Place of The Invader is the English translation of the town of Crookstown, county Cork, or, for that matter, the slightly bigger town of Crookstown, county Kildare. Technically, Crookstown is probably a village. In rural Ireland, the word town is used quite loosely for any place where shops, pub, post office etc are huddled together. Don’t worry about it.
I chose it for the location simply because it was close to the place where the action begins – Béal na mBláth, the place famous for the assassination of Michael Collins. There is no special reason why the aliens attacked there, except that I wanted to pinpoint an exact place on the country roads of Cork where it all took place rather than making something up. But the fact that Crookstown’s Irish name, An Baile Gallda, means ‘Place of the Invader, or foreigner, fell perfectly into the storyline. It also allowed for that smart line “We meant the English,” when Garrett remarks about the coincidence.
I don’t know how obvious it is, but what I had in mind when I approached this story was a Torchwood variation on the 1976 film Assault on Precinct 13. I’m not even going there with the 2005 remake! That film had the simple premise of a police station in an abandoned neighbourhood, about to be closed down itself, with minimal staff and the phones already disconnected, when a gang attacks it in order to get to an innocent victim of an earlier crime. The isolation of the Precinct, even though it was in a major city, was a huge part of the tension of the film, and what makes it worth watching even though it is so very old.
Crookstown isn’t in a big city, and once mobile phones, computers and landlines are jammed by the aliens it is easy enough to isolate it. After that, it’s essentially Garrett and the few people he has with him under siege while Jack holds on down in the cells with a pregnant alien and some worried bystanders.
The weapons in the armoury are typical of what would be contained in a rural police station in Ireland. The Garda Siochana are not an unarmed police force in the sense that the British police are, but nor do they go out on the beat armed like American ones. But the tradition of travelling banks – secure vans where rural people conduct banking business at set times on certain days of the week – means that the local police have to guard against the possibility of armed robbery. That’s one particular reason why there would be guns in a Garda Barracks even in a little place like Crookstown. It is also likely that people like the Lynch brothers would know how to use weapons. Farmers and farmers sons do tend to know how to shoot.
Old Mr Sweeney learnt to shoot for another reason, though. When he whistles ‘The Boys of The Old Brigade’ it is a signal to Garrett that he is an old IRA man. In fact, Mr Sweeney is a bit TOO young to have been in one of the West Cork flying columns of the 1918-1920 War of Independence. If he was in the IRA it was in later times when it was much less certain what they were fighting for and against whom. He is too young even to have been a Die Hard in the Civil War. But there are men like him in Ireland. They may be dinosaurs, belonging to a past almost forgotten, but there are a few of them left. That Garrett, an Irishman who works for the British military intelligence forms an alliance with him is a nice little irony. In the end, Garrett mourns Mr Sweeney’s death keenly. He respected the old man.
The Battle of Mount Street Bridge, referred to by Mr Sweeney, took place in the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin. A small group of young, inexperienced Irish Volunteers held off a British Army column because they had the advantage of height and surprise, in a house overlooking a narrow bridge that the column had to cross. It is famous in Irish history, but might have puzzled readers elsewhere. Feel free to look it up for more detail if you’re curious.
The siege ends with the arrival of the alien princess’s
loyal troops. There’s a bit of an element of Deus ex Machina there,
but it really was the only way they could survive. And it’s quite
important that Jack, Gray and Garrett survive. They’re too popular
for me to kill off.