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Leland Bardwell

Leland Bardwell


Leland Bardwell, born in India in 1922, was an Irish poet, prose writer and playwright. In her lifetime, she published five collections of poetry, five novels, a book of short stories and a memoir, as well as having four stage plays and a number of radio plays produced. Her prose and poetry was translated into German, Polish, Spanish, French and Turkish. She was co-founder of Cyphers, one of the longest running poetry magazines in the world, an active supporter of the Irish Writers’ Co-operative and was centrally involved in the Scríobh Literary Festival in the 1990s-2000s. She was also a founding member of Aosdána. She brought to her poetry, plays and prose a clear and unsentimental empathy for those marginalised by their gender, poverty, lack of education or emotional injuries, and the work was informed by her life without being self-regarding. She died in 2016.

Genre: Fiction
Number of publications: 1

She was an unstoppable writer.

— Sebastian Barry

Sample Work


I never had a dressing gown or a nightdress. I simply wore a T-shirt in bed. But now that I am old, I’ve acquired a dressing gown and two cotton gowns—the kind that reach to the calf of the leg.
Being old is peculiar. You don’t believe in it. You think exactly as you did when you were nine. The only difference is that you think about death all the time, in all its facets. I am afraid to die.
I don’t stay in bed every day. I go down to the shore and walk along the beach. I walk very carefully so as not to twist my ankle which might prevent me from getting home. I don’t wish to die of hypothermia in a futile manner. So, I pick my way over the rocks until I come to a stretch of sand. Then I stride out with confidence.
I move around a lot. I have to get away, you see. It is the fire I have to get away from.

Did I kill him? Kill the child? It is twenty years ago, now. But not an hour goes by that I don’t re-enact the accident. The fire. The sheet of flame. I escaped, but he didn’t. Oh yes, I burned myself badly trying to get him out. The door jammed. He was in the back and by the time I could reach him over the front seat he was… It was too late. Always too late. Always too late in my mind. So, I move around. I went to Clare, then, lived in a caravan near the Cliffs of Moher. Every day I tried, but I couldn’t. Didn’t have the nerve. I thought I could do it. Just jump. So simple. Just jump, I kept saying. It didn’t happen. I’d imagined it. My mind was gone.
And then? I stayed there a few months, moved on. Conne¬mara, Mayo, Donegal, always moving, walking by the sea. Moving.
Now I try to stay still. Lie in bed. Smoke. Read. But every few pages I look at the far wall. I don’t see it. I see the child, the car. I try to pretend to friends, to neighbours, that I have recovered.
You’ve got over it well, people say. I smile and nod my head.

Writer Website


Review in the Irish Examiner
Review in the Sunday Independent




In conversation with Hilda Sheehan

The Heart and The Arrow Stories


The Heart and the Arrow
The Heart and the Arrow By Leland Bardwell

ISBN: 978-1-907682-90-2Pages: 200 | Published: 2022

The Heart and the Arrow includes the novella ‘All Those Men’, a tale of women surviving together in a dystopian future where food is collected at central points organised by soldiers. The title story, ‘The Heart and the Arrow’, is a weaving of a group of friends in their twenties, heading out for a day’s drinking. In ‘Notes from the Joy’ are the inner thoughts of a man whose bipolar state has landed him in Mountjoy prison. The book will make a considerable addition to the known prose works of Leland Bardwell, expanding substantially her output as a story writer and novelist.