The Grasshawk. Flash fiction by Declan Toohey

The Grasshawk, or, RTÉ’s Attempt to Capitalise on Coronavirus

Eimear is depressed, Aoife is dying, Sean hates everyone, and only Dr O’Sullivan can see that everyone in this town needs to change the way they live.

A young doctor becomes embroiled in an outbreak of foobilla fever in the rural Irish town of Gortnahoe, Co. Tipperary.

Initial response to the treatment from a professional script reader 
‘The story is fabulously imaginative, but the budget is too limited to be able to cope with the locations and cast and whatnot, and it might be a bit too ‘out there’ for a mainstream platform like RTÉ.’

Cuts made to enhance the accessibility of the show 
Dr O’Sullivan’s incomprehensible jargon and philosophical voiceovers.
The Mickey-Joe subplot, in which Mickey-Joe spends the entire season trying to steal a goat, allegedly for nothing more than the craic.
All scenes that make the viewer unsympathetic to Dr O’Sullivan’s character.

Main addition to enhance the accessibility of the show
A compelling yet succinct backstory explaining the origin, nature and devastating consequences of foobilla fever.

Total production time
Seventeen months. Eight months of development and pre-production, two of shooting, seven for post and marketing.

What the critics are saying 
‘Undoubtedly the best thing on RTÉ since Glenroe.’
‘You might think that Fair City meets Twin Peaks doesn’t sound like a good idea, but you’re probably the kind of adult who still eats Frubes and Cheese Strings.’
‘Finally: something that justifies paying your TV licence fee for.’

The talk of the town 
The show has nothing to do with green vegetation or birds of prey—why is it called The Grasshawk?

The presumed answer to this question 
Those on the show are contractually bound by a NDA to keep the meaning of the show’s title to themselves, to avoid spoilers in subsequent seasons.

Where the show’s available
Residents of Ireland can rewatch the series on the RTÉ Player, or buy The Grasshawk: Season 1 from the RTÉ Store website. Those outside of Ireland can expect the series to hit popular streaming services in December.

The good news
RTÉ have confirmed that a second season is already in development.

The bad news
S2 won’t reach Irish and international screens until late 2021.


Declan Toohey is an Irish writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Stockholm Review of Literature, Stone of Madness Press, Idle Ink, and The Blue Nib. He is currently based in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he is at work on his first novel. He can be found on Twitter @DeclanToohey, despite his propensity for not Tweeting.

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