Fish Anthology 2013

Fish Anthology 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9562721-5-7

Fish Anthology 2013 –

Philip O’CeallaighShort Story
Molly McCloskeyShort Memoir
Peter BensonFlash Fiction
Paul DurcanPoetry

Read the winning short memoir – Luscus by Maureen Boyle.

Introduction by Peter Benson
We all start somewhere. A bridge builder looks at the river, a fisherman checks the tide, a thief waits by a window. And a writer stares at the wall, waits for the first word, writes it down and then waits for the next. Sometimes the words comes quickly, sometimes they come slow, but the start is usually the most difficult thing. I say usually, for when the work is finished (is it ever finished or just simply abandoned?) the writer is faced with the question of what to do next. Do you put the work in a drawer and forget about it? Show it to your friends in the hope that they won’t be too rude? Confess your faults and hide in a cupboard? Look for a publisher? Enter it in a competition?

If you choose either one of the final two options, you’re faced with a daunting prospect. Who do you approach? How do you approach them? Will your submission be read? And if you find a sympathetic ear, how committed are they to publishing new work of the highest standard, and getting it out to the widest possible audience?

The winners of Fish Publishing’s 2013 Writing Contests made a wise decision, because Fish is that rare beast; a publisher with its priorities in the right order. The writing comes first, the bottom line comes last. And sandwiched between is an eye for the innovative, the inventive and the extraordinary.

The Fish approach is simple – keep it inclusive, international and accessible, and give writers the opportunity to express themselves in whatever way they choose. Roddy Doyle put it best when he said “Fish is an open door that’s inviting writers to walk through it. It has to be encouraged, celebrated, congratulated”. The writers in this latest anthology have walked through that door and now, hopefully, are walking down the road to further success, pleasure and fulfilment.




Fish Anthology 2013



The Nut Machine

Sally Franicevich

Something Pretty Something Nice

Elaine McCluskey

One for Hello, One for Goodbye

Jacqueline P. Haskell

In Their Song

Kirstin Zhang

Get, Get Over It

David Lewis

A Sense of Obligation

Jennifer Bailey

A Terrible Business

Katya Maddison

Theft of Services

Robin Samu


Monica Garvey


Lucy Maxwell Scott




Jennifer’s Piano

Ken Elkes


Katie M. Zeigler


Ken Taylor


Carol Caffrey

Sisyphus and the Black Holes

Ken Elkes

A Wee Pink Shirt an’ All

Margaret Sinclair


Cathy Leonard

Da’s Belt

Joe Walsh

Dexter’s Lover

Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn


Claire Brown





Maureen Boyle


Saffron Marchant

World Without End

Angela Finn


Elisabeth Winkler

Then and Now

Pip Newling

What it is Like in Words

e.g. Jönsson

The Visit

Susan DuMond

Dorchester Park, Drumming Our Way to the Future

Orla McAlinden

The Gift

Bo Niles

Spaghetti a Cacio e Pepe

Barry Troy




Against Forgetting

Andy Kissane

The Secret

Wayne Price


Wayne Price


Ginny Lowe Connors

We Just Want To Get To Know You

Mary Anne Losee Yates

On Coolnamona Bog

Frank Farrelly

Winter Nuptials

Noel Monahan

The Apple Tree

Dana Robbins

The Leg Shaver’s Convention

David H. W. Grubb

Summer’s End

Breda Wall Ryan





Extract from winning Short Memoir

Luscus by Maureen Boyle

The eyes are lined neatly in wooden trays.  They are laid in grooves according to colour and there seem to be hundreds of them staring blind off velvet lining.  The velvet is deep purple – as though they’ve been laid there bleeding – but that is a fantasy and the velvet may be too.  It was, after all, a National Health clinic in the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1966 but my memory of it is blurred and mixed with winter darkness and the sense of a bazaar.  My parents have taken me first to the giant Woolworth’s store in the centre of Belfast to buy me a bright yellow rubber duck as a beacon of small light in my hands, distraction from the ordeal ahead and whether it is because this is my first remembered experience of looking out on the world with only half the light I’d had until then – all of that first trip to Belfast and to the clinic, is shrouded in the colours of the dark:  of rich mahogany wood, of the hunched  Victorian corridors of the children’s hospital, of shops with wooden counters and sweets in wood-cornered vats like coloured fish you had to scoop out into little brown bags for weighing; of dark polished doors and of rain.
We were there to find me an eye and the man who would do this was Mr Lennox.  Apart from the trays of eyes, I remember little of that first visit but I would come to know his method very well over the next twenty years and would miss it when he finally retired.  He would begin by washing his hands very thoroughly.  And then he would simply sit and look at my one good eye, staring into it as if hoping to find a secret: the secret of its precise colour, of the size of the pupil, of the iris, the shades of the white, the shape of the eye and then the choosing would begin and that is where the perfectly-organised trays came into play.  He would begin to scan the strange spectrum – leaving the tray of browns that had at one side a disconcerting row of pink albino eyes, and the tray of greens and go instead to blue – the colour of my eyes and of my family’s.  He would gather up a range of them, like a boy lifting coloured marbles, and hold them, one at a time, not initially where my empty socket was, but at the side of the good eye, the better to do the matching.  And it seemed to me that the movement of his fingers, deftly moving the first eye chosen, back into his palm and another forward between thumb and forefinger, was done like a conjuring trick – a version of the one where an uncle takes a coin from the child’s nose or its ear – this kindly uncle was going to pluck me back an eye from his magic box of them.
We are here because I have recently had an enucleation – my left eye removed entirely after an accident. The word comes from ‘nuclear’ which means ‘kernel’ – the removing of the seed from the kernel – the eye thumbed out like a Brazil nut from its shell.  I’ll come to know these words too in the months and years ahead – the socket – like pocket – from which the eye has slipped, been picked; the sulcus, from the furrow of a plough, for the little groove between eyelid and eyebrow.  I remember nothing of the enucleation but I do remember the day I lost my eye – an odd idea – as if I’d been careless and left it somewhere or dropped it while playing.
My parents were building an extension.  It was the early sixties, when people built their own houses or did things to them and we knew about plans and permissions.  The builder was from Strabane.  We lived outside the village of Sion Mills, in County Tyrone, a Mill village where my mother grew up, in a house on the Melmount Road in the townland of Liggartown and my mother and father were replacing the tiny scullery, which would then become the ‘back kitchen’, with  a big light kitchen that would have a massive orange formica table, around which we would all sit on high stools and a divider of shelves made of exotic bamboo for ornaments.  The sink would face the road, the main road between Derry and Omagh, and its big picture window would allow my mother to look out on the world as she did her chores, to see the buses passing at their regular times and later the soldiers set up check-points on the corner and beyond to the fields, the river and the mountains.
On this day my sister, who is younger than me, is playing with me in the garden – there is a vast uncultivated meadow behind where the vegetables grow – it is a country site and too big for my father and grandfather to tend – where we like to play safaris, imagining ourselves ‘lost in the jungle’, when in fact we are hiding behind overgrown gooseberry plants and under the umbrella leaves of the  wild rhubarb.  But it begins to rain and so we take shelter in the garage which contains the overspill of the family house and good things to play with.  In later years, though I doubt it was ever said, I always saw what happened subsequently, as carrying a moral message of obedience – always do what you are told – my mother having called us in out of the rain – meaning come in to the safety of the house.  Instead we go to the garage – where we are not really supposed to play because of my father’s tools and garden weed-killers –  but I love the smell of creosote and the jam jars my father screws by their lids to shelves to hold all his different nails and twine.  We are playing with umbrellas in there.  My parents have a print of Renoir’s ‘Les Parapluies des Cherbourg’ in our living room – its colours all the greys and blues of Parisian rain.  The woman in the front of the picture though looks dry and carries an empty basket lined dark like a gaping hole.  A little girl stands by with a hoop.  The rain of this day is green in my mind, and rust-coloured from the gravel of the drive, as it runs down the slight slope from the garage, running down the fields in front of the house and down into the Mourne River.  But we are dry inside the garage and the rain is spectacle through the open doors – like the moment in White Christmas where the barn doors are opened behind so that the scenery is suddenly real.  There is an old white umbrella which I think may have been from my mother’s wedding, it has a frill and it seems sumptuous  and it too is forbidden for play because of the danger of its tip. And that day also in the garage is the builder’s equipment, stored there for the weekend.  There is a step-ladder.  My little sister climbs it to the top.  I am underneath looking directly up at her.  There is a trowel –  from the Old French word ‘truele’ – ‘a small tool for spreading plaster or mortar’ from the Late Latin ‘truella’ – ‘small ladle, dipper’ –‘ a stirring spoon, a ladle, a skimmer’.

*  *

It is a Saturday.  I know this because my father is at a cricket match.  I remember the imprint of one of my mother’s tea towels – as though it were a phantom imprint on the lost or losing retina – like the checkered cloth marks that were burned into Hiroshima  victim’s skin.  The tea towel, white with red stitching, is held to the eye from the moment I run into the new kitchen screaming, held by my mother, all the way to Derry in my uncle’s small, wine-coloured  Mini car, my uncle who is called to take me to hospital in Altnagelvin in Derry.  I think I remember the surgeons in green scrubs and the panic.  I think I remember being wheeled in a high-sided cot or bed.  I don’t remember pain. They remove the whole eye.  

(Complete Memoir in the Fish Anthology 2013.)

Fish Books

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Fish Anthology 2023

… a showcase of disquiet, tension, subversion and surprise …
so many skilled pieces … gem-like, compressed and glinting, little worlds in entirety that refracted life and ideas … What a joy!
– Sarah Hall

… memoirs pinpointing precise
feelings of loss and longing and desire.
– Sean Lusk

What a pleasure to watch these poets’ minds at work, guiding us this way and that.
– Billy Collins


Fish Anthology 2022

‘… delightful, lively send-up … A vivid imagination is at play here, and a fine frenzy is the result.’ – Billy Collins
‘… laying frames of scenic detail to compose a lyric collage … enticing … resonates compellingly. … explosive off-screen drama arises through subtly-selected detail. Sharp, clever, economical, tongue-in-cheek.’ – Tracey Slaughter

Fish Anthology 2021

Fish Anthology 2021

Brave stories of danger and heart and sincerity.
Some risk everything outright, some are desperately quiet, but their intensity lies in what is unsaid and off the page.
These are brilliant pieces from bright, new voices.
A thrill to read.
~ Emily Ruskovich

Fish Anthology 2020

Fish Anthology 2020

I could see great stretches of imagination. I saw experimentation. I saw novelty with voice and style. I saw sentences that embraced both meaning and music. ~ Colum McCann


Fish Anthology 2019

These glorious pieces have spun across the globe – pit-stopping in Japan, the Aussie outback, Vancouver, Paris, Amsterdam and our own Hibernian shores – traversing times past, present and imagined future as deftly as they mine the secret tunnels of the human heart. Enjoy the cavalcade. – Mia Gallagher

Fish Anthology 2019

Fish Anthology 2018

The standard is high, in terms of the emotional impact these writers managed to wring from just a few pages. – Billy O’Callaghan

Loop-de-loopy, fizz, and dazzle … unique and compelling—compressed, expansive, and surprising. – Sherrie Flick

Every page oozes with a sense of place and time. – Marti Leimbach

Energetic, dense with detail … engages us in the act of seeing, reminds us that attention is itself a form of praise. – Ellen Bass

Fish Anthology 2017

Fish Anthology 2017

Dead Souls has the magic surplus of meaning that characterises fine examples of the form – Neel Mukherjee
I was looking for terrific writing of course – something Fish attracts in spades, and I was richly rewarded right across the spectrum – Vanessa Gebbie
Really excellent – skilfully woven – Chris Stewart
Remarkable – Jo Shapcott


Fish Anthology 2016

The practitioners of the art of brevity and super-brevity whose work is in this book have mastered the skills and distilled and double-distilled their work like the finest whiskey.

Sunrise Sunset by Tina Pisco

Sunrise Sunset

€12  (incl. p&p)   Sunrise Sunset by Tina Pisco Read Irish Times review by Claire Looby Surreal, sad, zany, funny, Tina Pisco’s stories are drawn from gritty experience as much as the swirling clouds of the imagination.  An astute, empathetic, sometimes savage observer, she brings her characters to life. They dance themselves onto the pages, […]

Fish Anthology 2015

Fish Anthology 2015

How do we transform personal experience of pain into literature? How do we create and then chisel away at those images of others, of loss, of suffering, of unspeakable helplessness so that they become works of art that aim for a shared humanity? The pieces selected here seem to prompt all these questions and the best of them offer some great answers.
– Carmen Bugan.

Fish Anthology 2014

Fish Anthology 2014

What a high standard all round – of craft, imagination and originality: and what a wide range of feeling and vision.
Ruth Padel

I was struck by how funny many of the stories are, several of them joyously so – they are madcap and eccentric and great fun. Others – despite restrained and elegant prose – managed to be devastating. All of them are the work of writers with talent.
Claire Kilroy

Fish Anthology 2013

Fish Anthology 2013

The writing comes first, the bottom line comes last. And sandwiched between is an eye for the innovative, the inventive and the extraordinary.


Fish Anthology 2012

A new collection from around the globe: innovative, exciting, invigorating work from the writers and poets who will be making waves for some time to come. David Mitchell, Michael Collins, David Shields and Billy Collins selected the stories, flash fiction, memoirs and poems in this anthology.


Fish Anthology 2011

Reading the one page stories I was a little dazzled, and disappointed that I couldn’t give the prize to everybody. It’s such a tight format, every word must count, every punctuation mark. ‘The Long Wet Grass’ is a masterly bit of story telling … I still can’t get it out of my mind.
– Chris Stewart


Fish Anthology 2010

The perfectly achieved story transcends the limitations of space with profundity and insight. What I look for in fiction, of whatever length, is authenticity and intensity of feeling. I demand to be moved, to be transported, to be introduced into other lives. The stories I have selected for this anthology have managed this. – Ronan Bennett, Short Story Judge.


Fish Anthology 2009 – Ten Pint Ted

I sing those who are published here – they have done a very fine job. It is difficult to create from dust, which is what writers do. It is an honour to have read your work. – Colum McCann


Fish Anthology 2008 – Harlem River Blues

The entries into this year’s Fish Short Story Prize were universally strong. From these the judges have selected winners, we believe, of exceptional virtue. – Carlo Gebler


Fish Anthology 2007

I was amazed and delighted at the range and quality of these stories. Every one of them was interesting, well-written, beautifully crafted and, as a short-story must, every one of them focused my attention on that very curtailed tableau which a short-story necessarily sets before us. – Michael Collins


Fish Anthology 2006 – Grandmother, Girl, Wolf and Other Stories

These stories voice all that is vibrant about the form. – Gerard Donovan. Very short stories pack a poetic punch. Each of these holds its own surprise, or two. Dive into these seemingly small worlds. You’ll come up anew. – Angela Jane Fountas


All the King’s Horses – Anthology of Historical Short Stories

Each of the pieces here has been chosen for its excellence. They are a delightfully varied assortment. More than usual for an anthology, this is a compendium of all the different ways that fiction can succeed. I invite you to turn to ‘All the King’s Horses’. The past is here. Begin.
– Michel Faber


Fish Anthology 2005 – The Mountains of Mars and Other Stories

Literary anthologies, especially of new work, act as a kind of indicator to a society’s concerns. This Short Story collection, such a sharp and useful enterprise, goes beyond that. Its internationality demonstrates how our concerns are held in common across the globe. – Frank Delaney


Fish Anthology 2004 – Spoonface and Other Stories

From the daily routine of a career in ‘Spoonface’, to the powerful, recurring image of a freezer in ‘Shadow Lives’. It was the remarkable focus on the ordinary that made these Fish short stories such a pleasure to read. – Hugo Hamilton


Feathers & Cigarettes

In a world where twenty screens of bullshit seem to be revolving without respite … there is nothing that can surpass the ‘explosion of art’ and its obstinate insistence on making sense of things. These dedicated scribes, as though some secret society, heroically, humbly, are espousing a noble cause.
– Pat McCabe


Franklin’s Grace

It’s supposed to be a short form, the good story, but it has about it a largeness I love. There is something to admire in all these tales, these strange, insistent invention. They take place in a rich and satisfying mixture of places, countries of the mind and heart. – Christopher Hope


Asylum 1928

There are fine stories in this new anthology, some small and intimate, some reaching out through the personal for a wider, more universal perspective, wishing to tell a story – grand, simple, complex or everyday, wishing to engage you the reader. – Kate O’Riodan


Five O’Clock Shadow

I feel like issuing a health warning with this Fish Anthology ­ these stories may seriously damage your outlook – Here the writers view the world in their unique way, and have the imagination, talent, and the courage to refine it into that most surprising of all art forms ­ the short story. – Clem Cairns.


From the Bering Strait

Every story in this book makes its own original way in the world. knowing which are the telling moments, and showing them to us. And as the narrator of the winning story casually remarks, ‘Sometimes its the small things that amaze me’ – Molly McCloskey


Scrap Magic

The stories here possess the difference, the quirkiness and the spark. They follow their own road and their own ideas their own way. It is a valuable quality which makes this collection a varied one. Read it, I hope you say to yourself like I did on many occasions, ‘That’s deadly. How did they think of that?’ – Eamonn Sweeney


Dog Day

Really good short stories like these, don’t read like they were written. They read like they simply grew on the page. – Joseph O’Connor


The Stranger

The writers in this collection can write short stories . . . their quality is the only thing they have in common. – Roddy Doyle


The Fish Garden

This is the first volume of short stories from Ireland’s newest publishing house. We are proud that fish has enabled 15 budding new writers be published in this anthology, and I look forward to seeing many of them in print again.


12 Miles Out – a novel by Nick Wright

12 Miles Out was selected by David Mitchell as the winner of the Fish Unpublished Novel Award.
A love story, thriller and historical novel; funny and sad, uplifting and enlightening.


Altergeist – a novel by Tim Booth

You only know who you can’t trust. You can’t trust the law, because there’s none in New Ireland. You can’t trust the Church, because they think they’re the law. And you can’t trust the State, because they think they’re the Church And most of all, you can’t trust your friends, because you can’t remember who they were anymore.


Small City Blues numbers 1 to 51 – a novel by Martin Kelleher

A memoir of urban life, chronicled through its central character, Mackey. From momentary reflections to stories about his break with childhood and adolescence, the early introduction to the Big World, the discovery of romance and then love, the powerlessness of ordinary people, the weaknesses that end in disappointment and the strengths that help them seek redemption and belonging.


The Woman Who Swallowed the Book of Kells – Collection of Short Stories by Ian Wild

Ian Wild’s stories mix Monty Python with Hammer Horror, and the Beatles with Shakespeare, but his anarchic style and sense of humour remain very much his own in this collection of tall tales from another planet. Where else would you find vengeful organs, the inside story of Eleanor Rigby, mobile moustaches, and Vikings looting a Cork City branch of Abracababra?


News & Articles

Poetry Prize 2024: Results

15th May 2024
  Winners Short-list Long-list     Here are the winners of the Fish Poetry Prize 2024, selected by Billy Collins, to be published in the Fish Anthology 2024. Below you will find short biographies of the winners and the Long and Short Lists. From all of us at Fish we congratulate the poets whose poems […]

Short Story Prize 2023/24: RESULTS

10th April 2024
Winners Short-list Long-list   On behalf of all of us at Fish, congratulations to all of you who made the long and the short-lists.  Apologies for the delay in this announcement. The 10 winners will be published in the Fish Anthology 2024. The launch will be during the West Cork Literary Festival, Bantry, Ireland – […]

Flash Fiction Prize 2024: RESULTS

10th April 2024
Winners Short-list Long-list   From all of us at Fish, thank you for entering your flashes. Congratulations to the writers who  were short or long-listed, and in particular to the 11 winners whose flash stories will be published in the Fish Anthology 2024. The launch will be during the West Cork Literary Festival, Bantry, Ireland […]

Short Memoir Prize 2024: RESULTS

1st April 2024
Winners Short-list Long-list   On behalf of all of us at Fish, we congratulate the 10 winners who’s memoir made it into the Fish Anthology 2024 (due to be launched in July ’24 at the West Cork Literary Festival), and to those writers who made the long and short-lists, well done too.  Thank you to Sean […]

Launch of the Fish Anthology 2023

12th July 2023
Tuesday 11th July saw the launch of the 2023 Anthology in the Maritime Hotel, Bantry. Nineteen of the fourty authors published in the anthology were there to read from their piece, travelling from Australia, USA and from all corners of Europe.             Read about the Anthology More photos of the […]

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