Miriam Hurley has published poetry in Podium IV (Kerry Arts) and essays in Reach Journal and InTouch. She participated in the DLR Lexicon exhibition, We Are What We Read 

Miriam is currently working on her first novel. She finds the Dalkey Writers Workshop helpful for giving her a regular deadline, and in receiving insightful feedback on drafts.

My Mother's Hands


My mother's hands

knead and roll and pat

sprinkle flour on wetbrown dough

water on starchhard linen

and holy water on her forehead


My mother's hands

know the burn of too hot plates

the cut of stray sharp blades

wrinkles from washing and wringing

and the healing of smeared-on handcream


My mother's hands

held a winning grip on her tennis racket

made melodies on her 'cello

set off the sparkle of her diamond

the goldglow of her wedding-band

touched my father's on the dance-floor

and guided eight through childhood


My mother's hands

showed my hands how to

crack an egg on the rim of the bowl

smooth sheets with a tuck under the mattress

comb tangles from wet hair

dig weeds from the driveway

hang clothes on the line

carry bags of shopping

write letters to aunts and

light candles on the altar.


My mother's hands ,

reddened gnarled knobbled

joints swollen crooked distorted

grip weakened dropping frustrating

still stitching cleaning feeding

fingers pleading and praising in prayer.

How can my hands

ever pen

the limitless beauty and love

of my mother's hands?



Killiney Hill

Excerpt from novel-in-progress

The room was suddenly in uproar, everyone speaking at once.

            ‘Did you hear what the Master said?’

            ‘He told him to get out.’

            ‘The Master’s only after telling Father where to go.’

            ‘My da will be up to hear more about this.’

You could hardly hear what anyone said with all the yakking. The classroom door swung open and we all sat back down in silence. One, two, three, four, five, six strides and the Master was at his desk. He stood beside it, breathing in through his nose and blowing out through his mouth, his chest rising and falling. Every time he breathed in, it was like he was holding in the hot part of himself and when he blew out, his big wave of black hair turned cold, and his twinkly blue eyes turned icy, and his smiling lips turned thin, and his friendly posture turned stiff, and his long legs turned to ramrod soldier legs, and his piano playing hands turned to fists. We sat up straight, staring at the Master. We had never seen him like this. Old Master Lynch – the Bull Lynch – he was well known for his red face his fiery words that would cut the laugh out of you. But Master O’Connell, he was like your favourite collie, only nipping and growling when it was needed. This was a different Master O’Connell. He hadn’t shouted at Fr Leahy but walked him out of the room repeating, ‘This way, Father, thank you, this way,’ in a voice that didn’t sound like the Master. Everyone, even the messers, sat still, eyes on him. I could hear a voice in my head say, Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. All heads turned on me. I rolled my eyes left, ahead, right.

            ‘Oh boy, Jamsie. Oh boy, is right,’ said the Master.

Every head swivelled to look at him. 

Excerpt from short story

I used to crucify my sister to put her to sleep when we were little. Kitty would hop into the bottom bunk and snuggle under the clothes. Then I’d give her a choice.

            “Do you want to be crucified or shipwrecked?”

            “Crucified,” she’d say. 

            “Put out your hands!”

            She’d yelp and squirm and giggle and eventually put out her arms as if she were on a cross. I’d straddle her on the bed and hold up my right arm, hand in a fist, as if I were holding a hammer. She’d squeal and wriggle some more.

            “Are you ready to be crucified?” I’d call out.

            “Yes,” she’d cry, half choked with the anticipation. Sometimes she couldn’t hold it. She’d pull back her hands and hide them under the blanket. Then we’d have to start all over again, helpless with laughter.