Annie MacDonald: A working class widow and a Catholic, she’s hired as a cook in the Dady mansion. Liam was fifteen when she became a part of the small house staff. With tragic loses of her own, she takes Liam under her motherly wing and with his friendship, he gives her a son. It’s there in the warm, hospitable kitchen where a decades-long “mother-son” relationship grows. She sees the way he’s neglected emotionally by his parents, as soon as she arrives, who have treated him in the seen-but-not-heard fashion of child raising. Annie’s kind and gentle and honest. She feeds him when he comes home late, tends to his street fighting wounds, and councils him as his parents should but aren’t. She knows they expect Liam to make something of himself, but she sees him struggle with life choices and with the morals and values of the times, especially in Ulster where they live, the pro-British stronghold in Ireland. It causes discord with his parents when Liam, now twenty-four, stands up for Annie to his parents, especially when his mother callously disparages Catholic help in general in front of Annie. She’s grateful, but tells Liam she’s all right. In her mind she’s already forgiven the elder Dady’s for their trespasses.
Mrs. Dady: Named Molly, she’s weaved the family’s way into pro-British Protestant elite society in Belfast. She’s made it her full-time job to stage elaborate brunches and dinners and a yearly Christmas Eve soiree to stay at that social level her husband’s connections and high position at the famed ship building firm Harland and Wolff afford her. Conspicuous and tenacious in her endeavors, it gets in the way of being her son’s mother. She never says or thinks outwardly, but she’s most likely glad her son has befriended the household staff and spends so much time in the kitchen with them, even when she outwardly belittles it. She has high aspirations for her son, if only he would get into a surgeon’s college somewhere, then he can marry up. And, when he does start his studies, she quickly homes in on Mary Tisdale, an eligible rich girl from England, whose father is connected with the elites in London, and the new chairman of Harland and Wolff, Lord Pirrie. What a coup that would be for Mrs. Dady to have her son marry into the Tisdales. She’d have access to their vast fortune, and a permanent place alongside the elites in London.
Mr. Dady: Named William, who Liam is named after, is the quintessential uninvolved, absent father. His sole focus is his position at the firm. He’s provided a home and all that Liam can need materially, thinking it’s enough. Lord Pirrie, the firm’s chairman, praises him for his contributions to the firm, but scolds him for being a horrible father. The only reason he becomes involved with Liam is when Liam tells him he’s ready to head to the Royal School for Surgeons in Edinburgh. He doesn’t know Liam has made false promises to get the funding for school, and room and board. He’s quite stingy with the funding though, most likely thinking Liam will stay with the promise he’d made to be Harland and Wolff’s company physician.