Anna Lonergan – Character in Divide the Dawn
“The first thing I do in the mornin’? I brush my hair an’ sharpen my tongue.”~Anna Lonergan
Anna Lonergan (b. 1901) is the younger sister of famed White Hand gang member Richie “Pegleg” Lonergan. An old Irish woman who survived Ireland’s Great Hunger deems her, “A prophetess, an evil little girl and the future Queen of Irishtown.” She is known as having both a sharp tongue and extraordinary beauty. As the eldest female of fifteen children, Anna is expected to care for her siblings and marry a man that can pull them out of Irishtown’s poverty. But when two of her siblings die, she grows fiery and becomes dangerously headstrong.
In 1916, Anna goes with her mother Mary and family to the White Hand gang’s headquarters to demand Dinny Meehan‘s help. But women are not allowed in the Dock Loaders’ Club, so her brother Richie is sent in as the gang members stare at her longingly.
She then witnesses her brother get into a bloody fist fight with a much larger Whitehander.
When Meehan sends Liam Garrity to court Anna in order to secure an alliance with Richie’s followers and the many Lonergan boys, Anna reacts angrily. Although her mother Mary likes the idea of her family’s betrothal to Meehan’s gang, Anna bristles and sides with Wild Bill Lovett, Meehan’s rival. Anna’s temper becomes volatile when two of her siblings die, one from the Spanish Influenza of 1918, the other from an untreated infection due to her family’s old-world superstition of refusing to go to the hospital. When she hears word that Lovett was killed in action in World War I, she attends his funeral and burial. Despondent, in 1919 Anna is livened by the sudden reappearance of Lovett in Brooklyn. In fact, Lovett had her brother Richie murder Mickey Kane, Meehan’s cousin, which will begin a deadly blood feud and gang war.