The Jolly Roger
Black Cullen Donnelly
Bold Irish Rebel Turned Conniving Irish Scoundrel
Born to William and Mary Donnelly in County Cork in a time of famine (ref: The Little Ice Age). Cullen’s mother died in childbirth, and his father, grief-stricken and prone to drink, disappeared soon after, leaving the brood in the care of Granny Cullen, a shrewd and hard-nosed old battle-axe with a fierce hatred for English rule and a remarkably pragmatic attitude to keeping over a dozen kids – plus assorted cousins, uncles, and hangers-on – clothed and fed. In plain language, Granny Cullen is the feared and respected head of an extended clan of thieves, burglars, highwaymen, counterfeiters, rebels, and thugs who exist at the crossroads between political agitation and criminal necessity (a rather overpopulated stretch of conceptual space in Ireland, then and now).
Growing up in a criminal family, Cullen took to the ways of his people like a duck to morally murky water. His youth was spent either robbing from English landlords, dealing with incursions against the Donnelly’s territory, or getting caught up in the hare-brained schemes of his more idealistic relatives. It was the latter that made a sojourn in England a necessity, either hanging or slavery being the only options left to him on the Emerald Isle. Stuck in the belly of the beast and severed from his usual support network, Cullen took to drink to drown his sorrows. Sadly, that plan of attack led to the enhancement of his woes rather than their reduction as, upon sobering up, the tang of salt in the air and the odd rolling nature of the floor soon led him to the realisation that he was on a ship, bound for parts unknown.
And here we are…