2023 Competition – Winners’ Entries

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

Mick Joyce – A Hopeful Thread

Victory is such a final word,

A crushing of resistances, a blurred

Pocket of delight, a rueful chord

That drowns the distant soul-sound

Of every tragic hero, a relief

That cools the bloodied fire, a grief

That’s never soothed, a calculating thief,

A trickster whose marching band will pound

The silence for another fated round.

Who will haul us from this grimy maze?

Who will bend with Ariadne and spin

A hopeful thread, a ray above the greys

Of dust and withered winter ground?

What will pluck us from the bitter rage

Of warriors and drones? A letters-page

Of pleadings? A dreaming, reckless sage?

Perhaps a steely lowered voice will sound:

Let lost and tethered hearts be seen, be found.

The Jer Lynch Poetry Award Sponsored by Con Lynch CFE

Neil Brosnan – Old Ghosts

Until today, I’d thought of you as old,

But sixty-three is far too young to die,

And as I stand here in the rain and cold,

The question I am asking still is why.

Why pick on me to be your captive muse?

A toehold on your meteoric climb,     

Your love canard has made me a recluse,

Forever chained to your most hackneyed rhyme,  

And publicans not taken with your verse

Nor needful of your custom to survive,

Parade in sombre garb behind your hearse;

Your status greater now than when alive.

But fallen leaves and old ghosts must away

Like nightmares at the dawning of the day. 

Maurice Walsh Short Story Award Sponsored by Lee Strand

Liz Ryan – Tango Addendum

Jim Mulligan, bachelor of these parts, turns over in his old metal-framed bed.

He sits up and reaches for his first cigarette of the day, inhaling deeply, he thinks of the day ahead. The remains of last night’s dinner of bacon and cabbage lie on the table. A

bowl of half eaten cornflakes and a cold mug of tea, sit in their places discarded, but somehow waiting.

He throws back the covers hurriedly and stands now on the cold flagstones. He thinks and not for the first time, that this cottage resembles a monk’s cell. He dresses quickly and thrusts his fist into the box of cornflakes.’ Breakfast on the go’ He laughs to himself. He has seen that sign in a supermarket in Tuam, where builders were queuing for a breakfast roll. He washes down the last of the cornflakes, with the remains of the cold tea. Opening the door of the cottage, he steps out into the cold morning air. The grass is wet and so is the seat on his old bicycle. He goes back inside to pick up his oilskin bag and the notes behind the clock.

He free-wheels carefully, down the long hill and onto the main road. His knees almost touching the handlebars of the bicycle, and the sleeves of his jacket too short, exposing his bony wrists.

From somewhere deep within, he knows with some ancient knowledge, the importance of this weekly ritual, the visit to the local post office and shop. He always goes on a Wednesday, deeming it to be the half way point in the week.

The small bell tings as he enters the post office, running a hand through his hair.

Maisie O’Dwyer, who runs the place, looks up quickly. She is showing something to Mick O’Brien and Julia Smith. “Come here boy and look at this!”

 She beckons Jim to the counter. It is a poster advertising holidays in Spain. A beautiful woman with olive skin and black hair is dancing with a man in tight black trousers and a white billowing shirt. Jim cannot take his eyes off the picture.

He would like to know the woman’s name.

 He blushes and Maisie, seeing this, raises her eyebrows. ‘Lovely picture’ Jim whispers, reverentially.

 “Advertising holidays in Spain, I ask you. Sure no one around here could afford to go out foreign. No point in putting up this.” Maisie declares.

She turns quickly and seeing she is about to throw the poster in the bin, Jim, to his own surprise speaks again.

“If you don’t want the poster Maisie, could I have it? It would brighten up the old place”.

Maisie searches his face and after a quick look at Mick and Julia, hands him the poster. Mick O’Brien pretends to make a grab for it but Jim thrusts it into his oilskin bag.

“He beat you to it, Mick!” laughs Maisie.” The usual Jim?”

“Yes, Maisie and I’ll take some cheese and crackers and some brillo pads”

“Brillo pads? Someone’s going to do some scrubbing, Mick.”

 Julia stands by the counter, looking at him through her lizard eyes.

“Are you having visitors?  A lady friend?  I could be taking offence now, seeing as how you’ve never invited me up to your place. Not that I’d be going” she sniffs.

The atmosphere in the shop changes and Jim feels as though the air is charged.

Julia suddenly throws back her head and laughs.” In the name of God, cop on. You don’t think I was serious, do you?’ They all laugh.

Jim flustered now, gathers the groceries together and moves quickly. The brillo pads fall on the floor. Mick O’Brien picks them up and throws the box into the air. Jim makes a dive for the box and catches it as it falls.

“See you next week’ he says opening the door.

He hears their laughter as the door clicks shut behind him.

The journey down to the shop was always easy, but going home, he feels every cigarette he has ever smoked. The rain begins to fall softly. He wonders and not for the first time, how it is that even soft rain can soak through your clothes.

On arriving home, he leans his bicycle against the wall of the cottage and goes in quickly. He feels at once the damp chill in the air. He places his purchases on the table and then he  takes the poster from the bag. He unrolls it as carefully as a doct,or unrolling a patient’s bandage. He sits down and looks at the couple in the picture. His eyes taking in every detail. Her eyes seem to be questioning the man she is dancing with. Perhaps her shoes are too tight or the tempo too quick or her dress is torn. He only knows that something is not right between them.

The man has a thin -lipped smile but his eyes are angry. The photographer has captured the moment perfectly.

He sighs and smoothing out the poster, places it on the old dresser.

“I can’t have herself looking at this place and the cut of it!” he says aloud. Turning swiftly, he fills the kettle and sets it to boil on the stove. He quickly sets and lights the fire. The damp turf smokes but he knows the fire will catch on. He brushes the floor and strips his bed, laying out clean sheets. The place is already looking better. He flings all the windows open and although it is still raining outside, the fresh air smells good. He gathers all the delph and cutlery from the table and scraping the left -over food into the dog’s bowl, he begins to wash the dishes. He sings as he works and adding hot water from the kettle, he thinks to himself how much better he is feeling, since his trip to the shop. Soon the sink is a study of bubbles. He rinses all the dishes and sets them to dry on the draining board.  He refills the kettle and sets it to boil again for his strip wash later.

He wipes down the old pine kitchen table at which he had eaten many meals with his parents. He thinks of the long chats and card games that had been played. The letters written, and the joys shared. The bad news heard, the problems solved, the crying and all at this pine altar.

He places an old blue and red bowl in the centre of the table and fills it with apples. The effect pleases him. He glances down at his clothes. “This will not do!”. He removes his clothes and sets them aside to wash later.

  It felt strange, walking around the cottage naked. He braves outside and plucks some dried- out hydrangeas, a favourite of his mother’s. They are green with tinges of old wine. He places them on the mantle in an old glass jar.

The fire hisses and begins its’ nightly leap up the chimney. He closes all the windows and carefully makes his bed as though it were an offering. He holds the pillow and inhales the smell of the fresh outdoors.

He returns now to the kitchen and turns on the radio. The afternoon programme of Jazz and Blues is just starting. He pours the water from the kettle into the sink.

 He listens as “Fly me to the moon” comes over the airwaves.  He times his washing to the melody. He soaps his face, neck, chest and underarms, as he listens to Peggy Lee singing ‘Hallelujah.’

 He thinks of the woman in the poster and he wonders what she is doing now and he dreams that one day, he will be her dance partner.

He pulls the plug and the water ebbs away slowly. He dries himself carefully, as though his body were a fragile, precious thing. He has never noticed before, how different each of his toes and fingers are. They all somehow have their own faces and personalities. He draws the line, however at naming them.

He straightens up, and uncertainly strikes a Hercules like pose. ‘Master of all I survey’ he shouts into the moisture laden room. He eases his feet into clean socks and selects a blue and white shirt, some clean jeans and his brown desert boots. He knows that he has a navy jumper in one of the drawers somewhere but this can wait until later.

He looks around the room, clean, quiet and more welcoming than it has been for a while.

 He gently takes the poster and selects the place it will hang. He finds a roll of sellotape and positions it just above the mantelpiece.

“She’ll keep me in check now” he thinks. ‘No more dirty floors or dishes or clothes now that …Maria Rosa is here!”  Maria Rosa, he remembers, was a character in an old western he had seen a few years ago in the cinema.

He chuckles to himself and breaks two eggs into the pan. They are soon joined by two rashers and three thick sausages. While they are cooking, he sets the table with care, and manages to find an old Christmas serviette. In the centre of the table, on a saucer, he places a half -burned candle. He serves up the food on an old willow pattern plate that his mother had baked apple tarts on. He leans across the table to light the candle, feeling somehow like a priest, as though something sacred would follow. He closes his eyes and prays Grace silently.

 The old clock is ticking and the fire is lighting but something is wrong….

 He stands up suddenly knocking over his cup. He strides across to the mantelpiece and rips the poster off the wall. He stands looking at it and his features melt into an angry, puzzled landscape.

 ‘I’ll fix you!” he shouts. He begins to tear the poster but stops suddenly.

Gently, as though handling a new born lamb, he folds the poster in half.

 Maria Rosa’s dance partner is no more. He returns the poster to the wall.

Maria Rosa’s dance partner, destined now, to a life in her shadow, folded in behind her, on the wall of an old cottage in Mayo.

His face forever turned to the whitewash backdrop.

Jim pours himself a tumbler of whiskey and gently breathes on the glass. He traces her name, Maria Rosa and sets the glass down.

Through the flickering candle, he regards Maria Rosa and thinks how the candlelight becomes her.

                                                         The End.

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

Filiocht Sinsear

Bernadette Ní Ríada – Cé Leis Thú?

Cad a bhí ag teastáilt ón tShean Bhean Bhocht

Is cad a bhfuil aici faoi láthair

Ó cad a bhí uait céad bhliain ó shoin

Is cad a bhfuil agat anois, a mháthair?

Lámh ar an bhrat

Cos san uaidh

Is as sin a rugadh thú.

Agus anois?

An bhfeiceann tú –

An scáil ar do bhrat

an Tíogar Ceilteach

istigh i reilig na mbochtán

sean fadhb


sa seirbhís sláinte.

Daoine gan dídean,

an scéin ina súile

na sráidenna mar leaba acu.

An cloiseann tú –

na polaiteoirí, ag caint,

is ag caint, is ag caint.

Do theanga,

ag comhrá leis an mbás.

Uaigneas an eisimirce.

Balbh an  bochtannas 

nó, glór árd an tsaibhreas.

An bhfaca tú –


Cothrom na Féinne.

Plá an cáin

ag tuirlingt –

beagán ar bheagán –

ar na dtithe cónaithe,

ar gach uile rud.

Cad a dhéanfaidh tú feasta, Sean Bhean Bhocht

le todhchaí atá báite i bhfiachadh

le thaobh an sean bhrionglóid a bhí agat

an tromcodhladh é i ndáirire?

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

Gearrscéal Sinsear

Dáithí Ó Cíosáin – Diamaint na Bealtaine

Thuirling Con Ó hÉalaí den traein ag calafort Dhún Laoghaire. Leath na súile air. An méid daoine a bhí ann. Iad go léir ag druidim i dtreo na loinge. Fir, mná, déagóirí agus roinnt leanaí freisin. Muintir na lár-seascaidí ar a slí go Sasana.

Caipín ar a cheann aige, cás beag ina láimh chlé agus a thicéad ina láimh dheas. Tuirse an turais ag cur moill air.

D’éirigh sé an mhaidin sin le giolc an ghealbháin i dTulach Uí Néill. Ansin, an glas ar an doras agus in airde ar a rothar. Na héin ag canadh ar na crainn fuinseoige i gCill Gharbháin le teaspach na Bealtaine. B’ionadh leis gur thug fé ndeara iad an mhaidin áirithe seo. Go raibh rud éigin aisteach, álainn sa chanadh acu. Draíocht na maidine níos ceolmhaire anois ná riamh. Cumhracht aisteach ag leathadh ó fhéar úr na bpáirceanna.

Chuir sé a cheann fé nuair a chonaic sé fear ar chapall agus cairt ag dul go dti an t-uachtarlann agus dhá tancanna le bainne ag rince taobh istigh. Bhí áthas air nuair nár aithnigh an fear é. Níor theastaigh uaidh bualadh le héinne an mhaidin sin. B’fhearr leis seoladh amach as Ciarraí Thuaidh ar nós síofra as rath. A chás beag ag léimt ar chúl an rothair agus é ag druidim i dtreo Lios Tuathail chun an bus a fháil go Luimneach.

Bhí ualach trom an turais á bhrú síos chomh luath agus a fuair sé suíochán sa traein i Luimneach. Thit a chodladh air am éigin taréis an stáisiún a fhagaint.

Tarraingíodh siar é do oíche the taréis aonach na Bealtaine i Lios Tuathail cúpla bliain roimhe sin. Trí ghamhain díolta aige sa chearnóg agus airgead ina phóca. Trí phiúnt portair ina chuid fola agus é ag filleadh abhaile déanach go leor sa tráthnona. Máire ag siúl thar a thigh nuair a shroich sé an geata. Solas nua ina súile agus luisne ina craiceann. Stad sí chun cainte leis, rud neamh-ghnách go leor. B’fhada an lá ón uair a chéad-chuir Máire Ní Chearbhaill mire air lena cuid gruaige agus agus a chíocha rinceacha.

Ní raibh fhios ag Con dada go raibh an bheirt acu ina luí istigh i móinéar ar chúl an tí agus boladh an fhéir nua ag cur mearbhaill ina gceann. Beola Mháire ag oscailt agus é ag blaiseadh mílseacht a teanga. Bhog sé ina thaibhreamh nuair a smaoinigh sé ar conas a tharraing Máire a cheann isteach chuichi chun a mbéil a dhaingniú le dúil. A lámh eile ag sleamhnú isteach ina bhríste agus greim a fháil ar a bhod. Neart ina lár nuair a chuir sé a lámh féin suas a sciorta chun teangabháil leis an teas fliuch a bhí ag beiriu ann. Osna á ligint amach aige nuair a mhothaigh se é féin ag scaoileadh amach…

Iad ina luí ansin ar a gcúl ag féachaint suas ar spéir an nua-shamhraidh. Níor dhaoine dhaonna iad a thuilleadh, cheap sé. Ba shí-óga iad ins na liosanna i gCiarraí Thuaidh, ba Oisín agus Niamh Chinn Óir iad ag filleadh ó Thír na nÓg, ba Dhiarmuid agus Gráinne iad ag teitheadh ó Fhionn Mac Cumhaill. Nuair a chas Máire a cheann chun féachaint air, bhí réalta na spéire ag spréacharnaigh ina súile. Ba chosúil le diamaint iad, diamaint luisneacha ag sú an tsolais amach. Ag soilsiú a shaoil. Diamaint na Bealtaine.

An Domhnach dár gcionn, ag aifreann a naoi agus an séipéal lán in Eas Daoí, an tsúil ghroí a chaith sí chuige…chuir sí é ar mire arís. Bhí an sagart ag labhairt amach an nóiméad sin fé mhuintir óg na seascaidí agus cé chomh ceadaitheach is a bhí siad i gcúrsaí gnéis. Ba chuma le Con an lá sin an tsean-tiomna, an tiomna nua, na haingil, na naoimh nó peacaí mharfacha. Ba chuma leis Dia fiú. Cheap sé go raibh a hóige caite go dtí seo ag faoistiní agus paidreacha agus rialacha. Bhí sean-bhean chomharsan  ag guí ar a paidrín taobh leis agus í ag siosarnach go diaga. Níor thuig sí go raibh an domhan ag iompó do Chon taobh léi.

Gheit Con! Dhúisigh sé as a smaointe ar an traein. Ghluais na stáisiún thairis…Gabháil Luimní, Dúrlas Éile, Cill Dara…ba chosúil le taibhreamh an turas go léir anois, an oíche sa mhóinéar agus réadachas an turais ag meascadh: líon dhamháin alla ag sní trína cheann.

Anois bhí sé ar bord loinge. An Naomh Pádraig. Fuadar fén long ag gluaiseacht amach ó Dhún Laoghaire. An long i bhfad níos mó ná mar a cheap sé. Chuala sé scéalta ó dhaoine áirithe a sheol ar an long sin ag dul ar imirce ach tuigeadh dó le fada gur “bhád” a bhí ann. Ach ainmhí mór iarainn é seo chomh fada agus chomh fairsing le “Páirc an Ghabhair”, an pháirc ba mhó a bhí aige i dTulach Uí Néill.

Fuair sé suíochán sa “Foclse Beár”, áit a bhí daoine ag cruinniú agus ag socrú síos. Deochanna á ordú agus daoine ag éirí meidhreach. Fuair Con piúnt pórtair. Thosaigh fear le blas Bhleá Chliath ag caint leis. “Cen sort oibre a bheidh ag teastáil uait thall?” a d’fhiafraigh sé de. “Ar na foirgnimh” arsa Con. Bréag abea é sin. Bhí a mhalairt de mhisiún aige i Sasana. Níor theastaigh uaidh a bheith ag caint le héinne agus d’fhág sé slán ag an mBleá Cliathach agus d’fhill sé ar a shúiochán.

 Mhéadaigh ar ann glór agus an chaint agus ligeadh scíthe agus chuaigh an t-ól fén bhfiacal sa tslua. Thosaigh fear ramhar ag canadh “The Boys of Barr na Sráide” ag an mbeár.

“We searched for birds in every furze

From Litir to Dooneen

We danced for joy beneath the sky

Life held no print nor plan…”

D’éist Con le focail amhráin Sigerson Clifford anois níos doimhne ná mar a d’éist sé riamh. B’ait leis gur scríobh duine éigin amhrán fé Litir agus Dooneen, áiteanna a bhí congarach do Thulach Uí Néill agus Eas Daoí. Nó b’fhéidir gurbh áitenna eile iad sin ar fad. Bhraith sé i bhfad ó bhaile anois. A chéad uair ag fágaint talamh na hÉireann sa daichead bliain a bhí sé ar an saol. Agus ní raibh aidhm aige an tír a fhágaint riamh, ach ní raibh an dara rogha aige.

De réir mar a d’ardaigh na guthanna, thosaigh an long ag ardú agus ag titim agus í ag díríú amach go lár na farraige. Ní fhaca Con tonntracha móra riamh, agus níor theastaigh uaidh iad a fheiceáil, ach bhraith sé iad anois ag bualadh i gcoinne na loinge. Chonaic sé an pórtar ina ghloine ag freagairt rithim na farraige agus ag bogadh anonn is anall freisin. Dhún sé a shúile chun suaimhneas a thabhairt don masmas a bhí ag éirí ina bholg…

Siar leis go séipéal Eas Daoí bliain roimhe sin. Lá samhraidh agus fiche duine bailithe ag an bpósadh. Culaith nua gorm ag Con agus las a shúile nuair a tháinig Máire suas aisle an tséipéil cosúil le banríon. Na diamaint sin ag spréacarnach ina súile arís agus sort ríoghacht fúithí. Agus ba leis í, an bhean a cheap sé tamall gearr roimhe sin go raibh sí thar a chumas. Saol iontach ag fanacht taobh amuigh agus ar aghaidh. Bóthar gan casadh agus bean ar an bhfeirm agus leanaí chun beocht a chur san áit.

Dia dhuit a shaoil álainn!

Bhog Con as an cuimhneamh mar bhí gluaiseacht na loinge ag éirí níos fíochmhaire. Ní raibh an long ag seoladh anois. Bhí sí ag rince ar an bhfarraige. Ag deanamh an twist, ba chosúil. Bhí daoine ag éirí tinn agus daoine ag canadh agus daoine le taithí ag gáire fé na bogánaigh a bhí ar a gcéad turas ar an bhfarraige mhór.

Thug Con bean ins na fichidí fé ndeara ins suí ar an dtaobh eile den mbeár agus a lámh ar a bhroinn aici. Í chomh bán leis an bhfalla agus í ina haonar, ba chosuil. Dath dorcha féna súile. Chuala sé scéalta fé mhná a raibh orthu an bád a thógáil go Sasana agus chuaigh a chroí amach di.

Ba ansin a d’éirigh a bholg fad a bhí an long ag cur a sróin isteach i dtonn mhór eile. An méid pórtair a bhí ólta aige ag ardú fad a bhí an long ag ísliú. D’éirigh Con cosúil le urchar as gunna agus scaoil sé amach a raibh ina bholg chomh luath agus a dfhág sé an Focsle Beár. Boladh an mhasmais i ngach áit cheana féin.

Chuir aer úr na maidine biseach éigin air nuair a thuirling sé den long i Holyhead. Blas uafásach fós ina bhéal. Gach éinne agus deabhadh orthu i dtreo na dtraenacha.

Ceapairi agus tae fuar agus cúpla traein níos déanaí, bhí sé i bPontefract i Yorkshire. Bhí air dul isteach i gcaife beag chun bricfeásta a fháil. Bhraith sé an blas Sasanach a bhí ag muintir na háite ait. Thug an bhean mheánaosta leis an ngruaig árdaithe ar a ceann a fry dó le “Here you go, Luv!” Agus ansin, le caochadh súil, “”You’ll have to try our Pontefract cakes, Luv.  They’re a speciality!” Agus d’imigh sí uaidh ansin ag casadh a tóin le rithim an amhráin “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” a bhí á chasadh ar an transistor sa chaife. Bhí cúpla mianadóirí guail ag ithe ann, cuid acu ag casacht go rialta. Bhi fir eile ann, gléasta go snasta, ag plé cérbh iad na capaill a bhí ina “sure things” ar an rás chúrsa an lá sin.

Nuair a bhí Con críochnaithe ag ithe, agus ag ól cupán tae, thug a smaointe fogha fé arís. Cén fáth, in ainm Dé, ar thréig Máire é? Sé mhí taréis pósadh! Í ag rá gur theastaigh uaithí imeacht ar shaoire go Sasana go dtí a colceathar ar feadh coicíse. Ach gan filleadh. Agus ag éileamh leath na feirme chomh maith. Bhí air leath dá stoc a dhíol chun an tairgead a bhailiú di.

D’éirigh an tae leamh ina bhéal nuair a smaoinigh sé ar an náire a bhronn sí air. Daoine ag magadh fé i dTulach Uí Néill. Fir ag leamh-gháire féna lámha ag an uachtarlann i mBéal Átha Longphoirt gach uile mhaidin. Níorbh fhéidir leis dul ar aifreann mar bheadh na mná ag féachaint anuas air ionas go dtuigfeadh sé go raibh fhios acu go raibh rud éigin cearr leis, ag iompó a ndroim leis. Bhí sé chomh uaigneach le hÓisín i ndiaidh na Féinne. Ba lobhar é cosúil le na lepers sa Bhíobla.

Chríochnaigh Con an tae gan a chíste Pontefract a thriail. Bhí obair le déanamh aige chun leigheas a fháil ar an ngalar a thug Máire isteach ina shaol. Bhí sé anseo chun í a thabhairt abhaile. Nuair a chífeadh sí go raibh an méid suim sin aige inti, bheadh port eile á chanadh aici. Chífeadh sí an Con nua.

Amach leis taréis treor a fháil ón mban-fhreastalaí leis an gcasadh tóin. Níorbh fhada uaidh an tigh.

Chnag sé ar doras an tí bhríce agus tharraing sé anáil domhain. Chonaic sé scáth taobh istigh den ngloine ag druidim i dtreo an dorais.

Osclaíodh an doras. Fear mór, mianadóir b’fhéidir, a bhí ann. Lámha móra air agus impireacht ina shúile. Chuala Con é féin ag rá go briste “Máire…An bhfuil Máire anseo?

“Well, matey cock, Mary is here all right.” Agus ghlaoigh sé isteach sa chistin agus dúirt “Mary, Luv, there’s a bloke here to see you”.

Ba iad an dá shúil leis na diamaint sin a chonaic Con níos mó ná aon rud eile, nuair a tháinig Máire chuig an doras. Ansin, chuala sé an fear mór ag rá, “Don’t keep my wife too long, will you. She has to finish cooking the breakfast…”

The Chrissie Nolan Award Sponsored by Nancy and Mary Nolan

Children’s Writing in English

Ruth Foley (Lisselton National School) – The Camp

Today was a bright sunny day.  Wait a minute that was just a dream!  Today was a dull, gloomy, muggy day filled with British armies.  Yes, that’s right, its World War Two and the city is getting bombed just as I speak.  We had to move from our home town just last week.  I miss it already; the sunshine, the people …. I just miss everything!

Anyways, I now have to go to school.  I pack my bag, rush out the door and run to school.  I was just in time for my favourite class – Maths!  We sat in our seats and waited for Ms McMahon.  Just as the bell was going to ring for lunch, the alarm went off.  I mean, why now?  It was just about to be lunch!

“Girls, grab your lunchbox and gasmask and walk to the bomb shelter!” she shouted, so we then marched out to the shelter.

I met Anna as we ate lunch. “Hey, Anna,” I said. “Hey,” she replied. “Did you hear the big news?” she exclaimed.  “No, tell me of this news.”

“Well, there is big talk about these concentration camps.  It appears that you get good money, good food and a roof over your head. “Wow, that’s amazing!” “Should we go together?” “YES!” I shouted. “Does it cost anything?”  “Not a penny,” she said.  “Wow! I’ll ask my mom tomorrow.”

After all that talking, we went back inside and returned to all our classes and then went home.  I rushed home to tell my mom the big news. “Mom, Mom! There’s big news about the concentration camps and …”  “You’re not going,” she shouted.  My heart sank.  “Do you think I’m going to leave you out to strangers?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!”  “But mom…” “NO BUTS, you’re not going and that’s that!”  “Ugh! I’M NOT A BABY!!!”

I started to cry. Everyone was going to go but me … wait, I could get Anna to take me to the train and we could still go.  So the next day I packed my suitcase, filled it with books clothes and other stuff and Anna met me at school.  “Are you sure you want to go?” she asked.  I thought for a moment.  “Yes as long as you go too.” “I’m already going, it will be great, come on” she said.

We got on the train for two hours and finally got there.  My mouth dropped, it’s so big!  We got off the train, so excited, but then they snatched our bags and belongings.  “Hey that’s MY stuff!”  “Get INSIDE, all of you!” the man shouted.  “Okay sir.” He was not okay. Not at all.

They stole our clothes and gave us these ugly stripy pyjamas.  Maybe Mom was right – they did not promise everything they said. Then they set us off to work which was so boring. After spending a week there it was horrible.  Why would they do this to us?  It was only a week, but it felt like a month.  “i hate this place. I want to go home.” “I know me too.  All of this barbed wire, work, slop to eat and no shower – I could go on forever. Do you think we will ever get out?”  “Maybe not,” I replied. She gasped and we both started to cry.  This was not what we were promised. Our stuff was taken away, we were hungry and wanted to go home.

“I desperately need a shower,” I said to Anna. Other people were offered a shower. “They are so lucky they actually get to clean themselves.”  “Yeah, we want one too.” The room was silent.  Then I thought, “Lets sneak in, they’ll never know”” I don’t know Ruth, what if they catch us?” “Come on! If we’re going to be here forever, we should at least clean ourselves.”  “Mmm… okay, fine.”  “Great let’s go.” We tiptoed up to the showers and saw a door.  “That’s the door to the showers. Let’s go!” But the door was locked and there were soldiers guarding the inside.  We were just about to leave when i smelt something.   “What’s that?” “I don’t know. Let’s see.”

We peeped through the little window at the door and I saw smoke. “Is that gas coming out of the shower heads?”  “I think so and look!  The soldiers are wearing gas masks.” Anna asked, “What in the world…?”

After a little bit, the gas cleared. I looked inside. I was just about to scream when Anna quickly put her hand over my mouth. I was horrified. “What, what is it?” Anna asked.

“T-there’s dead bodies on the floor!” Anna gasped, “The gas must have killed them.”

“That means they bring people not the showers to – to KILL THEM” I said.  “We must escape before they call us!” “Yeay! TONIGHT!”.

That evening when it was dark, we hopped out of bed and tiptoed down the stairs.  We were just about to get to the door when a man was there holding a candle to make sure no one was there.  “Get behind me,” I whispered.  He marched down the hall and the coast was clear. “Come on!” We got outside and it was pitch dark. “I can’t see a thing,” I said.  “Follow me,” said Anna.

We were almost at the gates when the alarm went off. They knew we were gone. The patrol was even worse now.  I was so scared. If we got caught, we would have been killed.  We crept through the bushes and were finally out when we realised OUR BELONGINGS! We must go back and get them,” I whispered.  “No Ruth were out we are safe. Come on. Let’s go and get the train home,” she said.  I had never disagreed with Anna, but I did now.  “I’m getting my stuff,” I said.  “But Ruth …” I had already run off down into the chambers and found my stuff.  I got Anna’s too.  I raced back outside. Anna was crying. She obviously thought I was dead.  I ran to her. “Here,” I said. She gasped, “My stuff! Thank you so much,” she said, while crying. “Let’s catch the train.”

We got on the train, overjoyed. We made it. We had escaped the concentration camp. I was never falling for that again.

The Chrissie Nolan Award Sponsored by Nancy and Mary Nolan

Children’s Writing in Irish

Sadhbh Pratillo (Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail) – Oíche Shamhna

Oíche Shamhna a bhí ann bhí mise agus mo chairde Natalia agus Lucy ag beartú dul amach sa chomharsanacht chun ‘bob nó bia’ a imirt. Ghléas mé mar chailleach agus chaith mé hata dubh le strícín fada géar air . Bhí clóca leathan gioblach á chaitheamh agam chomh maith, a bhí ag sileadh síos go talamh.

      Bhí cinneadh déanta ag an triúr againn an oíche roimhe sin ar an bhfón go mbuailfimís thíos ag an sean reilig a bhí suite i lár an bhaile. Nuair a bhuail mé le mo chairde chonaic mé go raibh siad go léir gléasta mar chailleacha chomh maith. Bhí scuab na caillí ag Natalia agus bhí cat dubh bréagach ag Lucy crochta ar a scuab.

      Ar dtús, shocraíomar dul ó dhoras go doras agus ansin bheartaíomar dul go dtí an tine chnámh ina dhiaidh. Ar ár slí amach geata na reilige, chualamar rud éigin ag caint. Go tobann nuair a bhíomar ag súil ón reilig d’éirigh zombie amach ón dtalamh aníos os ár gcomhair amach.

      Baineadh geit asainn agus thosnaíomar ag screadadh in ard ár gcinn agus ár ngutha. Rith Natalia amach as an reilig agus fuadar fúithi. Lean Lucy agus mé féin í  amach as an reilig ar nós na gaoithe. Nuair a bhíomar ag rith ón zombie nár thit Natalia. Phiocamar suas Natalia bocht a bhí fós ag crith le heagla. Ritheamar an bóthar abhaile le cosa in airde.

      Nuair a shroich mé doras an tí bhí mo mháthair seasta ann. D’fhiafraigh mo mhathair dúinn cad a thit amach mar go raibh dath an bháis ar ár n-aghaidhte go léir. Ba dhóbair nach rabhamar ábalta análú leis an rith go léir agus leis an scanradh.

      D’insíomar an scéal ar fad do mham. Bhí sí sna trithí ag gáirí fúinn. Mhínigh sí dúinn narbh ann ach duine  a bhí ag pleidhcíocht agus a bhí ag magadh fúinn is cosúil. Ghríos mo mháthair an triúr againn amach an doras arís agus leanúint leis an bplean chun dul ag imirt ‘bob nó bia’.

     D’fhágamar mo theach ach bhí Natalia fós ag crith le heagla. Chnagamar ar an gcéad doras agus thug muintir an tí cnónna dúinn. Ar  ball chonaiceamar an tine chnámh i lár na páirce. Bhailíomar píosaí adhmaid don tine. Chaitheamar iad ar an tine. Bhí tine chnámh mór le lasracha ag dul in airde sa spéir.

     Ar ár slí abhaile bheartaíomar dul ó dhoras go doras arís. Nuair a bhíomar ag an teach deireanach d’oscail muintir an tí an doras go mall agus cé a bhí seasta ann ach an zombie céanna a chonaiceamar sa reilig níos luaithe.       

     Thosaigh mo chairde ag screadaíl agus chas siad ar a sála agus rith siad leo abhaile. Ní raibh tásc ná tuairisc orthu an tráthnóna sin. Rith mé abhaile agus nuair a shroich mé mo theach bhí mo mham ina codladh. Rith mé go dtí an doras cúl mar go raibh sé oscailte. Dhún mé é agus chuir mé an doras faoi ghlas.

     Nuair a shiúil mé isteach sa seomra suite léim an zombie amach ó chúl an toilg. Bhí an t-anam imithe uaim le faitíos. Thosnaigh mé ag screadaíl agus dhúisigh mé mo mháthair de phreab. ‘Cad atá ort a Shadhbh, dhúisigh tú mé, cad atá ort ?’ arsa mo mháthair go cancrach. Ní raibh mé ábalta labhairt fiú. Ansan tháinig Mam anuas chugam. Shiúil sí i dtreo an ‘Zombie’ agus rug sí ar an aghaidh fidil a bhí á chaitheamh aige! Cé a bhí ann ach mo dheartháir Conor a bhí tagtha abhaile ón Astráil ar chuairt gan choinne. Bhí gliondar croí ar mham ach bhí mé fós ag teacht chugam féin i ndiaidh an eachtra. Nuair a tháinig mé chugam féin thug mé barróg mór do Chonor ach theastaigh uaim poc a thabhairt dó ag an am céanna. D’imir sé an-cleas orm.

        Táim anois ag smaoineamh ar dhíoltas a bhaint amach ar Chonor sula fhillfidh sé ar an Astráil. De réir mar a théann an seanfhocal úd, filleann an feall ar an bhfeallaire!



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