July 15, 2020

Selfies and Portraits:Snapshots from the Library After Dark

Back in December 2014-2016 I was part of a lovely writers' group that met in Clondalkin Library once a month under the gentle and watchful eye of Helen McMahon, the librarian there at the time.

In December 2016 the poet and writer Colm Keegan edited the collection when the group decided to produce an anthology. The result was a wonderful book called Selfies and Portraits:Snapshots from the Library After Dark Writers' Café.

The book is available to purchase at

I had two pieces included in the anthology. I re-produce below the flash fiction piece.



Hide and Seek


Though I always hated my mother, even I have to admit that she got one thing right. She had warned me from my earliest days that I should never marry a farmer. She wanted me to marry a successful business man like she had done. And that's why I married Gerard O'Brien, a small sheep farmer in the west of Ireland.


It's also why I'm now driving along the small by-roads and laneways of Connemara, trying to find a good hiding place for myself, looking for Margaret's possible hiding places, just like I have done every evening for the past twelve months or so. If I do go home and he is there, I can't bear to look at him. I usually go to her room and stuff my nose as deep as I can into her pillow. It's almost lost her scent, I can smell her less and less as every day goes by. I'm dreading the day when I won't be able to smell her in her bedroom anymore.


He filled her seven year old head about the joys of farming. He made her believe that the world was good and full of magic possibilities. He got her enthusiastic about all that nonsense of being at one with nature, about caring for animals as if they were your own children. He played stupid games with her. He refused to let her believe that there was even a hint of danger lurking anywhere, let alone in his own slurry pit, less than one hundred yards from our very own back door.


I began migrating into her bedroom on the night of her funeral. I sat by her little open coffin in the sitting room the night before that. He came in and out of the room at different times during that night. He held her hand, he sobbed, he told her he would miss her, but I ignored him. I couldn't waste any of my precious time that I had left with Margaret's body to spend it talking to him.


At first I used only stay an hour or two in Margaret's bedroom before going back into the one I used to share with him. But, even in his sleep, he'd turn over and seek me out, he'd look to throw his arm around my waist and pull me closer. I couldn't bear it. But now her bedroom is losing her. I have to find her elsewhere.

Sometimes I hear her in the wind. Other times, she plays with me and eventually I find her smell in the bog cotton. Once I saw her head bobbing in the sea off the coast near Clifden. She was a very long way out.