The Workhouses were common place for regular, poor peasants during the Great Famine of the 1800s and little Cólm's experience never really differed to that of any other orphan in any different workhouse.
There was the usual; decrepit, starved, skeletal bodies that lay frail around the place carrying the grief acceptance that they would most likely die here from either a common disease or starvation. What remained a mystery for quite a while though, was why and how this particular workhouse fed its residents better than any other did around the country.
Everyday, hoards of people would queue up for a small bowl of broth and a tiny bit of bread. It wasn’t a lot by any means, but during those times you would certainly make do.
One regular day, after one of Cólm’s friends had disappeared and was presumably dead, Cólm felt and heard a strange, crunching sensation, closely representing to that of chewing an eggshell, in his mouth while he was eating his broth, with a sharp part of whatever it was piercing into his tongue.
He pulled out the source of the crunching, only to see a split in half, rusty coloured, yellow toenail with a small little dribble of blood blobbed to the end of it.
The broth tasted just the same as it had every other day.