2022 Competition – Winners’ Entries

The James Award Sponsored by James McGrath, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Rites of PassageMicheál Gallagher

‘Can you pick up a block of ice cream on the way?’ Her voice tails off.

As I drive along, I think of my first ice cream treat.

1948, we were on our way back to Achill from Westport. My mother had taken me to be photographed wearing my First Communion suit, a present from America. In Newport, the bus stopped outside Chamber’s. Nearly everyone disembarked and went into the shop. A queue had already formed at the far end of the counter where two girls were busy dolloping out big spoons of ice cream. The same ritual had occurred on the outward journey but my mother had insisted that she couldn’t trust me not to slobber all over my lovely white suit, ‘and what would the Yanks think then when they saw the photo?’

this thin wafer

the use of reason

affirmed

The ice cream was scrumptious. It turned out that Chamber’s ice cream was acclaimed throughout West Mayo; indeed some said that its fame had spread all the way to America. Of course, it was made from a secret recipe, known only to two people.

My next visit to Newport was in 1955, the first time I climbed Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday. Chamber’s were doing a roaring trade as half the county seemed to be on pilgrimage, praying in vain,  even at that stage, for the next Mayo success in the All Ireland  – they had won it twice in the intervening years.

1960. This time, an outward journey only. I was on my way to London. Somehow, there was a salty tang to the ice cream that year.

porthole

          the emigrant ever

                                 looking aft

1965. I introduced my Kerry bride to the Chamber’s ice cream that I had told her about on our very first date in Holloway Road. The following year our son, Michael, got his first lick to be followed in later years by Karen and Claire and Colm. 1968 saw us pull up outside Chambers in our first car. That stop signalled the start of our annual holiday to Achill for the next thirty years and more. Somewhere along the way, the taste changed; a new-fangled machine was installed and Chamber’s ice cream tasted like all the other ice creams in the world.

But we pretended that it didn’t and we talked about little else once we crossed the Mayo border. And my mother’s first question, on our arrival home in Achill, was always,

‘Did ye stop at Chambers?’

2018 and Chamber’s, too, is now gone. Everything changes and nothing changes. We still pray for a Mayo win on Reek Sunday.

licked

again and again

the dream begins

The Jer Lynch Poetry Award Sponsored by Con Lynch CFE

Curlews of Cloghane – Susan Hitching

They flute whilst

wading the sea-frills

dib-dibbling for sand-worms.

Striding on fragile stilts:

to dig the clouds, scythe the sun…

and treading the blue…in glassy sands

they are swimming in sky…or

dancing to the lap-lap rhythm

of a gentle back-wash.

Cloghane…. with its mournful pipers

threading phrases on the wind…

tightening those ghostly strings.

Maurice Walsh Short Story Award Sponsored by Lee Strand

Chosen

Helen O’Leary

She’s taken the stairs two at a time but faced with the inner door, she hesitates. Breathes, consciously drawing musty air deep into her lungs once, twice, three times. Considers turning back, making another trip to the loo. But voices from inside the room barely audible, confirm they’ve started without her. Again! Gingerly she turns the brass handle. Steps into the room. Something small, a pebble lodged between wood and tile scratches and scrapes across the floor. All eyes on her!

            Tony smiles welcoming her in, but she sees him glance at his folder, doubts he remembers her name. He’ll have spotted a pattern though. Habitual lateness, sporadic attendance, a form of resistance. She’s read the books too. Shrinking into herself she makes her way around the circle, takes the only free seat next to him. Minutes pass. Somebody is speaking but she grasps neither word nor meaning. She eases herself back into the hard plastic chair, tapestry bag clutched to her chest.

            After three or four voices have been heard, she dares to raise her head, take a furtive look around. The circle has expanded. A newcomer is seated directly across from her: a woman, in a floaty purple dress, big round rimmed glasses. Mid- fifties at a guess and new to this business judging by the way she’s sitting forward, rapt. Her long tanned legs stretch out into the circle. Bare legs and Birkenstocks even though it’s mid-October. Immediately Laura looms large in her mind, knapsack on her back, waving a wan goodbye!

To banish the image, she begins a series of rapid calculations. Should they be asked to divide into groups of three for whatever excavation exercise Tony has dreamed up for the morning, that would make nine groups of three, excluding Tony of course. But should he ask for twos, there would be thirteen pairs. Somebody would be left alone.

            “Choose or be chosen,” he is fond of saying. Sitting well back in his chair, all open postured, he’d make slow and deliberate eye contact with each and every member of the group. Then he’d wait, observing which of them would remain rooted to the seat? Or who would be first to their feet desperately clinging to the nearest available arm?

            “Will you be my partner today? Will you?”

She steals another glance at the newcomer. Chooser or chosen? Bare legs and Birkenstocks! Floaty dress and big rimmed glasses! A presence you couldn’t help but be aware of. Definitely, amongst the chosen!

The morning session drags on. She doesn’t contribute. It ends with a journaling exercise.

“Why are you here?” he asks, and she squirms beneath his intense gaze.

“I suggest you each open a new page of your journals. Write twenty lines beginning with the words I am here because…

She stares at the blank white page. Forms the letters, fills the lines, repeats the question leaving it unanswered. A better one, it occurs to her, might be Why am I still here? or even Why is she not? Silence, save for the scratching of pens on paper and the odd sniffle. Senses his eyes on her, the exercise wasn’t really a suggestion. So, she begins.

As Tony taps the Tibetan sound bowl signalling break time, she lingers foostering with her notes before stuffing them into a folder which in turn she buries in her bag. Her face burns. Wouldn’t want anyone reading the terrible words that had sprung from the pen to her journal! She’s last to leave the room.

            “Sorry, sorry. Oh, excuse me. Do you mind if I just squeeze past you there?”

            There’s plenty of chat in the kitchen, loud laughter too. She joins the line to the counter where the Burco is clanging and clanking, drops a tea bag into a chipped mug. Nobody looks her way, engages her in idle chatter. She’s as invisible to them as she is to the world. The Burco, when she finally gets to it, issues only a few miserable drops and she has to be content with half a mug of tea. The others huddled in groups of twos and threes, are already into deep meaningful chats. Setting her mug on the windowsill, she makes for the loo. Birkenstock Lady is at the mirror dabbing her eyes, impossible to avoid in the tight space.

            “Marion,” she says offering her hand, silver bracelets jangling, “but friends call me Marz.”

Smiles, barely.

“I know I’m going to love this group,” she continues, “that last session…so powerful. Powerful and freeing.”

Nods. Scuttles into the nearest cubicle. Stays there till she hears the door close behind Marion. Sitting on the tissue she has carefully laid over the toilet seat she agonises: what had stopped her reaching out in some small gesture of friendship? Offering her name. But holding back has come to be a habit born out of bitter experience. Too many fragile threads of friendship severed when her ordinariness was revealed.

One of the Nugent twins. Laura’s sister. The mousey one. Painfully shy. Labels burnt into her brain so deep that no matter how she tries she can’t reframe or banish them. 

Back in her chair she attempts to retrieve the pages, wanting to pull back the words, obliterate them before Tony has a chance to dissect. To rewrite the story before she is invited to share with these strangers. How can she tell her story without talking about Laura, for the story was never hers but theirs? And what is it now without her? Who am I if I am no longer Laura’s sister?

 Theirs was a childhood of movement. Another job, another town, another house. Another school, another class, another possible friend. Mother didn’t have to utter a word: they knew by her brisk tone and tightly pursed lips that it had happened again, and they’d have to move on. Father didn’t explain. They never questioned. At night, under the heavy eiderdown they plotted and planned as if embarking on an adventure straight from their Enid Blyton books. How they’d decorate their new bedroom with artwork: her meticulously copied flowers, birds and trees; Laura’s big bold posters. The pets they might be allowed: a cat for her, a turtle for Laura. The friends they would make.

            “You girls have each other,” Mother would say, “when you have a sister you always have a friend.”

            But Mother didn’t understand: a sister doesn’t choose you. A sister has to be your friend.

In memory each first day merges.  The pair of them at a classroom door, exposed to the gawping faces at the desks. Teachers, some old, some young, mostly irritated at the inconvenience of finding extra books, copies and places for them. In the beginning, mixing up their names. All delighted when presented with their handwriting, cursive letters carefully formed in black ink, a source of tremendous pride to Mother who made them practise nightly. Frantic hands in the air,

“Please Sister, please, can I sit next to the new girls?” 

First day breaktimes never varied: crowds circled around them, bombardment of questions.

            “How come ye talk different?”

            “Don’t ye have to wear the uniform?”

            “Are ye real posh or what?”

Laura, with a quick answer for everyone. She, hanging back tongue tied, till gradually the circle grew smaller and she would be left standing whilst Laura skipped higher, ran faster and laughed louder than them all. Invitations would quickly follow, to tea and to birthday parties. She traipsed along, in her gut the knowledge that the invitations weren’t for her. Even then, Laura shone from within, drawing everyone into her orbit.

Tony is back, laden down with art materials; crayons, paint, paper and charcoal which he puts on tables set up in the middle of the room. 

“Let’s take a few minutes to read over your journal entries,” he says, “sit with the writing, see what comes up.”

She skims through the pages, a knot tightening in her belly. Sentences jump out.  Words she’d never dare to speak. Words of anger, hatred. Her stomach twists, she barely makes it to the loo. Re-entering the room, she’s made up her mind, she’s leaving before the afternoon session.

 “In your own time, I invite you to choose any of the materials here and respond to the work.”

            Pinned to the chair, her heart pounds. A page? Which one? Materials? Colours? Everything has meaning. Last to the table, she takes a small sheet of cream coloured paper and a stick of charcoal.

            “Don’t overthink it, just go with whatever comes first, the rest will follow.”

            First, as always, Laura.  Rucksack on her back, standing alone on the shore of a lake which stretches out before her, vast and deep. How to begin? A line carefully drawn, then another and another. She sketches quickly now, mountains, sky and lake. But the figure when it comes is small and waif-like, not at all like Laura. Nothing of her big, glorious laughter. 

Sits back. The picture cries out for something. She grabs some crayons: blue, red and yellow, the colours of the scarves they had knitted for each other when they were children. A row of plain and a row of purl, repeat ten times then switch to the next colour. Blue, red, yellow. Repeat. And when they were finished, they knotted them together into one long rope. What joy! What fun! She, tearing after Laura through the long grass, clinging to the fringed end, and later twirling and twirling it round the pair of them till spun together two became one.    

            She works with energy now, the room lost to her. The colour, the picture must have more colour. For how else can she explain her? Show them that Laura, before death was colour and life itself. And though terrible words of anger had sprung from her pen earlier, she loves her, aches for her, is nothing without her.    

Vaguely aware that the others are back in their places she doesn’t move. Needs more time. There’s something else here. Must find it. There’s anger in the darkening clouds and the pain of loss in the hard, hard rocks and the gunmetal sea. But the lonesome figure on the shore? Sees now, it’s not Laura. She’s looking at herself. And the scarf? A lifeline? Laura’s parting gift? 

            “Who would like to share?”

             Somebody shifts in a seat, another coughs. Her heart is in her throat, seized by a terrible urge to speak.

            “Place your work in the centre of the circle and come forward if you wish to comment about anything that touches you.”

            Silence. Speak now or forever be unheard. 

She begins, acutely aware of the thinness of her voice in the room. Tony doesn’t interrupt, hurry her along in any way. Afterwards she’s grateful to him for that. When she finally finishes the others come forward, offer their support. She doesn’t recoil, even when they reach to hug her. She doesn’t hear the next story or the one after, wrapped as she is in her own. When the session ends she reaches into her bag, winds her scarf around her neck and makes for the door.

            “See you next week?” Tony says.

            Nods. Can’t get out fast enough.

The others have gone ahead. She opens the heavy front door out into the bustling street. Begins to walk, blending as always in her anonymity into the city’s throng. At the corner by the coffee dock, a figure incongruous in purple floaty frock and sandals, waving.

            “Ruth, Ruth! Over here! Don’t know about you, but I need a coffee or something stronger after that. Join me?”

            Hesitates. Ruth, she said. An invitation.

            She could go home, spend the evening playing and re playing the session in her head. And in a few weeks’ time, when the pain becomes unbearable again, seek out another group, find another Tony.

            Nuzzling into the scarf she breathes her in. Laura. Even in death leading the way.

Dúais Phádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair Urraithe ag Ciste Turasóireachta na Gaeilge, CCC.

Filiocht Sinsear

An Seanbhóthar le Art Ó Súilleabháin

Shiúil mé cúpla mile den seanbhóthar anocht

griain an iomlán-ghealaí le mo dhroim

scath oiche os mo chomhair

Orion sínte thar loch

tusa ar m’intinn.

Chaith mé uair a chloig sa leath-dorchadas

Dylan ag canadh ó mo phóca

cos ar chos ar an gcosán

Sirius gorm ag lonrú

tusa ar m’intinn.

Fuaraigh mo thóin ar chloch an droichid

sos beag ciúin ón síor-smaoineamh

foscadh seal ón ghaoth anoir

na Pleaides ag caoineadh

tusa ar m’intinn.

Uisce an tríú easa ag síor-chogarnáil liom

do-thuiscint mo shaol ag fánú uaim

rithim úr-núa ag breacadh orm

Aldebaron tarbhach dearg

tusa fós ar m’intinn.

Dúais Phádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair Urraithe ag Ciste Turasóireachta na Gaeilge, CCC.

Gearrscéal Sinsear

Fís Sa Phortach le Dáithí Ó Cíosáín

Lá gorm Mheithimh. Ag dul suas ar thaobh ne gréine de Chnoc an Fhómhair os cionn Ciarraí Thuaidh a bhí sé nuair a chonaic sé í.

Ina luí sa pholl móna a bhí sí. Gorm na spéire in uisce an phoill cosúil le scáthán timpeall uirthi. A súile dúnta ach gile na mbrollach a thóg a shúile i dtosach. Chomh bán le sneachta. Dhá bhachlóg ar bharr an dá cheann acu. Ansin an tor beag ag barr a cosa ag crith-lonnrú, leath-chlúdaithe le huisce. Mar Ophelia a chuala sé an máistir scoile ag lua sula dfhág sé an scoil ag a trí bliana déag. A leithéid ní fhaca sé riamh ina hocht mbliana déag ar thalamh an domhain.

Ba chosúil le paidir an spás idir Liam Ó Súilleabhain agus Cáitín Chatach Ní Chatháin ag an nóiméad sin. Dar le Liam féin.

Ach reoite a bhí sé. Buille sa cheann a rinne oighear de san áit a sheas sé. An raibh sí marbh? Chonaic sé an dá brollach ag árdú agus ag ísliú. Ina codladh a bhí sí! Rith nó seasamh? D’fhéach sé timpeall. Ní raibh duine ná deoraí sa chuid sin den bportach. Bhí an mhóin go léir cnuchairte le tamall agus chuir a athair suas an cnoc é an lá sin chun a chinntiú go raibh na cnuchairtí fós ina seasamh.

Ba ansin a thug sé fé ndeara na héadaí in aice léi. Gúna gorm agus seáilín línéadach liath.

Dhúisigh sí! A Dhia! An fhéachaint fhiain ina súile. An tuiscint ag teacht chuichí. Rug sí ar na héadaí agus d’éirigh sí sa ghluaiseacht chéanna. Rith sí ón áit. A cuid gruaige chatach ag rince agus ag spréacharnaigh ar a gualainn agus í ag brostú síos an cnoc. Cruinneas a cúil chomh geal le spéir-chailín ag imeacht uaidh.

 D’fhan an draíocht ina diaidh. Gorm na spéire fós sa pholl portaigh. Beagnach níos mó ann anois toisc go raibh sí as.

An bhliain ina dhiaidh sin, ar maidin mhoch i dtosach Mí na Márta 1914, d’éalaigh Liam amach lena mhála beag ón dtigh cheanntuí ós cionn Ciarraí Thuaidh. A athair agus a mháthair fós ina gcodladh agus leaba folamh ag feitheamh leo nuair a d’éireoidís ag a naoi. Lig an sean-mhadra, Seip amhastrach íseal mar shlán agus chuir Liam a lámh ar a cheann go ceanúil. Mar shlán freisin. De shiúl na gcos ansin síos an bóthar cúng gan stró go Crosbhóthar Daughton. Laethanta lán le féidireachtaí ós a chomhair amach. Deichniúr ag fanacht sa stáisiún beag in aice le beairic na bPíléirí. Píléar meánaosta ag caitheamh a phíopa ar tháirseach an dorais. Luigh sé súil ar Liam chun a chinntiú cé ar dhíobh é. Cúpla ag teacht amach ó oifig an phoist Uí Mhuircheartaigh. Fear eile ina shuí ar bhairille adhmaid taobh amuigh agus píopa cré ina bhéal.

Ag timpeall leathuair taréis a hocht, feadóg agus deatach na traenach de chuid Lartigue ag suntáil ó Bhaile an Bhuinneánaigh ar bhóthar iarainn ardaithe. Isteach sa charraiste agus dúirt an garda traenach dóibh suí ar dhá thaobh den gcarráiste chun é a choimeád cothrom. Ar aghaidh ansin agus boladh an deataigh ins shrón ó shimne arb harr na traenach. Idir ó agus aosta sa charráiste dara rangach. Na boic mhóra sa phríomh charráiste chun tosaigh. D’fhéach Liam amach an fhuinneog ar na páirceanna agus sceacha ag scinneadh thart. Ar aghaidh thar Droichead Gáile agus a smaointe ag teacht le rithim an Lartigue. Ocht mbliana déag agus dhá phúnt ina phóca aige. Spreagadh ón Recruiting Sergeant ó na Munster Fusiliers cúpla seachtain roimhe sin ina chluasa fós. An Sergeant mór leis an gcrombéal cosúil le handlebars ag labhairt go hardnósach: onór, gunna, éide snasta, bia blasta, airgead, máirseáil, súile na gcailíní orthu, glóire pháirc an chatha, a scéal i mbéal na gcomharsan, stádas agus saibhreas. Agus ag filleadh abhaile roimh Nollaig i measc na laochra chun ceiliuradh.

Bhí Liam fé gheasa láithreach bonn an lá sin. Freagra ar ghach cheist a bhí ag déanamh poill ina bheatha. A athair ag sá na bhfocal crua ina inchinn gach uile lá: éirigh go luath, faigh an sluasad, beir móin isteach, faigh na ba, gleas an capall. Bheadh rabhta feirge ar a athair nuair a gheoghadh sé amach cá raibh a aon mhac ag dul. Arm Shasana! In ainm Dé! Ba shaothar in aisce do Liam a chur ina luí air gur ar shon na hÉireann freisin a bhí sé ag dul ag síníú ins na Munsters.

Smaoinigh sé freisin ar Cháitín Chatach ag magadh fé lena súile rinceacha ag an gcros-bhóthar tráthnóna Domhnaigh nuair a bhailíodh na hógánaigh chun mearbhall na hóige a mhúnlú idir a chéile. Cad é an solas a bhí ins na súile sin a d’fhag Liam fiáin le dúil agus fonn chun aire a thabhairt di?

Chorraigh sé anois agus d’fhéach sé siar ar Chnoc an Fhómhair san iar-thuaisceart thar a ghualainn. Bhí Liam chomh lán le díogras an nóiméad sin gur cheap sé go bpléascadh a chroí. Gunnaí agus drumaí ag seinm ins cheann ar shroichint stáisiún traenach Lios Tuathail dó. Postaeirí le ceann crua Kitchener ag féachaint amach agus ag pointeáil leis an teachtaireacht “Your Country Needs You!”

Lean sé ar aghaidh chun bualadh le slua ógánach eile ag an stáisiún, ar bord traenach go Trá Lí go dtí na Munster Fusiliers. Sara fada, máirseáil timpeall clós sa bheairic agus ba shaighdiúir é i gceann seachtaine. Craic san oíche ag caint lena chairde nua agus insint scéalta fé chailíní agus brionglóidí agus glóire an chogaidh. Ansin, bronnadh an caipín leis an seamróg agus an tíogar Bengalach orthu. “Spectamus Agendo” mar mhana scríofa air…tugtar breithiúnas bunaithe ar ár mbeart. A uimhir féin, 10058.

Ní túisce sin ná bhí sé ar an traein ó Thrá Lí go Kingstown, ar an long gaile go Holyhead agus ar thraein mór go Aldershot in Sasana. Ceannceathrú na Munsters. A cheann ina ré roithleán uaireanta, tamall ins leath-chodladh, tamall eile ina leath-dhúiseacht i dtír stróinseartha. Orduithe agus béicigh ag na hoifigigh gan stad. Scamaill an amhrais ag titim ar a inchinn uaireanta. Bhí na hoifigigh sin níos measa ná a athair. Anois is arís smaoinigh sé ar a mháthair, ar na pancóga a dhéanadh sí istoíche anois is arís le sliseanna bágúin, ar na focail ghrámhara a labhraíodh sí nuair a bhíodh Liam fé bhrú ar bhóthar an tsaoil, ar cad a bhí á smaoineamh aicí anois. Gan a mac.

Máirseail, máirseáil agus tuilleadh máirseáil in Aldershot. Méireanna na gcos chomh tinn sin gach tráthnóna de dheasca na mbuataisí móra troma. Tuirse uafásach ag breacadh an lae nuair a briseadh as a gcodladh iad. Níos measa na lá sa phortach ag píceáil móna.

Ach ansin, a ghunna féin aige. An lúcháir a mhothaigh sé nuair a scaoil sé an chéad urchar beo isteach i mála gainimh. Féachaint nua géar ina shúile an nóiméad sin. Ina thaibhreamh an oíche sin, bhí sé ag filleadh abhaile ón gcogadh. In éide na Munsters agus an gunna ar a dhroim aige. Ag barr an bhóthair a bhí sí ag fanacht. Áit a bhféadfaidís a lámha a chuir timpeall a chéile gan fhios do na comharsana. An solas sin ina súile, a brollaigh ag borradh agus an ghrian ag taitneamh ar a beola. A cuid gruaige ag glíoscarnach arís. Rith sé chuichi agus chuir se a lámha amach chun grá a bheatha a thógaint eatartha…

“Éirigí a bhligeáirdí…éirigí amach! Tá an cogadh fógraithe! Táimíd ag tabhairt aghaidh ar an namhaid! Éirigí. Tá troid le déanamh!” An sáirsint a bhí ann. “Éirígí, a shaighdiúirí. Tá an Cogadh Eorpach ag tosnú!”

Briseadh Liam as a bhrionglóid. Ón gcnoc glas tarraingíodh siar é go leaba chrua na beairice in Aldershot. Cogadh! Ag deireadh thiar! Phreab sé as a leaba leis na saighdiúirí eile agus cad é a rí-rá a bhí acu. Croitheadh lámh agus aililiú agus léimt.

B’é sin an ceathrú lá de Lúnasa 1914.

Trí seachtaine ina dhiaidh sin, bhí Liam agus céad de na Munster Fusiliers ina suí in úllord i dtuaisceart na Fraince. In Etreux. Teas ghrian mí na Lúnasa anuas orthu gan trócaire. Úlla glasa ag magadh fúthu os a gcionn. Uisce gann agus neart a gcorp ídithe. Liam ag cur allais agus a dhrom le crann úll. Trí seachtaine den gcogadh imithe agus a gcuid dóchais imithe freisin. Ba chosúil le tromluí iad na seachtainí sin. An long ó Southampton go dtí an Fhrainc. Máirseáil go dti teorann na Beilige. Cath Mons sa Bheilg agus an bua ag na Gearmánaigh. Chonaic Liam sean-shaighdiúirí Shasana ag teitheadh isteach sa bhFrainc, féachaint briste, brúite ina súile. Chonaic sé capaill agus a gcnámha ag briseadh amach trína gcuid craiceann le hocras. Chonaic sé na heitleáin iontacha Germáineacha ag béicigh tríd an aer. Chonaic sé oifigeach Sasanach ag imeacht as a mheabhair agus ag rith timpeall ag caitheamh urchar san aer. Agus an rud ba mheasa, arm Shasana ag rith siar isteach sa bhFrainc agus arm na Gearmáine ar a thóir.

Sin é an fáth a bhí Liam agus a bhuíon san úllord anseo…chun moill a chur ar na Gearmánaigh. Níor míníodh dóibh cad a tharlódh ansin.

Chuala siad an glór ag teacht. A Dhia, bhí na mílte acu ann. Thit compánach taobh leis agus a cheann oscailte. Fuil ag sileadh amach. D’ardaigh sé a ghunna agus mhothaigh rud éigin ag sá trína chorp.

 Ba ansin a chonaic sé na comharsana ag Crosaire Daughton agus é ag tuirlingt den Lartigue. Moladh agus croitheadh lámh. Slua ag siúl suas bóthar an chnoic leis. A thuismitheoirí ag cur a lámha timpeall air agus mórtas cine i súile a athar. Níos faide suas, agus é ina aonar anois, Cáitín Chatach taobh leis an bpoll móna, aoibh an ghrá ar a haghaidh agus í ag tabhairt cuireadh dó dul ag snámh léi sa pholl. Isteach leo in uisce an phoill agus an samhradh gorm ag leathnú ina dtimpeall…

Suas ar thaobh na gréine a thiomáin mé an JCB. Hitachi oráiste agus gile an Earraigh ag spréacharnaigh ar a bharr. Lá le faobhar nimhneach i mí na Feabhra agus an portach fós ina chodladh mórthimpell.

D’ullmhaíos an buicéad agus luíos isteach ar an obair. Sean-pholl móna a bhí á ghlanadh amach chun lochán a dhéanamh de. Bhíodh uisce ag brú aníos i gcónaí sa pholl céanna agus bhí seans ann go meallfadh sé na héin ann i rith na bliana. Sean-taibhreamh a bhí agam chun páirc dúlra a dhéanamh den áit. B’fhéidir lochán snámha do dhaoine freisin…

Ag tochailt dom agus ag caitheamh amach pluid an phoill ansin. Sástacht na hoibre agus dóchas an chroí ag líonadh na hintinne le míorúilt. Tuigeadh dom go rabhas ag comhlíonadh plean speisialta.

Ba ansin a chonaic mé é. Taréis dom buicéad lán a chaitheamh amach ar an bhfraoch, thug mé fé ndeara an rud cruinn clúdaithe le cré an chnoic.

Léimeas anuas agus thógas im’ láime é…Bonn de shaghas éigin. Cuíosach mór. Céard é seo?

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Tháinig fear an phoist suas an cnoc lá geimhridh uair éigin timpeall 1924. Éide an tSaor Stáit nua air agus bród air dá bharr. Beart beag a bhí aige do mhuintir Uí Shúilleabhain. Ó Londain Shasana de réir an mharc poist. Bhi roinnt beartanna den bhunús céanna seachadtha aige le cúpla mí anuas. Chonaic sé fear an tí ag tabhairt féir do cheithre ainmní thar leath-dhoras tigh na mbó. Cúpla focal, croitheadh cinn beag dó féin ag fear an phoist agus é ag dul síos bóthar an chnoic.

D’oscail fear an tí an beartán. Bonn a bhí ann le hainm agus uimhir ar an imeall cúng. Ráiteas scríofa. Coróin stampaithe ar bharr.

“Cad a bhí ag fear an phoist?” a chualathas ó bhean an tí ag sá a cinn amach an doras. Plúr fliuch ar a lámha. Thit grian fhuar an gheimhridh ar a súile tuiseacha.

“Yerra, ní raibh uaidh ach dreas cainte!” arsa fear an tí ag cur an bhoinn agus an litir ina phóca go tapaidh. D’fhill bean an tí ar ais ar a cuid oibre le hamhras éigin. Ach ba chuma léi. Bhí an geimhreadh fada a dhóthain gan rudaí beaga ag cra an chroí. A bhí cráite a dhóthain le deich mbliana anuas.

An tráthnóna sin, dhreap fear an tí an cnoc sa leath-dhorchadas. Cuimhneamh Éirí Amach 1916 agus an stáit nua go daigean ina cheann. Cúlchaint na gcomharsana ina chluasa. Thug sé aghaidh ar an bpoll móna. Thóg sé amach an bonn agus chaith sé isteach go lár an phoill é. Bhí an litir curtha sa tine aige cheana féin. Níor chodail sé go maith an oíche sin. Níorbh aon rud nua dó é sin. An bonn ag ithe poll ina chroí

Bonn a tuilleadh le dóchas agus a caitheadh i bpoll móna le náire.

Anois, céad bliain taréis sin, chuas isteach sa JCB agus chuir mé an bonn go cúramach i mo phóca chun an dóchas a ath-nuachan.

The Chrissie Nolan Award Sponsored by Nancy and Mary Nolan

Children’s Writing in English

The Magic Box

by Dylan Walsh, Killocrim

I will put in my box

The crystal-clear waves flowing at the beach

The sound of the birds chirping quietly above the trees

My mom frantically looking for her keys

I will put in my box

A tiny baby crying relentlessly at the cinema

While I angrily eat my salted popcorn

I will put in my box

The autumn leaves gushing in the wind

While the bright fireworks explode

As the crowd cheers happily

I will put in my box

The dull bus ride home

As I build my box out of diamonds and rubies and

crystal clear ice cubes

I will put in my box

A secret soul

The Chrissie Nolan Award Sponsored by Nancy and Mary Nolan

Children’s Writing in Irish

An Eachtraíocht Mhór

Le Thomas Ó Catháin, Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail

     Bhí taiscéalaí darbh ainm Indiana ann uair amháin. Thaisteal sé go dtí an Éigipt chun cuairt a thabhairt ar na pirimidí.  Ó bhí Indiana ina bhuachaill óg theastaigh uaidh dul ann chun an áit iontach seo a fheiscint. Chuir sé gliondar ar a chroí nuair a shroich sé an áit mhistéireach seo ar deireadh thiar thall.

        Ar an lá áirithe seo nuair a bhí Indiana ag dul isteach sna pirimidí tharla eachtraíocht mhór dó. Bhí sé ar a shlí isteach go dtí ceann amháin do na pirimidí, an phirimid Giza nuair a rug rud éigin greim muinéil air agus tharraing siad é isteach i seomra beag sa phirimid.  Ní duine daonna a bhí ann áfach. Ba mhumaí é!

      Bhí an mumaí gléasta óna cheann go dtí a bharraicíní i mbindealáin. Tháinig boladh uafásach ón mumaí. Bhí ar Indiana méar a chur ar a shrón. Bhí cuma an-shean ar fad ar an mumaí chomh maith. Dár ndóigh, scanraigh sé Indiana.

       Taréis tamaill labhair an mumaí le Indiana. Bhí Indiana fós sceimhlithe roimhe. Bheartaigh sé gan Indiana a mharú ar an bpointe ach theastaigh ón mumaí beagán spraoi a bheith aige leis ar dtús.

       Thug an mumaí rogha do Indiana bás a fháil nó stór óir a bhuachtaint. Ní rogha ab ea é sin do Indiana agus thóg sé an dara rogha.  Thaispeáin an mumaí bac chúrsa do Indiana. Bhí sé uafásach agus dainséarach. Bhí a fhios ag Indiana go mbeadh sé do-dhéanta an bac chúrsa a bhaint amach gan bás a fháil, ach bhí an rogha déanta aige. Dá n-eireodh leis bac chúrsa sa phirimid a chríochnú gheobhadh sé fiche cúig tonna óir dó féin agus bheadh sé slán sábháilte chomh maith. Bhí an seomra leis an mbac chúrsa ar aghaidh uaidh. Shiúil Indiana go malltriallach agus go drogallach chuige agus bhí a shúile dúnta aige.

        Ós a chomhair amach sa seomra eile bhí an bac chúrsa. Bhí cuma ait ar an mbac chúrsa céanna. Bhí ceithre chéim sa triall seo. B’ea an chéad chéim ná go gcaithfeadh Indiana ardán a thomhais go cúramach agus léimt ar dheis nó ar chlé. Bhí a fhios aige go raibh seans caoga faoin gcéad ann dó an ardán ceart a phiocadh. D’fhan sé ar feadh soicinde agus ansan léim sé ar dheis agus bhí sé i gceart. Bhí faoiseamh an domhain air.

       Ar aghaidh leis go dtí an dara chéim anois bhí air Indiana léimt ar chúig ardán le saighid ag gobadh amach astu. Ar aghaidh leis arís pé scéal é. Léim sé, chrom sé síos, léim sé, chas sé agus sheachnaigh sé gach saighead. Bhí an dara chéim críochnaithe aige agus bhí Indiana ag éirí muiníneach.

      Ag an triú chéim chaithfeadh Indiana rith trasna locha laibhe le carraigeacha beaga mar chéimeanna anseo agus ansiúd gan titim isteach sa leacht te. Nuair a sheas Indiana ar charraig amháin ní raibh sé socair in aon chor. Ansin thosaigh sé ag comhaireamh leis féin ag cogarnaíl ‘a trí, a dó agus a haon’ agus ansin rith sé ar nós na gaoithe trasna na gcarraigeacha go léir. Ba bheag nár shleamhnaigh sé isteach sa loch te i dtreo an deiridh.  

      Ní raibh Indiana críochnaithe fós bhí céim eile le sárú aige, an ceann ba dheacra, an ceathrú chéim! Sa chéim seo bhí air rith trí thollán tine agus chreid Indiana go raibh sé seo do-dhéanta ar fad. Ar aon nós fuair Indiana bata adhmaid, rópa agus cloch mhór go leor a bhí in aice leis. Cheangail sé an cloch mhór le rópa leis an mbata adhmaid agus thosaigh sé ag leagadh bhalla an tolláin. Bhris sé foinse an tine. D’éirigh leis rith anois tríd an tollán gan tine go dtí an taobh eile. D’fhill sé ar an seomra beag arís ina raibh an mumaí seasta ann san áit chéanna.  D’fhiafraigh sé don mhumaí cá raibh an t-ór. Bhí ionadh an domhain ar Indiana gur thug an mumaí an t-ór a gheall sé do as ucht an bac chúrsa a shárú.

      Nuair a fuair Indiana an t-ór rith sé amach ar nós na gaoithe amach as an bPirimid Giza ar eagla go imreodh an mumaí cleas air. Chuaigh sé láithreach go dtí an t-aerphort agus fuair sé eitilt abhaile go Meiriceá. Bhí Indiana slán sábháilte anois agus saibhir ag deireadh thiar thall.

Comhghairdeas!

Congratulations!

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