The Interloper (cover) Eilís Dillon
The Interloper

'"Why not let sleeping dogs lie? Those old warriors have had their day. Why stir them up again?"
'"Old times," I said vaguely.'
The years of the Irish Civil War were dark and bitter ones. Old comrades in the fight for Irish freedom were now enemies. Families were divided. It was a time of betrayal, brutality and the agonies of split loyalties. This is the story of three people caught up in a fateful turmoil of love and violence.


"The period and the passion are evoked effortlessly ... similar in manner if not in subject to the historical novels of Daphne du Maurier" (Books)

"Miss Dillon is a fine storyteller" (The Irish Times)

"The atmosphere of the Irish Revolution is beautifully portrayed" (Catholic Herald)

"The Interloper tells a romantic story, but fortunately there is more to the novel than this. As ever, Dillon is at her best when dealing with Ireland's vicissitudes." (Patricia Craig, Times Literary Supplement)

"This is beautiful writing." (Birmingham Post)

"Accurately portraying the a Irish political ambience of the period, the novel is imbued with understanding of the conflicted Irish psyche." (Publishers Weekly)

Now read an extract from the novel ....

Then, without warning, I began to have misgivings. It had nothing to do with the absurdity of a handful of virtually unarmed men on the outer rim of Europe undertaking to fight the British Empire to a standstill. I never doubted that what we were trying to do was right. What happened was that I began to see that guerrillas become professionals, in time.

The first stories of atrocities by the Black-and-Tans had aroused disgust for two reasons - firstly that they should be condoned by the prime minister of a civilised country, and secondly that human beings were capable of such inhuman behaviour. As time passed, our men were trained to be as ruthless as the enemy. I saw that they had learned the lesson all too well.

I was staying in a house in County Clare when the shock of recognition happened. The men I was with were rejoicing - that's the only word I can use - in the lingering death inflicted on a resident magistrate, buried in the sand and left to drown in the rising tide on a desolate shore.

I walked out of the house and wandered all night around the fields and lanes, scarcely knowing what I was doing. Nothing could justify this. Then what was war? Ritual killing? I could never have joined in that. The British had rules which they had broken. Did that mean we could break the rules we had made for ourselves? Once we did this, it seemed to me that we had lost the war. I knew it was not my business to think, once I was committed to the cause, but this was more than I could ever stomach. The men I was with were countrymen. They could kill a pig or a sheep without a thought. Now they could kill a man. I was too squeamish. I was no longer fit for their company.

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