Charles Egan – The Killing Snows


  • Luke Ryan. 
  • Michael, his father. 
  • Eleanor, his mother. 
  • Pat, his younger brother. 
  • Murty Ryan, Luke’s uncle. 
  • Aileen, Murty’s wife.  
  • Danny, their eldest son. 
  • Nessa, their daughter. 
  • Murtybeg, their youngest son. 
  • Brigid, Nessa’s daughter. 
  • Sabina McKinnon, Luke’s aunt. 
  • Ian McKinnon, Sabina’s husband. 

All characters, except for a few obvious historical persons, are fictitious. 

 The main characters at the start of the book can be summarized as follows:

Luke himself might be seen as a decent young man (19 -20 years old) who wants to do the best he can for everyone during the Famine. The impossibility of his position produces a toughness he never knew he had, but even this might not be enough in the face of his increasing alienation and the horror he witnesses all around him.

Luke’s father Michael is a tough, hard-working man, used to having his own way, but not realizing when he has to compromise.

Luke’s mother, Eleanor, is a gentle loving woman, hiding an underlying strength which allows her to stand up to Michael. She also has had to put up with the tough life of a nineteenth century Irish mother, watching her children die or emigrate.

Pat is a more ordinary fellow than Luke, but ambitious in love.

Danny is the archetype of the ruthless Irish labour contractor, many of whom became major builders and property developers in Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

IN COUNTY MAYO the county towns of Castlebar, Claremorris Westport and Ballina are real, but the East Mayo towns of Kilduff, Knockanure and Brockagh are fictitious, as are the settlements and mountains around them.