Admiring Midir (A fairytale retold)

(Image – statue of Midir and Etain by Éamon O’Doherty at Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre)

(Story written for Midir and Etain Anthology, digital copy available here:

Here and now and there and then, there lived a man who never lived, under the mountain that is just a hill but a mountain none the less to those who have none.

This man was and is and will be, a magical man, a mystical creature of fabulous beauty with flashing bright eyes that transform from deep dark pools of murky brown to clear shining lakes of crystal blue. 

He was and is and will be, of magnificent stature, not quite a man and not quite a God. He stands tall amongst mortals, small amongst Deities, yet holds his own with them all.

His hair is a mane of glossy gold silk, his skin glows brightly with light from within. A fine man, was, is and will be he or so he thought and thinks and will think. And perhaps so do we.

When he loved and was loved, this God of a man and man of a God, life was young, new, strange and unknown. The rules that we know were not written, nor spoken and nothing surprised, yet everything did. He ruled over many with a kind heart, cared for his people as father to child.

He loved and was loved and was married in bliss, then he spied a young beauty that send him adrift.

What a vision she was this young girl that he spied. She had long golden hair and snow white skin, ruby lips and green emerald eyes. Her limbs were those of a dancer.

Long and elegant she flowed as she moved o’er the hills and down to the stream where she washed her glistening threads of gold with porcelain hands.

What more could you want?

She sang as she washed, an enchanting tune, not seeing this man nor noticing how he was falling for her. As she sang her light shone and he drifted towards her as a moth in the night to a flame that will burn.

When he came to her side she was startled and shy but his beauty is hard to resist. He stared in her eyes and in no time at all she agreed to be wed to a man she just met!

They came back to his palace upon his white horse. His wife was not pleased but what could she do, this was time with no rules of her man who just ruled. Her husband was powerful, much loved by all. She could do nothing a while, only stall, but she soon had enough and jealousy struck.She transformed the young sprite to a puddle of muck.

The girl changed yet again in front of her eyes and became a beautiful butterfly. She fluttered around for a time……. Quite a while.

She was reborn again as a mortal child and grew, happy and unaware of her past. He found her but lost her again and again and many were lost because of his deeds. An interesting road appeared in a bog leading nowhere and everywhere, all just for love. Our times came fast and his kind hid below, under the mountain, or hill, what you will. Perhaps we smell.

That’s a short version of a tale, of love and romance with foolishness playing its part. A story with twists and turns and intrigue, many of which I have left for you to explore, be inspired and create many more. Google Midir, Étain, Celtic love, Brí Leith, Sidhe. It is there as everything is and each version changes much like the wind.

And they all lived happily ever after……..


AGS 2015

Shes of the Sidhe

(Image is a still from animation by Mary Smyth commissioned by Longford Tourism

I had been warned not to look into his eyes, that his magic clouds your mind. He makes you think you want to do what he wants you to do. Thousands of hungry, tired men willingly cut down a forest to build a futile road in a bog for a forfeit. Many died. His magic is strong. He mithered them for his pride as he mithered me.

I knew that he wanted me. I met my love when he was buying me for him. We loved each other on first sight but it was not to be. My love is loyal to him. My love helped another pair who followed in our footsteps many moons on from when we met. Their deeds were recorded though ours were missed. Our secret remained a secret until now.

I was taking a chance, being out there, washing my hair. I foolishly thought I was safe. My maidens were with me.  I knew it was him. I felt his dark presence. He frightened yet excited me. I closed my eyes and bowed my head, determined to remain safe from his stare. He lifted me gently, yet forcefully. “Open your eyes and look at me” he commanded. I resisted as much as I was able, for as long as I could but on hearing my maidens scurrying away like rabbits, I lost control of my thoughts,”Don’t leave me” I cried as I opened my eyes and looked deep into the pools of enchantment before me.

I found myself going with him, mounting his horse, wrapping my arms around his broad chest, leaning my head on his back, my love a dream in my mind, fading.

When we arrived at his palace she cried out.”What have you done? She is just a child!” She grabbed me and held me, whispering in my ear. I held her tight and wept for my mother. “You have to stop, you can’t just take what you want, own it all, possess everything.” She shouted at him. Her power amazed me. The strength in her arms, in her voice. He looked at her sadly and left us a while. “You’ll bring death to us all yet.” she whispered.

History has not been kind to her. It very rarely is to strong powerful women that frighten men. Men who write history for men. That is why you don’t know the truth, my truth and hers. You know men’s truth. Her truth is that she was a loving mother and a strong clever woman. Her truth is that she mothered me and set me free. I wanted to go and she knew this.

I grew to love her. She showed me her magic. She commanded the wind. She transformed life. She told me how she never had a choice and was his from birth. She bore a child and another and loved them so dearly she never could leave. She was strong for her children and wise beyond years. Her knowledge was deep. She learned to love and understand her Proud King in time. “He does not mean to harm” she said. ” He sees love and joy and wants to possess it. He is kind, he loves his children, he loves me, he loves his people, he loves his fosterson as his own. Pride is the cross he carries that will hurt us all”

I jumped at her mentioning his fosterson. Should I reveal it? Does she already know? I told her all. She cried out when she heard. “Oh no this cannot be, he will kill him, he will kill you. No!”. But I cried and I wept in my pain so she vowed to help me. She selflessly made him think she got rid of me and not that I ran away. She warned me to never let the truth be known. “He will not let it be seen that your heart is with another.” She transformed me and sent me on the winds to my love who knew me at once for our connection is strong. That time in heaven was blissful. Our love was deep and we entwined our bodies, our souls and our minds. My Aenghus cared for me by day and I loved him by night. My life, My God of Love. 

He never stopped searching for me. He never let anything leave him. He very nearly had me again when he bewitched me with his ways, drawing me away from my love, compromising my truth, playing to my caring nature and my fascination with his power. She came and saved me again. We knew we couldn’t reveal the truth of my love and I, that it was not to be for now or maybe ever more. She sent me off on the wind again to get away. My turmoil from within kept me afloat longer than intended. I must have absorbed some of her magic in the spell. When finally I rested I found myself fall. The darkness came, the end arrived, or so I thought. 

I’m really not sure how long I slept. I woke because the Proud King came. I found myself sitting beside a mortal man. I was confused. I dreamt of my past life, I saw my love, my fear and her in my dreams by night. By day I walked with this mortal king, a handsome man. He seemed to love me in  the way the Proud King did, as his possession and not the way my God of Love had loved. I played my part, not recognising these mortals who spoke as if they knew me all my life. The woman I called Mother, the man Father, this King to whom I was married. I recognised none of them. I only recognised him, the Proud King who wanted to possess me again. I went with him because I knew him. We were of a kind. My training from his wife stayed with me and I transformed us into swans. We flew away and back to the only home I remembered. 

He had changed while I was gone and so had I. I wept to find she had passed to the other side in a most horrific way. I wept because my Aenghus, my God of Love had loved another after I had gone, but so had I though I didn’t recall a moment. The Proud King knew, he said he always knew. He loved them all but his want for me was greater so he sacrificed them all. He was tormented by this need and his guilt. He quickly found I was with child and vowed to treat her as his own. He was a good father I grant him that. I grew to love him. We lived in peace for a while.

It seems that all men have this fault, be they mortal or immortal. My mortal husband Eochaidh’s pride was hurt and so he came to bring devastation to us all. He reduced our mighty mountain to a little hill and took his daughter and mine as his own. Men have injured for their pride amd deep hunger from the dawn of time and will be the destruction of Mother Earth in the end unless we rise again oh Shes of Sidhe!

AGS 2015

Story written for Midir and Etain Anthology, 2015. Digital versions still available here:

Mad Men of the Mountain

Have you ever been to The Mountain,

Of Midir, Maine and Mel?

It’s well worth a visit, a saunter,

Albeit the Gateway to Hell.

No doubt you’ll be Mithered a little.

The magic is still very strong.

Though it’s long since its use by the many,

Since Mel announced it was wrong.

Our Midir was first on the Mountain,

He comes from when time began

His home was a fine Sidhe palace

‘Til Eochaidh destroyed it and ran.

Proud Midir had trouble with women,

As did both King Maine and St. Mel.

Perhaps if they respected their power

A different story I’d tell.

Now Midir had a wonderful woman,

A match to his power and way.

Yet he let youth and beauty bewitch him,

Consume him and lead him astray.

Not thinking of either girl’s wishes,

He brought chaos into their lives.

Puddle, butterfly, anger and sorrow,

He trod on the souls of his wives.

His passion destroyed all around him,

His people, their ways and himself.

Self-obsession, a dangerous torture,

The ruination of King of the Elves.

King Maine. Little is known about him.

Our King at The Back of the Hill.

Known best for allowing St. Patrick

Bring Mel to the site that’s there still.

More tales tell how Caibre, his brother,

Refused the new ways, turned his back.

Sat atop his great fort in North Longford,

Where drama is never in lack.

Sons of Niall of nine hostages fame,

Both had riches, power and wives.

Caibre’s son fathered a child with Maine’s woman,

So inter entwined were their lives.

Now Maine is in boxes and numbered,

his home an archaeological site.

His riches are scattered and broken,

Little evidence of his great might.

St. Mel is the third of our heroes.

He was brought here by uncle Pat,

to plant the seed of the new religion

which rooted here just like that.

An aunt of his, St. Lupita,

resided with him quite a while.

When local tongues started a wagging

she departed in magical style.

St. Brigid arrived to start a convent,

she even left us a well.

Mel decided to ordain her a Bishop,

now that’s a story to tell!

So that’s our Mad Men of the Mountain,

three different men of their age.

They all were leaders of people,

but quite possibly made for the stage.

AGS 2016

Have your say on Ireland’s Climate Action!

Fill in the Questionnaire below before Tues 18th May 2021. The government say they want you to but do they really?

The Irish Environmental Network have kindly given some guidance on how to fill it in and are happy for that to be shared widely:

This FF/FG/The Greens questionnaire is meant for “all the people” to fill in and return to them so we can have our say on Climate Change Policy. 

This questionnaire is due on Tuesday, 18th May 2021 and is all worded to blame the individual. 

There isn’t even a section on Agriculture. Use the food section. Find somewhere in it to put your thoughts on European and Irish Agricultural Policies.

They say this climate change consultation is so our voices can be heard yet only over 16s are allowed partake in it. It is up to us to fill it in with our children in mind.

They say this climate change consultation is so our voices can be heard yet it was not sent to marginalised and rural communities. It is up to us to fill it in with these communities in mind and to share it with them.

It is completely focused on individual action which is unbelievable. Was it made to make you feel guilty?

Are you not completely disillusioned with this government for not telling the truth about the crisis and for still pandering to big business as if there is no crisis?

We all know the ordinary person is doing the best they can and how unaffordable it is to do so.

We all know fossil fuel companies, airlines, billionaires and multinational corporations are to blame for most of it.

This questionnaire  has multiple choice questions. The link is up there for you for easy access because on the consultation hub it takes 17 buttons to press to get into it!!

It is wise to prepare your answers on a document elsewhere first as many have lost theirs doing it online. Almost as if they don’t want people to do it!

Push this back to the FF/FG Green government and use the headings ‘want to/not able’ in the questionnaire as you see the need.

In the broad open boxes you could spend ages on it but try to put key things in the boxes as this consultation will probably be put through a database and they will pick out key points.

The IEN suggest three key things to emphasis : 

  • emissions reduction reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  • work with nature
  • leave no one behind

We need system change, government action and social justice. We need cooperation not competition. We need Socialism!

If you have more to say, or are in a group that does, put it in the call for evidence which is for longer submissions.

This consultation is awful and insulting and was put out there with no publicity. It has been done before with the Citizen Assembly and ignored. There’s no truth in it. There is NO carbon budget, working to 2050 and the smaller pledges for 2030 is nonsense. 

This FFFGGreen government are happy to pay billions in Catbon Fines rather than do anything worthwhile. 

Leo Varadkar is busy pushing CETA on us which will give big multinationals, who want to rape our country of resources that should stay in the ground, the right to sue us if we don’t let them.

Michéal Martin is happy to belittle and ridicule the very boards set up to protect our Heritage and Environment in the Dáil. We all saw what he and his cronies think of An Taisce.

Eamon Ryan is only interested in bicycle paths and not the real, radical system change we need.

The Climate Crisis is real and here and now. Have your say. Fill in the questionnaire and give them the answers they need not the answers they want! 

We are living with a Timebomb and no one in power is hearing the ticking. It is up to us to make them wake up!

I’m not looking for recognition anymore.

I’ve decided there is no point looking for recognition for my writing Why would I anyway? The only reasons were for others to find a reason for what I do because that would explain my behaviours, my rejections of success “in the real world”

I write what comes into my consciousness from somewhere else at times and then other times I write from my anger at injustices. They don’t always interact or have anything to do with each other. They just happen.

I’m currently pissed off. So many are suffering at the hands of the few and even more than they did before ‘Covid”.

I’m so pissed off that the Billionaires are reeling in the money while the poor die and the planet dies even quicker.


 This is one character’s feelings at the death of a loved one. To find out how the rest of the mourners felt buy the book here:

This was a collaborative Novella by Longford Writer’s Group. The image is artwork by one of the members, Dan Flynn.

It’s not right. No one should bury their child. Of course if he had a bit of manners he would live as long as me but he never had any manners, my fault I suppose. I guess I spoiled him, my only son, my golden boy, my Emmet. The head shone on him with bright red fluff when he entered this world but there wasn’t much left of that lovely flame red hair when he died. His father held on to it longer. Where is he now? Why isn’t he here at his own son’s funeral?

     “Patricia, where is that big bollox gone off to now? Never around when he should be, the thick lump! Big Head, Big Red.”

What’s she shushing me for. The cheek of her and I her mother. I didn’t say anything wrong, it’s all true. What are they all staring at me for? Did I do something wrong? Which neighbour is dead now? Why am I up here with Patricia and Imelda? Where’s Emmet? He usually brings me to the funerals and whispers in my ear all I need to know so they won’t find out I’m getting a bit mithered. Sure who doesn’t forget things when they are old and me ancient. What am I? 100 or thereabouts.

      “What age am I Patricia, am I 100 yet? No , no you’re right I’m only 92 sure there’s years in me yet. You’ll be lucky if you reach it what with all your fretting about everyone. If Emmett gave up the old drink now he has a chance. Where is he anyway and why isn’t he here instead of you? You never come to the funerals, nearly missed your old fathers for all your swannin’ after him like he was God. Emmett? Emmett?”

What’s that woman shushing me for? Who the hell is she anyway? There’s that amadán of a priest spouting off again, didn’t he say enough in the church, has to pontificate here in the graveyard too. Never shuts up. Look at him pretending he cares about whatever gobshite neighbour we’re burying. Sure he only cares about Emmett and that twit Patricia married. Gobshites the lot of them.

    “Gobshites! Bloody men, all gobshites! Where is the big arrogant gobshite now? Ha, dance on his grave, Big Red is dead! Dead in his bed.There’s a rhyme for you. Who is dead now? Emmett, where is Emmett? Emmett tell me who are we burying now?”

    “Get your hands offa me! Who do you think you are? Patricia, you’re not Patricia. You’re too old. Where is she? Where is Kathleen? Ah, there’s my Kathleen coming in the gate, look at her, so elegant, so pretty, pretty Kate. Must keep her away from that gobshite she is fawning over these days, no good for her at all, she needs to get out of here and travel. Isn’t she lovely?”

    “Ah, Emmett? Is that you Emmett? Gary? Who is Gary? Stop pretending, messing with me, you little divil. Here hold on to me now and tell me who is it we’re planting today? Ok, ok I’ll be quiet, shush boy don’t be mean to your mammy who dotes on you still.”

I better be quiet, Emmett is none too pleased with me, you’d think I was Ambrose the way he is shushing me. He won’t even tell me who is dead. Big Red is Dead. Dead in his bed. Took him long enough the arrogant bollox, waited until I was no good for anyone else the fecker, ha, at least he thought so. Kathleen looks lovely in that hat, I think I’ll go over to her. Oh I better whisper to Emmet, have to be quiet, that ould gossip Betty Macginty is hovering, always hovering, waiting to see what I’ll reveal to her. Nothing, I’ll tell her nothing. Certainly won’t be telling her about my antics with our local publican while that fecker Big Red was off plotting and scheming against the Queen. His son was a chip off the old block, had an eye on that young one, Emmett’s friend, oh what was her name, she ran off to England, her parents were devastated. Emmett was heartbroken too, often thought he had a thing for her.

    “Emmett, link me a bit and bring me over to Kate. Gary Smary, will you stop your nonsense. Where is Patricia? That old lady is not Patricia,  And I’ve no idea who she is. What do you mean Kathleen isn’t here, isn’t she standing before me? Look at her, sweet Kate  in the hat looking lovely, made for the stage. I was on the stage you know when your father swept me away from my dreams. I had a lovely voice. He pursued me and wore me down. I went to London to become a famous actress and singer not to marry a big arrogant lump of an Irish man and be dragged home to bring up children in this backward hole of a country. Ah but you were worth it, my lovely children. Look at Kate how pretty she is and is that Patricia over there?  Sheila? Who is Sheila? That’s my Patricia sure I would know her anywhere. I’m so lucky you stayed at home with me Emmett, my little gosun. Any sign of you getting married at all?”

    “Oh my God, that wind would cut through you. Look at that gobshite of a brother of mine lighting up, no respect at his own nephew’s funeral. I put manners on him last night though didn’t I Gary? You should probably keep an eye on him. Will you let me sit in the car. I can’t handle this cold and I can’t handle this place. My heart is broken, nobody should bury their son, should they Gary? You look like him you know, you’re the spit of Emmett. Hope you inherited the good bits. He was so good to me. The girls will put me in a home now, I know well they will, sure Kathleen is sick and Patricia away staring into the eyes of that bollox Charlie all her life, oh wait, isn’t he dead? Maybe she’ll have me, no, we’d murder each other. Imelda will want me gone, I’m not her mother. She has the patience of a saint, and all she put up with Emmett and his drinking but I can’t expect her to mind me now he’s gone, she did enough of minding other people’s burdens. No offence, but I found it hard enough to mind my own, can’t imagine taking others in.”

It’s cold here and I don’t know why I’m here or who this nice young man is but I better smile or they’ll put me away. 

    “What do you mean the car is over there? Whose car? That’s not your car. Emmett stay with me. What? Yes, it is cold and I would rather go home. Will you take me.Yes, let’s go home.”

    “First time I felt warm all day. Thank you Gary, you’re a great young fellow aren’t you now? What are you laughing at? What do you mean used to be a real lady. Sure I’m always a lady me. Gary I can’t handle this at all. Why did he leave me? My Emmett, my baby boy. It’s not right. No one to mind me now. No, no I won’t be going to Dublin. This is my home and this is where I’ll be staying, not for much longer I’m thinking. I’m 92 and time I went. I suppose I’m great for my age alright but I get a bit scattered, and the pains and aches are killing me. You might do me a favour when we get home and get my tablets for me. I think I’ll go to bed and you can head back for the meal. They’ll be missing you. Sheila will be missing you. Don’t look surprised. Dotes on you the poor crature.”

It’s funny how you notice the beauty around you when you’re more aware of mortality, the vibrant oranges and reds of Samhain. A good time to die, Samhain. I think I’ll slip away tonight and join my Emmett. This poor innocent can help me on, sure he hasn’t a clue. It’s time I left, I’ll be a burden to no one. Big Red will be waiting for me anyway along with the many others he must have met by now. He must be raging, turning in his grave the ould bollox. Emmett took after me it seems, they all think I don’t know who that young one was at the funeral. I’m no eejit, wasn’t born yesterday. Indeed born too long. I’ll get him to up my dose sure he hasn’t a clue and a fine big whiskey and I’ll be off. Sure none of them will be back for ages. The deed will be done and all will be well with the world.

    “Are we here already? I was admiring Autumn. There’s something lovely in the way the trees celebrate their leaves falling by giving them so much colour. What do you mean like me? Oh, full of colour? Thought you were putting me in my grave early there Gary. Like my old self am I? Ah, maybe I’m havin’ a moment of clarity. Few and far between nowadays. Come in and have a hot one with me. I’ll get the whiskey and you reach up there to that high cabinet and get my tablets for me. How many? Oh I need 6 at night to help me sleep sure the pains are dreadful. Yes, yes 6.  What? It says 2 in the morning? Well, it’s only 2 in the morning but night time it’s 6, even 8 sometimes. Yeah I’m all cold and sore, maybe I’ll take 8 and then I’ll sleep like a baby. Here now is the whiskey, make me a good big one, I’m freezing. We’ll drink to my Emmett. I know you miss him too. Emmett made me great big hot ones, I know he had more of course while he made it but I turned a blind eye. I probably shouldn’t have. I’ll get ready for my bed while you make them.”

Thank God I don’t need help dressing. It won’t be long now til that will be taken from me too, well not if I can help it. No need for me to hang around anymore and sure it’s not suicide if someone else gives me the pills now is it? I’ll say my Rosary and go off to meet my maker. No doubt purgatory will be waiting for me, I was no Angel. Though I think I’ve done my time by now. There now, in my bed and safe and sound.

      “Gary you can bring that in here. I’m all set for the night now. Thank you, I’ll take them now. Good man. They’ll help me sleep like a little baby. Why do they say that? God, none of my babies ever slept. Sure stay with me and drink your whiskey and won’t you let me nod off before you go? I don’t like being alone really, though I am a while now. It won’t be long now, I’m awful tired.”

    “Emmett, love is that you? You look great. Younger, Such a handsome boy. Dear God is that your father behind you with the angry ould head on him. What do you mean you want to have some words with me, ya ould bollox, sure hadn’t I you to put up with?”

Before the Monsters came

Image by and can be purchased here:

This was written for a children’s story competition. An author decided the shortlist and then children voted for their favourite. It came 3rd. What was more special was on the day a 5yr old came up to me and whispered “I voted for yours, I know it is about Climate Change, it is so important, I like the ending.” ❤ That’s enough for me.❤ It is included in an anthology by other Longford writers that you can buy here:

Once upon a time, before the monsters came, we lived in peace and all were happy. Plants grew, flowers bloomed and filled the air with perfume. Food was growing everywhere and no one went hungry. Animals, big and small, lived side by side and all was good.

The monsters came in flying machines from the sky and landed everywhere, all over the small round planet we live on. No one knew they were monsters because they looked harmless enough with their two wobbly legs and two skinny arms and big smiling faces. Their shiny ships were beautiful and reflected back the sun and we could see ourselves in them too which made us laugh.

The curious little monkeys wandered over first to examine these creatures. They were always brave but stupid. The monkeys followed them into their ship and everyone waited patiently for them to return but they didn’t. If they did, they were so changed, that we, their friends, no longer knew them. They were bigger and they were angry. No one had seen anger before and didn’t know what it was but we all suddenly felt fear and some ran while others hid. Others looked on, not knowing what to do as no one had ran or hid before in fright. All was joy and fun in this world before the monsters came.

The monkeys ran after those that had fled in fear and chased them, shouting and screaming, making big loud noises that no one liked and the elephants raised their trunks and blew hard to cover it up with their own sound. The noises grew and the fear grew and the monsters stood in their flying machines looking out at the chaos they had created and they were very pleased with themselves. Now that everyone was looking at the monkeys they could take the gold and silver from the world and all the precious jewels that sparkled in the waters for themselves, they even sucked the black oil from the ground. No one noticed, no one cared because the monkeys were chasing them all.

A monkey caught a cat and bit her on the back and the cat released her claws she used to climb the trees and scraped the monkey. Their anger grew and others joined the fight and then the first creature in this world blew out like a candle but its spirit stayed to watch the show and I’m here still. A wolf howled at the sky and the sun hid behind the moon. Everything went dark. Nothing would ever be the same again because the monsters came.

The plants closed up their leaves and hid their food and animal began to eat animal and the monsters laughed as they took what they wanted and left this world to do the same on other planets. Some monsters stayed and ruled over all the creatures and the plants that had remained. The plants and creatures changed to fit this darker, scary world where winds blew strong now that there were no sparkles to distract them from their racing flight. The monsters built themselves houses, towns and cities around the planet and continued to take and never give.

Our planet vomited up lava because no longer was the gold and silver in her belly keeping her tummy cool from all the heat of her warm coal. Sometimes she trembled in rage at the memory of the beauty she had been and cracks grew across her skin and swallowed up whoever happened to be passing by. The blissful life her creatures and plants had lived had changed because the monsters came.

But just as the monsters changed our world, our world changed the monsters too. Not all, but many of them noticed how the plants gave generously of their fruit and healed their wounds when they were hurt. More noticed how despite the fear and anger they had brought that creatures still approached and gave them love. Some monsters saw how the beauty of our world could make them smile and love and feel the Joy that once was everywhere before they came. They felt sorrow and regret and cried and asked our planet to forgive them for the pain and she gave them singing birds and butterflies, daffodils and roses, bees and beetles too. She showed the monsters all the good that they can do within this world, how to give instead of take and love instead of hate, how to fix instead of break and the monsters learned and so can you.

Mide of Tuatha

This is a story I wrote for an anthology, full of other lovely works by local Longford writers. You can get it here:

Here is a video we did through Scéalta Beo with Creative Ireland – Longford:

Mide was curled up on her father’s lap, at the campfire in the middle of their enclosure. She was listening to her elders talking of the ancestors, their great feats and desperate defeats. She loved hearing the stories of how the people that created their home, their Crannóg, first came to this area on foot, from over the mythical hills of Brí Leith carrying all that they could with them. They wanted to start afresh in these lakes far from the fires and fighting. 

They left in the night after spending months of preparation, gathering seeds, making food that would last the journey and beyond until the seeds had been planted, grown and harvested in their new home. They cured meat, made butter, made clothing, learned and taught each other skills they would need. In truth they had been preparing for many years before they left as they knew that their world was changing rapidly and in order to keep their people, their families and community safe, they would need to leave their ancient home and start anew elsewhere. 

They had scouted far and wide and were happy that somewhere safe and secluded, somewhere hard to get to was found. They headed off under nightfall to this place to sit out the madness and emerge when all had settled again and was right with the world.

Mide snuggled into the sheepskin rug her father had gently put around her while the stories were told as they were every night, since the beginning, of how her people walked quietly through the bog and over the hills to this lake, a lake that others thought too still and full of death. The stories of stillness and death would keep them safe here when the hunger and desperation hit harder in the world. 

Her people had found new life in this lake, not much at first but life and therefore hope. The lake was rebirthing as the goddess Etain rebirthed in the ancient stories of Brí Leith and so they knew it would serve well as their new home. They fueled the stories of stillness and darkness in whispers to the others so that the many would not come this far and they would be safe, at least for a time. Desperate times brought out the primal tribal feelings of protecting your own. Even with this they had taken in other families and people deserted by their own as deep down they were a kind and caring clan. They also sought out strong and fit people trained in the skills of protection and battle if the need occurred.

Some of their clan had spent time creating the group of manmades islands that had become their home by building up the mounds of mud within the lake and once they were completed they then began the building of the huts and fencing all around. They took their time over the naming of their new home and after much debate agreed to call it Tuatha, which meant, in simple terms  the people, the tribe, the community but their ancient language was never ‘in simple terms’ and so Tuatha meant much more – it is a sense of place, something they needed more now than ever before.

They built their logboats and created a secret path for those who might be on the shoreline needing to get back inside the enclosure quickly. When crossing on the underwater stepping stones it looked as if they walked on water. It was Godlike, Mide was told by her father.

When all the community arrived at the shoreline they began to take the animals over first to the large natural island further in the lake. It was a difficult task, they had to go in two boats each side and get the animals to swim along between them, one by one until they reached the other side. The island, which was hidden from the shoreline, would do their livestock.  They hadn’t brought many, the rest they had bartered with others for items they knew to be needed while the others thought they were quite mad getting rid of the only treasure worth having anymore.

Once they had established themselves in their Crannógs and everyone was assigned their tasks they settled into life and many forgot the destruction they had left behind them. The days blended into each other. Each night at the campfire the Elders told the stories of the past so that no important lesson or skill was forgotten and read from the few ancient manuscripts they had managed to save from destruction. They taught the young to read the symbols and all the knowledge of the past at the evening gatherings. They lived there peacefully together doing their daily tasks, growing their seeds on the island, farming the land and gathering what grew there. 

Every so often a brave one went out to find out if calmness had been restored on the shores and the family waited, worried and excited to find out what news they brought back. Some never came back and they were mourned and stories were told of their lives and added to the nightly learnings. When they did get back everyone watched to see were they followed for days and weeks later. They rarely brought good news. The hardest time for Mide was when her mother didn’t return but hearing her story every night made her feel like she was there with her and her father and she liked to sleep dreaming of her smile.

The first brave scout that came back told of war and dying, of diseases and hunger, many areas of silence. Gradually they told of slow new growth but not enough for all the many needing food. 

They brought strange tales of magnificent structures made by the old people, of strange instruments found and brought some home with them. Some of the elders knew what they were for and taught the clan to use them. The elders waited excitedly for each return to see what treasures returned. Mide, her father and all the new generation were just curious and at times thought most of it was pointless rather than useful.

The last came back so long after they left that people weren’t sure if they really were their kin, but they knew the way and the path across the water so they surely were. If doubt lingered about them no one said as no one wanted to send another being away. There were too few now. 

They hoped in time they would find more communities like their own to trade, learn new skills from and share their knowledge. They hoped that those that had survived had learned the lesson well how cooperation rather than competition was the natural way and working with Mother Earth would serve them better than against. The biggest lesson they all learned every night from the elders was not to casually destroy Mother Earth for she will fight back and she will win.

Mide slowly drifted off to sleep, dreaming of her mother, warm and safe within the strong arms of her father. The large egg she was fiddling with fell out of her hands, rolled towards the fire and suddenly began to crack. The family looked on in bewilderment as a furry robot creature hatched out of the plastic shell making sounds they hadn’t heard before. Was this instrument for communicating like the many slim black boxes they had found but didn’t work? They had taken them apart to use whatever they could from inside. One reached out to do the same to this when Mide woke and grabbed it.

“No don’t break it! This is mine!”

The Union

(photo is freely available on the internet and is the First Dáil – I chose it for the look of the all-male, devout looking, cast – This is an old fiction story I wrote a while back, I would probably change it a bit now but it is what it is)

I stand here watching my only daughter getting married and my heart is breaking. Her groom to be is a handsome, intelligent, kind man. I hope she will be happy. He is older, but that’s not a disadvantage because he has lived in different times, war times, turbulent times but better times for women. He knows what is going on in this country, here and now, is wrong. He will take care of my baby girl and protect her in these uncertain times.

He was married before and has children that she will have to take care of but he has agreed to take care of the one she is carrying as his own and I know he will. I know him. I still worry, however, I suppose you never stop worrying about your babies. What other choice had we, had she? The alternative, in this new world of ours, is unimaginable. This man will take care of her. I know it.

What a different world I had. I didn’t marry until I felt like it and my lover waited for me, respected my decision, respected me like the equal I am. I worked, I rose high in my career, I travelled many times, over and back, across the water. I knew the best way to prevent the poverty my own family, and generations before me, had was to have less family and so did my love so we waited, patiently, until I was older. I enjoyed my work and my life even though I missed my love, but he understood and he worked and we agreed to join in our forever union and start a family when we were capable of taking care of them, feeding them, educating them, independently of any state, free. This man, he takes great care of his children. His poor young wife loved them and so does my child, my baby. She’’ll be secure, content, I hope.

The way he talks of his own strong mother who brought them up alone when their father died, a businesswoman, ‘a force to be reckoned with’ he often said. Yes, he knows that this new regime is wrong, is backward, is feardriven. He will do his best for my daughter and his daughters to come. He is a good man. He proved it that day when he proposed this union, in the middle of grief for his own love he proposed this union. He is saving everyone. My child, her child and his children too. I cant believe this state, how did it all go wrong? It was a bright new, better world and now this.

My husband is crying silently beside me for our daughter. Thankfully she can’t see him. She is listening intently to the vows she must take, her devotion to duty and this new saviour is frightening. I wonder what was taught in the school she went to as she never learned that compliance from me. I must watch over her. I will watch over her, him and their children. I have travelled the world and done so much more than she ever will. My poor baby. This was not the future we planned for you.

This saviour, this man, he grew up in a freer world, a more exciting, albeit dangerous time, when the future was full of possibility and he is full of wonder still, he carries that still, despite his grief. He is a good man. His God is a good God who loves his people, not the God this institution we stand in has become. This new God is full of fear, of other people’s versions of him, fear of women, fear of losing his power. This God will do untold damage to this new country. This man understands and he will protect my baby from it as best he can.

It will stay with me forever. His offer, his sense of what is right and wrong. We knew the world was changing, we discussed it often in the parlour with him and his wife. We worried about our children as did they. My baby minded their babies like an elder sibling while they worked until his wife couldn’t work any longer, until it wasn’t allowed. Funny how it’s different when it isn’t your choice to stay home as it was mine. I had made a conscious decision to walk away from my career and devote myself to my new one. She hadn’t, it was forced upon her by the State, this new Republic. Do they even know what that word means in their male filled government offices? Do they? They are elected by the people, all the people, to represent all the people. I suppose they will control who gets to elect next. After our great battle to win the vote, will that be lost too, along with our rights to work?

She died so young, he was so heartbroken but perhaps she was better off. She had known the possibilities that she now had lost. My little girl is less aware, this is her reality, her world. She will do her best in it. Hopefully this man can show her his God is better than the one she has come to know, this one of fear. This God that drove her and her love apart.

We called his parents as soon as she told us and they came over with him. Our friend, their friend, her now to be husband came too, to keep the peace, to keep us calm and logical as he has always been known to be.

“They must be married” my husband said. “It’s what must happen, they want to get married, there is no issue. Let them get married. We will provide a good dowry. That’s all there is to it.”

Perhaps that is where he went wrong, telling a man of another God, a man whose people used to tell us all what to do, that the decision is made.

“No, my son is promised and he will marry who he is promised to, a fine young pious girl of our own kind. Your daughter beguiled him, seduced him, she must live with the consequences. My son is a good boy and will marry his own. That’s all there is to it.”

The young couple, separated by the short distance of a rug looked only at each other and weeped, both heartbroken and defeated. His father wouldn’t budge. We all tried to change his mind, myself, my husband, our friend and even his wife, though her demurity shocked me. It dawned on me then how she hadn’t had the freedom I had, her life had been decided at birth. Was this the future for us too now we were to be the new ruling class? Is this what happens? The women of the ruling class are first to be suppressed?

They left and we knew our baby girl would never see her love again. She knew and he did too. They wept and said their last goodbyes, his father let that small comfort be at his quiet wife’s request. We sat in mournful silence for a while and then he spoke.

“If Lizzy here agrees, I’ll marry her and care for her and for her child as if it were my own. I’ll care for her child as I do my sons, boy, girl it doesn’t matter to me, children are to be loved and that’s what I’ll do. I know Lizzy will love my boys, she already does. It will be different, she’ll be a mother not an older sister and in time perhaps we’ll grow in love together. Love makes love and I will love for both of us a while.” 

He looked at Lizzy all the while he spoke and she looked at him and listened to his words and heard his gentleness. I cried, my husband too and when he finally spoke with heart breaking and voice cracking, defeated, we knew he saw no other option.

“You know our Lizzy well, she’s full of love for all, a wild one in her ways but she is the heart of this house and we only want her happiness. Can you give her that?”

Lizzy stood up tall and strong. She took back her control and crossed the room. She shook her future’s hand. She spoke formally, arranging her agreement while all around her knew her heart was breaking. 

“I accept. I know you will love my child as yours and I love your children now and always will. I will mother them as my mother has shown me and theirs too, I loved Grace as a sister, it would be an honour to mother her children, I’ll never let them forget the wonderful woman she was. Thank you.”

“No, Lizzy dear, thank you. Now I can bring my boys back home. These new rules meant I couldn’t have them on my own, for I’m a man without a wife. It is breaking my heart and theirs. They are with my sister this long while as you know well and now they can come home to me, to us. Thank you, Lizzie, thank you.” 

He bent his head and wept his relief into his hands while my daughter put her arms on his shoulders. Yes, she will be fine, she is strong and this was her decision.

So, here we are and I watch on, my daughter and her future stand before me. If he had not stepped in what future would she have, here, in this new state we all fought so hard to get, man and woman, side by side, together,  this new Republic, this Ireland of 1928. What future does she have now and all her future daughters and daughter’s daughters? What will this new regime bring?