Fish Anthology 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9562721-8-8

Fish Anthology 2016 –

Kevin Barry ~ Short Story
Carlo Gebler ~ Short Memoir
Nuala O’Connor ~ Flash Fiction
Dave Lordan ~ Poetry


Read an excerpt from winning short story –Frogs; The City by Aengus Murray.

Read winning poem – Death of a Refugee by Ciarán O’Rourke.


The short story is an artistic vehicle suited to the modern world, dovetailing neatly with the conventions of a speeded-up life and the demand for the short, sharp hit. It’s all peaks and troughs without the gentle slopes and wide plains of the novel. A good short story delivers everything whilst not telling everything. Good short memoir does the same. Flash goes further, leaving out almost everything, suggesting everything. It’s not that it leaves the clothes off the model so that you can see the naked body, more that it gives you one or two garments and a pose and lets you imagine the body. It can make you work – you’ll often have to read it twice to get what is implied, and let the whole world of unwritten events fall into place. Whereas the short story relies on plot and character, flash has theme and idea to drive it. It has an urgency even if it is quiet, or hidden. 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.

 In his book On Poetry, Glyn Maxwell writes, “Aesthetic preferences, those things we find beautiful, originate not in what renders life delightful or even durable, but in what makes life possible.” In other words, poetry, along with other art forms, grows from necessity. If it doesn’t, it risks being just nice words on a page. Ciaran O’Rourke’s (winning) poem, Death of a Refugee, is, according to poetry judge Dave Lordan, “Shocking, visceral, rhythmic, righteous, unforgettable – dark music our age needs to hear. Impressive.” The ten poems here range from war to loss, from old age to cutting grass. All carry a sense of some quiet volcano releasing pressure. It’s what we look for.
From the Introduction by Clem Cairns





Introductory Note / Acknowledgements




Frogs; The City

Aengus Murray

When They Kissed They Really Kissed

The Man in the Black Pyjamas


Cait Atherton

Circle City

Robert Grindy

Clair de Lune

Susan Bennett

To Woo

Anthony Dew


Judith Turner-Yamamoto

Me & Mr. Tinkles

Thomas M. Atkinson

Jokes in Lemon Juice

Lezanne Clannachan

The Sun and The Moon Were Out

Annette Trevitt




The Young Brown Bear

Julie Netherton

A Marriage in Winter

Sarah Baxter

Ever Kiss a Man Near to Dying?

Lindsay Fisher

White is for Widows

Ellie Walsh

Climate Change

Jay Kelly

A Quarter Pound of Tea

Vivienne Kearns

A Mother’s Love

Robert Barrett

The Mirrored Man

Mary Fox

The Giant Girls

Natalia Theodoridou


Michelle Wright



The Way I Tell It

Angela Readman

Dead Hand

Gwen Sayers

Still Life with Cemetery

Teresa Hudson

This is the Boat that Dad Built

Jane Fraser

Moon Over River, 1956

John Killeen

Go Tell It On The Mountain

Eileen P. Keane

Burning Bridge

Barry McKinley

First Kiss

Sarah Leigh


Sarah Tirri

Setting the Water

Diane Simmons




Death of a Refugee

Ciarán O’Rourke

Can I just speak to you for a second?

Sarah Byrne

VE Day

Norm Neill


Deirdre Daly


Theophilus Kwek

Gutter Ball

Eric Berlin

Letter from St Jude’s Ward, April 1956

Sarah Byrne

Flash in the Distance

Pat Dixon

Mowing the Lawn

Lisa St. John

See Below for Details

D.G. Geis





Excerpt from short story

Frogs; The City by Aengus Murray

The frog wiggles and wriggles and jiggles in my big fat grasp, trying to slime and squelch its way free, but there’s no point because I’m nearly a man and it’s only a stupid little frog, just like all the others. I’ve never met a frog I couldn’t handle and neither has my pappy nor my granpappy, nor his pappy neither, though I didn’t know him, because he would have been born and then lived and then even died before I even managed to be born, so it would have been impossible for me to know him, except the things I hear about him from pappy and granpappy, who talk about him a lot and so I do kind of know him, but not in the normal way, like, if he walked by me on the street I wouldn’t say Hi or anything, I’d just walk on and so would he, but I guess I’d be pretty freaked out.

I know what he looked like from one really old black and white photo that granpappy has always kept on his bedside table all the time I’ve been alive and probably even for a while before that. In it he’s sitting on a tall wooden chair in the back garden of the house, in front of a vegetable patch, with the mountains behind him and he’s got a hat with a brim to shield his eyes and breeches and a pipe. The brim doesn’t quite do its job though, because he’s squinting as if the sun is still hitting his eyes and I think he’s trying to smile, but it looks more like a grimace really because of the squinty eyes and also because he only has a few teeth. He has a big old wrinkly face and I think the picture was taken not long before he died because he looks pretty dilapidated and there’s a stick beside him leaning against the chair and that must be his stick to help him walk, because there’s no one else in the photo. It’s hard to make out, but the bucket at his feet looks like it might have frogs in it, which would make sense because granpappy always tells me that his pappy was very proud of his trade. From what I’ve heard, he knew how to handle a frog better than my granpappy even and granpappy knows how to handle one better than pappy and pappy knows better than me, but even still, I know how to handle one pretty well and I think I’d be a match for most people, just not pappy or granpappy.

Granpappy says that when things go bad in the cities and there’s all the carnage, people from there will come out to us and beg for help because they’ve forgotten all the old ways and we’ll be the ones in charge then because they’ll need us to show them how to handle frogs and the likes. Not that that’s the most important thing, but it could be a bit important once things get back to normal, because people always find comfort in pets and decoration, he says. Anyway, how are the city dwellers going to survive if it’s not with our help? None of them can build fires or kill and gut a pig or grow vegetables or anything like that, like we can. That’s why he thinks it’s important that each new generation learns how to do these things, because some day we will be useful and he says a man must always help his fellow man, even if they don’t see eye to eye and I think he’s right. So even if all the city dwellers – who I hate – even if they all come out here and it would be funny just to laugh at them and not teach them anything and watch them all squirm and wriggle and die, we have to do our best to help them and not be too unkind, because each man is really only doing his best in the world and it’s a harsh place, the world.

But recently I’ve started feeling this strange feeling in around the top of my stomach whenever I handle a frog and it’s like my insides are telling me that there’s something wrong with what I’m doing. But if it’s wrong then why does pappy do it and why does granpappy do it and why did even his pappy do it before I was even born? Every time I have a stupid little frog in my hands now, I get this feeling and I think I should maybe just take it back to the lake outside the village or the river bank or wherever it was caught, but then how would pappy and granpappy make the money we need to survive? I never used to even think about it, not even a small bit – it was no different to kicking a ball or flying a kite or going into the steep north field to pick mushrooms – it was just something I did and that was that. But now when they wriggle and wiggle and jiggle like that, squelching and sliming to get free, I feel like maybe I should actually set them free, because if they’re wriggling about like that, then they can’t be happy and you can tell they are even more unhappy once you put the glue on their bellies and press them down against the little wooden plinth and hold them there for 45 seconds until they are good and stuck.


Death of a Refugee by Ciarán O’Rourke.

List me down when I am dead,
and may the list include
the bird that fled,

the bomb that flew,
the avenues buckled
and blit with dust –

 mourn if you must,
but let no elegist
intrude, to bury

the words you knew
for murder, the laws
you wrote to kill,

 the years you watched
me trammelled,
and the broken book

my body filled.
Have history inhere
in the border singing

through my head,
in the blood
that bled

at the tick of your pen,
in the bullet, the brick,
the burning air,

in the char you made
of children,
the cartographers you trained

to map my eyes
with shrapnel, to wrap
my hands in flame.

Poetry is feverish,
memory an art,
so say

 that I kept living,
though you ripped
my world apart,

 and remember me
as human, in your
hardly human heart.

Fish Books

Fish Anthology 2023

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 […]

Find us and Follow Us

Fish Publishing, Durrus, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland