Y'Bent City of Thieves
Caoimhe Ni Shaughnessy (retired as a demi-god)
Likes and Dislikes:
Likes to make new friends, and to stay in touch with old ones.
Dislikes uncomfortable silences and having to figure out complicated
Mundane details and looks:
Thick red hair with flecks of grey, slightly short and a little plump.
Married and separated, with one child.
Having some friends over for a bite, a singalong, a bit of craic! Or
sometimes just to sit by the fire with a cuppa tae.
Song for Caoimhe:
Dawn on the Hill by Kylemore Abbey (Mainistir na Coille Moire).
Caoimhe Ni Shaughnessy first met her husband-to-be on the shore of
Lake Kylemore. She was a novice cleric, approaching the end of her
studies under the Sisters of St. Cuthbert’s Mercy. She was tasked with
assisting the young stonemason, Tiarnán O’Brien, up the hill to where
a new statue was to be placed. Despite the sleep still in his eyes,
his hunched posture and unkempt hair and beard (the fault of too much
time spent studying with the dwarves she thought), something about him
put a smile on her lips. “Tiarnán, is it? Let’s be off with us.” “The
sun’s barely come up. Is it safe?” “I could make my way in the black
of night. Stick by me, and I’ll catch you if your gonna fall” she
replied, smiling coyly.
The climb started easy, with carved wooden steps wide enough for two.
They ascended side-by-side in the cool dawn air. “Why did your abbot
ask for the statue to be placed so high up the hill? Would it not be
easier to have it in the abbey, or out by the lake?” “The path we
followers of St. Cuthbert take is not the easy path. To help the poor
and needy, to put other’s needs before your own, to do the right thing
is not the easiest thing. There are no short-cuts. It’s always hard
work.” “Quite the believer. Is it a life in the abbey for you? Calling
the faithful and directing their aid to the sick and penniless?
Administering sermons and singing with the choir?” Caoimhe studied
Tiarnán’s face, trying to tell if he was mocking her, but found only
honest curiosity. “My life is devoted to St. Cuthbert, but there are
many ways I can serve him. I’ve spoke to my abbot about my desire to
see new sights, and there are many distant temples I could serve in,
lands I could spread the good word to, and I would not even be afraid
to serve the forces that fight in the war with Iuz.” She proceeded to
talk at length about her hopes for the future. The bright early
morning held an air of such promise that they barely noticed the
Tiarnán shared his own background and plans for the future. Originally
from Tiobraid Árann, he had indeed spent many years with the dwarves,
learning the basics of their stone-craft and construction. He needed
to complete a major engineering project before they would allow him to
learn their true arts. He had finally found one in need of supervision
in the new road serving Kylemore (on condition that he compete the
statue first, as required by the abbot). “Kylemore, what does the name
mean?” “Coille Moire: Big Wood.” Again she studied his face to see if
you made any remark. He seemed to be gentleman enough to keep from
saying anything funny, but his blushing face showed he had at least
thought of it.
They finally reached the top, and Tiarnán marvelled at the view.
Caoimhe remarked “I often come up here alone. The peace helps me to
think and pray. The sheer size of nature’s works reminds me how
insignificant we are in the grand scheme. And yet St. Cuthbert loves
us all. With no sounds from below, there is a tranquillity here that
can’t be found elsewhere.” She rarely made the climb with others, and
when she did she always felt they distracted her. But for some reason,
she felt at ease even with Tiarnán’s company. Tiarnán seemed to have
transformed from the climb. Gone was the sleepiness, to be replaced by
a studious look that took in everything. Very intense. Standing
straight, he breathed deeply the fresh morning air. He started to step
out to look down over the edge. “Can you even see the abbey from
here?” “Careful, now!”
Tiarnán’s footing began to slip, but Caoimhe quickly moved to grab
him. Suddenly they were in each others arms. Both breaths racing,
hearts beating. “The quiet here, nothing from below can be heard here.
And so nothing from here can be heard below?” “I guess …” Caoimhe
whispered. Many voices in her head telling her to break the embrace,
yet she was unable.
Noon on the Hill by Kylemore Abbey
The wedding was a small affair. Few relatives were able to make the
trip (given very short notice). Fewer still wished to climb the hill
(Caoimhe was insistent the ceremony take place in the shadow of the
newly raised statue). The bump in her belly was creatively covered by
her flowing white dress, but everyone was well aware of the reason
behind the swift engagement. There had been many difficult
conversations with the abbot when she learned she was with child, and
much whispering behind backs in the village. Tiarnán was initially
shocked, but seemed determined to do right by her. She didn’t know him
well enough to know what was really going on in his head, how he
really felt about this unexpected child changing everything. She even
doubted herself. This was the last thing she had planned. How could
she be expected to learn all the things a mother needs to know, to
create a family with this man who was in many ways still a stranger to
her, all in so short a time. Tiarnán dutifully spoke his words.
Caoimhe looked up to the statue of St. Cuthbert for reassurance, but
found none. She spoke her words, somewhat hesitantly. The clouds
started to move in over the assembled crowd as they applauded the
Afternoon on the Hill by Kylemore Abbey
“St. Cuthbert. They told me not to come up, that I need to rest and
recover from the child-birth. But I had to. I had thought that you
sending me a child was penance for my mistake. But the moment I saw my
beautiful son, the second I held him in my arms, I knew he was a gift.
I love him with all my heart, and could not bear to see any harm to
fall him. I know I can’t begin to fathom your plans, and I know I have
no right to ask, but please do not take my son from me. Please allow
me to see him grow safely to manhood. Protect him from the dangers of
the world, and I promise I will do anything you ask of me, shoulder
any burden, suffer any trial.” Caoimhe knelt before the statue, head
bowed in submission. No movement came from the statue, but rain
started pouring from the heavens. The drops looked like tears coming
down the statue’s face. Caoimhe started making her way back down,
uncertain of how to interpret the sudden torrent. She expected in her
condition to be sure to catch a cold at the least. It was looking like
her new life as a mother was not going to start out easy.
Dusk on the Hill by Kylemore Abbey
Caoimhe stood by the statue in the fading light of dusk. Time had
taken it’s toll on her, grey hairs among her dark red locks, wrinkles
around the eyes, but a still a spark in her eyes. “Fionn is a man now.
Eighteen years, strong and healthy. It’s not been easy. At times it
seemed like more than I could bear. I did my best to nurture him,
protect him, teach him all I could. And when his father left, to fill
that gap too. I know I wasn’t perfect. Fionn’s got a lot of anger
still. He hides it as best he can, he’s his father’s son like that.
But a mother knows. Maybe I could have been the wife Tiarnán wanted
and he would have stayed. Maybe. But no matter how much Fionn resents
me, he’s grown up to make his own decisions, to stand on his own. I’m
proud of that, but also grateful. Through the sicknesses, the
injuries, the scares and troubles, I’ve never given up my faith. I
felt your hand over us. I don’t know why you saw fit to hear the pleas
of a sinner like myself. But you did. And all I want now is to know
what I must do in your service. Please, St. Cuthbert, show me what you
want of me.” But she got no response. The statue was so well known to
her, she could picture even the smallest detail in her mind. The vast
landscape was as familiar to her as the back of her hand. Her life in
the abbey had been demanding on her body, but had kept her fit and
strong. The climb up the hill had long since stopped exerting her. It
was now an easy path. With Fionn gone, her life was busy, lots of work
to do, but it was safe, known, comfortable in spirit if not body.
There was nothing left in Kylemore Abbey to challenge her. Whatever
St. Cuthbert wanted of her, she would not find it here. The sunset had
painted the clouds and the valley with a deep orange glow. As she
watched the sun finally slip down below the horizon, she somehow knew,
deep down, that she would never see it again. She kissed the foot of
the statue, and made her way down the slope.