Wednesday 22 November 2017

Macabre reading for Lillis in his free time

Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

"The scariest monsters are the ones that lurk within our own souls."

So wrote American author and poet Edgar Allan Poe.

It's been nearly seven years since killer Eamonn Lillis stood over his wife's body in their garden and later claimed his wife, Celine Cawley, had been attacked by an intruder.

After he was caught in a web of lies and served five years in prison for manslaughter, he walked through Dublin airport a free man yesterday.

But he carried with him the words of Poe, the literary master of horror and macabre.

The book, called The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, was held close to his chest and contained a message for the wife-killer.

Among the pages is one of Poe's best known works, The Tell Tale Heart.

It tells the tale of an unnamed narrator who kills a man and thinks he is getting the better of everyone around him by ultimately getting away with the crime.

A passage, which describes the act of killing, reads: "With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once - once only.

"In an instant I dragged him to the floor."

It continues: "I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound.

"This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead."

READING MATTER: Eamonn Lillis carries a book through Dublin airport yesterday. Photo: David Conachy
READING MATTER: Eamonn Lillis carries a book through Dublin airport yesterday. Photo: David Conachy

The narrator thinks he can move on with his life, until the beating of the dead man's heart comes back to haunt him. Poe shows how the pathologies of the mind can take hold of an individual until eventually the conscience overpowers them.

While Lillis might be free from prison, the story reminds readers that he is not free from his own mind.

Having shown no remorse to his daughter or Celine's family, Poe illustrates the human heart finds it hard to endure the burden of guilt forever, especially in the case of killing another human.

Sunday Independent

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