‘Vixen’ by Patrick Deeley, winner of the Inaugural Dermot Healy International Poetry Competition

patrick deeley


She is the one washed across the River Dodder,

fur plastered to her skin and on her face

a rictus grin, the one yet making her rounds

unfazed by thump or roar of motorcycle

or by ambulance’s blue flickering hullaballo, its

red tinging, and she perpetuates the one

bursting through a net-wire henhouse window

fifty years ago, the cub my neighbour fed

from a trough after he had killed her mother,

the cuddlesome one soon to tune in

to her own feral nature; she absconds, vagabond

at home among the urban – the long

rout of foxes gone before seems to become her,

those dug out, those poisoned or shot

or mangled by hounds, those broken

under the wheels of cars; survivor, the glisten

of health attends her, the youthful lustre 

she won’t outwear, being too wild, too crossed

with the cricks and crimps of her kin;

she’s a fire, an aura, a lollop along the back lane

from dustbin to doorstep, a den dweller,

my first Galway Blazer, my townland namer,

and it’s as if the stars have fashioned

a pelt for her, the frosts a carry, the hills a cover;

as darkness deepens she comes brushed

with heather smell, harebell, stone-quarry dust,

comes maybe to shake loose her shriek

mating ochoons or the chalk of cemetery bones –

this numinous one representing all, this

watcher whom I suddenly want to get next to

as though she were the burning down of my years

so lightly here and gone as I take the air

in midsummer, in a midnight suburb of Dublin.

‘Though there have been many planxties made for the urban fox, this is an outstanding hymn to that beautiful creature. In one long, sinuous sentence, full of incident and the heft of the world, the poem enacts what it promises, brings us right up close to a vixen. It is ‘as if the stars have fashioned/ a pelt for her, the frosts a carry, the hills a cover’. By the poem’s closing it has become a meditation on the passing of the poet’s life — ‘the burning down of my years’  — where poet and vixen deftly mirror each other’s mortality.’ –  Paula Meehan. (Judge of the final short listed 10 poems)





Five Glens Programme web3

Take a look at our exciting line up!  

Come along to The Dermot Healy International Poetry Competition award! The Leitrim Sculpture Centre is presenting its North-West Open award too! We have music and song. Spoken word, open mikes, poetry readings, arts and craft workshops, exhibitions, puppet shows, street art, delicious food and much much more!

Hope to see you there!


Images of Co. leitrim

The BALLAGH CENTRE at Rossinver is a carefully restored church with modern stained glass windows so delightful, it is worth a visit out there for these alone.  While there, you can support the centre and local artist and author Joel Smith, by taking home your very own stained glass in the form of photographic windowpane posters, all featuring his own images of this very beautiful county..


Five Glens Poster web final


Congratulations to all the poets who took part and Congratulations to the poets on the Long List, You Know Who You Are!!

  1. A Gathering
  2. Archaeology
  3. Berthed
  4. Caress
  5. Consomme Copout
  6. Coring Apples
  7. Counting Chickens
  8. Cyclops
  9. Dukkha
  10. Eyesight
  11. For the Birds 
  12. Leaving Straid
  13. Maintenance
  14. Missing
  15. Mothers Day in Inchigeela
  16. My Mothers Red Hair
  17. Not Alone On A Goats Path
  18. Running out of diesel in Leitrim
  19. Self Portrait in the Convex Bulge of a Hares Eye
  20. The Awakening
  21. The Cardigan
  22. The Dicoveries of Thomas Finch
  23. The Fairy Tree
  24. The Hiroshima Bowl
  25. The Secret of Brightness (On Planes)
  26. The Toll of Naming
  27. Three Monkeys on the Road to Rossport
  28. Tinitus
  29. Too Many Pheasants and a Fox
  30. Vixen


Snail in Foxglove, Fowleys Falls

Snail in Foxglove, Fowleys Falls

 The long list for The Dermot Healy Poetry Competition will be announced by Wednesday/Thursday of next week, 6th/7th August, with the short list being announced soon after that. Some beautifully crafted poems are emerging. What a talented world we live in with entries from as far away as New Zealand and India, and as nearby as the U.K France, Germany and of course Eire. The standard is exceptionally high making our job a difficult one. The long list will contain 30 excellent poems with the short list featuring 10 of the very best work.  Watch this space!