This is not a happy story. This is not a story that will make you feel good, unless you happen to get off on the pain and suffering of others. It is, however, a hopeful story. All is never lost, spirits are never shattered. Empires rise and fall, friendships are made and broken, hope is ignited and snuffed out. And so the story goes. It started in Dundrum and it ended in Wiltshire, spanning thirty years and the world’s length and breadth in between. It follows a band of misfits, struggling to make sense of the world they live in and a world they never knew. This is the story of the latter third of the nineteenth century and the people who shaped it.
As everyone knows, a small meteorite fell in Dundrum, Ireland on the twelfth night of August, 1865. It was nothing particularly special, as meteorites go. Average size, average material, average fall. One can only imagine the scene: a mellow Celtic pasture, the moonbeams lighting the way for a grazing horse or two, when a chunk of starstuff screams toward the ground in a fiery descent. It hits the field at a bad angle, sending mud and flaming weeds flying even as it buries itself in its own crater. The fires put themselves out over the course of the night, but the earth under the celestial stone bakes for hours, never letting the rock cool. If one were to be there, they might see a violet mist seep from the cracks in the meteorite, diffusing into the surrounding Irish air. If one were to then collect what they could of that vapor… it’s lucky, then, that no one was on the scene that night. The meteorite would not be found for several days, not until the crater had cooled and solidified. It would be dubbed a shooting star, and the villagers would simply be thankful it hadn’t hit any livestock. But ancient philosophers once theorized that shooting stars were falling angels. For once, they were right.