Life can be a grind at times
and it’s never short of worries
but every now and then
life bestows on us
a reason to celebrate.

Like today.

Our youngest daughter, Niamh,
has won an award
for one of her university modules
and we are all invited
to a prize-giving ceremony
at the university.

We are delighted to know
that other people see in Niamh
the potential
that we have been aware of
since Niamh was a toddler.

It’s a proud moment for us parents!

We get to spend the whole day together,
just the three of us –
prize-giving and photographs,
chatting over a leisurely lunch
and exploring the wonders of Botanic Gardens –
such precious time!

Before we go home
there’s just enough time
for tea and biscuits
at Niamh’s new student house –
a simple but perfect ending
to a wonderful day.

Today life bestowed on us
a reason to celebrate
and we seized it with both hands.
After all,
it’s what precious memories are made of!

(c) Claire Murray, 7th July 2017



It’s the first day
of my summer break.
I meet Paul and Fiachra
when they finish work
and off we go
to Greenore.

It’s a warm summer’s evening
and the pale sky is smeared
with pastel-coloured clouds.

We dander along a shingle beach.
Behind us are the smooth slopes
and serrated peaks
of the Mournes.
Before us
an old-fashioned sailing ship
slowly sails away
on satin silver waters.

Grazing goats and horses
watch curiously
as we pass.

A dog approaches timidly,
soulful eyes gazing up at us
as he begs for a tickle.
Inquisitive seals juke out of the water,
look all around
and then dive back into the sea.
Herons rise majestically from the shore
and lazily fly away.

Best of all
the prospect of six weeks of summer break
stretches out before me.
I feel incredibly chilled-out
and relaxed.

Thank you, Lord,
for a beautiful summer’s evening
at Greenore.
Such a perfect start
to my summer break!

© Claire Murray, 7th July 2017

The Half-Bannock

As a child
I loved fairy tales,
especially those written
by Sinéad deValera.

In her stories,
a young person leaving home
would be offered something
to bring with him
on his journey –
a full bannock
or a half-bannock
along with his mother’s blessing.
Fate always smiled kindly
on those who chose the half-bannock
along with their mother’s blessing
but woe betide the poor soul
who foolishly chose
the whole bannock!

I’m reminded of that today
as I face a decision.

Twenty seven years ago
Paul and I married
and on that day
we became Team Murray
facing life’s joys and challenges

It’s important to me
that we make decisions together
and that, when I do something,
I do it with Paul’s blessing
so that, as a couple,
we stand united and strong.

I have a decision to make today
and I choose Paul’s blessing.
I’m not sure whether it will come along
with a full bannock
or a half-bannock.
I just know that,
so long as I choose Paul’s blessing,
I will end up
wherever it is in life
that I really need to be
with Paul by my side.

© Claire Murray, 4th July 2017

Moving On

The trouble with moving on
is that it usually involves
leaving something behind.
That can be tough.

It’s time for me to move on now,
I know it is,
but I feel troubled.
I decide to take the long way to work –
the scenic route
along the Lagan.

Arriving at the tow path
I deliberately slow right down
to let the peace surrounding me
still my soul.

I’m now cycling
at Miss Marple pace.

At this time of the day
I have the tow path
all to myself.
Blue skies, sunshine,
still waters, moorhen chicks
and birdsong all around.
Arriving at my favourite spot
I stop for a while,
immersing myself
in blissful, tranquil summery-ness.

A short time later
as I cycle on to work
I find that I am no longer
dwelling on the past
and that, instead,
I am focused on the future
and all that it has to offer.

A challenge awaits me, for sure,
but I have Paul by my side
and My God to walk with both of us.
I feel upbeat now
and I feel ready
to move on.

© Claire Murray, 3rd July 2017

Fox Gloves


Mammy often says,
“If you find a grey hair
and pull it out
ten more will grow
in its place.”

I think that the same thing
can also be said
about fox gloves –
for every fox glove
that dies in your garden,
ten more will grow
in its place.

And I reckon
that Danny was well aware of that
all those years ago
when he planted his first ever fox glove,
reassuring Dolores, while he did so,
that this one wee fox glove
wouldn’t take over her entire garden –
sure, wouldn’t it only last one year?

Every year now
Dolores’ garden is dotted
with pink and purple fox gloves
that pop up
abundantly and randomly
in so many corners
of her garden –
among trees and hedges,
shrubs and flowers,
flower beds and terracotta pots.

Thank you, Lord,
for slender, swaying fox gloves
that remind us all
of a slightly mischievous Danny
with his deep love of gardening
who found slender, swaying fox gloves
simply irresistible!

© Claire Murray, 11th June 2017

Walking in the Rain

It’s our wedding anniversary tomorrow
and I leave work early
to buy a card and a present
for Paul.
It’s raining heavily
and even though it’s June
and I need to wear
a raincoat, hat, scarf
and waterproof trousers!

This rain is torrential!

This is not a pleasant day
to go shopping.
I dodge puddles
and cars that splash as they pass.
I return to our car
with my card and present for Paul
and peel off
all of my dripping wet clothes.

To my delight,
despite the heavens opening on me,
only my feet are slightly damp –
my waterproofs have protected me
from most of the rain.

It strikes me
that my life is like that
when I do my best every day
to follow My God
because My God walks beside me,
his presence like a huge golf umbrella
shielding me from the trials and difficulties
that we all must encounter in life.

when life’s troubles
rain down on me
remind me
that I am not alone
and that you stand right beside me,
sheltering and protecting me
so that I needn’t get wet,
no matter how torrential
the downpour.

© Claire Murray, 8th June 2017


We’re trying to sell our house
and it looks as if
it’s going to take a whole lot longer
than we had anticipated.

I call into St Anne’s Cathedral
for the Morning Service
on my way to work.

The minister, John Mann,
delights me by mentioning
that today is the feast day
of the Visitation.

For me,
the Visitation is a feast day
on which we remember
God’s pledge to Mary,
“Blessed is she who believed
that the promise made her by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

On the feast day of the Visitation
I always feel
that My God makes the same pledge
to me.
Listening to the Gospel reading
I feel reassured.

By the time I leave the cathedral
at the end of the service
our house remains unsold
and it’s still going to take a lot longer to sell
than we had anticipated
but now
I feel a renewed sense of hope –
God is with us
in this long wait.

All will be well.

© Claire Murray, 31st May 2017

Short Stories

As a teenager
I discovered short stories.
I loved short stories because
they were rarely about people
whose lives were full of adventure
and excitement.
They usually seemed to be written
about ordinary people
leading seemingly uneventful lives –
people like me.

I feel called by God
to give witness to Him
in a short-story sort of a way.

I don’t feel that God is asking me
to make massive changes in my life,
certainly nothing that will make
headline news.
I just feel
that God is asking me
to give witness to Him
in my ordinary, everyday life –
when I walk through the door
at my work
or in my parish,
when I meet with family and friends
or when I encounter strangers.

I feel called to share my faith
in my own little way –
through my actions,
through my writings,
through my singing.

I feel a little bit
like a cross between
the central character of a short story
and St Therese de Lisieux
who lived her own “little way”.

The short story of my life
is not one of excitement and adventure;
it’s one of love, happiness and God.
It’s a life in which I do my best
to give witness to God
in my own “little way”

I am content.

© Claire Murray, 29th May 2017



It’s May
and the sun is shining.
Each day
As I drive home from work
I see Black Mountain
being gradually daubed
with creamy clumps
of hawthorn.

At last it’s the weekend.
We pack a picnic
jump in the car
and make a bee-line
for the Sperrins.

Swaying cow parsley laces
the roads into Draperstown
and coconut-dipped hawthorns
fringe the fields.
We drive up the steep Birren Road
and arrive at Banagher forest.

It’s a glorious day –
blue skies overhead,
tarmac bubbles underfoot,
shady slopes of bluebells,
glimmering waters
and tadpoles in a puddle.
Somewhere in the distance
a lone cuckoo calls.

Thank you, Lord,
for hawthorn fountains of blossom
that line our roads,
dot our hillsides
and herald the advent
of long summer days!

© Claire Murray, 28th May 2017

Friday Morning Mass

It’s Friday
and before I go to work
I go to morning Mass
at Hannahstown.
I’ve got a sore throat and I’m feeling
a little bit under the weather.
I kneel down to pray.

Looking round the chapel
I see May sunshine streaming in
through stained glass windows
and familiar faces all around.
My mind floods
with a sense
that simply being able to come here
to morning Mass
in my own parish
is a tremendous blessing.

At the end of Mass
as I chat to Fr Kevin at the door
I’m aware that I still have a sore throat
but instead of feeling
under the weather
I simply feel
incredibly blessed.

© Claire Murray, 26th May 2017