"Yes," says Myler. "Mostly by me."
The burial ground at the Royal Hospital once was called Bully's Acre, but I don't know why. It is located at the northwest corner of the landscaped grounds of the magnificent old sanatorium, surrounded by a high stone wall and the roaring traffic of the South Circular Road. Somewhere in there, I presume, lie the remains of the remains of Dan Donnelly.
I am craning through the window of a hurtling city bus, crumpling my map in fevered anticipation. Beside me is my stoic wife, who already has endured the St. Michan's mummies and Oliver Plunkett's severed head and who now is being dragged off to hunt for a tomb that almost assuredly does not exist. And we are bound for further delights this morning: a tour of the Kilmainham Gaol, the hulking prison where many of the heroes of the 1916 Easter Rising were summarily shot. It's across the street from the cemetery.
The wall around the burial ground is seven feet in height. I try to stand at its base and jump as high as I can, but all I can see are trees. Dejectedly, I walk along the barrier for a while and come to a battered blue wooden door.
"There's no way that door isn't locked," I say.
"Why don't you try it," my wife, always the optimist, suggests.
"Why bother?" I shrug and then, playing with the handle just for effect, I find that (of course) the door is unbolted.
Myler says that 20 years ago he was informed by an elderly cemetery caretaker of the exact location of Dan Donnelly's (unmarked) vault. The old man's tale may have been true or it may have been invention, but either way, Myler, to his credit, wouldn't share the secret with me. So now my wife and I are through the blue door and crashing through the underbrush like David Attenborough in pursuit of orangutans.
After a few moments of this, we discover, nearly hidden in the rampant shrubbery, great stone angels and fractured cherubs in states of wonderful dilapidation. For accompaniment, there is bird-song and a small brown rabbit. We come across a couple of tombstones in this hauntingly tumbledown field, with their inscriptions legible. There is a Henry Walker from 1823 and a John Dinnham, interred one year later. We find no Donnelly, but it doesn't matter. The searching has been reward enough.
"Do you know what I'd love to do?" Desmond Byrne asks me. We're sitting at one of the antique treadle sewing machines, beneath the 12-foot Indian crocodile, at the Hideout Olde World Pub in County Kildare. Byrne, a slim, red-bearded, well-mannered man, inherited the Hideout from his father and grandfather, and with it, of course, Dan Donnelly's dead right arm.