Michael Miskell, a pauper and current resident of the Cloon Workhouse. Michael is an old and disputatious peasant who spends his time talking to his former neighbor, Mike McInerney, who is now his fellow workhouse inmate. Michael seems determined to have the last word, to suffer the most, and to come from the greatest family. In short, he is in a continual battle to defend his position against his old neighbor and fellow pauper. He is cunning and has the verbal skills to question the value of another’s possessions or family while inflating his own situation. He rehashes old grudges and charges such as being bitten by Mike’s dogs after returning from a fair day. Apparently that incident happened many years earlier, but Michael claims that it caused his downfall because he has been “wasting from then till now.” Although their lives have been so closely tied together, his dearest wish is to be buried at a distance from his old neighbor. Although he dismisses all troubles and obstacles with words, however, he is vulnerable to not having an opponent with whom to contend. When Mike McInerney indicates that he is to leave with his sister, Michael poignantly asks if Mike is going “to leave me with rude people and with townspeople . . . and they having no respect for me or no wish for me at all.” He needs someone to talk to because his life is talk, and, “with no conversable person,” he is miserable.
Mike McInerney, an old farmer who has lost his land and been reduced...
(The entire section is 636 words.)