In the midst of the feuds and famine of Tipperary, Ireland in 1845, Jim Donnelly and Johannah McGee fall passionately in love. She is the beautiful daughter of an affluent estate manager, he the rebellious son of dispossessed peasants. With her father’s men in pursuit and a sizable price on Jim’s head, they board a ship set for Canada to start a new life and put the troubles of the old country behind them.
Thousands of miles away in rural Ontario, they find the feuds and vendettas of Ireland are very much alive. Jim must make a place for his young family not just with his back, but with his fists.
Fifteen years later, the Donnelly family have become one of the most powerful in Lucan Township, loved by some and hated by others. Jim and Johannah’s sons are notorious as both fighters and lovers and torment the townspeople, swinging shillelaghs, burning barns and seducing daughters.
But certain citizens of Lucan have had enough. At midnight on February 3, 1880, a mob of thirty armed men in women’s clothing and carnival masks ride out for the Donnelly farm. Sustained by whisky and the blessings of the local priest, their goal is to wipe the Donnelly family from the face of the earth. Yet there is an eye witness and during the trial that follows, it becomes clear that in small town Ontario of the late 1800s, order is valued above truth.
Eventful and conveyed with cinematic detail, Blood of the Black Donnellys is an engaging and historically enlightening read.