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Typical Piscean, dreamer, story teller in the tradition of my country, I love to write. I'm not sure that I'm any good at it, but getting the words down has its reward.

06 November 2008

The Monk's Tale

As a child, coming up the lane to our house was always a spooky experience; not the sort of Spooks you see on BBC on a Monday night, but the spine shivering type. There were chestnut trees [over eighty years old] meeting overhead. In daylight hours this gave the lane the appearance of a grand cathedral when the trees were in full bloom.

Come the autumn and the branches reaching to heaven like arthritic fingers, all the conkers long gone - smashed in the many enjoyable childhood competitions of conker bashing - and the place took on a different feel altogether. Coming up to Hallow’een and should you be the proud possessor of long straight hair, you were guaranteed to come up the lane with new found curls.

The house behind the big stone wall was built on the site of a Monastery which was razed to the ground by King Henry’s forces at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries - or so local legend has it. This may be true, certainly there was some edifice there, long gone in memory.

As we walked up the lane home, we happy band of five, tired and muddy after a day spent roaming across hills and through local forestry, we always raced up the last part of the lane. Two of us never felt anything, except to complain that one part of the lane was icy cold and to laugh at the other three members of our merry gang. We on the other hand were sure that there was some evil menace lurking just behind our left shoulders always urging us to run as fast as we could and to get out of the lane and up into our respective front gardens.

As I grew older I retained this sensation, most of the others either forgot or grew out of it, except for one of the lads. One evening, when we were suffering a power-out, Mum and I started chatting about local history.

I told her about the sensation in the lane, fully expecting to either be laughed at or told “Don’t be silly, there is no such thing as…” but no. Unexpectedly she looked at me intently and told me that my Grandfather, her father, had always said the exact same thing. I scoffed and told her not to be trying to make me nervy coming up the lane. No, she was in earnest. One of twelve, he and another brother had always had this sensation and Peter had gone to some lengths to find out why this feeling would come over certain people in this part of the lane.

Rolling on to a night in my mid twenties, my cousin and I were coming home one July evening from a dance. Strictly sober, it having been one of those dances where minerals only were served, Lee asked me if I would hurry up. I asked her why and she replied she thought we were being followed. I asked her how she felt and she described, exactly, the same sensations that my Grandfather and I [her Great Grand Uncle] had felt.

When we got into the house, I told her the story, backed up by Mum. After a while she stopped shivering and said that her own Mother, [Grand niece to both Peter and my Grandfather] had always said that she felt queasy going up the lane of a dark night.

The Chestnut trees have been cut, and are long gone, the lane is a much brighter place today, you can actually see the stars above on a clear night, but the Monk is still there urging us to hurry. All the old villagers are agreed that he is not intent on harming anyone on the lane, but is trying to get them out of the way of King Henry’s men to safety. Maybe he lost his own life trying to save someone, or maybe he failed in the attempt and is still trying. Whatever his story is, may he rest in peace.
copyright belongs to irish eyes

01 November 2008


On a warm moon lit night recently I couldn’t sleep; at three in the morning I was sitting at the kitchen worktop, with the light of the moon streaming in through the window sipping a cup of tea.

I was debating whether I would indulge myself with some toast, knowing that sleep would not be easy coming. It was one of the nights we all get, where the brain is overactive and the neatly made bed on my side had become a tossed morass - himself slumbering the sleep of the just, a gentle snore intruding on the stillness of the night every now and again.

As I moved to open the bread bin a movement in the moonlit garden caught my eye. I stood still, not sure if we had an intruder lurking behind the bush, and ready to grab the cordless phone; a cloud passed over and the garden darkened.

As it cleared, I saw that the Vixen who inhabits the end of the garden was slowly making her way down towards the house. Sinuously moving from side to side, her nose investigating all the interesting possibilities that make life worthwhile to a fox. Suddenly she stopped, raised her head and turned towards what was formerly my Mother’s hen run, now a long deserted support for a clematis of gargantuan proportions.

Delicately lifting one front paw, she slowly retreated up the incline and as she did so I watched as the Dog fox came into view from behind the Chrysanthemums in one of the flowerbeds. Just as slowly as the lady he place one paw deliberately in front of the other. She stopped all movement and he advanced towards her cautiously.

Suddenly she leapt into the air, half twisting as she returned to the mossy grass, he pounced towards her and they began to dance sideways around each other. For what seemed like hours, but in reality were merely minutes they danced a minuet around each other. I stood entranced, at the back of my mind was the thought that surely this should be a foxtrot!

As swiftly and as lightly as a butterfly, she suddenly raced up the garden towards the big granite rock at the top of it. Leaping on it she started to preen herself, snapping at the dog fox; if the lady was going to succumb, she was not going to do it easily. Faint heart never won fair fox was obviously her motto.

I contemplated trying gently to open a window to listen to her calls, but the moment I put hand to window catch she suddenly decided it was time to dance again and she whirled down off the rock, raced right through the garden and into the flowerbed leaving a bewildered male looking after her in the moonlight. If I had been closer to him I am sure that his face would have registered total resignation and the thought obviously in his head was “Women!” However, nothing loathe, he followed her to the flowerbed and soon they were tumbling head over paw between the dahlia’s and the fuchsia.

A long twenty minutes later during which I had begun to think about returning to bed, he slowly appeared from behind the fuchsias and trotted off nonchalantly heading down by the side the house. As he passed, the outside light came on. He froze momentarily, well used to it yet, despite his recent night of passion, still alert.

At a more leisurely pace, Madam Fox moved out to sit beside the hen run and groom herself meticulously. She was serenely beautiful, and sated looking. She groomed from tip of brush to nose and when satisfied that she was the Coco Chanel of the Vulpes world, she trotted off up the garden, behind the Lilac bushes, over the big rock. There she paused, highlighted by the moon, looked back over her shoulder straight towards me, and I would swear she grinned a foxy grin at me.
copyright belongs to Irish Eyes.