The Gas Drip Bard – Character in Divide the Dawn
“The Bard slowly sits in his rocker and pushes back his long brows, tilts the candle to redden his cuddy and leans forward to a place where myths still carry. And where words are like birds in their flight from Irish to English.”
The Gas Drip Bard (b. 1839, County Mayo, Ireland) also known as The Bard, is the augur and shanachie (storyteller) of Irishtown who summons the storied past of the Irish in Brooklyn and interprets the visions. With sea-green eyes and an animated personality, he is very popular with children and the aging famine survivors who originally settled Irishtown in the 1840s. When he was eight years-old in County Mayo, Ireland, his mother keened for him while he was dying of starvation in 1847, yet he awoke on a leaky ship headed to Brooklyn. Shoeless and emaciated, he lived in a scalpeen in Jackson Hollow with thousands of motley survivors from the Great Hunger.
He worked at Brooklyn Union Gas Company for fifty years in Irishtown, witnessing the violent gangs that defended the waterfront neighborhood’s borders from the Anglo-American, who they distrusted because of their similarities to the British. When despised gang leader Christie Maroney came to power in 1900 Irishtown, he and other aging famine survivors fell to ancient prayer for a hero to save them. As they chanted, a storm came at dawn and a ferry capsized in the East River where they found a drowned child. The women began to sing the old keening songs over the boy and the next day, he disappeared. He was seen with brothers Pickles and Darby Leighton soon afterward under a rotting pier. The boy’s name was Dinny Meehan.
What you need to know before starting DIVIDE THE DAWN: In 1918, wanting to spend more time with kin, a few gang members (including Liam Garrity) brought their families to listen to Irishtown’s shanachie tell stories, as had been done for centuries back home in Ireland. After the children fell asleep, The Bard told the story of the sensational murder trial of 1912 when Meehan and the White Hand gang murdered Maroney and took power in Irishtown.