THE DEVILFISH OF BANTRY BAY by Cisco Moran
Once Upon A Time and long, long ago, before there was colour television, WiFi,
the Internet, or even disposable nappies there was a terrible sorcerer. By day he was a
schoolmaster at a school for unruly children, but by night he studied the dark arts of
incantation and transmogrification, staying up well past bedtime reading books without
pictures! This mad necromancer, whose name was Master Seamus, almost never slept and he
drank so much coffee that the whites of his eyes turned black as ink. His long grey beard was
full of shortbread crumbs and his sorcerer’s robe smelt of tinned sardines and cigars. He was
a thoroughly evil wizard.
Now, Master Seamus lived with his mum in a mountaintop cave in the wild hills of
Ballylickey. Every day he rode his pushbike down the mountain to Glengarriff, his robe and
beard streaming out behind him. As he flew by, school children held their noses, shouting out
taunts and jeers. Master Seamus wanted more than anything else to change those naughty
students into amphibians. He thought he might populate the watershed of Bantry Bay with
rude boys and girls he’d turned into toads, frogs, and slimy newts.
Night after night the wizard stayed up past the Late, Late Show trying out magical spells on
Spot, his mum’s socially challenged Jack Russell Terrier. And finally, at the stroke of
midnight one stormy, wintery Halloween his wish was granted, Master Seamus discovered a
magic incantation. He said ‘Doof Dessecorp Ragus!’ three times, made a face at Spot, and,
presto, Spot turned into a gerbil and was promptly eaten by Rags, Master Seamus’ one-eyed,
three-legged cat. I am sorry to have to tell you Spot’s terrible fate, but in the olden days,
before tinned cat food and recycling, cats ate smaller animals al fresco. After eating Spot,
Rags burped twice and began meowing a feline rendition of ‘Circle of Life.’ He suffered
from terrible halitosis, but had no trouble digesting Spot, wee teeth, fur and all. Seamus’
mum, however, was not amused and Seamus got no sweet at teatime for a whole week.
The following day, the sorcerer tried out his incantation on Molly Sweeny, a naughty girl he
caught pinching biscuits from his desk drawer. ‘Ragus, Doof Dessecorp Transmogrophis!’
shouted the wizard and little Molly turned into a tree frog. Next, he tried his magic on Tomas
Finn, a ponytail puller. The wizard turned Tomas into a brown spotted newt and left him to
live out his days in an aquarium on the bookshelf above the Encyclopaedia Britannica, books
with pictures which the children were strictly forbidden to touch because they have sticky,
Within a week, the evil wizard had changed the entire student body into creepy, slimy, semi-
aquatic animals. Master Seamus turned the teachers into a flock of geese
who paraded honking and flapping around the school, beating their
powerful wings and devouring students willy-nilly. The horror of those
times is indescribable, dear children, unimaginable in these days of cell
phones, child protective hotlines, and Tic-Tok video clips. Bad things
happened all the time and nobody knew! Everybody was too busy minding
their own business to care what some small-town wizard was doing to naughty children in the
privacy of his own classroom.
One day, Master Seamus parked up his bike and was sitting on a rock just outside the
village. He was hoping to encounter some truant children absconding from the National
School whom he could change into jellyfish, sea urchins, and flowering peanut worms. And
just when he was giving up hope two boys came whizzing up on skateboards and began
throwing stones at sea birds and, shortly, each other. The sorcerer was beside himself with
delight at the very thought of the spell he might conjure up for them. So, he uttered the
mightiest incantation he knew. ‘Transmogrophis Hsiflived’ he shouted, but in his excitement
the wizard was careless, and his magic bounced off the water right back at him. He instantly
changed into a giant, thirty-foot squid, a devilfish.
Directly, the boys began throwing stones at Master Seamus and, after eating them, he slipped
quickly beneath the waves of Bantry Bay. It was a sunny day and squids sunburn very easily.
Otherwise, he might have waited a little longer for more bad boys to gobble up. He
discovered that he quite fancied the piquant bouquet of naughty Irish rock thrower. ‘Abaratus
icta fortunus est,’ he said. He likes being The Devilfish.
Nowadays, Master Seamus follows tourist boats taking visitors to Garinish Island. They bring
him tasty children from all over the world. When children are stroppy, whinge, give out,
moan, sulk, or tantrum the Devilfish plucks them out of the boats with his long tentacles and
eats them whole, often saving leftover bits for the eagles who nest along the way.
Sometimes, the Devilfish turns loud, pushy parents into barking seals. Why not, they were
once naughty children after all.
So, the next time you visit Glengarriff watch out for Seamus the Devilfish. On winter nights
he rides his tandem bicycle by moonlight along the shores of Bantry Bay. In tourist season if
you’re lucky you might see him gobble up a naughty child. Seamus loves children – tartare
with fleurettes of Ribbon Kelp.
And so, he lived happily ever after.