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© Copyright DARREN BREALEY 2019

English descendant full cousins Ashley and Evangeline Oliver marry on 23rd February 1904 at the Parish Church of Kilfinane, two months pregnant with Ashley’s baby Richard Jnr. As the winds of trouble stirs, Britain plans to grant Home Rule to Ireland. In the County of Limerick, is a small town named Kilfinane where the Oliver family Mill provides employment and an economical stronghold with its two corn, flax, carding and timber mills.

 

Ashley, son of William Silver Oliver, Medical Doctor-Surgeon - Irish Fusiliers and Evangeline, daughter of Richard Oliver Snr, the Miller, both live in the Mill complex in their home. With Richard Oliver Snr very unwell and no heir groomed to take over the reigns of the family Mill, the Mill’s existence appears bleak.

 

In 1914 Britain calls to arms to go to war, taking many of Ireland’s men with her, including Ashley Oliver. Evangeline and her mother, Alice begrudgingly bury their differences to keep the Mill afloat until Ashley returns home from the fighting overseas. Before Ashley can return home from war, Evangeline’s father Richard Snr dies peacefully in his sleep.

 

Evangeline tells the story of a woman’s torment and terrible injustices as her family empire dissolves, her husband fights in a war she doesn’t understand in an overseas country, whilst her own country wages its own internal fight for freedom. Evangeline Oliver is a woman with a passion for playing the piano, drums, and clarinet, whose daily disruption is her pet dogs and the occasional visitor for tea. This is a woman from a privileged upbringing with servants, land, and never knowing what it is like to go hungry. Her constant distraction whilst her husband is away fighting and Richard Jnr in boarding school, is family friend Percy French; an English entertainer, painter and balladeer.

 

In 1918 when Ashley writes to Evangeline from the War Front to say he is coming home, she is confronted with the horrors of the war she has so passionately distanced herself with Ashley’s injuries and exposure to Mustard Gas. Evangeline’s brother, Dick and his friend Michael, both Doctors come to assist how and when they can, but Ashley’s injuries are far worse than he is revealing to Evangeline.

 

During 1922 Irelands fight for her own Parliament hits its peak for Evangeline when she is woken at 5:00AM and forced at gunpoint to make breakfast for a hungry and injured troop of soldiers from the notorious Black and Tans. After this point, Kilfinane is no longer the place Evangeline remembers as a child. With little preparations and no closure, Evangeline, Ashley, Richard Jnr and Alice pack their suitcases and travel to England, where they settle in Brighton, leaving everything behind in Kilfinane.

 

When Ashley dies from his First World War injuries two years later, Evangeline moves again, as far away as she possibly can from Ireland and the memories it holds.

 

Evangeline purchases two one-way tickets on the Glasgow Orient Liner, “SS Osterley” on a six week journey to Daylesford, Victoria Australia. Here she and Richard Jnr settle in a two bedroom miner’s cottage on a peaceful hill overlooking Lake Daylesford.