The Friday Fiction featuring Grace Joliffe


The magical, mystical Irish town of Ballyyahoo.

 The Witch of Ballyyahoo

Chapter One – The Rumours of Ballyyahoo

pic1My name is Gerry and I live in Ballyyahoo. You probably never heard of it because it’s just a tiny little place on the west coast of Ireland. We think it’s a pretty boring place to live, because there’s nothing much to do.

Okay, so there are farms, fields, and beaches, if you like that sort of stuff, but there’s nothing that’s really exciting. We haven’t got a racetrack, or a football stadium, or a cinema, or a bowling alley, or anything that you’d get in a big city.

Not that I want to live in a big city. I don’t really want to live anywhere that’s big and full of strangers. All I want is to stay here in Ballyyahoo, but have way, way more craic!

I’d also like a bit of mystery, suspense, and maybe even a few thrills thrown in as well! To be really honest, I think Ballyyahoo would be way better if a few scary things happened every now and then.

Last time there was a bit of craic around here was when my cousin, Kevin, did up a load of posters on his computer, and spread them all over the town. Everyone in Ballyyahoo went bonkers, but that’s a whole other story.  His mother locked up his computer after that, and he still hasn’t got it back.

It’s so boring around here that I spend a lot of my time swinging on the gate. Watching the goings on in the lane isn’t totally boring – you’d be surprised what goes on in Ballyyahoo – if you keep your eyes open.

Like I said, I love swinging on the gate, and there’s a lot to be said for a gate.  Even rusty old gates have their good points – they keep the cows from coming in and eating our garden, and stop my mother from going mad.

My mother, like a lot of mothers in Ballyyahoo, goes mad now and then. She says cattle eating the garden drive her madder, but she says it was me swinging on the gate that drove her mad in the first place.

She hates me doing nothing. She says that I should be ‘productive’ and have ‘hobbies’ and ‘interests’. She says that I should not be spending my whole life swinging on a gate, like some kind of eejit.

She also says that I should be helpful in the community, so she tries to find me things to do. But, apart from doing boring jobs for old people, like digging their gardens, and cleaning their gutters, even my mother finds it hard to find things to do around Ballyyahoo.

I think my mother’s bored as well, and that’s probably why she’s always going to Zumba and swinging kettle bells around with my Auntie Aggie.  She says it’s for her bingo wings, but we haven’t even got a bingo hall in Ballyyahoo. If you wanted to play bingo you’d have to go to Ballyuseless, and believe me, nobody wants to go there!

So, since it’s so boring, I must admit I got excited when I heard the rumour about us having a Witch on the loose in Ballyyahoo.

My mother says that there is absolutely no witch in Ballyyahoo. It’s just another silly old rumour.

There’s always rumours in Ballyyahoo. My mother says that most people in Ballyyahoo wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning if there wasn’t a rumour or two to wake them up.

Rumours are great craic. Everybody loves rumours, and everybody loves adding a bit more scandal to a rumour. The people in Ballyyahoo say, “Why spoil a good rumour with the truth?” Take, for example, what happened last year, when Mick “The Nose” Flaherty got done by the Ballyyahoo Garda squad.

We call it a squad in Ballyyahoo, but if truth be told, that’s a slight exaggeration.  It’s not really a squad.  There’s only one Garda in Ballyyahoo. His name’s Sid, but you have to call him Sergeant Sid, unless you want to be swung around the squad car by your ear.

You have to watch yourself around Sergeant Sid, because there’s not a whole lot of crime around Ballyyahoo, and sometimes he gets a bit bored. When Sergeant Sid gets a bit bored, most people stay indoors, because he likes to invent new crimes and laws.

Some of his new crimes are things like – looking crooked, smelling like you fell in a cow-pat, picking hazelnuts without a license, and eating chips the wrong way up.

Last week he even decided that wearing odd socks was a crime. Since all my socks are odd I got fined five euros and since I didn’t have any money, I had to pay it back by washing the squad car. I had to spend hours doing it as well because he wanted to see his face in it.

Because there’s way more crime in Ballyuseless than there is in Ballyyahoo, we have to share Sergeant Sid with Ballyuseless. Come to think of it, we only really have half a Gard!

In case you’re thinking about us Ballyyahooians having to make do with the legs off a Gard, and the people in Ballyuseless having the head and arms, that’s not what I mean. No, it means we only have Sergeant Sid from nine to one.

In the afternoons, he goes to Ballyuseless. The rest of the time he probably sits at home, trying to think up new laws and crimes, and after that, well, I’m not sure. I think he probably goes to bed and dreams about them.

Anyway, I was talking about rumours, wasn’t I? So back to Mick “The Nose.” In case you’re wondering why he’s called Mick “The Nose,”it’s not because it’s big. Mick’s nose isn’t big at all. No, it’s because he’s got a good nose for water.

Mick can smell water a mile off, and so when someone wants to sink a well, Mick “The Nose”’ is the man for the job.  We don’t have mains water, like they do in cities.  You see, since nobody knows where Ballyyahoo is, nobody knows where to bring the pipes.

That’s why we have to dig own wells for water, and that’s why there’s lots of wells in Ballyyahoo.  There’s even a haunted one, or so they say. It’s in an overgrown field behind the bog of Ballyyahoo. I’ve never been, but I’ll go one day. It’s not like I’m scared to go or something. No, I’m just busy, what with the gate and everything.

Mick “The Nose” had been out sniffing for water and was on his way home when it happened. Sergeant Sid had been really, really bored and set up a roadblock to catch robbers, murderers, and psychos.

When Sid didn’t catch a robber, or a murderer, or a psycho, he got even more bored, and boredom in Ballyyahoo always means trouble. So when Sergeant Sid saw Mick “The Nose” coming up the road with a donkey, he decided to pull him over for having no lights on his donkey.

Mick “The Nose” went mad and told Sid there was no such law as “having no lights on a donkey!” Then, Sid got mad at Mick for being so impudent, and poor Mick ended up getting done for having a ‘motor-mouth’, ‘obstructing the course of justice’, ‘a face like an eejit’, and of course, for having ‘no lights on his donkey.’


Graham-the-Gob happened to be passing when it all happened, and he started a rumour about Mick “The Nose” being a serial killer who had been on the run from prison for years and years.

Then, Graham the Gob’s sister, Gemmathe-Gob, said that Mick only had a donkey as a cover to make him look like a local, and that Mick really used his nose to sniff out victims for his next murder!

It was a great rumour while it lasted, but some of Mick’s friends got annoyed when the little kids started screaming and running away from Mick whenever he went down to Kelly’s shop.

So Mick’s friends started another rumour. Not a juicy one but a boring one. They said they’d gone to school with Mick and that he couldn’t be an escaped serial killer since he’d never even gone as far as Galway city on the Ballyyahoo bus. They also said they surely would have noticed if he’d been missing for ten years.

When that didn’t put an end to the rumour they said they’d pull the nose off the next person who spread the tale around the town, so suddenly it stopped. Mick ‘the serial-killer’ went back to being boring old Mick “The Nose”, and that was that.

Still, when one rumour stops in Ballyyahoo, another one starts. You see, when there’s nothing else to do, and there’s nothing on telly, people make things up. Ballyyahooians are pretty good at making things up. Still, every good story can’t be made up. My teacher says that fact can be stranger than fiction.

If fact really can be stranger than fiction, then it must be true about the witch in Ballyyahoo. I asked my parents, but they just laughed. Auntie Aggie said that if there was a prize going for starting rumours and making things up, the people of Ballyyahoo would win it, and then they started arguing about whether the Mick the serial killer rumour was better than the Banshee rumour. Auntie Aggie said the Banshee rumour would win the prize – hands down!



I live on Galway Bay near the Burren but I was born in Liverpool, in the north west of England. My dad was an immigrant from Wicklow in Ireland and he met my Liverpudlian mum at a dance.

My family and I became returning emigrants in 1979 when we came back to my dad’s home town on the east coast of Ireland.


Growing up in Liverpool in a terraced house with no garden there wasn’t a whole lot to do and I was sick often as a child. But I loved writing stories and spending time sitting up in bed, or sitting on the doorstep; making up a world I liked better than the one I was in.


Between writing diaries and short stories I never really stopped writing. However, I became more serious about it after a marriage break up in the nineties and returned to education to study film and television.


After leaving college I wrote and directed several award winning short films.

These were screened both at International Film Festivals and broadcast on television. I also produced and directed documentary for television in Ireland.



I have had many short stories and articles published, and was a regular writer for RTE Radio One’s popular children’s radio show, Fiction Fifteen. In addition I wrote for RTE Two television and for a German children’s animation series, ‘The School For Vampires.’

 My first novel, ‘Piggy Monk Square’ was short-listed for the Commonwealth New Writers Award, optioned for film by Willy Russell of Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine fame, and adapted for RTE Radio One’s ‘The Book On One.’

 I absolutely love writing – I write any chance I get and I have recently published a series of children’s story books adapted from my RTE radio stories.

There is lots of information, learning material and extras for both parents and children to supplement these books here at


I have also published a brand new series of children’s stories based around a secret and tiny town in Ireland called Ballyyahoo. The excerpt above: ‘The Witch of Ballyyahoo’ is from this series. You can visit the world of Ballyyahoo here at


I have a great deal of experience lecturing in scriptwriting and teaching creative writing and I love to promote reading, writing and above all – creativity.

I share my experience and information with other writers together with a free creative writing tracker at


When I am not writing I love nature and enjoy gardening and taking photographs for my websites. I share my efforts to tame my wild and rocky Galway garden, along with photographs of my progress here at

Thank you, Grace, for appearing on Aliisaacstoryteller with your charming Ballyyahoo stories, I enjoyed them immensely! Grace has written several books for children, including a whole series set in Ballyyahoo; you can find Grace’s books on and

If YOU are an independent author and would like to feature your writing here on The Friday Fiction, please contact me, I will be glad to hear from you!

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