A Different School of Thought

By: Eleanor Rigby and Vanessa Wyatt

Ambrose Egan was finally settling down to bed after Kieran had woken him twice. His head had barely hit the pillow when he heard a crash. Next to him, Niamh stirred.

 “What was that?” she asked, sounding surprisingly awake.

From the other room, they heard Kieran cry again. “The baby!” they both gasped. They jumped out of bed simultaneously and ran to the nursery. To their relief, their child seemed unharmed.

Niamh picked him up, cooing, “What’s wrong, pet?”

Ambrose felt a draft from across the hall. Creasing his brow, he went to investigate. The window in the living room had been broken through and glass lay strewn across the carpet. “Niamh! We’ve got to get out of the house!”


“On three, ok?” Niamh told Ambrose. They were standing outside Fitzgerald’s underneath Assumpta’s window. “One, two, three…”

“ASSUMPTA!!!” they yelled in unison. After a few seconds, the publican appeared at her window.

“What do you want?”

“Someone broke into our house!” Niamh called up, clearly distressed and holding a squalling Kieran. “Can we stay at your place tonight?”

“Sure, of course,” Assumpta said, her expression changing. Those circumstances were certainly sufficient grounds for being woken up at 2 o clock in the morning. “I’ll be right down.” She pulled on her robe and ran downstairs to open the door. “Can I get you a coffee?” she asked, letting them in.

“No thanks, maybe after I get Kieran settled down,” Niamh said, yawning.

Assumpta handed her a key and said, “First one on the right.” While Niamh went upstairs to put Kieran down, Ambrose explained the situation to Assumpta.

“Who would do such a thing?” he asked, wrapping up his story. Assumpta thought for a minute.

“Have you put anyone away lately?” Ambrose hardly had to think.

“Jimmy McFillin,” he said bitterly.

The next morning as everyone was filing out of mass, Brian approached

“Ah, Father, I was wondering if I could have a word,” Brian said conversationally.

“Uh, sure Brian, let me get changed first,” Peter said. “Just go on and let yourself in.”

“I should, I own the place,” Brian muttered under his breath as he walked away.

After a few minutes, Peter came into the house. Brian was sitting at the kitchen table. “Can I make you a cup of tea?”

“No, I haven’t got long, I just wanted to run this idea by you first,” Brian said.

“Go for it.”

“What do you think of this: St. Joseph’s School.”

Peter laughed out of shock. “A school? At St. Joseph’s? Well what for? We’ve already got the National School; that’s just down the street.”

“This school would be different than the National School,” Brian explained. “It would give kids more of an education about the church. What d’you say?”

“Well, I’d need some more information first,” Peter said, surprised that Brian was expecting him to make his decision now. “I mean, who’s going to be attending, who’s going to teach the classes, where in the church we’re going to have it…”

“Oh, don’t worry Father, we’ve got that all worked out.” Brian glanced at his watch. “Um… look, I’ve got to go now—other business to attend to—but if you ring Father Mac I’m sure he can tell you everything.” He rose and started to walk out the door.   

“Father Mac?” Peter queried, confused.

“Yeah, I’ve already run it by him,” Brian said, putting his hat on his head. He walked out the door before Peter had time to respond.

Hardly a minute after Brian left, Peter rang Father Mac in Cilldargan. “So, what’s all this about a school at St. Joseph’s?” he asked into the receiver.

“Oh, yes, I was going to talk to you about that,” Father Mac responded.

“Do you really think this is a good idea?” Peter asked. “I mean, all the traffic to and from the school may cause some accidents, and I think it would be in the best interest of everyone in town if we kept things the way they were.”

“Well what about the businesses?” Father Mac retorted. “Kathleen’s shop and Fitzgerald’s are sure to make a notable profit from all the new activity.”

“How much ‘new activity’ are we talking about here, Father?” Peter asked. “Well, at least thirty teenagers from Cilldargan have expressed interest and there are many more than that in Ballykissangel and Castlecomarty.”

“Well, who’s gonna teach all these kids?” Peter asked, astounded by the numbers.

“You are,” Father Mac said simply. Again, Peter laughed out of shock.


“Who else; it’s your church.”

“Father, I’ve got things to do during the day,” Peter explained, trying not to lose his patience. “I can’t be looking after a bunch of kids all day.”

“I thought you’d be pleased,” Father Mac said. “I thought you enjoyed spending time with children.” He was certainly making this difficult.

“It’s not that. It’s just…”

“Listen, why don’t you give yourself some time to think about it,” Father Mac suggested. “We’ll see how you feel about it later.” The line went dead.

“Sure,” Peter said, putting the receiver down. “No problem.”

At the bus stop just down the road, Siobhan was seeing Eamonn off.  

“And don’t forget to read to Sonia at night!” the farmer reminded her. “She gets restless!”

“Don’t worry Eamonn,” Siobhan said, clearly a little exasperated already. “I’ll look after her. Have a good time in Dublin!”

“Thank you, Siobhan,” Eamonn said sincerely as he climbed on. “They mean the world to me.”

“I know,” Siobhan nodded. “Bye now!” She waved as Eamonn took a seat and the bus pulled away.

Peter was walking down the street to Fitzgerald’s at approximately the same time the bus was pulling away.

“How are ya, Father?” Siobhan called out to him from across the street.

“Ah, not bad, Siobhan, how about yourself?” Peter called back.

“Just grand, Father,” Siobhan answered.

“D’you want to join me?” Peter asked, gesturing to the pub.

“Ah, I can’t,” Siobhan responded, walking to her Land Rover, which was parked in front of Hendley’s. “Eamonn’s gone off to Dublin for the week and I’m looking after his animals.”

“Oh,” Peter said. “Well, if you ever need a hand…”

“Thanks Father,” Siobhan said, climbed into the Land Rover, and drove away slowly.

Peter walked into Fitzgerald’s and was greeted cheerfully by Brendan and Padraig. “What can I get you?” Assumpta asked.

“Uh, just some tea, thanks,” Peter said. Suddenly Niamh came down the stairs, looking extremely agitated.

“Assumpta! Do you know how slowly those toilets up there flush?”

“Of course I know, Niamh,” Assumpta sighed. “I live here.”

“It’s ridiculous!” Niamh exclaimed. “Sonia O’Sullivan could run a marathon faster!”

“What’s the matter Niamh?” Padraig asked. “Own toilet not good enough for you?”

“For your information, Padraig,” Niamh said, temper rising, “our house was broken into last night. Ambrose and Kieran and I are staying here for a few days.”

“Oh no,” Brendan said. “I’m sorry, Niamh.”

“Was anyone hurt?” Peter asked.

Assumpta placed his tea on the bar in front of him.

“Just the window,” Ambrose said, coming down the stairs as well. “Liam and Donal are fixing it; everything should be ok in a couple of days.”

Niamh noticed that he was walking out the door. “Where are you goin’?” she demanded.

“I’ve got to do my job, Niamh,” Ambrose said, seeming a little embarrassed to be questioned like this in front of all their friends. “Even if it just means directing traffic.” He shut the door with a bang.

Niamh sighed. “There’s no traffic around here.”

“There will be if Brian and Father Mac get their way,” Peter said, handing Assumpta the money for his tea.

“What are you talking about?” Brendan asked.

“Well, it seems that they want to have some kind of religious school up at St. Joseph’s,” Peter told everyone.

“Religious school?” Padraig laughed. “What do you mean?”

“Well, they’ve gotten a lot of kids in the area interested,” Peter explained. “They’d come to the church instead of going to the school they attend now and learn more about—“

“What!” Brendan exclaimed. “What’s wrong with the National School?”

“Look, both of you,” Assumpta said, jumping in, “I wouldn’t get that upset about it. These things always blow over.”

“This one won’t,” Peter said. “Brian and Father Mac have already planned this through most of the way.”

 “Well who’s gonna be teaching these kids?” Brendan demanded.

“Well…” Peter said, shifting uncomfortably, “Father Mac wants me to do it.”

Assumpta snorted. “That’ll be interesting.”

Peter ignored her. “The idea here is that a few other priests and I would educate the children in all the regular subjects, but then place more emphasis on religion,” he explained. “Father Mac hopes it’ll encourage more young people to be involved in the church.”

Assumpta clicked her tongue disapprovingly. “They have enough of that in the schools now! Kids today don’t need a priest shoving some medieval values down their throats!”

Peter took another drink out of his cup of tea, stood up, and walked out of the pub. Everyone looked at Assumpta accusingly. She rolled her eyes and went into the kitchen to make sandwiches.

That evening, Siobhan was feeding Eamonn’s pigs. They seemed unreceptive to taking food from a stranger.

“Come on,” Siobhan coaxed. “I’m not gonna hurt you…”

One of the pigs sniffed the food in the bucket she held, then turned away and kicked mud on her. Siobhan sighed.

Early the next morning, Assumpta was the only one up. She was in the kitchen preparing breakfast when Niamh came in, ready to argue.

“Assumpta, you really have to do something about those toil—“

“Oh, Niamh, thank God you’re up!” Assumpta said, turning around. “See that list on the table?”

“Yeah, but—“

“Those are all the people who need wake up calls,” Assumpta explained. “Can you wake them up for me? I’ve got my hands terribly full at the moment.”

“Sure,” Niamh replied shortly. She took the list and walked upstairs. Knocking on the first door on the list, she called out, “Time to get up!” She waited until the door opened, and then asked the woman standing there, “Is the toilet in your room satisfactory?”

“What?...” the woman asked groggily.

“I mean, does it take too long to flush?”

“I don’t know what you’re getting at,” the woman said, and closed the door in Niamh’s face. Niamh got a similar response at each room. No one seemed willing to talk about their toilet after just being woken up. She decided to try her plan a different way.

Later that morning, Liam and Donal were standing outside the Garda house, repairing the broken window. A few feet away, Ambrose stood talking to Guard O’Donnell from Cilldargan.

“And, aside from the window, there was no other damage done?” Guard O’Donnell asked, looking up from her notepad.

“Uh, no,” Ambrose responded. He felt awkward. Usually he was the one who asked these questions.

“D’you have any idea who did it?” she asked.

“I’m not sure, but I’ve got a hunch,” Ambrose said. “You remember Jimmy McFillin?”

“Oh yes,” Guard O’Donnell said without hesitation. “Breaking and entering, right?”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Ambrose said. “Especially since I was the one who caught him last time.”

“All right, well, we’ll look into it,” O’Donnell said, closing her notepad. “You have somewhere to stay while these lads repair the window?”

“Yes, thank you,” Ambrose nodded. “Ok, bye,” Guard O’Donnell said, climbing into her patrol car.   

That day at lunchtime, Peter confronted Brian in the pub.  

“Look Brian, are you really serious about this school idea?” Peter asked him.

“Oh, God, yes,” Brian said, taking a bite of his sandwich. “Father, just think of what it’ll do for Ballykay. It’ll increase business, tourism, maybe some people will want to settle here—“

“In your homes!” Peter interrupted, seeing Brian’s real motivation behind this project.

“Look Father, if you’re that concerned about it, have a meeting,” Brian sighed.

“Oh, I will,” Peter said with determination.   

Sometime that afternoon, Niamh walked into Hendley’s, the little bellabove the door ringing her arrival.  

“Hi Kathleen,” she said cheerfully. “Have you got any nappies?”

“I certainly do,” the shopkeeper said in her usual, curt way. She reached under the counter and pulled out a box full of them. While Niamh was digging around in her wallet, Kathleen asked, “So what’s your opinion on this new school at St. Joseph’s?”

“I’m not sure,” Niamh answered truthfully. “I can see the good and bad it would do. There’s a meeting Thursday night at Fitzgerald’s if you want to come. Father Clifford thought it would be a good idea to see what everyone thinks before they go through with it. We’re going to take a vote.” Kathleen narrowed her eyes. “What d’you think? About the school, I mean.”

“I fully support it, of course,” Kathleen said. “Any decision Father MacAnally makes is always in the best interest of the church, and that means it’s in the best interest of everyone.”

“Not everyone…” Niamh muttered.

“What was that? Well, anyway, let’s see Assumpta Fitzgerald complain about this one. If anything, this new school will support her business, with all those youngsters going there for lunch.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Niamh said, knowing that she had no other choice than to agree with the shopkeeper. “Thanks Kathleen.” She took the bag of nappies, left her change on the counter, and left the shop.

As darkness fell on Ballykissangel and most of its residents were crawlinginto their beds for a good night’s sleep, Siobhan was out in a barn,helping someone else get to sleep.

“‘And then Cinderella looked up and saw that the clock had struck twelve…’” Siobhan read from a storybook. She was reading to Eamonn’s horse, Sonia, as he had instructed her to. “‘So she fled from the palace, leaving behind her on the stairs one of her gla—‘”

Sonia snorted and the air blew out the candle Siobhan was using to read to the horse. The vet sighed.     

“Assumpta, we need to talk,” Niamh announced sternly. It was the next morning and as Assumpta was getting ready for the day, Niamh was following her around with a piece of paper in her hands.

“What about?” Assumpta sighed.

“This,” Niamh said, and handed Assumpta the paper she’d been carrying. Assumpta looked at it.

“What is this?”

“Can’t you read?” Niamh asked. “It’s a special kind of toilet my dad told me about.”

“What’s so special about it?” Assumpta asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

“It saves 10 liters a flush,” Niamh said proudly. “Over just one year, you’ll be saving over 54,000 liters! They’re much better than the ones you’ve got now!”

“I bet they flush faster,” Assumpta said steadily, not at all swayed by this gimmick.

“Well…yeah…” Niamh admitted. “But they’re also efficient.”

“Niamh,” Assumpta said in a tone of voice that let Niamh know she had crossed the line this time, “if I want new toilets, I’ll get them, ok? This is a stupid thing to be arguing about, and I think my toilets are fine. Besides, I haven’t really got the money for that right now.”

“Didn’t you read it? Only £1000 and you can get 110 installed!”

“Niamh, I already told you, I don’t need new plumbing!” Assumpta had had it. “And where would I even put 110 toilets?!”

“But Assumpta, it’s only 110!” Niamh said, as if she was requesting something reasonable.

“Ah, get real, Niamh!” Assumpta shouted, throwing the paper down onto the bar. Upstairs, Kieran began to cry.

Niamh sighed. “Thanks,” she said coldly.

Assumpta sighed. “I just can’t do anything right anymore, can I?” she said to the empty bar.

While Assumpta and Niamh were arguing about toilets, a sleepy Siobhan received a very important call on her mobile up at Eamonn’s farm. A man in Cilldargan had a horse that was about to give birth and their local vet was out on business; could Siobhan come help?

“Of course, I’ll be right there,” Siobhan said into the phone, then hung up. Before leaving, she rang Peter. “I’ve got to go to Cilldargan, Father,” she explained. “Could you come up to Eamonn’s farm and just look after the animals for me until I get back? They’ve already been fed; I just want to make sure nothing happens to them while I’m gone.” Peter said he’d be there as soon as he could. “Thanks a million, Father,” Siobhan said, and got into her Land Rover. On the way to Cilldargan, she passed his car driving up to the farm, so she knew that he was on his way. She waved as their cars passed and hoped that the animals liked him more than they liked her.

After her spat with Niamh, Assumpta needed some time to think. Leaving the bar in the capable hands of Padraig, she went for a drive. The drive ended up being a trip to Eamonn’s farm to visit Siobhan. She hoped that there was at least one person in this town with some sense left in them.

“Siobhan!” she called as she got out of her van, slamming the door. “Siobhan…” She walked into the barn and was surprised to find not the vet, but the priest. “Peter,” she said. He looked up the sound of her voice.

“Oh. Hey Assumpta.”

“How’d you get roped into this one?” she asked with a smile, walking over and standing next to him.

Peter laughed. “Don’t ask. Siobhan got called out and earlier I’d offered to watch the animals if she needed me to, so…here I am.”

“People always find a way to make their problems your problems, don’t they?” Assumpta asked.

Peter shrugged. “It’s my job. Besides, I don’t mind it.”

“Is that what you really think?” Assumpta asked, looking right at him. “Or is that the church talking for you?” Peter sighed and looked off, and Assumpta thought this was a good a time as any for an apology. “Look, Peter, I’m sorry about what I said the other day—about shoving stuff down people’s throats. You’re not like that. I know you’re not, I just… I don’t know.” She shook her head. “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” Peter nodded.

An awkward silence seeped between them. It seeped much like darkness or cold does, but the silences they usually shared were never dark nor cold; in fact they usually made Assumpta a little nervous and sweaty. Frequently she felt it settle over the room like a black ominous cloud that was suffocating them. Then it crept into her body, usually giving her a chill. This time the silence was too much for her to bear and she had to say something so she didn’t get consumed by it, and so that the feelings rising inside her would stop.

“I yelled at Niamh.”

Peter was grateful for something to talk about; he too found the silence unnerving. “Why?”

“She was being ridiculous!” Assumpta said, getting angry just thinking about it. “She wanted me to buy new toilets for the pub because the ones I have now don’t flush fast enough for her. That girl, I swear…” She stopped. “Sorry. I don’t mean to dump my problems on you, I just…”

“Well have you talked to Niamh since this...incident?” Peter asked her.

“No,” Assumpta sighed.

“You really should,” Peter advised.

“I know…”

“I’m not telling you as a priest. I’m telling you as a friend.” Assumpta looked up at him. It was when he said things like this that he confused her the most. He was a priest, and that was ok. As a friend he was a good man, but surely it was only human nature for both of them to want a little something more…

“Look—“ she began.

“You’re coming to the meeting tomorrow, right?” Peter asked, telling she wanted to leave and trying to make her stay a little bit longer.

“It’s in my pub, I kind of have to,” Assumpta said, willing to stay if the subject kept away from them—as individuals or as a single unit.

“Look, I know you couldn’t care less about this whole thing, but we need your support,” Peter said, a pleading tone in his voice.

“I don’t know, I really don’t want to get involved,” Assumpta answered truthfully.

“Well, think about it, ok?” Peter asked.

“Sure,” Assumpta said with a nod, and Peter could tell she meant it. Then she took a deep breath and said, “I’ve got to go, all right? I left Padraig in charge of the pub and God knows what he’ll do.” They both laughed a little.

“Ok, well, talk to you later,” Peter said with a wave.

“I’ll see you at the meeting,” Assumpta said as she walked away.

“Thanks,” Peter called after her, and he meant it. Even though he and Assumpta disagreed about practically every topic imaginable, they had the same sense of right and wrong, and her friendship meant a lot to him. But lately, he’d been getting the feeling that their friendship was walking on a tightrope and that one false move could send them both toppling off the wire—with no net to catch them below. Peter didn’t want that to happen, and he certainly didn’t want it to happen to Assumpta. When he’d joined the priesthood, Peter’s brothers had joked with him that the only reason he’d done it was to avoid the complications of dealing with women. At the moment, however, Peter was finding that his interaction with one woman wouldn’t be as complicated if he hadn’t made an extremely crucial decision nearly seven years ago.

Back in Ballykay, Liam and Donal had just finished replacing the window on the Garda house. As Donal took a handful of tools back to the Land Rover, he noticed Liam screwing something into the inside of the window.  

“Hey Liam, I thought we were just fixing the window!” he called out.

“Ambrose wanted me to install this alarm,” Liam explained. “You set the alarm at night and if anyone tries to open the window, the alarm will go off. I put one on the door too. Come on, help me test it out.” He shut and locked the window.

“What do I have to do?” Donal asked.

“Just open the front door and walk inside,” Liam said, setting the alarm by the front door and shutting it. “I have to make sure the laser detectors work.”

“Laser detectors?” Donal asked, paling.

“You can’t see them,” Liam explained. “And they won’t hurt you. But once the alarm is set all you have to do is walk through one of the beams and it’ll go off. Come on, just open the door and go inside.”

“Ok…” Donal said nervously. He opened the door and cautiously took a few steps around the foyer. Suddenly, piercing siren-like beeping cut through the air and Donal jumped three feet in the air and covered his ears.

Liam laughed. “It works! Good man, Donal!”

That evening at Fitzgerald’s, people were slowly pouring in for the school meeting. Everyone in town was there, as well as Father Mac, and a few parents from Cilldargan and other surrounding towns. Tables had been set up in reception and people sat at them or on the couch and chairs that normally occupied the area. After no one had come in for a while, Peter called the meeting to order.

“Quiet, please, everyone.”

Assumpta rang the bell from behind the bar and everyone fell silent.

“Thanks,” Peter said to her with a smile. She took a seat at one of the tables with Niamh, Ambrose, and Brendan. “Where’s Siobhan?” she whispered to Brendan. “I thought she was coming.”

“She had to look after Eamonn’s animals, remember?” Brendan said with a grin. “Oh, right…” She suppressed a laugh. “Now, I think you all know why we’re here,” Peter began, “—to discuss the possibility of some kind of religious school being offered at St.
Joseph’s here in Ballykissangel.”

“Please let me clarify,” Father Mac jumped in. “The school will be a single class of teenagers who would like to learn more about the Catholic Church and are considering joining it. Now, Father Clifford here will be tea—“

“Hold on now!” the mother of a child from Cilldargan butted in. “I was told that this school was going to educate the children more about the church, not that they were going to have to join it!”

“Children will learn more about the church but they don’t necessarily have to join it,” Father Mac said.

“Sure sounded like it to me,” the mother muttered.

“Well,” Brian said, taking this opportunity to sell the idea to everyone. “Think of the good this school will do for this community! It’ll bring more activity to the town, more business for the local shops, more people who might want to settle here, more tourists—“

“More traffic!” Padraig called out, then looked down when Brian looked around furiously to see who’d interrupted him.

“And less teachers!” Brendan added. “If kids from the National School are going to this new school, then somebody’s gonna get the sack!”

“If you don’t watch yourself it’s gonna be you!” Brian snapped.

“All right!” Peter said, raising his voice. “It’s obvious that this new school will bring good and bad things to the community, so why don’t we take a vote? Just write yes or no on a scrap of paper and we’ll count them up.”

Both Brian and Father Mac opened their mouths to object but Assumpta said, “I’ve got some paper here,” and went behind the bar to get everyone a slip of paper.

After the voting, everyone went their separate ways, and Brendan wished Peter good luck on his way out.

“Thanks!” Peter called after him.

“Thank you too,” he said to Assumpta as they moved the last table back into its usual place in the bar. “For having the meeting here. I appreciate it.”

“No problem. D’you want to count those votes now?” she asked.  

“Now?” Peter asked, surprised.

“The suspense is killing me.”

Four minutes later twenty of the twenty-one votes lay in piles: ten yes and ten no.

“One left,” Assumpta said, taking it out of the bowl and waving it around. Peter took it from her and she said, “Hey, that one’s mine!”

“How can you tell?” “I remember it had that funny rip along the bottom.”

“Well, it all depends on your vote,” Peter said.

“There’s a tie so far.”

“Open it,” Assumpta said with a grin. Peter unfolded the slip of paper and dropped it into the right pile. Then he looked at Assumpta and grinned back. “Well.”

The next morning Brendan ran into Peter on his way to the pub.  

“Peter! What’s the news on the school? Have you counted the votes yet?”

“Come with me,” Peter said, leading Brendan into Fitzgerald’s, trying to hide a smile.

“What can I get you?” Assumpta asked them, also trying not to reveal the secret.

“You can tell me whether or not they’re going to have the school!” Brendan said forcefully, but lightheartedly.

“Peter, why don’t you answer that one,” Assumpta said.

“Brendan,” Peter said, putting a hand on his friend’s shoulder, “I think you’re going to keep your job for a long time.”

“It was voted against then?” Brendan asked excitedly.

“Just barely,” Assumpta said.

“Assumpta’s vote broke the tie,” Peter clarified. “Ten yeses to eleven no’s.”

“Good on ya!” Brendan told Assumpta enthusiastically.

“I’ll have a pint—and whatever anyone else is having.”

“Just a coffee, please,” Ambrose said, coming down the stairs, followed by Niamh, who said, “Club orange for me.” She was carrying Kieran and took a seat at the bar.


“Uh, I think I’ll just stick to a coffee.”

While Assumpta got to work on the beverages, Brendan asked Niamh and Ambrose if they’d heard the news.

“Enlighten us,” Niamh said, eyes wide.

“They’re not havin’ the school!” Brendan announced, spreading his arms widely.

“Oh, that’s grand!” Ambrose said happily.

“Great news, Brendan, I’m happy for ya!” Niamh said, putting a hand on Brendan’s arm.

“What’s goin’ on?” Liam asked, walking into the pub and followed by Donal.

“They’re not gonna have that school at St. Joseph’s,” Niamh explained.

“Oh, great, great!” Liam said, and Donal nodded. “Want even better news?” he asked. “We finished the window, Ambrose.”

“Did ya? Well done, lads!” Ambrose said, grinning.

“You can settle back in now, when you’re ready,” Liam said. “Oh and I installed that alarm for you, Guard Egan.”

“Oh, and, that guard from Cilldargan called,” Donal added. “The man who broke your window—your one. McFillin.”

“What’d I tell ya?” Ambrose asked.

“They’ve locked him up again,” Liam explained. “And this time, he won’t be comin’ out for a long time.”

“Thanks a bunch, fellas,” Niamh said with a smile.

“Will you have a drink?” Assumpta asked them, having given everyone what they’d ordered.

“Sure, sure,” Donal agreed.

The door opened and Siobhan and Padraig walked in. Brendan swept both of them up in a hug and told them the news on all fronts. They too ordered drinks, and pretty soon everyone was feeling grand. They all had something to be thankful for.

Assumpta leaned over the bar. “Looks like you’re out of a teaching job,” she said to Peter with a grin.

“Yeah, we should leave that to the people who do it best,” Peter said. “Hey—thank you.”

“What for?” Assumpta asked, surprised.

“For coming to the meeting,” Peter shrugged. “And for supporting the cause.”

Assumpta smiled. “That’s what friends do.”

After everyone left, Assumpta went up to clean the room that Niamh and Ambrose had stayed in. They left it relatively clean. As she was stripping the sheets from the bed, she noticed a piece of paper sitting on the bedside table. She picked it up and saw that it was the ad Niamh had shown her for the toilets.

Assumpta laughed, crumpled the paper up into a ball, and tossed it into the wastebasket.