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Fighting Cockerel

Short Story (3,180 words)

This is one of the best Canning stories from this period, with good characters, dialogue and atmosphere. This story, the stories "Who murdered Grogan the poet?" and "Mr. Flynn finds out", and two chapters of the novel Doubled in Diamonds are the only uses of Irish locations in the whole of his work.

It is narrated by a young newspaperman in Ulster who takes lodgings with a Catholic ex prize-fighter called Barney Doran. The next-door neighbour, Orangeman Michael Taafe, keeps a cockerel in his hen run which keeps the neighbourhood awake.

Early one morning the exasperated Barney goes down with his shotgun. A shot is fired and he is found with the injured bird. Taafe and he have a fight; all the neighbours join in on sectarian lines, until the priest arrives to restore order.

Taafe sues Barney, and in the court Barney is fined five pounds, since he could just have reported the nuisance rather than using his gun. Meanwhile he is nursing the bird back to health. Taafe asks for the return of the cockerel, but Barney refuses for an unexpected reason.

Argosy, November 1951
Included in the now discontinued collection Comedies and whimsiesn, edited by John Higgins,, 2007.
Included in the collection The Aberdyll Onion and other mysteries, Farrago Books, 2020.