In the story "The Trout", there are two letters that I want to know what they mean.

One of the first places Julia always ran to when they arrived in G--- was The Dark Walk. It is a laurel walk, very old, almost gone wild, a lofty midnight tunnel of smooth, sinewy branches.

It was late June, the longest days of the year. The sun had sat still for a week, burning up the world. Although it was after ten o'clock it was still bright and still hot. She lay on her back under a single sheet, with her long legs spread, trying to keep cool. She could see the D of the moon through the fir-tree -- they slept on the ground floor.

2 Answers 2


The place referred to is Graiguenamanagh in County Kilkenny. The Dark walk was behind the walled kitchen gardens of Brandondale and led to a ‘Tea house’, a little stone structure close to the river Barrow. My uncle used to live in the house and I spent many years as a child playing in this magical place. We were all familiar with the story, as O’Faolain spent three summers there in the 1940s. Another story, A Tale of a Town, also describes Graig.


G--- is an anonymised place name. It was quite common practice in a certain period of English literature to obscure place names in this way, so that a place could be described in a general way without having to locate it specifically either as a real place or an invented name. I've written more about this practice and the reasons for it here: Why are place names obscured in Charlotte Brontë's The Professor?

D is much easier: it's simply descriptive of the shape of the moon. When the moon is half-full and waxing, it looks kind of like a capital D:

D-shaped half moon

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    There are three towns in Eire that begin with G, Glin, Glen and Gort. I gather from googling that there's a road in Gort that the locals refer to as "The dark walk" because of the trees. Additionally, Sean O'Faolain spent time in Gort. Could all be coincidence, but is it worthwhile trying to work out if this is the concealed town?
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 11:38
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    Huh. I assumed that three hyphens were just a poor typographical representation of a proper m-dash, which is what I usually see in these censored names, @Valorum.
    – TRiG
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 11:58
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    @TRiG: Like you, I definitely wouldn’t assume the three hyphens specifically mean three letters specifically — but I’m not sure they’re “a poor typographical representation of a proper m-dash” either. In older editions of 19th century books (where this convention was very popular), I’ve seen a wide range of lengths and combinations of dashes used for it — my impression is just that typographical conventions were less established, and printers/authors made different choices. Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 16:37
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    @Valorum Asking if it's possible to figure out the concealed G--- town would make an excellent follow-up question (I love me a good real-location question), but I don't think it's necessarily in the scope of this one, except in the way of overkill: the OP didn't ask which town is being concealed, they asked what that stray letter G is doing.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 18:13
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    @Valorum The OP seems to have thought of both the G and the D as random letters in the text and wanted to know what they meant so they could understand the story properly. I've answered that (i.e. G isn't just a stray letter, it's a bowdlerised place name, while D is descriptive). The story can be completely understood, as intended, without knowing what town is being concealed, although it would be a great follow-up question to ask if it's possible to figure that out.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 18:32

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