bird in the snow

Bird in the Snow

By: Michael Harding

Publication Date: October 2008

(3 customer reviews)


Bird in the Snow follows twenty-four hours in the life of Birdie Waters. On the eve of burying her only son, she stays awake all night, examining old photographs, cherishing memories of Gussie and her beloved late husband, Alex – a vet who married her because her dancing ability eclipsed the class difference between them. She recalls Gussie’s tragic death, his failed romance, and Louise, who for a while looked like the partner that might make her son happy. She remembers Hughie Donoghue, a flute player whom she has known since her marriage, and for whom she still feels intense but unspoken affection.

When the funeral is over, and the mourners have all dined in the local hotel, she returns alone to her house, where each day is a kind of triumph, because she has survived a little longer. Bird in the Snow is the story of an old woman whose ordinary life is full of drama, love and passion, though perhaps nobody knows it but herself, because only she remembers everything. This delicately rendered narrative evokes the rural past of Birdie’s life in the Irish midlands, using memory to redress her bereavement through a series of poignant vignettes that crystallize into a powerful act of retrieval.

“Harding’s writing – supple, troubled, utterly modern – commences where the traditional Irish short story dropped from enervation and where Joyce, Beckett and Myles left off.” – Books Ireland

‘A triumph in clean, sparse writing. The sense of place and time as well as the aloneness of age is so well written. A beautiful piece of writing that held me from start to finished.’ – Customer review


Michael Harding was born in Cavan in 1953 and has received both the Stewart Parker Award and an RTÉ Arts Show/Bank of Ireland Award for his theatre work. The Abbey Theatre has staged Strawboys (1987), Una Pooka(1989), Misogynist (1990), Hubert Murray’s Widow (1993) and Sour Grapes (1997). The Tinker’s Curse was nominated for Best New Play, at the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards 2007. His fiction includes Priest (1986) and The Trouble with Sarah Gullion (1988). He writes a weekly column, Displaced in Mullingar’, for the Irish Times and is a member of Aosdána.


3 reviews for Bird in the Snow

  1. Lilliput Press

    “M Harding’s Bird in the Snow is a wonderful meditation on the vunerability of humanity. Birdie Gallagher, the novel’s focus, is like the mother of all humanity, eliciting love and frustration from us, in return for compassion and understanding. The story is brimming with a beautiful poetic paradox. One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry and in fact, often, both are wrung from us in the same sentence. In this novel I got a wee glimpse of an eternally fading Ireland.” WICKOVSKI

  2. Lilliput Press

    “I absolutely loved this. A triumph in clean, sparse writing. The sense of place and time as well as the aloneness of age is so well written. A beautiful piece of writing that held me from start to finished.” AOIFE KELLY

  3. Lilliput Press

    “Incredibly touching read, it brought me to tears at times. Michael Harding is such a talented writer, he has a great insight into the human psyche, especially women. I read a lot and this has to be in my top five favourite books ever. Brilliant!’ AOC

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 215 × 136 mm
Publication Date

October 2008


Paperback, 197pp