top of page
Geraldine Greed_tile.png
époque press
pronounced: /epƏk/
definition: /time/era/period

My name is Macha, daughter of Sainrith Mac Imbaith, Son of the Sea and I didn’t just decide to come back from the dead, I was driven to it. I’m not from these parts myself but was struck down here many moons ago by a fever. I was marching with the men of Ulster at the time, near Cnoc Binn Éadair. The druids counselled the men to shroud me in silk and cotton then bury me under this Yew. The roots, they said, would cleanse my body and stop the vile infection from spreading. I have no idea how many more died of the yellow pestilence, all I know is that I am still cognisant of this world. My mind has not yet flown to the heavens, it is here bogged in the soil, the roots of the Yew bring me tidings on the wind and in the rain and the squawks of sea birds soaring high above my tomb. And while I have no idea how long I have been here; I can sense it’s been aeons. The curlews and hedgehogs are no more and there have been periods of deep excavation all around me, rattling my brittle bones and what are left of the teeth in my skull.

     Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against change. A couple of years ago, the earth around me trembled and shook as great big mouths of metal gouged it apart. And when the digging monsters left, people in sleek cages on wheels came to drown out the lark and the thrush and the wren. And I have put up with all this, resigned myself to the fact that my last resting place has become the back garden of a small brick tigín [1] on the outskirts of the sprawling city of Dublin. I could have adapted; I am good at altering my state but Angela and John McMahon of 31 Kilmurray Close wanted a kitchen extension so they hacked out the roots of my sprawling yew. Without it the yellow pestilence returned and I, in my mummified state, was awoken by the most ferocious of fevers while above me borders of colour coordinated tulips and daffodils bobbed their bright heads in welcome to the spring. On a lovely soft morning in March I let Angela come close with the spade before rising from the earth. She fell backwards, me on top of her like a wild cat and with all the strength I could muster, I throttled her.

     Afterwards, as she lay in the rockery, blood matted to her hair and streaked across her face, I was surprised to find my mouth watering. My thirst was like a rage, and I drank of her until I was full and she, pale and shrivelled. Within an hour of this feast all flesh and vigour returned to me, I could draw breath again and cleared my lungs of the yellow mucus that had laid me to rest before placing the withered Angela in my shrine. As I lay her down, I noticed her lovely ring - a thick band of gold with a large green stone. I slipped it from her finger, held it up to the sun. There was no hint of yellow or brown, just hues of fabulous green which showed the quality of the emerald. My father once told me that Emer, the King of Munster’s daughter, had an emerald that turned black to warn of impending danger. And as I placed Angela’s emerald on my own plump finger I wondered if people still believed in magic.

     It didn’t take long to tour Angela and John’s living quarters. It was low ceilinged with soft carpets and too many things staring at me from the walls. Up some stairs, I discovered a room with a big tub and metal things that stored hot and cold water. I released the water by turning the handles, then sat on the edge of the tub watching it fill. The place made strange noises as I lay soaking but after five centuries of damp clay and dry bones, I was reluctant to get out of the blissfully warm water to investigate. I let my head dip under too, heard the beating of my own heart for the first time in centuries. I had expected some protest at my presence when John came home but all he noticed was the lack of food.

     ‘Oh you haven’t cooked,’ he said.

     He must have had a bath too as I heard the water running above me and when he returned downstairs, he was in a long white robe and smelt of apples. Later, after he ate from a bag that someone delivered to the door, he sat and watched a square box like a window on another world. He complained that his back hurt as he slumped over his slop of food. I had noticed bottles of oil in the room with the tub and I fetched one.  It smelt of geranium and sandalwood.

     ‘I know what you need.’ I told him and in my sexiest of voices suggested I give him a massage. He was surprised at first, even frosty but once he’d finished his drink he began to relax under my touch. A voice on the box told us that divorce was on the increase in Ireland and that for years it had been banned. I was about to tell John that in my time divorce was a natural right, but he pushed a button and the picture changed and I saw a boy turn into a man before our very eyes. The man walked towards a sleek machine on wheels. His hand touched the shiny grey metal until like magic, he was sitting inside the machine. Running his hands across the leather interior not unlike how I was running my long and eager fingers down John’s back.  In my lifetime I was not shy and had my pick of any young warrior, but this soft and doughy man pulled his robe tighter across his body when I suggested we bed down under the stars.

     ‘Are you crazy! What would the neighbours’ think?’

     That night, while sleeping next to John on a bed of pale striped cotton, I dreamt of home. I was riding my white horse, Cruinnic, along the strand.  It felt good to gallop at speed, the wind in my hair, the swell and crash of waves spraying my cheeks and salting my tongue but when I looked over my shoulder, I saw a crowd pursuing me. An angry mob of men and women, pushing machines in front of them, the ones that gobble grass and dandelions and daisies. The racket of these ghastly monsters upset Cruinnic, and he threw me. I tried to get up but was pushed back down by the boots of the crowd and then the hem of my nightgown caught in the blades of one of the eating machines and the more I pushed forward the more I was dragged back, and the sand became quick and gloopy and my feet sank into it and Cruinnic was sinking too, and I screeched like a vixen until I woke.

     The bedroom window was open, the curtain billowing toward me as I lay pinned under one of John’s big soft arms. When I looked at the emerald on my finger, I saw that it had turned as black as the night around me. I crept out of the bed and went downstairs and opened the backdoor. And I remained there until John came down in the morning. He turned on another box thing above the sink, drank his coffee and left without a word. I retreated to the yellow kitchen when it started to rain, the voices on the box above the sink were battling to be heard above the music, selling me things I did not want. By midday my fever had returned tenfold, giving me violent cramps. I caught my own image in the shiny metal thing John used to boil water. I was deteriorating, and fast.  A tooth came away from my gums and fell into my hand as I listened to a woman tell me that my skin was my best asset and to maintain a youthful texture I must apply Oil of Ulay twice daily. I paced up and down the yellow kitchen, the cream and blue hallway, and the salmon pink room with its now dead window on the world. I didn’t need cream, I needed nourishment, quickly. I saw her then - framed in the window - a woman dressed in a matching coat and hat walking through the gate.

     ‘Oh my goodness!’ she said when I answered the door before she had time to knock. ‘You nearly startled the life out of me.’

     She was spooning sugar into her tea when I actually did the startling, puncturing her with the carving knife as she squealed like a pig. By sundown, I was transformed to my beautiful self. Not wanting to disturb Angela’s flower bordered grave, I buried the big blue woman behind the garden shed and thought about taking a walk. I lost my way several times in the maze of dwellings and streets full of moving machines. I found a great big palace of a building with entrances in all four corners and a see-through roof with a view of the clouds. The music was loud, as were the children crying or howling like wild cats or being wheeled around in small barrows with bags hanging off the sides. There was a fountain too, where animals (not from these parts), played instruments while floating on giant lilies. I rode a stair up and down this glass structure and was struck by the letters on the shop fronts. Some were in my own language yet no one I stopped understood me when I spoke. Night had descended when I eventually found my way out of the temple-like structure. A young girl, sitting on the damp ground near the bewitched glass doors asked me for change and I told her the law of life was change but that the distant past was probably a much better bet than the future, especially for our sex. She took her makeshift bed in her hands and ran away.

     I drank John in one go then roasted his fatty flesh on the barbeque on midsummer’s night. It was easy enough to feed my habit. First the children came, looking for a ball that had gone over the wall, or wanting me to give them money so they could fast for a charity of their choice. I had to smile at their names – Oisin, Aoife, Fiachra and Maedbh – heroes from a time they knew nothing of. After the children came their mothers, skin on the wrong side of glowing as they wrung their orange hands and painted nails in my face.

     ‘Someone told me Fionn’s ball went in here…

     ‘My Aisling was seen on your doorstep selling tickets for the school raffle…’

     These brash and bulging women were easy to overpower.

     Occasionally, I still listen to the box above the sinks. The voices give the news on the hour from North, East, West, and South - it’s hard to keep track of all the tragedy - stories of incest, rape, pedophilia, filicide, and the earth burning from abuse. And sometimes other voices interrupt these debates, shout about pads that don’t leak or trips I need to take to be free, but since I’ve come back from the dead I haven’t seen much sign of liberation. I caught a glimpse of a Dail [2] chamber on the window box in the front room the other night. Another soft fleshed man was talking about a woman as if she were a horse,

     ‘Rein her in,’ he shouted to the opposition party across the chamber.

     I had a husband once who boasted that I was faster than any horse and the King sent for me. Although I was full with child, the King made a wager with my husband that I should race his chariot. I did it just to spite them and after I won, lay down in a field and gave birth to twins but not before I swore a curse on all the men of Ulster. And better still, I divorced my husband - a woman’s privilege according to our Brehon laws.

     It took a while for the Dads to succumb. They waited until their larders were bare and their dishes stacked high. Then, one by one, they came, and I dealt each blow swiftly. No more the dawn chorus of cutting machines, hedge clippers or vacuums. With the houses now silent, the animals are returning to this place.

     Two nights ago I fed these mens’ bones to a vixen under the light of a harvest moon and as I raised my hand to the young fox’s head, the emerald on my finger turned the deepest, most brilliant green.

[1] Small house

[2] Parliament


Geraldine Creed is  an Irish writer and filmmaker, whose short stories have appeared in numerous publications and been broadcast on radio. Geraldine’s most recent documentary, Mercury 13 was commissioned by Netflix in 2018 and her first novel was selected for the 2022 Curtis Brown CBC Breakthrough Mentoring Programme. In 2023 Geraldine was a winner at the IWC Novel Fair. 


Of her work, Geraldine states:


‘The motivation for this story was a desire to celebrate female power in its capacity, potential, ability and most especially anger. The central character, Macha Mac Imbaith appears in Irish mythology and folklore as a ‘sovereignty goddess’. The purpose of this feminine power (according to Celtic mythology) is for a goddess to bestow her power onto a male sovereign/King. They do this by marrying or having sex with the King. I wanted to turn this myth on its head, imagine Macha taking back her power and most importantly voicing her anger. Her resurrection is not of her own doing, it is caused by modern-day forces but once she’s back, physically on the land, she has a burning desire to hold on to her power not cede it like she did back when she agreed to race the King’s horses. The fever she suffers is not only physically but also a desire, an interior yearning to destroy the structures of a society that diminishes women. As linguist Dale Spender argues the construction of reality - the one which is legitimised and generally accepted - is male or man-made, it is a world- ‘in which

their [women’s] muteness and invisibility are constructed and maintained.’ If we accept that our identity and understanding of who we are is influenced and shaped by the systems of communication and institutions of the society we live in, and if those systems and institutions promote, exalt and defend men and in doing so, subordinate or silence women, then it could be argued that the history and culture of that society has very little to offer women. An tAiséirí is Macha’s bright red scream of desire to reclaim her power, to consciously heal from the trauma, abuse, suppression, guilt, and shame of the past while also sacredly grieve it. And still, she rises.’ 


You can find out more about Geraldine via the following link:

bottom of page