both separating virginity from a young female with his blood-filled cock as he does removing the life from a male with his snub-nosed, single action revolver.”
~Liam Garrity

 

Vincent Maher (b. 1894), also known as Masher (obsolete word for a ladies man) is a chatty charmer with a crude, sexual intelligence and enforcer for White Hand Gang leader Dinny Meehan. Always carrying his snub-nosed .38 in his belt, Vincent splits his time between the violent underworld and Italian bawdyhouse, The Adonis Social Club. He is best known for having a very large penis and when he was questioned for hurting a whore, he pulled down his pants and said simply, “she asked me to go to the hilt.” With his connection to South Brooklyn Italians and union recruiter Thos Carmody, he helped foster a deal between the White Hand, the Black Hand and the ILA. Vincent was the second orphan Dinny and Sadie Meehan cared for and was successfully groomed to be an enforcer. In 1912, he was arrested along with Meehan, McGowan and Pickles Leighton for murdering the King of Irishtown Christie Maroney.


Light of the Diddicoy
In 1915, Vincent found homeless immigrant Liam Garrity and brought him to McGowan’s Wake to meet Dinny Meehan. When the gang was under attack from many enemies, Vincent and Richie Lonergan struck first in a wave of attacks by killing Mick Gilligan, who was made an example to those who consider breaking the Code of Silence during the Donnybrook in Red Hook.

Exile on Bridge Street
In 1917, with the White Hand gang again facing extinction, Vincent played a role in bringing three former enemies together against Wild Bill Lovett and the New York Dock Company. Afterward, He again struck the first blow when he and the ILA’s Thos Carmody worked together in murdering Jonathan G. Wolcott‘s strategist and muscle, Silverman. Vincent is currently in jail with Meehan, The Swede and Lumpy Gilchrist for robbing a shoe factory, and has been fielding rogue, yet tempting offers from the Black Hand to undermine Meehan.

 

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Mary Lonergan – Auld Irishtown

Mary Lonergan – Character in the Auld Irishtown trilogy

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Mournful Mother Mary. The scar on the left side of her face is from her husband drunkenly throwing hot grease at her. 

“That biddy ol’ flab. She comes here all the time askin’ for favors. She wants her eldest son to open a bike shop, but of course she don’t have the money for it. So she wants Dinny’s help.”
~Vincent Maher

 

Mary Lonergan (b. 1876), also known as Mother Mary, is a tragic, abused and defeated Irish mother of fifteen. Known for a facial disfigurement from when she was scalded by her husband who threw hot grease at her, she is an Irishtown curiosity. Mary is religious, impulsive, comically boisterous, strongly opinionated and defensive of her many children, although her old-world superstitions actually led to the death of a son. She is the mother of White Hand gang member Richie “Pegleg” Lonergan and the nubile Anna Lonergan. Her dream is to be a business woman and leave the slums for a better neighborhood and schools so her children don’t depend on gangs when they grow up.


In 1916, she showed up at the Dock Loaders’ Club demanding word with White Hand gang leader Dinny Meehan. A deal was struck that if her eldest son Richie worked for the gang, Meehan would pay rent for a Lonergan family bike shop that she would run.
In 1917 her six year-old son Tiny Thomas died of an infection because she believed that if she took him to the hospital, they’d give him “the black box,” (poison him to give the bed to a Protestant). In 1918 a second child died of the Spanish Influenza. Wild Bill Lovett has also abused her since she wants her son Richie to stick with whoever is the current king of Irishtown, not an upstart. She consented to her eldest daughter Anna’s betrothal to Meehan follower Liam Garrity to ensure the Lonergan family connection to the gang, though Anna vehemently refused.
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