In a Hare's Eye and Raven Mothers by Breda Wall Ryan

Our writers give voice to what it means to be Irish in a changing Ireland.

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Winner of the 2016 Shine / Strong Prize

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Raven Mothers

Raven Mothers

By Breda Wall Ryan

2018 / 88 pages / €12
ISBN: 978-1-907682-65-0
Cover art: Jeanie Tomanek

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In a Hare\'s Eye

In a Hare's Eye

By Breda Wall Ryan

2015 / 80 pages / €12
ISBN: 978-1-907682-36-0
Cover art: Sarah Majury

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BREDA WALL RYAN grew up on a farm in Co. Waterford and now lives in Co. Wicklow. She has an M. Phil. in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Trinity College. Her awarded fiction has appeared in The Faber Book of Best New Irish Short Stories 2006 – 07 and The New Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction. She was selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2014 and is a founding member of Green Kite Writers and Hibernian Poetry and a trustee of Bray Literary Festival. Among her awards are iYeats Poetry Prize, Poets Meet Painters, Dromineer Poetry Prize, Over the Edge New Writer of the Year, The Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize and The Dermot Healy Poetry Award. Her collection In a Hare’s Eye (Doire Press, 2015) was awarded the Shine/Strong Poetry Award.


Self Portrait in the Convex Bulge of a Hare’s Eye

My first word for Hare was cailleach,
witch or crone, slack-skinned
hag with blade-edged bones.

I met her again today
where seven hare-sisters grazed
a scrawny field at Renvyle,

face to face inhaled her lepus breath,
gazed through my shadow-face
cupped in her glass-dark eye.

‘Which is my animal shade?’ I asked
the coven of leathern-ears.
Each licked her cloven lip and chanted,

‘I’, ‘I’, and ‘I’. Hare with sea-salt tongue
rolled the dark bulge of her eye,
answered, ‘All of us, all of us here;

we show no map of your journey, we
are you when you get there.’
I grabbed at scut and slippery ear,

begged her to tell more
but rain rolled in from Boffin,
plump drops slicked her fur,

she twitched a salt-crusted whisker,
slipped into Otherwhere
like a white horse in
ceo draíochta,

left me straddling a barbed wire fence
with two handfuls of loose belly-skin
and a jagged gash in my thigh.


They take your name

tag your wrist
birth date
unique number

They note your history

take your clothes
issue a paper gown

They send you to the showers

drip chemicals
where blue vein
indigo X

They write up your chart


They take your hair.


Bitter Fruit

The match made between them never worked:
acres held back, separate houses
until old bones brought them
under one roof.

Gran favours green:
glossed walls, doors, chairs. Silences.
Sour apples lean over the corrugated fence
that hangs green shadows at the window.

Granda brings The Irish Press,
asks her for the headlines.
He can’t make head or tail,
never mastered book-learning.

She holds the paper high, a silent screen
between her and the clock’s relentless tock.
His blackthorn walking-stick taps impatience.

Stopping home, a man might stifle;
there’s nothing for him but go
to Mary Ann’s without the news.

When she marries Granda, the small girl says,
she’ll read his paper; paint
the whole house white.


The first lungful of sea-air seduced you,
you slid off my jutted hip,

ran on tender feet to a rockpool,
never looked back. The first time

you did not share your finds with me:
the mermaid’s wig of sea-green weed

that reached your heels,
periwinkle toe-caps, the taste of sea-

anemone and dulse, the feel
of sand escaping a squeezed fist.

After our picnic and primus-brewed tea,
water-winged, heart-set on swimming,

you toddled down to the sea,
glorious green hair sweeping

footmarks away as fast as you printed —
the first steps of your leaving.

I saw you listen to the siren song,
already you were singing.