The Auld Irishtown trilogy has many characters (you can see them here). Some of the minor, background characters become important much later, so you have to pay attention. Here’s an interesting turn of events where two of the characters in the trilogy are in the same newspaper on the same day in 1920. In Light of the Diddicoy, they are both minor characters, but by the end of Exile on Bridge Street, they both become significantly more important.
The April 5, 1920 edition of Brooklyn’s The Standard Union newspaper reported that one Frank Madden (no relation to the famous Owney Madden), who had been arrested and charged in the murder of Dennis “Dinny” Meehan, leader of the White Hand Gang, was released. Madden, a “business manager” for the International Longshoremen’s Association, was under suspicion because Meehan had signed up to provide strikebreakers. Due to the recent longshoremen strikes, Meehan and Madden were natural enemies. According to police theory, Meehan “was put out of the way,” by Madden.
In the Auld Irishtown trilogy books, Frank Madden’s name was changed to Thos Carmody, an ILA recruiter who everyone is trying to kill yet always seems to survive, albeit with physical and emotional injuries. In Light of the Diddicoy, the VP of Wage & Labor for the New York Dock Company hires Dinny Meehan to murder Thos Carmody because, “he kills morale, he kills strikebreakers, he kills profits and he kills business… I wanna see Thos Carmody’s name in the obits within two months.” What happens next heavily influences events in the sequel, Exile on Bridge Street.
Watch a video trailer of Exile on Bridge Street:
In the same edition of The Standard Union, Edward Gilchrist was sentenced to Sing Sing for five years. Gilchrist was a member of Meehan’s White Hand Gang and was charged for stealing and being in possession of stolen property from the Hanan & Son shoe factory on Water Street in Brooklyn.
In the Auld Irishtown trilogy books, Edward Gilchrist is Eddie “Lumpy” Gilchrist, the gang’s accountant and idiot savant whose only gift in life is the ability to quickly resolve mathematical equations. The gang had stolen shoes from the factory in order to cover the feet of children that walked around Brooklyn shoeless. One child, a member of the large Lonergan family, had died because he was not wearing shoes while playing in the wreckage of a fallen tenement. When police found many of the shoes in basement of a restaurant owned by the brother of Lumpy Gilchrist, four members of the gang were arrested. But only one was charged, sentenced. Someone had to take the fall.