Cape Clear TNR Project

Flowers don’t grow in my garden – Marianne’s Story

Flowers don’t grow in my garden. Under the soil lie many stories of lost lives.

I live on Cape Clear Island; it’s Ireland’s most southerly island, located 45 minutes from the mainland by ferry. The island is 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide; we have a population of 120 people. We are reasonably self sufficient on the island but all our food and necessities depend on the ferry and the ferry depends on the weather, no ferry no food. We don’t have pharmacies or doctors so we have to go to the mainland for everything.

Cape clear 055So to go back to the story of my garden… Some years ago I started to feed some stray cats that came around. I’m not a cat person, but I know how hard it is to survive on this island, so I started to bring home scraps of food from work to feed them. Soon kittens were born, some survived and grew up, but most of the little creatures that couldn’t take the bad weather succumbed to cat flu and died. This has happened year after year after year. I can’t go near any of the cats. I have fed them for years and they come to my call when it’s feeding time. I don’t know if cats have feelings or emotions, but when I see one of the mothers lying near her dead kitten in the garden it tears at my soul. I have fought many a battle to stay living on this rock in the Atlantic Ocean and thought many times about doing the same as many before me and leaving for a better life on the mainland. But what about the cats? I can’t catch them to get them neutered, I can’t transport 18 cats to the mainland for neutering and I can just about pay for their food.


 Last summer I heard sneezing in the hedge at the bottom of my garden. I went to investigate and found another kitten. Its eyes were full of puss and it had that “please don’t hurt me” look on its face,  that I have seen a thousand times, as I tried to reach into the hedge to get it out.


I couldn’t catch the little creature as it was so terrified. I spent days listening to its cries for help. As the days passed the cries got weaker and weaker until I entered the garden to the sound of silence. I found its tiny lifeless body hidden underneath the back of the hedge by the stone wall. I didn’t give the little kitten a name, because I have run out of names to give them all. They are all buried in my garden where the flowers don’t grow but under the soil lies many an untold story.


I didn’t know that people would give up their own time to travel over to Cape Clear to help us. That is until I met the members of Community Cats Network. Last summer they were over here helping one of my neighbours, Mary Francis, with her feral cats. I asked for help. They answered my call, but not just my call, the call of all the untold stories in my garden

If you’d like to help Marianne’s ferals and other cats on the island, please donate here.

You can view the full photo album here.

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