Last weekend my mother and her two sisters, the identical triplets of Lusk, Co Dublin, the women who shaped my life, came to visit me in Paris for my mums birthday. Mum has been celebrating her birthday abroad with me since I first moved to Paris in 1997, and then to London and then to Amsterdam and now back to Paris again. Some things, it seems, never change. The below poem I wrote 18 years ago after mums first visit…

Mum and I on my street 22 July 2016




The Sisters


Birthday celebrations at La Rotunde, Montparnasse, Paris



Aspirational house hunting by Parc Montsouris


Wishful thinking


Blondes in the Parc





I am sure it was Spring but in the scattered photos
by my slippered feet the weather recalls it winter.
Your first foray into the new world I had run to,
forsaking the familiar for the unknown,
discarding childish ways for other adult desires.

Your glistening eyes lit up as I showed you
the treasures I had found, enlightened eyes that hid
so well the tears reeked down since my departure.
Eyes that frowned upon my green sofa bed
resting but a foot from the floor, that laughed
at the view from my first window; just another window
perched but a hands throw away and loving eyes
that saw through mine and smiled; relieved,
relaxed and enthralled. And quickly you began
to revel amid it all; my new transitory family
who took you to their hearts, tempted you with cocktails,
boat rides and frolics within a Spanish tavern
in the Frenchest of all cities where you slowly found
my raison d’être and the joie that had become part
of ma vie became, as always, a part of yours.
My adventure you, now, a witness to, a part of
and integral to. You had been no more deserted
by me than I by you and so geography became now
no more than a different view and no longer
a means of separation. You floated through the city,
your feet feeling nothing but comfort
even as I dragged you up the steps of Montmartre,
hiding from you the lift behind the trees.
With the wind freezing our faces and tears
streaming from our eyes, we huddled together
in queues filled with adolescent vacationers
and mounted fair Tour Eiffel. Through the night’s
falling darkness the city lit up below us
and I traced for you the paths I had taken.

You left amid only tears of joy, my life no longer
to you an empty canvas a world away, but a painting
being filled up and coloured in, in tri-colour, technicolour,
Damien colour. We painted away the days and nights
ourselves, Mother and son, as inseparable as Mona
from Lisa or the Moulin from the Rouge.

It may have looked like winter but we knew
that behind the wind lay a spring in bloom
for both of us. We had earned our time in the sun
and we would wear its rays like medals of honour.


From the vault, Paris 1998.

All Words and Photographs (except the ones I’m in) by Damien B. Donnelly





11 thoughts on “LA MERE ET MOI

  1. This is pure beauty Damien! What a fine tribute! Sighs. Amazing. I could only wish for such an honor someday. ❤

  2. I was just thinking the other day that I haven’t seen you around, that perhaps you were swamped in wedding dress preps and were unavailable to write…
    Lovely Mum and Aunties you have. So sweet this tradition of celebrating Mum’s birthday where you are. The 18 year poem still appropriate…

    • Hello and how are you. And I thought it was you who’d been off traveling! Something seems to have disconnected us!
      Wedding is this coming weekend and dress flew from my hands last month so all is in order. Now it’s just the ceremony and an Irish knees-up!!!
      Mum and the aunts are indeed lovely- and loud too when they need to be! I still hear them singing even though they’ve left!!
      Hope you are keeping well Maribeth, best wishes, Dami x

      • We were off traveling, but not for a month! Mexico called–sun-filled, relaxing and yet full of mini trips. I noticed last night that somehow I was no longer ‘following’ you, but fixed that right away. We are back 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s