The fresh Irish air had never felt better to you lungs. It had taken you all night to escape from that mysterious cavern like lower level. You hope no one noticed you as you had exited onto the deck. You cling to the boy's journal that secretly help the map he had given you and stare out at the Irish Sea. Ah, back in Ireland. You wonder what time period it is now.
"There you are," Tasha's voice echoes from behind you. With your back turned to her, you hide the journal in your robe then turned to her.
"Tasha, where are we?"
Tasha walks to you. "Present day Ireland. We're heading to the North Ireland."
"North Ireland as in the IRA and all that? Are you trying to get us killed?"
"Right." How many times have you heard that? And yet how many times had she placed her passengers in danger? There were far too many instances to count.
"I haven't seen you for three days. Where have you been," she asks stepping closer to you.
"Oh, I checked your quarters several times but you weren't in them."
"I was probably in the facilities."
"Sure. I didn't think of that. Are you well now or should I call the doctor?"
"I'm well. Thank you for asking. I just came out here for some fresh air before I get ready for the day. How can I help you?"
"I was going to ask if you had thought about my offer but I will table the matter until you have fully recuperated. We will be docking soon in North Ireland. Our guest will be joining us on board. See you then?"
Tasha nods with approval then walks away. You sigh with relief. Thank heavens she had believed your lie and didn't press the matter any further. But one thing was for certain. You were going to have to make a decision sooner or later.
My name is Mike Devon, and I gotta tell any cruisers who may be thinking of stepping off this ship to visit parts of Northern Ireland, you’ll see a different kind of country to the one that was my home for a time, back in the day.
It was a era when cruise ships didn’t visit these parts. Come to think of it, there were not a lot of reasons why anyone would even think about including this corner of Ireland in their holiday itinerary.
Back then, I would have told you to go home. If you had been absolutely determined to step ashore, I would have told you to wear a flak jacket….and then stay the hell out of my way! It was no picnic in those days, and the last thing I would have needed was a bunch of naïve thrillseekers blundering into places where they really oughtn’t to have been.
It’s all so different now, of course. Your first port of call will take you to Belfast, one of Europe’s top regenerated cities. There’s a lot for you to see, including the flagship Titanic Quarter, but you can find all that out for yourselves from the glitzy tourist brochures. I don’t do guide work.
What I will tell you is that you should get to the portside when the cruise ship heads along the County Down coast. It’s from here that you’ll catch a glimpse of Bishopscourt, once one of the world’s most secret anti-terrorist bases, and the place from where I operated.
A lot of things happened there. Most of it wasn’t very pleasant, but we were in a war where both sides neither asked for, nor offered, any quarter. It was every man for himself.
Keep going down the coast for another hour or so, and you’ll come to Dublin, where the last throes of action were played out in one of the bloodiest gun battles I’ve ever been involved in. I was lucky to walk away from that one. Many others didn’t.
So, enjoy the Ireland of today. It has made great strides forward. For some of us, however, we will always be rooted in the dark days. There are just some things you can never forget.
Who is Joe McCoubrey?
Mike Devon is the creation of Joe McCoubrey, a former Irish newspaper editor who is now a full-time action thriller writer. In the early seventies he was working in the Civil Service based at Stormont, the seat of the Northern Ireland Government, and was watching behind the scenes as some of the country’s most momentous events unfolded. These were the early dark days of the ‘troubles’ – events that reverberated around the world, and somehow served to push him towards his real passion of writing. He became a newspaperman, started his own media business, and took a front row seat as history was played out in Ireland.
His debut full-length thriller Someone Has To Pay was released by Master Koda Select Publishing in September. He has also had a short action story Death By Licence published in an anthology and is preparing a second full-length actioner, Absence of Rules, for release in January 2013. He has now started work on an Irish crime thriller, also due out in 2013.
Joe McCoubrey has lived all his life in the beautiful Irish town of Downpatrick, made famous by its association with the national Patron Saint, St. Patrick.
You can visit him at: http://joemccoubrey.com/
Links to Joe’s book: