"In the old town of Athy one Jeremey Lannigan
Battered away til he hadn't a pound
His father died and he made him a man again
Left him a farm and ten acre of ground
He threw a grand party for friends and relations
Who didn't forget when he'd come to the Wall
And if you'll be listen I'll make your eyes glisten
Of the rows and the runctions at Lannigan's Ball
"Six long months I spent in Sudhalin,
Six months doing nothing at all
Six long months I spent in Sudhalin
Learning to dance for Lannigan's Ball"
- The Ballad of Lannigan's Ball
Jeremey M'Lannigan, the patriarch of the prominent Lannigan Clan of Athy, is now a man respected by the whole County, a man of honor and wisdom. But it was not always so. In his youth, Jeremey Lannigan was a shiftless whelp, spending his time drinking, gambling, and generally disgracing the good Lannigan name. Although the eldest son of clan head Ardghal M'Lannigan and by rights his successor-in-name, Jeremey constantly butted heads with his father. Meanwhile Ultan, Jeremey's younger brother by five years, seemed the spitting image of Ardghal and poised to succeed him as clan chief, if not for the custom of primogeniture the clans preferred. The only exceptions were when a son was disowned by a father, which was rare, but perhaps could be arranged...
And so clever Ultan showed Jeremey where their father kept the clan's holdings and what magics to access it. The elder Lannigan embezzled a sum of gold coins and promptly lost them to drink and dice. When Ardghal checked the ledgers against the stock and saw the missing amounts, it was the obedient son Ultan that mentioned Jeremey snooping about the clan hall muttering something about "a sure bet." Finding Jeremey in the Redbird tavern drunk on good whisky only played into Ultan's hands. In a display of fury, Ardghal gave Jeremey and thrashing and publicly disowned his eldest, casting him out of home and clan.
Jeremey had few friends at this point, and nowhere to lay his head. The once-son of Ardghal, head of the great Lannigan clan, was forced to lay at the Wall, a foot-high hedge of stone outside of the market that purportedly was once the outer wall of Dun Mathyalin and now served as a last resort of the poor and crippled. There Jeremey once-Lannigan sat in misery, surviving only on beggary.
While none would take the disgraced Lannigan into their home - such an act might lose favor with the clan chief - there were plenty that were moved to pity at the sight of the filthy fallen prince. Lannigan cousins often brought him food or money, and plenty from the other clans in Athy or others who came to trade in town. Jeremey promised them repayment and swore lifelong thanks, while also pleading his innocence (such as it was) and fingering Ultan for his treachery. Though some were sympathetic, there was little to be done, and Ardghal was adamant to have Ultan as his successor.
Two years passed, and Jeremey still lived only on the streets. Though he'd gained wisdom and friends aplenty, he still lacked any real credentials as a clan holder, something necessary in Siogalish traditions to be a person of standing. But he was able to bend the ear of Gwylim Siodratch, a distant cousin and locksmith of renown. Gwylim took the story of Ultan luring Jeremey to the clan safe as plausible, and considered bringing it up to Ardghal. He promised to investigate and found himself at Lannigan Hall to speak with Ardghal M'Lannigan to at least see if he could find anything. Ardghal's servant answered and Gwylim was distressed to hear that Ardghal was at death's door with fever, and any business had to be brought before successor-in-name Ultan.