Dublin is not quite as infested with gargoyles as some other European cities. This is a result of gargoyle-hunting, which was in vogue about a century ago. Being slow (one might say even motionless) creatures, hunting gargoyles required no speed and little skill. Sharp eyes and an axe did the trick.
It was a perfect after-dinner sport, when a gentle amble through winding alleys was enlivened with the hope of bagging a few specimens. As this pastime gained popularity, interest grew in the creatures themselves.
Their independence and love of window ledges suggested a kinship to cats, and so there was a brief movement to domesticate them. Gargoyle-fanciers vaunted them as uncomplaining and placid, but most people found them to be unaffectionate. In the end the venture failed due to their complete failure to breed in captivity.
Questions were eventually raised as to the ethics of gargoyle hunting. Claims that the gargoyles fed on roof-slates, and were to blame for the shoddy state of many church spires, were, frankly, taradiddles1. And not even Preston Blumenthal (a travelling chef and wizard of the time) served them for dinner more than once. Gargoyles, as we now know, contain little or nothing of nutritional value, and their flesh is exceedingly tough.
As a result of petitioning, gargoyles were eventually granted status as a protected species. Gargoyle hunting, as a sport requiring no perceptible movement, was superseded by golf. The remnants of what was once a healthy and thriving colony still cling to old buildings around the town. One would think, gazing about at the erstwhile nesting places of their former friends, the stony faces would look sad, but by and large they all look as though they are grinning to themselves. There is just no understanding gargoyles.
1 cobblers 2
2 balderdash 3
3 tommyrot 4
4 piffle 5
5 hogswash 6
6 codswallop 7
7 bilge 8
8 flim-flam 9
9 somewhat lacking in veracity
Sheena Power is an illustrator from Dublin. Her work ranges from dragons on the cover of J.R.R. Tolkien: the Forest & the City, to Christmas cards for scientists. Although she draws for a living, her real love is writing. Her story Aurelia Aurita was published in Tales From The Forest; Ink Blot won the Bath Adhoc Competition, and her as-yet- unpublished novel was one of those selected for this year’s International Literary Festival’s Date With An Agent event.