This dramatic picture was taken recently of the statue of Francis O’Neil. That’s a gorse fire raging in the background. The image was shared the image with me by my publisher Somerville Press. Although burning gorse is a tradition in the area dating back centuries, this one was illegal and a drain on local fire-fighting resources. The practice is often devastating for local wildlife and not the best means to control the invasive gorse bush.
I’ve written before about the O’Neill statue in Tralibane. It is a beautiful spot in rural west Cork. The image of Francis playing while fires rage around him is particularly poignant. Fire is a potent symbol in Chief O’Neill, as Francis and his young wife moved to Chicago just at the time of the Great Fire of 1871. You can see my recent reading of this section of novel on Youtube.