Well, knock me down with a feather – or maybe that should be a Fish?

What a blast! I’ve only gone and won the Fish Publishing Flash Fiction competition for 2019.

I cannot imagine there is a nicer writing competition to win anywhere in the world. As a winner or a runner up, you are invited to read at the launch of the annual Fish Anthology in Bantry, West Cork. And the launch is part of the famous West Cork Literary Festival.


In July, I went over for the launch with my husband Tim and my mate Anne, and an old friend, another Anne, who lives up in Westport now, came down for a couple of nights. It was a brilliant week of friendship and laughter and, of course, writing and all things related. The communal passion for reading and writing that flows through the town during this lively festival was really uplifting and inspiring.

At the launch itself I read out my little flash fiction piece to a room of about a hundred people – it felt good, not scary in the least, as we each took to the podium.

Clem Cairns

Clem Cairns, founder of Fish Publishing, kicking off the launch night

eading my piece at the launch of the Fish Anthology in July 2019

Me, reading my piece at the launch of the Fish Anthology in July 2019

Clem Cairns and Tina Pisco from Fish Publishing had already taken the trouble to get us all together the night before, in the back bar at Ma Murphy’s, so by the launch night we felt a bit like a band of brothers and sisters already. I met 14 other writers whose work sits next to mine in the Fish Anthology this year. There are 40 writers featured in it, in all, but these are the lovely people that I actually met in Bantry.


We stayed in a great holiday house between Glengariff and Bantry which stared out across the sea and the mountains.


On day one we were welcomed by our host, Pauline, with armfuls of spinach, mange tout and onions from her abundant vegetable garden – all of which got turned into fab evening meals … thanks to Tim who was our main chef for the week.

That’s how the week started and that’s how it went on – everything felt magically abundant – home-grown vegetables, salad lunches from glorious Organico, poems and words from the other Fish writers, the wild elegance of the gardens (pictured below) at Bantry House, and the warm welcomes from everyone we met.

The stand-out literary event was going to see three incredible poets on the Wednesday evening. They were three women – Liz Berry, Doireann Ni Ghriofa and Jessica Traynor. I really mean that word – incredible. They each had very distinctive voices, but all shared a brightness, a boldness, a musicality, and a sense of challenge and courage that stood out and remains with me still. More on this another time. I feel it has influenced my work and made me want to continue my exploration into poetry and very short fiction.

Liz Berry, Doireann Ni Ghriofa and Jessica Traynor

Liz Berry, Doireann Ni Ghriofa and Jessica Traynor at the West Cork Literary Festival 2019

Oh, and there was wool! Did I not mention the wool yet? I found a divine skein of sock-making wool at Bantry Yarns (the colour was called Peapod. I know! How could you even NOT buy it?). It was hand-dyed by The Moon and Sixpence (a local yarn and fibre dyer).


This wonderful yarn has since actually become a sock that is not only gorgeously soft and green but also the first sock I have ever crocheted. I can’t wear them yet as by sock I mean just that – in the singular, so far. I am half way through its partner as I speak.

All this, just from me writing those 300 words. Wow. So, I think that maybe my closing thanks need to go to Pamela Painter, the judge for the Flash Fiction competition, who chose my story as the winner this year.

There are links to where you can buy the Fish Anthology and where you can read my winning flash fiction here. I hope you enjoy it.

If you want to read the comments that the judge Pamela Painter made about my story click here.

If you want to read the write-up of the launch event on the Fish Publishing website click here.

If you want to enter next year, go to the Fish Publishing website here. Maybe you too could end up in lovely Bantry Bay.

Fish Publishing has been like a faithful and constant companion through the last ten years whilst I’ve been edging steadily and surely into the writing life. I’ve entered the Fish competitions before, and I’ve used Fish’s excellent critique service, as well as buying previous copies of the Fish Anthology to learn from others who have won. I hope if you are a writer you will take a look at what they have to offer.


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