The Cailleach* stole
apples from her rival Bríde and stored them till they were rosy-cheeked merry. They
were in this condition when the Cailleach’s goat found them; and soon after he,
in similar condition, jumped clean over the fence, and went careering through
When she went in search
of her goat, the first man the Cailleach met along the road remarked that a
rabbit had stopped him and winked. A second met a hound who asked the way to
Shrule, while a third, dishevelled and breathless, said a horse offered him a
lift home, and carried him two miles out of his way.
For a year she trawled
the countryside, hearing stories of a rampaging shape-shifter, till at last, the
night after Samhain, she came in sight of her own field where an old man,
sitting on a rock, eating an apple, greeted her.
They chatted happily
for an hour or two on matters as diverse as the husbandry of goats and the
tastiness of apples. There was a white patch on his meg that drew her attention
over and over; there was something about it. And suddenly she knew. Like
lightening she sprang on him, but he was swift and rolled from beneath her; in
an instant, a hound was bounding into the distance with the most almighty great
The chase engaged,
Cailleach flinging stones that lodged on hilltops, the hound sometimes treading
on them as they rolled under his paws. They circumvented the whole of Ireland
in a matter of days, leaving the landscape re-shaped behind them. It never
ends. Each November storms circle the land from Dingle to Derry, Dundalk to
Ring in a never ending cycle, Samhain to Lá Bríde; the hound howling, the
Cailleach hot on his tail, stealing light from the sky with her never-ending
hail of stones.
You can verify this
account if you wish. The stones at Killeen Cormac are among the stones she has thrown;
the hound’s footprints are in a boulder on Brewel Hill. The apples the goat
scattered are the orbs of energy often appearing, still scattered, in
photographs. The Púca’s antics are known all over Ireland and many are still
recorded by unfortunates walking quiet roads late at night. Puck Fair is the yearly
commemoration of the shape-shifter Púca*. And those great circles over Ireland,
seen nightly on weather forecasts from September to February, are the chase as
seen from the moon. * The Cailleach is a Celtic deity, goddess of winter, also associated with earth formations, changing of the seasons, animals. She feature in many legends, in particular stories of her rivalry with Bríde, goddess of spring.
Púca (Phouka, Pooka) is a malevolent/mischievous/benevolent
shapeshifter from Celtic folklore; a bringer of good, more often bad luck.
SurVision, Issue 1, is now online. This new biannual poetry
magazine will publish Irish and international neo-surrealist poetry in English.
The editor, Anatoly Kudryavitsky, will consider work by unpublished as well as
celebrated writers, and aims, very admirably, to keep the waiting time to no
more than two months. It’s a generous read and the quality of the work is high. Find Issue 1 at http://www.survisionmagazine.com . Submissions for Issue 2 are currently being
Issue 3 of AvantAppal(achia) is now live: see http://www.avantappalachia.com/ Like Survision AvantAppal(achia) is open to international submissions in English.