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Mary Ford Neal - Innismuirinn: Work

Content Warning: dark themes, death

Mary Ford Neal - Innismuirinn: Work

Mary Ford Neal - Innismuirinn

It takes all night to row there, and the fear hangs around me like

an anchor, but I can no longer go without knowing, so I work

my arms and legs till muscle threatens to peel from bone, slip

over the side, and swim away. The cave is on the island’s

farthest shore, so even when the shoulders of the land appear,

there’s still a way to go. Like all from Mullaghveagh, I’ve

known the legend since I was a girl. A sea-cave famous for its

echo, and Muirinn, long ago, who became distressed when her

beloved moved away and left her, followed by all of her

relations, one by one. In deep sorrow, the story goes, she rowed

out to the cave to hide, and only when the darkness gave no

answer in return for her lamentations did she realise that she’d

been dead for decades. And once you’ve understood, the legend

says, your soul departs. The island bears her name now, and

whole boatloads of tourists sail there and back in an afternoon,

snacking all the way, for a chance to send their noise

ricocheting around the ancient walls, obliging the noble stone

to respond in kind. Sometimes they hurl profanities; I’ve seen

it on their viral videos, and I hate them for it. I can hardly feel

my body now, and I wonder if I’m numb with exhaustion, or if

I have my answer already. I’ve decided that when I get there, I

won’t shout ‘Hello!’ – the walls have been greeted enough.

Instead of shouting, I’ll sing. A lullaby, so that if nothing comes

back, the last thing I’ll ever hear will be sweet.

Mary Ford Neal - Innismuirinn: Work

To read this piece in optimum view, please find a PDF file available to download here.

Mary Ford Neal - Innismuirinn: Files

Mary Ford Neal is a writer and academic from the West of Scotland, where she still lives and works. Her poetry is widely published/forthcoming in journals and anthologies, and was Pushcart nominated in 2020. Her debut collection ‘Dawning’ will be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in August 2021. Mary is assistant editor at Nine Pens Press and ‘192’ magazine.

Mary Ford Neal - Innismuirinn: Work

Artwork: Gaia by Helen Gwyn Jones

Helen Gwyn Jones (she/her) started recording her world at the age of 8 when she bought a Brownie camera from her sister, something which has become a lifelong passion. A collector of the past (hers and other people’s) she likes nothing better than muted images of imperfection. May be found poring over Welsh grammar books when not photographing drains or going into raptures over rust. Recently published in Doodle Zine Issue 1. Soon to be seen in Hungry Ghost Project. Instagram: @helengwynjones Twitter: @helengwynjones Facebook: Helen Gwyn Jones Photographic Artist

Mary Ford Neal - Innismuirinn: Work
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