14 Fools of Fortune


Fools of Fortune 5/26/17-10/10/17 – Four gamblers use their military training to pull off a well-coordinated heist.


“Fools of Fortune” is the title of a 1983 novel by William Trevor. It has nothing to do with this story, but all Ballinabricky’s titles try to call attention to works of Irish literature.

The names of Hoyle, Tally, Bee, and Fournier all come from popular brands of playing cards.



Those of you who attend Catholic Mass may be asking, “Why did he put the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday morning?” Well, it turns out that in 1936, the Vigil Mass was held in the morning, not in the evening. In fact, it had to be held so early in the morning that the 3-4 hour service would be over prior to noon.

There will be scenes from the Mass juxtaposed against the scenes of the heist. I’ve done this both to give a sense of the time passing as well as to add meaning to the events in the story. Those of you who are historically minded may be interested to know that I actually went to the trouble of purchasing an old missal from 1936, so the way I depict the various parts of the Mass here are accurate representations of what is called for in the missal.

One of the reasons the Mass would take so long was that there were twelve (12!) separate readings, as well as numerous other parts of the liturgy. Substantial changes were made between 1951 and 1955, many of which became permanent parts of the Novus Ordo version in 1961. Of course, things changed yet again when Vatican II came around a few years after that.

There was a time when there were no electric alarms. Apparently, this small branch thought that an alarm on the cage gate and the strength of the vault would be sufficient.

The paintings in the bank managers office are both by Jack Butler Yeats, brother of William Butler Yeats.

Hm…perhaps a little divine intervention is on the way…

It was established in The Devil’s Disciple that Sam and Dann Briscoe are Jewish, so naturally, they would not be at the Mass. There were never many Jews in Ireland (JCR-UK only records six cities that ever had a Jewish community in them), but they have indeed been present in Ireland for a long time.  Records show only two synagogues that would have been open in 1936 anywhere near Ballinabricky, and those are not too near (one in Limerick and one in Cork — each with fairly constant membership of only 25-35 people over this period).

The Clancy Brother’s had a song, Moses-Ri-Tooril-I-Ay, which makes reference to “Briscoe,”  likely  reference to Ben Briscoe (although it could have been Robert), a Jewish politician in Ireland.  It was because of Ben Briscoe that I chose Sam and Dann’s surname.

For the railroad buffs out there, those maps are actual period-accurate maps of the Irish rail system. The one on the left is a map of the Great Southern and Western Railway system (with ferry connections, hotels, and other railways throughout the British Isles) from 1902.  The GSWR merged with the Midland Great Western Railway became Great Southern Railways in 1924.

You may have noticed an odd spelling of Nebuchadnezzar’s name (and of Noah’s name, in an earlier episode). This is because the Catholic Church still used the Douay-Rheims translation in this period. The Douay-Rheims was the first non-heretical English translation of the Bible, and it was a heavy influence on the translators of the later King James Version.

It was hard to tell from the antique missal whether the priest was supposed to do the exorcism on the water while facing toward or away from the people. I have a suspicion that he was supposed to do that ad orientem (in this case, away from the people), but I shot what I shot.

Yes, if you’ve been watching, the rubrics for the Mass also call for multiple wardrobe changes for the priest.

Shots like the double-wide in the middle can be difficult to shoot without breaking the fourth wall. I have designed a museum for the space across the street from the bank and the diner, but I haven’t purchased the parts and built it yet (even though it’s technically supposed to be there already — I made reference to it as far back as Dani’s lecture in The Dead). It would be the biggest, most detailed building in the town. Maybe I should run a GoFundMe…

So, it occurred to me afterward that the timeline here can be a little confusing. Consider this late in the day on Easter Sunday, the day after the heist. Since this is late in the day on Sunday, that means that lots of businesses and services will be closed through the following day.

Because nobody would associate the bank robbery with a possible robbery in the train station, the Gardaí have had no reason to see that the safe there had been robbed as well. Presumably, the train station staff would discover this when they opened up on Tuesday.

…another “brilliant” plan…what could possibly go wrong?

A little levity.  Gufus and  (unnamed here) Gallant are named after two of my favorite characters from an old children’s magazine I used to read as a kid. Apparently, they go way back.  These kids aren’t actually the characters from the magazine, but they play similar roles in that Gufus is always mischievous and looking for trouble and Gallant plays by the rules.

According to Google Maps, it would take a little over six hours to make the trip by bicycle. I had Bee and Fournier do it in seven, and we also have to assume they didn’t leave immediately when Hoyle suggested it on Sunday. If they left some time late Monday morning (and there would have been reason to hold off, like trying to avoid paying for overnight accommodations), they would be to Kildare late on Monday afternoon/evening.

In 1936, there was a Great Southern Railways line that ran through the area where Ballinabricky is supposed to have been.  I’ve built in a spur that would service Ballinabricky station four times a day. As there’s only one track, the train would go from Cork to Dublin and back in the morning (passing through Ballinabricky once each way), and then it would repeat that route in the afternoon (passing through again). This is actually reflected in the schedule board behind Nora and Gordon at the end of The Dead.

Because of that, Bee and Fournier would have met the coffin on the morning train as it was going from Ballinabricky to Dublin.  There would presumably be some meeting with the authorities to hand over the coffin (which was expected to stay in town with Joe Foster), causing them to miss the train when it pulled out of the station headed for Dublin a few minutes later.  It seems, however, that Bee and Fournier got on the train after it turned around in Dublin and was heading back to Cork. That was not the plan, as they were supposed to stay in Kildare until the train had gone all the way back to Cork, turned around, picked up Hoyle and Tally on its way back to Dublin, and then got on it with the money (no need to actually travel with the coffin) and all met up in the city.

Well, at this point, if you are a classic movie buff, you may have noticed some elements of this plan and plot that seem vaguely familiar. The whole story was a bit of an homage to Ocean’s 11 (the original one).  “Donaill Muir” could be translated as “Danny Ocean,” Frank Sinatra’s character, and Jimmy Foster was the name of Peter Lawford’s character.  The idea of the multi-site heist made more likely through military training and the heart attack/money-in-the-coffin/cremation were elements inspired by the film.


And, yes, I realize the irony of having carefully constructed a realistic fictitious railway schedule but not having taken into account the two or three hours it would have taken to cremate the body in Ballybrophy, something for which the train would certainly not have waited.  That said, this gang was obviously misinformed regarding a number of details in this business, so perhaps they were wrong about the coffin being moved by train from Ballinabricky to Ballybrophy. Perhaps the Gardaí brought the coffin that morning and the funeral home sent someone by train to move the cremains to Kildare.


Yes. That seems much more likely. I’ll just say that was my intention from the start!  (Either that, or perhaps they’d mixed up some thermite in the Ballybrophy crematorium to do it in a few minutes while the train waited, but I doubt it.)