It’s been eighteen months since I last visited Northern Ireland, and I doubt I’ll be able to get over this summer; as of the time of writing, the GOV.UK site still advises against all but essential travel to NI (or at least I think it does; it may be downright illegal, depending on your source). […]

We lived on a road at the base of the massive outcrop in the picture above which is, of course, Cave Hill. Straddling the skyline of North Belfast, it was immortalised by Jonathan Swift as a Sleeping Giant. The best panoramic views of the city and Belfast lough are from the peak by McArt’s Fort, or […]

…And the blackbird’s tune, And May, and June!                               – De Gustibus, Robert Browning I’ve added a lot of tags to this post; my four weeks away from writing and blogging generated quite a few thoughts and ideas, as well as […]

The Customers Finally, summer’s here, and we’re enjoying a wee drink in this bar. A mix of us, from both sides of the fence. Unusual for these troubled times but it works for us. The balmy moon glows in our glasses, when the yellow headed men invade the bar and call out for us to separate by faith. […]

Thomas I was dumped at this church, unable to get home; back down the hill into town. This city, this town is deathly sick; my head stoved in with a brick and barrels from the bar. I watch a car toil up Forthriver’s rise, from this hill among the skies. No hallowed stones or weathered […]

Roy Bells ringing on the radio, Merry Christmas Everybody, Silent Night; my ma wants a record of carols; I’ll pick one up tonight. I had a wee dance in the kitchen, and she laughed as I shuffled along; the fits have left me limping, and my arm hangs down all wrong. But after all, I’m lucky, […]

Brandy Black and tan, contentious colours, your panting flanks and eager eye. A questing snout quivers to defend; loyalty is your nature, not a means to an end. Drunk, I named you for a drink, But Fido, that tired  joke, is your ideal: faithful, trustworthy, except, perhaps, around a meal. Your greed was your doom, […]

Brian “Watch our Brian,” our ma shouted from the kitchen, elbow deep in peelings. “No bother” I called, plumping down my bag and coat. But when I made a mug of tea, he’d slipped away for a wee dander on the street. I let him have his play, Not wanting to bother our ma. “Your […]

Rosemary It’s the thirteenth today; touch wood. So long I’ve waited, and it has to be this day? Still, I’m doing what I longed for this last three years. But here’s me, crouched in a toilet, fiddling with wires, and I’m to be a teacher! But the cause is right, and casualties regrettable. Touch wood. […]

Helen's Bay, County Down, Northern Ireland

I’ve just discovered the poetry of Belfast-born writer John Hewitt, which is a shocking oversight for someone writing a novel based in Belfast during the Troubles.  But then his name is somewhat overshadowed by those other dazzling Northern Irish luminaries:  Seamus Heaney, Louis MacNeice, CS Lewis and Frank Ormsby. I read the poem below and […]