Saturday 16 September 2017


Feeling are often compared to weather and seasonal cycles- not original anymore,
 but it gets across the idea.
The myth of Demeter and Persephone has compelled us for centuries.

The landscape is winter here
Bare -corpse feet and winter lace
Bare-blackened bark against grey sky
And no pulse

Lover's body does not rouse
Knead, ply, nudge, urge
Nothing stirs
Fire dies

Ashes in mouth
Demeter weeps
The maiden descends
And the Earth sleeps.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Niall Williams

Have been reading Niall Williams As it is in Heaven .
 Associations that come to mind are Romanticism with a capital R and fantastical like the South American writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I thought of Bronte's  Wuthering Heights, the film Like Water for Chocolate, and the movie Chocolat

Stephen Griffin falls hopelessly in love with Italian violinist Gabriella Castoldi.

His is a tragic background, having lost his mother and sister to a road traffic accident, and Gabriella cannot get over the disappointments of her childhood; the harsh reprimands of her father and the blight of her dead mother's miscarriages. She is afraid to love.

Most of us are probably afraid to love. And often one or two forays into the forest of Romantic love is enough to send us skidding to firm ground for comfort and security. Only the truly naive or courageous persist. And Stephen is one of those.

He is the quintessential nineteenth century romantic who will give up all, risk penury and starvation in pursuit of the beloved.

Such plights usually are doomed and such love, as Bronte depicts, is of another realm and has no roots to sustain it in this world. But we desperately hope that he will succeed.

In fairy tales he usually does. But this is not fairy tale. Set in the haunting and formidable landscapes of Kerry and Clare,the lovers encounter real problems, real prejudices and social challenges alongside the ubiquitous hags, fairygodmothers et al.

I tried to describe the story to a friend and ended up crying, because it is a book that is about feeling and avoidance of feeling and compromise and dreams and disenchantment and innocence and experience. It takes you into that dreaded forest that you have already escaped from.
And it isn't Hollywood.

You will revisit the places that scare you and you will come out changed.

Thursday 7 September 2017


Your kisses unfold me
Stretch me beyond myself
Like a butterfly
Extended for flight
Or a tablecloth tossed
For better falling
Like a shirt stretched out
For better smoothing
Or a waistband, hairband, elastic band
Expanded for better holding
From flight to fall to smooth holding
Your kisses unfold me

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Wednesday 6 September 2017

GET STARTED- Write a poem

I like these "What is it?" poems.
Think of an object and then, without naming it ,describe it
Or let your mind flow to associations with it and list those...

A symbol

What is it that smells of Shiraz,oak-barrelled?
On George's Day in Spain he gives her one?

Touched , it will darken, wafer-thin, and fall?
It is sick, Blake says, and worm-eaten?

It is red-love, blood-love, young-love
Before the worm whitens?

It is harvest love, Lughnasa love, mad love
Before the leaf falls?

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Friday 1 September 2017


A number of years ago I did a weekend course in Shamanism at Dunderry Park with Martin Duffy.
I remember it as an imaginative , interesting experience and I wrote a few poems.

The Shaman

You watch from the shadows of your eyes
Your wounded vision stretching
Like the buffalo skin of your drum
Beyond our remembering.

Tuned to the rhythm of the Earth's heartbeat
You ride your drum steed
To Upper, Middle and Lower
Reaches, searching for lost souls.

By quartz and candle-light
On fox tail and raven's wing
You bring them back
And bring us home.

Wednesday 30 August 2017

A traditional Tale


  When Johnny died they all spent days pouring over photographs of him. Johnny as a round faced lad wearing a cap the time he was apprenticed to his father in the bricklaying. Johnny wearing a grey pinstriped suit, leaning on his bicycle, one trouser leg caught in the hoop of a bike clip. Where was he going, they asked, dressed like that? Johnny in full swing foxtrot ushering his stiletto heeled partner through a series of intricate steps. This was the Johnny that his grown up children never knew. The one who had stolen her heart.
   They’d met in the queue of the Aster cinema in 1944. She worked in the factory with his two sisters and knew him as “a bit of a ladies man.” She hadn’t until then been on the receiving end of his honeyed brogue. But that evening as she stared wistfully at a pair of paten shoes, shiny black with a satin bow at the side, a seductive voice had broken in on her musings.
   “Would you like me to buy them for you?”
   She’d treated that remark with the distain it deserved. But from that day on she’d caught his eye more than once across the street as she walked the mile to and from work, and her ear strained daily to hear stories of his latest dance floor antics and conquests.
    Then one day his sister Madge delivered the missive. Would she meet him at the Gasworks for a stroll? And the rest was history, as they say. Her two left feet put an end to his dancing expos and the day they walked up the aisle there was more than one broken heart on the factory floor.
   Their three grown up children preferred the photos of Johnny as a young father bouncing a couple of infants on his knees or wading in the sea with them at Warrenpoint. They enjoyed too the snapshots of him playing pitch and putt with the grandsons, fishing in stocked rivers and lakes with them too. He did, of course, do some real fishing with his pals, Jimmy Loughran and Pat McCrea, and often on his own for hours out at the Lough until the day he took a stroke.
   Even though it was designated as a minor one, she had wanted him to give up the fishing. Afraid that something would happen to him out there miles from anyone. Afraid that she wouldn’t be there, that nobody would be there. And so he had given it up to keep her happy. Just like the dancing, he teased her. She was his ball and chain for sure!
   She was there when he died peacefully and unexpectedly in his sleep. Right next to her and she hadn’t known a thing about it. A “saint’s death” they all called it as they sat around at the wake, recalling his dapper days. He had died with his hand tucked under his chin, a calm expression on his face. He had suffered no pain, they told her.
    But she didn’t get to say goodbye. That was the problem. He had stolen off in the night without telling her. For weeks she was mad as hell at him. And every time she picked up one of the many photos of him that had been unearthed from forgotten corner cupboards and framed in an array of silver plate and oak, she told him so.
    It was on one of these occasions that Mary, her eldest daughter, came in the backdoor, unnoticed by Agnes. A family council meeting was held and it was deemed essential that they keep a closer eye on her. Teresa, the youngest, who lived nearest to her, suggested a pet for company.
   “A dog? A puppy? You can’t be serious!” Agnes exclaimed.” Hadn’t I had enough bother rearing the whole of you without starting again with a puppy?”
   “You exaggerate, mum. It’s not a baby! It’s only a dog. A cute wee Yorkshire or something like that. And it will be great company for you. We can’t be here all the time.”
   “And I don’t ask you be here. I’m quite alright by myself. In fact I like my own company.”
   “Mum, Mary says you’re talking to yourself.”
   “Sure doesn’t everybody do that? You probably do it yourself only you don’t even know. Besides, I wasn’t talking to myself. I was talking to your dad. And God help us can I not even do that? Would you leave me in peace now.”
   Agnes stalwartly refused any notion that a furry friend would make her life meaningful again. Instead she sat out in the porch watching the stars, as they had done so many times in the past together. She read every piece of correspondence she could find written in his bold round script and wore his green woollen cardigan when the others weren’t around; the one they had bought together for him in Avoca Handweavers two Christmases before he died.
   She was having a chat with him about the latest council plans to dig up the lane yet again for water pipes when she heard the scratching at the door. At first she thought it might be a straggling branch of the still flowering Fuchsia being battered about by the strong gusty wind. Agnes chose to ignore the tap tapping for a while. But as she thought about the distance from the hedge to the window of her half door the thought occurred to her that it might be that intrepid ginger cat that had taken to visiting her, uninvited, whenever she left any aperture in the cottage ajar.  
   It was then that she heard a definite whining sound. Opening the top window of the half door she peered over to see a brown and white pointer, looking wistfully back at her.
   “Now where did you come from?” she declared. This couldn’t have been a ploy. None of her children would have picked this bony half starved creature as a would-be companion for her. But here he was, in need of a meal at least. Agnes softened some bread in a bowl of milk, opened the door wide and offered the bowl to the intruder. The pointer gulped the lot down in split seconds.
   The gale swept a batch of leaves on to her door mat and Agnes decided there and then that the pointer would have to go. She whooshed the reluctant dog out the door and closed it firmly against him. Then she listened. But the only sounds were the clock ticking and the wind howling.
   Agnes put on the kettle and settled down for her late night cuppa and two digestive biscuits. As she was about to pick up the last quarter of biscuit she thought of her visitor.
   “You’ll never get rid of it if you start feeding it biscuits!” she imagined Johnny teasing her. But she slowly walked towards the door anyway, to have a look at the stars, she told herself, even though the clouds were sure to be obstructing her view of Orion the hunter and his prey tonight. Agnes opened the window.
   After a quick perusal of a starless sky she looked down. Sure enough the shivering pointer lay in a heap at her door.
   “Well just for tonight, Mister! In the morning you’re off!” The pointer seemed to get the picture, for he sidled quickly past her as soon as she nudged open the door and dropped down, with what sounded to Agnes like a sigh, on the first rug he came to.
Agnes was still holding the biscuit when there was a knock at the door.
   “Just checking in on you!” It was her youngest daughter. “What’s that?” Teresa pointed to the dog.
   “What does it look like?”
   “It’s a mangy looking thing, Mum. Where did you get it? You said you didn’t want one. We were looking for a nice wee pedigree Westie for you.”
   “Those Westies are very bad natured. Sure didn’t we have one years ago. Left the track of its teeth on everybody.”
   “A cocker Spaniel or King Charles would be nice. Vaccinated and clean.” She looked at the thin pointer that now licked the biscuit out of Agnes’s fingers. “You wouldn’t know what you’d pick up off that yoke, Ma. You can’t be serious!”
   “I can and I will!” declared Agnes who hadn’t until that moment had the slightest intention of keeping the pointer. “If it doesn’t have an owner, that is.”
   “We’ll put up notices tomorrow and please God…” muttered Teresa.
   “A couple of good feeds and a visit to the vet is all it needs,” said Agnes. “Didn’t you all want me to have company and now I do! Sure maybe Johnny had a hand in it.”
   “Or maybe he fell out of the sky!” remonstrated Teresa.
   “A companion of Orion, of course!” exclaimed Agnes. “His pointer! Every hunter must have a pointer? Right?”
   Stringer was there to stay. They said he was a “string of misery” and so they named him. Secretly Agnes called him Orion. Nobody ever did reply to Teresa’s bold printed urgent notices posted in every cornershop, library and surgery within a ten mile radius. Agnes talked just as much to herself as before the arrival of her visitor, but the subject of her verbal meanderings was now usually connected to the stars.
    “She’s always talking about heavenly configurations!” declared Teresa. “Asking Stringer this and that about the heavens!”
   “With a bit of luck that creature will disappear as mysteriously as he arrived,” said Mary.
  But Orion was there to stay. And every clear evening Agnes and the pointer sat under the night sky and journeyed through the stars.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Change of Season

At the seaside I notice a last desperate flurry of activity before the demise of summer.
 I also notice our elders beginning to don gloves and socks, specifically designed to deal with colder climes.
While the rest of us scurry for comfort, they'll stick it out all winter long...or for as long as they can. This poem is for them.


The park has been shorn of its summer mane
And wears a razed pate, smelling of meadow- sweet
And nettle and yarrow- strewn across its salon floor

 And in the garden I practice euthanasia
Root out jaded lobelia, cut back and secateur all
That is stooping and failing

And at the shoreline Mothers stand lifeguard
While their young take a final plunge
Before the tyranny of school timetable begins

And though the temperature is dropping
And lifeguards pack away their red and yellow paraphernalia
Our elders wade in, ready to embrace and endure 

This change that has begun to shift 

Thursday 24 August 2017


The last in a series inspired by contemporary art.


Efflorescence, not fungus or
rash or contagion, but a full flowering-forth protuberance -
confluence of heat and cold

Its splint-like shards prick like
needles -fall like dust - then rise like Persephone –

inspired by Biomorphic form 1 by Jane Jermyn
See link-Jane Jermyn


Hunkered on splayed hands
his stripped bone-white foetal curve
earth-bound, heaven-bent

Then he winds himself
into a knot of bone and
shadow and prayer

Haikus  inspired by Box Men 1 &2 by Heidi Wickham
see link  images Heidi Wickham

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Gutting a fish

Inspired by a piece of ceramics by Claire Finlay

And Fish Might Fly

Did you use a sharpening stone?

You must have laid the fish flat -
but instead of puncture wound at anus, cutting
through paired pelvic fins, slicing
the thin abdominal wall, incising
the ventral surface along the horizontal until
you reached jaw, spilling

guts and blood and slime -
You hacked clean through the centre
No delicate flick of knife at dorsal fin
but vertical cleavage through back-bone.
Nor did you turn the spine of your knife
against the grain of the scales, and flay until
you shed silver.

So you have it now -
without entrails, with head
and tail and scales intact-
A hybrid thing
with a beak like a bird
and a butterfly tail-

Fish that can fly

Inspired by Fish - Claire Finlay
see images for Claire Finlay ceramics
Claire Finlay Ceramics

Monday 21 August 2017

Marriage of Opposites

I posted this poem before but here is the sculpture that inspired it. Fidelma Massey's Marriage of the Sun and Moon.

Bring it on

They say it won’t last.
Him with his webbed feet and shaggy mane.
The heat alone of him will melt me, they say,
erase my quarter, half and full phases,
my gibbous, crescent, waxing and waning moods.

Hang the consequences, I say, holding the apple between us,
me, like Eve, tempting him-
A kiss about to weld us into a near perfect O.
Expulsion from Eden, tree of knowledge, forbidden fruit,
Bring it on, I say, bring it on.

 Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017
Based on The Marriage between the Sun and Moon By Fidelma Massey

Sunday 20 August 2017

Tour of Beara

Photograph courtesy of Marie Helen Brohan Delhaye

Tour of Beara
for Marie-Hélène and Claire

It was a whistle-stop tour of Artscape
Talk of brushes, mediums and textures
Odourless turpentine, shades and perspectives
And then the literal tour
And snaps of every mountain, gap and valley
Glade, slope, dip and bend in the road
Galleries themselves and gallery friends
And artists and artists’ friends
And waking to easel- chat and Plein- Air- settings
Impromptu sketches and portrait sittings
Sketch pads and notebooks and rainbow splatterings
And from this flurry, this gorgeous art-smoothie
I glean this one poem:

Not about landscape or artscape or cloud- hugged mountains

But about you: Soulscape, soulmates,friends.

Friday 18 August 2017

No turning Back

Here's a poem inspired by a painting The White Road by Roxanne Fitzmaurice.

The Oh So White Road

I’ve never seen a road so white.

But Hansel’s pebbles must have gleamed just so
under the moonlight.
And the forest trees as tar-thick-dense
as the ditches that line this road.
And beyond these, the silkscarf fields
as tempting as any gingerbread house.
And the future, over the brow of the hill,
beyond the icy treacherous descent
of wicked stepmothers and oven-crazed hags,
as quest deserving.
And once they scaled the pole-staked invisible fence
between do and don’t
Hansel and Gretel knew
as we all do

That there’s no going back.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Saturday 12 August 2017

The Last Word

I thought I posted this before, but the post has the dying languages!

The Last word

In Boro the verb to love flows wide upon the tongue;
Onguboy –to love from the heart
Onsay – to pretend to love
Onsra – to love for the last time

and like the thirty one words for seaweed in Irish
that whiten without dissent upon the foreshore, *
the tongue in Boro begins to stiffen

and so we lose that which holds memory as a landscape might
and a Korean child’s tongue is surgically lengthened
that he may, one day, say “right.”

Boro- a  language in North-Eastern India

*Death of Irish” by Aidan Mathews: ‘The tide gone out for good,/Thirty-one words for seaweed/Whiten on the foreshore.’ (In Penguin Contemporary Irish Poets, ed. Derek Mahon, 1990.)

Friday 11 August 2017

Plague Door

Again a poem prompted by a photograph of an old door in Italy boarded up and covered with Grafitti. I thought about the crosses that were once drawn on the doors of plague victims and the poem evolved from there. The plague was initialled believed to be a sign of god's wrath. Lisa Tivey has a studio, The Open Window Gallery, in Rathmines, Co Dublin and another, Holly Tree Studio, Bantry, West Cork.

Plague Door

The plague is not fussy, just hungry.
And this door never did recover from its daubed
red cross, its pile of bodies, black ulcerated, buboes
the size of an apple. Punishment meted out
by heavenly bodies, atonement for our
inequities, the wrath of God against which
no appeal prevailed.

Centuries later it comes back.
No paint to daub on paint peeled door.
Just nails and planks of wood and
ghosts quarantined now, as they were
then, when no-one would trade or breathe
contaminated air or share their
misfortune. And then for bedevilment
some flippant boy, some modern day town watchman,
a pot of errant paint in hand, daubs willy-nilly,
stigma, that proclaims you dead.

Inspired by Lisa Tivey’s Calabrian Steps

Thursday 10 August 2017


This was written for a Poets Meet Painters Competition. 
It was inspired by a painting by contemporary Irish  artist Nicola Slattery titled Sleeping Woman. 
Unfortunately I have no image of the painting, but you can check out her website or google Nicola Slattery.
Nicola Slattery images


Wrapped in a patchwork
the woman dreams of a farm divided
from son to son
and crafts it whole again.

Its boundaries and banks neatly stitched,
she works the soil into holdings of forest and fallow
and russeted crop and verdant green pasture
and, in places, bright crimson petals boldly sewn.

And in this way she claims back
 a daughter’s inheritance denied.
The only sheep she can tend, the ones she counts,
as she falls asleep at night.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Am going through a fallow period-
 I did knit a super chunky jumper. Made a lot of mistakes but my daughter is lying on the couch  looking very snug in it. Am about to start a scarf. Something quick and easy.
life's like that. ...not always as fluid and inspirational as you would like.
flat as a pancake, a calm sea.... here's hoping for a few waves soon.
Meanwhile some colour meditation chakra poems.

yellow-solar plexus chakra. to do with will.

deserts long
dunes high
back drop to sun-gods
and sun worshippers
it goes straight to the head.

Away with The Fairies.

When I read this article I thought of Robert Frost's Mending Wall, to which my response is deeply indebted.

It's been getting great coverage in the news.

Mending Road

Something there is that loves a dip in the road
That sends the ground swell under it
And makes a hollow even two cars cannot pass abreast.
No-on has seen it made or heard it made.
But in the morning it is there.
And on a day agreed the Council came
With diggers, more than one, to repair it.
At a cost to the tax-payer of forty thousand euro.
But when they turned their backs it was there again.
"There's something in these places you shouldn't touch."
"Sacred," he would say. "Is it the work of fairies?"
They say in their defence,
" It's a deeper underlying subsoil geo-technical problem."
But they'd rather he would say it for himself.
They see him there, like an old stone-savage armed.
"I'd rather starve than knock a fairy fort!"
He will not go behind his father's back
And likes having thought of it so well he says it again.
Something there is that loves a dip in the road.
"Is it the work of fairies?"

Saturday 5 August 2017

Manchester by the Sea

“Where is this going ?” is my usual wail five minutes into any movie. I’m a pain to sit with. 
But half an hour into the movie Manchester by the Sea, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan 2016, and I was still asking.

Casey Affleck was dragging his famous drawl through the script. His lack lustre body language, except when sprung into violent action, was in keeping with the drawl. He plays the part of a Boston janitor , a jack of all trades, who performs tasks as various as plumbing, electrics and shovelling snow. Of course there is going to be a disgruntled, rude tenant. And Casey/Lee is not renowned for keeping his cool.

So we have a character, dull of expression, dull of tone- until you press his buttons, and then wham!
It’s not that original. The sulky angry young man? Brando did it. James Dean did it. Ryan Gosling had a fair whack at it. John Osborn in 1956 staged it. 
SO, did I want to sit up to midnight to unravel the angsts of another angry young man?

And then there were the flashbacks, fairly persistent and disruptive. In truth, I’m not much into flash back. Give me a tale told straight. Linear - my preferred direction. I know it makes the viewer work harder, makes them have to scramble about…and, indeed, the story was so dull it was at least ... a diversion …

Well, to make a sad story short, I headed off to listen to my Pema Chodron tapes instead. A review of them to come on another day.

It's fair to say that I’m a prejudiced biased observer. I don’t need car chases, or swash buckling heroes, though I am partial to both. And, in spite of all the fishing scenes in the early screen shots, I failed to be hooked.

For a positive review read the link below. It did receive Oscars I think?
And I didn't, after all ,watch it to the bitter end.

Thursday 3 August 2017

The Sea Eagle

During the Open Sea Swim Season, as in now, a couple of amateur photographers, to the delight and sometimes dismay of race participants, snap pics and post them on the Leinster Open Sea facebook page. Here's a flavour of what happens....


He scans the ocean waves
His clear eye discerning the perfect frame
The most jaded, the most compromised
Dragging themselves to shore
Where his telescopic vision
Pinions them to his reel.

Sometimes he captures all of us
Waves slowing us down
Bending us
To the centre of his gaze.

Or scouring among spectators, he snaps 
Incipient lovers, indifferent infants,
Shysters who cannot evade his scrutiny.
Scoops to add to his lair;
His facebook eyrie.

And afterwards we are glad.
Glad of this calibrating and combining of elements
That snatch these moments in time
And preserve for us these memories.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Wednesday 2 August 2017

The 10 Worst Habits of Irish Hotel Guests


The 10 Worst Habits of Irish Hotel Guests

1-Chicking Fingers?

How does that go?
"Ansin buachaill!"
Haven't tried that....

2-The Silent Charge?

For soiled sheets?
Torn linen?
General mayhem?
Never went on a Hen...
Sad life...

3-Taking Food from the Breakfast Buffet?

Guilty your honour as charged
Stocking up for elevenses, lunch 
and an unforeseeable future famine....

4-The Very- Hard- to -Please- Guest?

Can't see the sea from here!
Want a room with a view!
And Daniel Day Lewis too!

5-Hanging out in Corridors?

Sex in fire escapes?
Haven't lived yet- clearly.

6-Smoking in Bed?

Nicotine or marijuana?
Compromised airways
Can't even inhale air

7-Scamming for a Freebie?

There's a used condom, injection pen,
Alien (not used) in my room!!!
Never thought of it.....
Does it work?????

9-Professional Complainer?

Firing off on social media?
Or Trip Advisor?
Or blogging?
Enough said...

10-Leaving Embarrassing Items Behind?

Sex toys?
Never alcohol.....

But What About the Prosthetic Leg?

No one saw him leave
And he never returned for it!

A No- Brainer......

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Jimmy's Hall

I'd never heard of Jimmy Gralton. But PIC of the week Times Present in The Irish Times caught my attention. And Ken Loach has made a film about the only Irish man to be deported from his own country- for building a Dance Hall.

The Abbey Players
are taking to the boards
in the fields of Leitrim

To revive the fellow
who told us
not to listen to the Angelus.

In the year of the Eucharistic Congress
Ireland, Nineteen Thirty -Two,
he was hailed as an undesirable alien

Hunted like a deer
Caught and trapped. Deported
on a steamer bound for New York State.

They burnt down his hall.
The left no records.
They wanted no paper trails.

Monday 31 July 2017


Trying to organise my sheaves of scribbles into some sort of order, I came across some early poems which hopefully I haven't subjected you to before.
"My twenties" was a dark decade.....
And this poem was a response to a photograph of me as a disgruntled  20 something.


You sit at a picnic bench
in summer at Annamoe
Light not touching you
You smoke
but do not inhale
You are peeved
and you show it

Denim clad dungarees and check- work-shirt
Who are you trying to please?
Him, behind the lens
who sees you peeved
and revels in it?
Him, for whom you loosened and loosened until
you gave way?

No Blood, he said
No sheet red-stained to hang
in a marble-floored hall.
And you did not know why
Or what answer might hold

And so, you gave none.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Saturday 29 July 2017

On the Brink

I am currently trying to recall my cupla focal of Gaelic, so when I read Manchan Magan's article in The Irish Times, Can you bring a language back from the dead?
I was moved to write something.

They are on the brink
Mandaic, Champorro, Kashubian, Bukhari
Half of the world's languages
Stranded in a rock pool
Tongues culled
for the sake of:
Market Expansion


They are rescued by some language activist
Some Jessie Little Doe Baird
who revived Wampanoag from documents that survived its extinction
giving it an after life.

"It's a matter of justice," he says
This global salvaging:
of Diversity
of Folklore
of History
of Memory

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Meet the villain of the piece. Final part!... Promise....


As Gussy soared over Merrion Strand he almost dropped the wriggling duckling into the malodorous sea weed that lay strewn up on the beach. The stench was offensive, even to a gull with a high tolerance of stench. And to think that he and his clan were being heaped with the blame for this polluted eyesore!

 Gulls have lost the run of themselves, ran a recent newspaper headline. And when the twitterers got going the cry and hue for revenge reached fever pitch!

He and his fellow creatures were accused of pollution, of dispossessing children of their lollipops, of dispossessing adults of their sleep, bringing about sleep depravation in the whole of Dublin 4.  And then, if they were not pariah enough, there was a Special on the Late Late where Ryan Tubridy entertained that little precocious upstart Sally Holmes to a VIP slot! Her and her stats!

Gull droppings were 10 times more concentrated than human waste, making 40 million Ecoli per gull, she quipped, and then added a dozen other erroneous facts in condemnation of the whole gull species.

Ryan tried weakly to protest, quoting from Jonathon Livingston Seagull. But it’s penguins that are the whole rage these days and the little arrogant meddler, wearing a replica of her granda’s deerstalker cap and frock coat, just talked him down.

The stats were rigged; FAKE NEWS!!! He’d have to take it up with the Department of Truth. And meanwhile Sally Holmes’ online campaign, a veritable gull hunt, had to be stopped.

That was why he and his comrades had taken to the roof of Hawkins House, headquarters of the Department of Health.
Not to nest--- but to protest!!
Free speech for Gulls!
Equality for the avian species!
Justice for migrant birds!

And what happened then?

The wheels of government began to turn distinctly against them. There were calls for walls, nets, pest control measures. Calls for culling. Extermination of their race! Eradication. Genocide.

That’s when Gussy hit upon a plan.

Much as he’d like to discredit the penguin community, it was a long way to Dublin Zoo. And if the wind was westerly and gale force, he’d never make it. Seals were the nearest cousin to penguins that he could think of, and a colony of them was easily located within easy flying distance of Herbert Park.

His plan was to drop a duckling within bait stroke of a seal and then dive to the rescue. That should make the Six O’clock news. Sharon or Dobbo might even put in a personal appearance at the Forty Foot to interview witnesses. Seals would become the new scapegoats; gulls would be off the hook.

The problem was stealing a duckling first without attracting attention! And Sally Holmes had made gull-meat of that!


And now from our reporter in Dunlaoghaire

Sharon, can you give us the latest on this development at the Forty Foot?

Yes, Brian, it seems that Ma Doyle was sea bathing with her black flat coated retriever Molly when a duckling fell out of the sky within a snout’s distance of Molly’s bopping black head. Molly, being a retriever, went straight to the rescue but was intercepted by a gull that tried to wrestle the duckling from its rescuer. The dog was viciously attacked, but managed to hold on to the baby duck. The attempted abduction is the latest in a series of crimes committed by marauding gulls and has prompted the Minister for the Environment to call on The Taoiseach to call on the government to reconvene at the earliest opportunity to discuss the matter.

I believe that Sally Holmes was on the scene within minutes and is currently in pursuit of the offender?

Yes, Brian, Sally and Dr Whatsit in their drone balloon are now pursuing the suspect. I believe they are currently heading in the direction of the equator.

Thanks Sharon. We’ll have footage of the event and news on any further developments on the 9 O’clock news. The latest bulletin is that Molly, a setter-cross in fact, is to be awarded freedom of Dunlaoghaire. She is currently in St Michael’s A& E receiving treatment for her wounds which are not life threatening.

If anyone has found this report disturbing we would ask you to get in touch with the help-line 180020202020.

That’s all for now. Have a good evening and remember you can keep up to date with  the news on RTE News Now and RTE news app. 

Copyright 2017 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Follow That Gull...cont


Molly Doyle curled her black tail and settled for a bumpy ride in the back of Ma’s Toyota Starlet, aka TS: The Skateboard. Everyone told Ma Doyle it was time to change that car. Every bump, ramp, chicane and pothole on the road really did rise to meet them and all the occupants, especially canine ones, were jolted and shook till their molars chattered. But she just replied that the only other model she fancied was a Citroen Diane, Granny- smith- apple -green colour with a sun roof, or a red pick up truck, and since the former were almost an extinct species and the latter beyond her means she’d have to stick with the Toyota.

At least today Ma hadn’t flattened the back seat and availed of the hatchback potential of the TS. For when she did Molly found herself squeezed between the spare wheel and Ma’s emergency kit bag containing:

Emergency triangle
Tyre removal paraphernalia
Flask of tea -cold
Bottle opener
Stale biscuits
Wellies for Sandymount Strand
Knitted Connemara socks to go inside them
Rain jacket and umbrella, neither of which she ever used as Ma always travelled dressed in multi-layers anyway.
Basket of bottles for the bottle bank- reeking of stale Shiraz
Bag of Ma’s undersized clothes for Oxfam
The Forty Foot kit which comprised of:
Beach towel
Flip flops
Swim cap and togs, circa 1950
Plastic bag to place clothes in if it rained
Rock to place on plastic bag if it galed
A net to retrieve expiring crabs/jellyfish or whatever creatures that happened to find themselves beached beneath the James Joyce Tower.

And if there really was an emergency, like a flat tyre or an empty petrol tank, Ma always called the AA and acted stupid.

And besides the issue of all the clutter that lived in the boot of TS, that hatchback floor rose at a 25 degree angle, which meant that Moll had to hang on for dear life with her Newfie claws.

Now Molly was part Newfie, part Bernese and part Red Setter
and was tired of being hailed as a black flat- coated Retriever, even if one of this breed had won the Croft’s show as overall winner in recent times.
Overall winner- what did that mean anyway?

Today, before coaxing her into the back seat of TS, Ma had muttered something about “Chasing birds” and “Poor dears!” and “Time to put a stop to it!” and dragged her Forty Foot kit to the fore. She’d also been chatting on her granny phone with  Sally, which always meant trouble.

 Moll decided to get some shut-eye, since Ma Doyle was clearly off on one of her missions with her darling grand daughter Sally Holmes, and anything might happen!  Moll for sure would be called upon to perform daring feats of bravery and agility and sheer lunacy.

And besides, everyone knew that Gussy was at it again, and there was nothing Moll liked better for dinner than gull; rare or bleu.

Copyright 2017 Cathy Leonard. All rights reserved

Monday 24 July 2017

For Kid-ults

This week is for the Adult -kid...because I have written a short story which really wouldn't appeal to children, but isn't really for adults either.  A kid-ult story...See what you think...



Fuchsia lived in a hot air balloon- a very odd address for an elf you might think- but Fuchsia’s job was to cheer up unhappy children. A jaunt up Dunlaoghaire pier dropping free-range eggs on Lycra legged joggers, chill-axed skateboarders and bespectacled grannies usually did the trick. Fuchsia got no petrol allowance, but he did get mischief mileage expenses. So when he saw the red haired girl scowling in the middle of Herbert Park Fuchsia started thinking about mileage.

He was saving up for a trip Down Under to visit his cousin Eucalyptus. But what with the new baggage charges with Elfan Air, he was struggling to come up with the fare. He’d need flippers, snorkel, wetsuits, a ton of factor 50 sun cream, a designer collection of togs, fly swats and anti mosquito spray. 10 elf kilos just wouldn’t suffice. He’d almost have to charter an Elfan Boeing for himself the more he read about the Australian outback. He could, of course, take a chance and fly himself in his hot air balloon. But there were some dangerous winds to consider on route, the hot dry Sirocco and the strong cold Mistral. And besides, his pilot licence wasn’t valid south of the equator. Daring as Fuchsia was, he didn’t want to risk penalty points.

Beneath him now a small crowd was gathering beside the red headed girl. Gussy Gull was at it again. Spring time in Herbert Park meant Gussy’s chance to make front page in The Irish Times. The seagull’s wings rose on a level with the balloon and Fuchsia saw the fledgling duckling hanging from Gussy’s beak. You had to admire Gus. He never missed a photo shoot opportunity. Below him pocket cameras, iphones and smart phones flashed in tandem.
   “Follow that gull!” ordered Sally Holmes as she jumped on board the hot air balloon, even before it landed.
   “I’m not a taxi, Sally Holmes. And if I’d known it was you I wouldn’t have landed!”
   “You’ve just wasted five seconds, Whatsit.”
   “It’s Fuchsia.”
   “Fuchsias are either plants or colours. The plant is a shrub, mostly native to South America, 0.2-4 metres tall. The colour fuchsia was first recorded as a colour name in English in 1892.You, if I may point out, Whatsit, are an elf. Now do you really want to be responsible for that serial killer’s next offence? We have just lost another twenty three seconds. Gus took three right turns and four lefts so he’s probably headed for James Joyce’s Tower in Sandycove.”
   “How did you see that?”
   “Just trust me, Whatsit, and get going! We can still save the day and the fledgling.”
   “That fledgling’s already dead meat. We’re on a wild gull chase.”
   “From the traces of black eel on his front fore-claw I’d say our Gussy has already dined. He’s keeping fledgling for his break-time snack, which he imbibes at exactly eleven am.”
    “How do you know that? From the configuration of his wings?”
     “No, Whatsit. Because he said, “Roll on elevenses...” just before he struck.”
   There was no point in arguing with Sally Holmes. She missed nothing. It was all the fault of her great, great grandfather Sherlock, who had taught her to be a right little meddler.”
   Fuchsia reluctantly turned to his controls. “Three lefts and four rights did you say?”
   “Whatsit, you never listen! You operate from a fraction of your brain cell potential. It’s the opposite, exactly the opposite.”
   Here she was off again. No lines full of washing would disappear today, no perfectly directed water bombs would explode on unsuspecting heads. No fun at all, just plonking police work.

To be continued....

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Friday 21 July 2017

Dirge for a Lost cat

I wrote this when I was suffering the loss of kitty. Thankfully, as posted last week, he has been returned. 
But writing out the fears and apprehensions has always helped me to deal with challenging stuff.


He thought he had two eyes
as he sat in the window-sill
on long summer evenings
longing to get out.

Maybe to scale those walls,
leap fences, chase prey,
dodge foxes,
do what cats do at night.

And since they'd gone there was no
creak of porch door, tail strokes, hourly treats,
No "Aren't you the clever little man!"
when he returned from his neighbourhood watch patrol.

Now there was just, maybe, a twice daily feed.
No chat, no strokes,
and no outdoors, ever.
He'd have to take the first glitch of an opening and scram...

He didn't know it was just
a four day trip to the seaside.
He thought it was forever;
That they would never come back.

He didn't know there was a fox
waiting for him.
Or maybe it wasn't a fox.
Maybe it was a car tyre.

Or, hopefully, maybe,
a little old lay with a tin of tuna.
We'll never know, ever, maybe....

He thought he had two eyes.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Thursday 20 July 2017

Writing Competitions again....

This is a feel-good, predictable little piece of flash written for a competition. Whiskey of a particular brand had to come into it!


Rory googled jobsearch again. He had finished his course in marketing eight weeks ago, and so far no luck. Some of his pals were already planning to join a friend in Canada or Australia. Working in the mines in Western Australia was becoming a popular destination for new Irish graduates.
   “Gran, what do you think of Australia?” he said over his shoulder to Granny Maire who was now pouring over the jobs vacancy pages in the newspaper.
   “What do you love to do? That’s the question.”
   “What does that matter? What keyword should I enter in this job search, Gran?”
   “Horses? You used to love horses.”
   “Gran. I’m serious.”
   But Rory entered horses and found himself staring at a complex array of jobs for a betting company.
   “I have to select a department now. What do you think? Dial-a-bet, Quantitative analysis, Risk?”
   “Are you sure you’re on the right site, son? What about equine management? Isn’t that the grand title they give to it now?
   “I think we’re on different pages, Gran.”
   “I’m seventy five and I’m telling you now, Rory O’Hare, you’re a born genius with horses and if you don’t follow your talent you will end up in a mine somewhere of your own making. Now it’s getting late and I’m having a night cap. Will you join me?”
   “You should be drinking hot chocolate at your age.”
   “There’s nothing that a drop of whiskey won’t solve.”
   “Get off my case will you, or I’ll end up in a paddock up to my knees in muck.”
   “Worse places to be. You never minded when you were a lad. You had a sparkle in your eyes then. Did you apply for that course?”
   “Goodnight, Gran.”
   Gran walked sprightly out through the door and into the kitchen where she would settle into her nightcap and the daily crossword. Rory’s eyelids were already drooping over the webpage. He read the long list of job titles ; business analyst, business intelligence analyst, E-commerce project manager. How did you get qualified for all of these posts? And who was getting the jobs these days? Nobody he knew.

  Maybe she was right. Maybe he should just check his emails for word about that place on the stable management course she’d coaxed him to apply for three weeks before. His friends had laughed, but something inside him had held firm through all the teasing and taunting. Rory tapped in his password.
Five minutes later he was flinging open the kitchen door.
   “Have you any of that hard stuff left Gran, because I think we have something to celebrate that really matters.” 

Granny Maire noticed that his eyes were sparkling.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Monday 17 July 2017

The Frenchman

This story was shortlisted in The Brian Moore short story competition and the Fish short story competition.
Competitions are great motivators!!!

The Frenchman

She would close his eyes in death; that was all she knew about him.

The Frenchman who sold her the cottage made a living from his vegetables. Set on the edge of Clare Galway the stone cottage with its Stanley range and converted hayloft seemed suspended in a time warp. Oil fired central heating was a promise and, for the moment, Sarah spent her days lugging buckets of turf and logs from the out house, feeding them to the black iron Stanley that choked and spluttered and spewed out wood smoke. She saw little of the Frenchman.


“She sallies about that cottage naked in the dead of night,” said the farmer.
“I’ve seen her in satins and bows and high-heeled shoes wavering in and out of the cow shed,” said his neighbour.
“She only got two letters all summer long and them nude postcards from abroad written in Italian,” offered the postman.
“Sure I’d hate to live near any of yous,” said Ruth the barmaid.
“She crumbled out of the car last week,” began the Frenchman.
“You mean clambered,” said the postman.
“No, I mean she was tired, or arthritic.”
“Ugly and arthritic too,” said the farmer into the bottom of his pint.
“She keeps herself to herself is all you can hold on her,” replied the Frenchman as he smoothed the plastic tablecloth with his fingers. He seemed to be patting down some imaginary fold with long sweep strokes; thirty years speaking English in this rural backwater and still his hands fumbled with something he couldn’t quite fathom.
“Hold on her? Would ye listen to yer man!”


“How do people die if they die with their eyes wide open?” she asked her friends in the city.

“A knife in the gut.”
“A jealous lover.”
“A shock to the system!”

All predicted sudden and violent deaths.


She watched him from her deep recessed cottage window; a tall lithe man pushing fifty, his spade sliding easily into the caked earth as he cut beds for winter seeding.

Swallows dipped in and out of the turf shed, wild pheasants ate the grass seeds she’d planted in late summer. The russeting oak cradled the blossoming holly and she nearly trod underfoot fungi bright as hot coals. Winter was coming.

She’d best stay away from the Frenchman, for how could she close his eyes in death if she never went near him; it was the intimacy implied in that gesture that bothered her.


She howls by the light of the moon.
She walks naked at sunset.
She has teeth like fangs.
She pees in the turf shed.
She’s a queer one for sure.
She works hard…
He means for a blow-in!

There was a light tapping at her door, playful like a tune. Sarah was stacking woodpile in the corner of the alcove where the black Stanley squatted, and through the half-door windowpane she saw the tall man standing. She looked into eyes that were black as the Stanley; his skin was rain beaten, and he held himself straighter than any man she could remember.

“It’s you so,” she muttered opening the door.
“No, a life-size model! The Irish! They love to state the obvious or talk in riddle. “I’ll do it now, in a minute,”” and he laughed, his black eyes twinkling.
“Have you something to tell me or not?” asked Sarah bristling.
“You’re a sour woman, or is it dour? I’ve come about the system,” and he waved his hands towards the Stanley. “I notice smoke from your chimney and I see you have it fired.”
“You’re an observant man,” she quipped back.
“What I mean is the electricity is cutting and the pump is not functioning and the system…” Words fluttered and danced. She could see him tilt and turn the spade this way and that, testing; words sliding across the blade, settling only when he had done explaining.
“You didn’t interrupt me!”
“Sure why should I? Thank you. I understand; about the system. And it’s dour, but sour works too.” And she closed the door on a bemused expression.


They say she has a hoard of illegitmates in the city.
They say she killed a man by simply sitting on him.
They say she has the evil eye and can cast a spell.
They say she stacks money in the chimney.

“She listens,” said the Frenchman.


She had never been wrong before; her intimations she always trusted.
But he appeared more often now.

Did the flue need cleaning?
A tile had fallen off the roof.
The hedge needed trimming?

And so he came, feeding her stove and her emptiness with hands that smoothed and folded imaginary contours on her cotton tablecloth and, stroking it, he told her his story. And once in the telling his eyes rolled upwards in their sockets and her heart stopped; she leaned towards him fumbling.


Swallows dipped in and out of the loft that night and the lovers flew with them. They flew out through the roof and waltzed on the Milky Way; followed the quest of the plough and ended up in the Northern Star. Then they fell into a deep, deep sleep.

“La petite mort, we call it.”
“Little death?”
“And la grande mort, that’s death; the end or the beginning.”

Sarah began to laugh; her rolling laughter scattering the swallows that nested under the eaves. And then the tears came, and the falling of the ache she had been holding.

“So you’re not dead yet,” she said placing her palms over his eyes.
“The Irish!”

“I know! We always state the obvious…”

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Friday 14 July 2017

Sherlock's Back

Happy to report that Sherlock, our one-eyed Moggy, is safe and sound and back home again.

He was found by scouts a few days ago at their camp in the Dublin mountains near Ticknock. We don't quite know how he got there, as it's a 10k trek, or what he has been up to for the past 3 weeks!
But the scouts looked after him well until the scout master brought him to the SPCA yesterday. 

And thanks to the microchip I got the call.
Thanks Everybody at Larch Hill Camp!!
We hope he earned his Badger Adventure Badge.