Conor Larkin

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Conor Larkin is a fictional character and the chief protagonist in Leon Uris' novel, Redemption.

Early life[edit]

Conor was born in the fictional town of Ballyutogue in County Donegal in 1873. He grew up there, working his family's farm land with his father Tomas. Conor's father had survived the potato famine and from an early age Conor was filled with the desire for Irish independence from Great Britain. During one trip to Derry with his father, Conor and his best friend Seamus O'Neill, witnessed a violent riot when Protestants had been urged to attack the Catholic part of town. He also met Parnell and felt the early stirrings of Home Rule sentiments.

Conor's father had wanted him to inherit the farm and was hugely disappointed when he decided instead to apprentice as a blacksmith. He later moved to Derry where he had trouble finding work because of a Protestant ban on Catholic laborers. He was such a fine blacksmith that he was soon able to open his own Forge; however, rioting Orangemen angry at his success, soon destroyed it. Because he was an exceptional rugby player, Conor received some special favors not open to all other Catholics, and soon received a special loan, that allowed him to rebuild. He began attending Gaelic events that began to inspire a yearning for Irish independence. After witnessing a deadly fire at the Witherspoon & McNabb Shirt Factory, the town's major employer, Conor left the Bogside and explored the world for several years, trying to erase Ireland from his mind.

Mid Life[edit]

Eventually, Conor returned to Ireland and settled in Belfast, where he became a part of the fledgling Irish Republican Brotherhood, under the guidance of Dan Sweeney. Tasked with helping to import some stolen guns, he arranged a plan to hide the weapons in the engine boiler of the train that was used to transport the rugby team, Belfast Boilermakers, to matches in England. The group was betrayed to British soldiers during their final shipment, and Conor and other members of the Brotherhood were caught and imprisoned. Conor's trial was tainted by the imposition of the Detention and Emergency Powers Act which suspended civil rights for suspected terrorists. While serving a fifty-year prison sentence, Conor was informed that his Protestant girlfriend had been murdered, and he became almost catatonic. He was shaken from his stupor by a sympathetic Catholic prison guard who helped the IRB with a daring escape plan.

Death[edit]

Conor continued his Republican activities with the Brotherhood, until he eventually led an assault on a castle where loyalist paramilitaries were storing a large cache of weapons. As they met unexpected resistance from the British, Conor was forced to set off the charges, thus sacrificing his lifelong friend, Seamus O'Neill, who was acting as the rear guard. Conor decided, against his original plan, to stay behind and man a machine gun with his aging commander Dan Sweeney. After being badly wounded by British forces pursuing the raiding party, he was killed with a bullet to the head by a British officer whose group found him. About to call a stretcher, the officer noticed that "half his guts are on the floor", and "put him out of his misery". He died knowing his mission was a success and with the name "Atty" (the woman he was romantically involved with immediately prior to the raid) on his lips.