Book review: The Poacher’s Curse

THE Poacher’s Curse is so action-packed and fast-paced one wonders if it was penned with the big screen in mind.

Brendan Moore

Independently published, €15

But first-time writer Brendan Moore insists his rush-to-the head book is the result of what may be described as memory recovered in a period of tranquillity, to butcher Wordsworth.

The crash which saw this former construction worker onto the scrapheap along with thousands of others in 21st century Ireland turned out to provide an opportunity for reflection and a new direction.

In short, Brendan Moore recalled the tales of his youth. Memory stirred and tales of the fireside and old people who had lived through the stirring days of the war of independence ,what led up to it and indeed what awfulness occurred afterward welled.

“In 1980 when I was just out of short pants a man moved into our terrace of houses in the village of Knocklong, County Limerick.

“He was in his eighties and was a veteran of the War of Independence. We struck up a friendship and I was thrilled by accounts of his time in a flying column of young revolutionaries.

“He was a brilliant story teller and when he lit a cigarette and took a deep drag he would fire the smoke down his nostrils and look up and we were there back in 1919 running, hiding and ambushing the enemies of Irish freedom. 

"His stories had a profound effect on the 14-year-old me,” Brendan says.

But the 1980s and the awful atrocities, committed on this island, was not the time for reflecting on the older war of independence; if anything the 1980s period tarnished the memory of the earlier struggles.

“It wasn’t a time in Ireland to be airing Republican views and my attempts at home were met by understandable explanations of the difference between the Old IRA and the Provisional IRA. 

"My parents were trying to mind their young son who had romantic notions of war. So I filed the stories away and my friend passed on,” Brendan said.

In 2010 the memory of this old noble Republican returned and Brendan began to write the story spanning from the late 1880s to the 1960s.

It is a rip-roaring tale, to be sure. 

And there is much that is cinematic and the kind of thing that would indeed make a scene in The Wind that Shakes the Barley, also Munster based.

There are priests, poachers, big houses and housekeepers and for once there are young women and romance and raw sex of the kind you would expect from these rifle-bearing men.

The less said about that the better. 

The recreation of the time is exact, from paraffin lamps to horses and traps — and of course poaching.

Dialogue too is well employed and realistic. Underneath is the ageless test of friendship.

I have only one worry — there is a lot of the F-word, a word I would have thought was rarely if ever used here until after the Second World War. But maybe I need to be corrected on that.

In this anniversary year of 1916, and from now on, one can expect lots of recreation of the period around independence and the civil war as a decade of centenaries is ushered in.

The birth of this nation was a brutal period and it is always arguable if force and its bloody outcome is ever necessary.

The truly great achievement of this and doubtless other such re-tellings of the original story, so to speak, is the way it is free and apart now from of the much more disturbing period that blighted this island and its people in the late 1970s and 1980s.

It is free to examine, in other words.


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