Jo Nestor

Location: County Leitrim.

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Jo Nestor, retired Adult Educator, won the 2020 Leitrim Guardian Literary Award, has twice long-listed for FISH competitions, and was shortlisted for Allingham Festival in 2023.

Her writing features in the following:

FISH Anthology 2024;

A Word in Your Ear – Roscommon New Writing Anthology 2019-2023;

The Little Book of Inspiration (2020), published by the charity Havin’ a Laugh;

Several editions of the broadsheet Autumn Leaves.

Her book reviews are available online at

Jo writes fulltime and chooses to live in hope.

Current project

So many quills in the inkpot at the moment … prepping submissions, crossing fingers for work already submitted … & looking forward hugely to attending the West Cork Literary Festival in mid-July, where I’ll be reading my piece which is included in FISH Anthology 2024. Exciting!

Writing sample


My July visitor scrolls her smartphone and asks, for a second time, enunciating as if I’m hard of hearing.

“No, but seriously, like, what d’you DO all day?”

I glance across the breakfast table, out through open French doors to a birdfeeder, and catch the familiar red splash of a male woodpecker’s undertail feathers. It’s always a male, but a raucous juvenile, clinging to a nearby cordyline, confirms a female’s existence.

Six great tit siblings politely claim a second birdfeeder. Unlike their parents, these youngsters display no flared tail feathers, no territorial spanning of wings. Adolescent blue tits, with plumage like stonewashed denim, are forced onto what I call the Waiting Branch. When backs are turned, an urchin coal tit, all scruffy feathers and a creamy Mohawk, hops in to feed.
I notice a business-like wren dart inside the woodshed to gorge on spiders. Another pole-dances outside on hogweed stalks.

Sparrows occupy an unkempt box hedge, which I’ve nicknamed The Flats. Black-bibbed, tweed-coated males, strut around like gangsters. Their harried molls have creamy streaks above each watchful eye. Collectively, they attend several dozen fledglings, all of whom squabble and flutter their wings, pleading with mouths like wide-open satchels. Everyone’s strung-out on peanuts.

My attention’s drawn to one sparrow, who tilts back his throat, to guzzle, headfirst, an iridescent blue damselfly. It looks like he’s sucking spaghetti. He swallows, then ruffles his feathers before returning to his clamouring brood.

Sudden, panicked shrieks, come from inside The Flats. Both feeders swing, abandoned. Then, I glimpse the silent gliding sparrowhawk, all innocent-looking, with her soft, brown back feathers, and speckled breast. Her precision attack on this all-you-can-eat buffet is astonishing. She’s in like Flynn, then gone.

When I gasp, my enquiring visitor looks up from her smartphone.

“Well? What DO you do?”

I peer at both feeders, then smile, relieved to see it’s already business as usual again out there.

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