Continues every week throughout the month of June


Mary Rose Cleary was in bed recovering from a vertigo attack when she heard the scream.

At eighty-five years of age, her body didn’t respond as quickly as it used to, and she sighed as she heaved herself to her feet. A spell of dizziness washed over her, and she pressed her hands against the wall while she regained her balance.
Once it passed, she shuffled her way into the kitchen. She heard two more shouts. Then silence.

Noel Sharkey lived directly across the road. He had lived there for over fifty years, moving in just a couple of weeks after Mary Rose and Jim had bought their dream home. But Jim was long deceased, and now Mary Rose lived alone. Their five children were grown up, and living their own lives.

Noel Sharkey was alone now too. His wife had passed away last year, yet her famously tight-fisted ‘wheeler dealer’ husband was showing no signs of slowing down.
Tomorrow would be his eightieth birthday, and his three children had arranged a surprise birthday party for him. After extreme coaxing, his only son, Michael, was making a secret trip home from Australia to wish his father well on his big day.

Mary Rose knew all about the plan because Noel’s two daughters, who still lived in the town, had called to see her, asking for advice on who they should invite to the get-together. Mary Rose also quickly learned that there was no love lost between Noel and any of his offspring.
And now there were screams.

When she looked out the kitchen window, Mary Rose saw the shadow of a broad well-built man slamming the front door of Sharkey’s house.
Though the night was dark, she still recognised him. It was Tom Brennan, the local ‘man with a van’. He had a look of thunder on his face as he stomped off down the road.
It wasn’t unusual for someone to have an axe to grind with Noel Sharkey – in fact, he welcomed confrontation.

Mary Rose had lost count of the number of people who had stopped her on the street to ask how she continued to live next to that ‘mean-spirited, penny-pinching old swindler’. Mary Rose let it in one ear, and out the other. She preferred not to get involved in other people’s spats. Noel had never done her or her family any harm.
Mary Rose poured herself a glass of water, took a Difene tablet from the press, and made her way back to bed. She would call to see Noel in the morning, to make sure things were all right. Her head spun a little as she eased herself back into bed. She popped her pill, and closed her eyes.
Within minutes, she was asleep.


Miss Flanagan was up at the crack of dawn. Rising Time, on RTE Radio One, was her choice of listening at this time of the day, when the presenter with the dulcet tones treated those listeners who liked an early start to a wide selection of old-time classics. She pottered around her kitchen doing some last-minute cleaning before the arrival of her nephew, Daniel, who was coming to stay for the summer. Two fresh loaves of brown bread baked in the oven.

Daniel was nursing a broken heart after his fiancée had abruptly ended their relationship.
He was a primary school teacher, and when Miss Flanagan’s sister, Maud, rang her to tell her the news, Benford’s number one detective jumped at the opportunity to welcome a family member for a holiday. She was looking forward to having the pleasure of his company for two whole months. She beamed at the thought.

Her good humour was interrupted by a sharp knocking on the front door. Miss Flanagan looked at the clock; it had just gone six o’clock.
“Who on earth could that be so early in the morning?” she muttered to herself.

Continue reading the Miss Flanagan Summer Serial over the coming weeks in Ireland’s Own