John-John published in HCE REview, Volume III, Issue I.

One of my short stories, John-John, is published in the current issue of UCD’s literary and art journal, HCE Review. The story has previously been longlisted for the Fish Publishing International SS competition and was considered for Hennessey New Irish Writing with the Irish Times. I am so delighted that John-John has found a permanent home.

The story is available to read online here:

If you do follow the link make sure to check out another Kildare writer published in the journal, Amy Gaffney, with her story Mother, May I.

Charlotte and Arthur

You know how you set up a website and get excited about how you are going to blog every day and be a real writer and then (ahem) a few years later you can still count your blogs using your fingers…well it’s all about to change.

Get used to the heading, as I’m beginning a Ph.D in creative writing focusing on the honeymoon of Charlotte Brontë and Arthur Bell Nicholls in 1854, I intend blogging about it so much and making it so famous that you’ll be expecting to see photos in Hello!

I have been mulling over this project for a while now and I think I know a fair bit about Charlotte, her sisters, her brother and her father but you know the darndest thing is I don’t know where to start. The morning of the wedding? The courtship? (Could be a short chapter!) The teenage Charlotte yearning for a hero(preferably the Duke of Wellington) to come along and sweep her off her tiny feet?

It’s time to head back in time to the first half of the nineteenth century and face the brownstone buildings of Haworth and the Yorkshire moors undulating around a certain parsonage and meet the Brontës…I’ll keep you posted (promise).





Fish Publishing Long list

It’s snowing again, so what, things could be a lot worse.

A welsh boy renamed Patrick might never have been captured and bought as a slave to this green (partly white today) isle and there wouldn’t have been any parades yesterday or any rivers turning green or dogs being forced to wear green ribbons left over from Christmas (ours…not my idea though).

We were always going to win the Grand Slam so I’m not even going there. ‘Ireland, Ireland, together standing tall…’

It’s March, April is around the corner and T.S Eliot got it wrong: November is the cruellest month.

Tonight is the semi-final of Dancing with the Stars…come on Deirdre!

Oh, and I’m glowing a bit inside because I had a story longlisted for the Fish Publishing (very international) short story competition. How Bad.

Happy Spring.



For the Day that’s in it; some memories.


Cut Grass and Bogs.bogs-turf-protection-2-390x285

In April 1980, we won the Eurovision when Johnny Logan asked us all ‘What’s another Year?’ It was also an Olympics year and standing on that wonderful, teenage cusp of endless possibility and kind delusion, I thought I was destined to be a sports super star in future Games.

A few years previously a local man had come recruiting in our estate to form an athletic club. He held trials in a local field and told my father that I was good at sprinting and so I began to dream.

After his day working on the bog, fed and scrubbed clean with Swarfega, my father would bring a few of us training, usually down to the local track in St. Brigids. We loved it most of the time but Winter was a hard slog, with no Track and Field competitions in sight, it often seemed pointless. Then May arrived with the smell of cut grass and it all seemed worthwhile again. Between the County Championships and the Community Games there was something to look forward to every weekend.

It was at one of these events, May 11th 1980 that we would see my father for the last time.

The Coroner’s verdict said it was a massive thrombosis. Reports that it was one of the biggest funerals the town had ever seen were cold comforts.

I never went back to the Athletic club.

That June I got my first summer job, along with my sister, walling turf for Bord Na Mona, our Father’s former employer. On the first day we were brought on a tractor and trailer from the works entrance to our section. The trailer was carrying half the teenage, male population of the town. I fantasised about summer romances as we bounced across the bog.

Being dropped off away from my sister made me feel like the only inhabitant in a world of peat until I noticed another worker a few drains over from me. He was already stooped over the turf, his arms moving in an intricate, insect like pattern.

I sized up the long line of heaped turf that stretched away from me, like a rugged country road. I decided not to stack higher than four sods: after all you got paid according to the length of the wall. By noon I was parallel with my neighbour, breaking for lunch when he did. I didn’t bring enough ham sandwiches and there were only so many Custard Creams you could eat.  Swilling back red lemonade, I felt like the brothers from Friel’s story. I too was working out what I would buy with my earnings. A Queen album was top of the list.

Close to signing off time I noticed a dark form striding across the bog. I knew that this would be the one they called the Ganger and I looked forward to showing off my handiwork.  Still some distance from me, he bellowed:

“What in the name of God do you think you’re feckin’ doin’ there?”

“Walling,” I replied.

“Who showed you how to wall?” he asked.

“Nobody, I figured it out for myself.” I said.

He asked for my name. Furrowing his brow and lowering his voice, he inquired if I was Bill Clooney’s daughter. I told him I was. He called across to the other worker.

“You there, come over here.”

The teenager came like a gazelle, hopping drains and jumping walled sections.

“Did you notice what this young one was doing?” he asked.

The young lad said he didn’t. The Ganger asked him how many seasons he had been on the bog.

“Three,” he said.

“Well, in that case,” the Ganger said, “you should have recognised a newcomer, seen that she was making a hames of it. You should have shown her the ropes.”

The youth shot me a dirty look. I shrugged at him. The Ganger said he was awarding half of the lad’s daily rate to me. He also had to help me rebuild the wall, properly, the next day.

It didn’t lead to a bog romance.

I don’t think my sister and I lasted long on the bog that year, but as we headed off to the annual Knights of Malta summer camp in Moate we were delighted with the money in our purses and our healthy bog tans.

As the years slipped by the sense of my father’s presence in the house began to fade, his voice rising and falling as he delivered the rosary became a distant echo. I stopped listening for the back door to open around five in the evening; stopped smelling the heady, peaty, bog mould that spilled from his boots when he sat on the third last step of the stairs to take them off.

But he hasn’t gone far and is still with me when I smell cut grass in May or gaze at the stretches of bog that blanket the landscape in my home county of Laois.

So, unlike Johnny Logan, who reaches out in his song to find no one there, when I reach out, I still find daddy nearby.



The wind and rain compete with each other outside cottage number 5 here in Annamaghkerrig and you’d think that someone who professes, to a numbingly boring capacity, to be a lover of Wuthering Heights, would be inspired to write. Well, you’d be wrong. What I have done is update my site (stating the obvious), sent four emails that I’ve been delaying because they all involve the beginnings of making a decision, started three new books, yes, three, in the last two hours and it would have been four but it wasn’t available on Kindle, so then I went looking for it on various book sites only to discover that the cheapest copy started around £34, but libraries Ireland had a copy that I could request, if, ahem, I was a member, which I, ahem, wasn’t (I really hope none of my second level students read this, pot calling the kettle and all that), so I joined online but have to wait to go into the library…back in Kildare…to collect my card, before I can request a copy of the book, but, hey, the good news is they have it, sitting tantalisingly, in a tiny checkout trolley  somewhere out there in a space I can never get my head around (come on the Luddites/long live the Luddites), oh and it doesn’t end there, I have made lunch (Pasta and tomato sauce with peppers, celery and onions) drank three cups of Jasmine green tea, 2 pints of water, turned on and off lights to try out the mood change they might bring to the rooms and me, looked up cafes on trip adviser within a 40 mile radius, read the title of every book on the bookcase in the room here in cottage number 5, stood in the panelled door/window gazing out on the courtyard..kinda hoping someone would give a fleeting glance up and think it was Miss Worby’s ghost(tee hee), pared three pencils that didn’t need paring and now I’ve just wasted lead and…not to put too fine a point on it (Oh, joy, don’t you just love it when a pun comes to you like that)..and in short, I have spectacularly failed to add a single syllable to my debut novel that will never be that debutante going to that novel ball if I don’t do something soon about this brick wall I’m facing…actually figuratively and literally. Rant over. Phew. Now it’s time for a fourth cup of tea…