Monday, March 14, 2016


Not a lot of people know this ...

Instead of being an economist, politician, party leader, nearly Taoiseach, banker etc., Alan Dukes could have been a best selling crime novel writer.

This thought came to mind recently in the context of the abortive attempt to blow up Nelson's Pillar a week before the actual explosion which rid us of the admiral forever (except for his head on a spike, so to speak, in the Pearse Street reading room).

The nub of the matter is the timer used for the abortive pillar explosion.

Now Alan wrote his first crime story for me when I was editor of the Shanganagh Valley News in 1959 and, as he didn't ultimately follow up on this genre in the rest of his career, I probably have the distinction of being his only crime writing publisher.

You can read Alan's original crime mystery below.

February, 1959.          Price _2d.

??? WHO DUNNIT ???
le Alan Diuic.

Old Mrs. Corrigan, widow of the late and much celebrated architect, lives alone in the rambling house which was locally known as "The Widow's Mansion". On the night in question, she was lying in bed and was almost asleep when she heard a tap on the window. She drew a short breath, startled, but not really frightened. When it was repeated again and again she did not feel at all happy. Slowly, clad in her heavy dressing gown, she approached the window. She released the catch and opened the window slightly, calling "Who's there?". She received no reply and in consequence leaned farther out, repeating her question. This time she received an answer in the form of a loud report. For a moment she stood there, petrified, and then clutching her heart, she fell, DEAD!!!

Inspector Stafford pessimistically scanned the list. It contained the names of those suspected of last night's crime. His assistant peered curiously over his shoulder. The Inspector quietly folded the list, placed it in his pocket and told Jack (this being his assistant's name) to have the car ready in three minutes. After many unfruitful questionings, Stafford was becoming impatient so he decided to make this his last call of the day. After knocking politely on the door for some moments, it was opened by a grim-faced labourer who obviously did not have a Gradh for the Gardai one would expect to find in the average good citizen. After grudgingly admitting the two men, he proceeded to intone his alibi. He had, he said, gone to bed at 7.30 p.m. the previous night with a headache and slept soundly until he was awakened by the alarm at 8.0 a.m. this morning. Stafford requested the alarm to be given to him and, sure enough, it read 8.00. The detective remarked, "I think he's our man Jack", and without a moment's hesitation handcuffed the man who struggled violently.

Later, after severe interrogation, the man, Flanagan by name, confessed explaining that after a quarrel with his aunt she cut him from her will and as a result he bore her an intense hatred which he had satisfied the previous night.

[For any digital age youngsters reading this, who may still be mystified by the Inspector's insight, I need to remind them that the standard alarm clock in those distant days was a mechanical analogue twelve hour clock – Editor 2016]

And what, you may ask has all that to do with an abortive attempt to blow up Nelson, nearly sixty years later in 1966. Well, checkout this post and see.

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