We’re going to Aldi tomorrow, me and The Mother.

          She started making a list last Sunday! She’s never been before and the excitement is only bouncing through the freshly aired house (we open all the windows at 11am and a good time to close them is 3pm before the cold air gets in). She’s preparing like it’s a first date! She’s looked in the wardrobe twice for what to wear! Her sister wears those jeans with the bit of stretch in them, you know; the ones with the extra bit of comfort. Her other sister only goes to Marks!

           ‘An excursion,’ she’s calling it!
          ‘They have a lovely price on their tins of beans, not the baked kind, the other ones, those foreign ones. I know how you like your pulses,’ she says to me. I giggle- anything with a pulse for me is always of possible potential!
          ‘I hope they have a good date on them,’ she remarks. ‘Make sure there’s a good date on them’ is her staple supermarket comment.
          She’s already arranged a pickup for afterwards and notified everyone in the family either by phone call or messenger the exact details of the where and when, in case we never come back. The plan is to go mid-afternoon, everything is planned mid-afternoon so it gives a good two to three hours beforehand to get ready and the whole evening then to recover and call everyone up to tell them about the day, whether there’s been a planned excursion or not, mainly not, but the phone calls still go out and come in; ‘Did you do the washing? I did! You did? I did! Do you see the rain? I did! You did? I did! She did!
          ‘Will I be able to bring me own shopping bags,’ she asks me?
          ‘Will they take me card,’ she wants to know, ‘you know, me credit card? I’ve never been to a place like this before,’ she tells me and she’s off, calling up the sisters and cousins just to double check!
          ‘Do you have your passport?” I ask her and she looks at me and thinks but eventually catches up!

          Last night she was on the phone to her best friend Mary from County Tipperary. For 35 minutes The Mary took her through the proposed visit; ran her along the layout, each aisle, the best route, the bargains, the spots to rest, read her out the offers of the week, even though they were the bargains for next week! Less plotting and planning goes into a bank robbery. You’d think we were going to an alien planet. I could barely keep it together.
          Then came the run down on the wine. Now, I’m not bigging myself up here or anything but it felt a little off-centre to hear someone in Thurles, County Tipperary call The Mother in Lusk, North Country Dublin, to suggest what wine The Son, me, would like. I say it felt a little off-centre because, of course, between the three of us; The Mother, The Mary and myself, there is only one of us who ran a Bar, in Paris, in France, you know; that country where they make some of The Wine. And I can give you two hints; it wasn’t The Mother or The Mary!

          Oh god! Welcome home and roll on The Excursion. Aldi; we’re on the way and you have been warned!


All words by Damien B Donnelly but all thoughts and ideas from the holy Trinity, The Mother, The Mary and Myself.



‘An Irishman’s heart is nothing but his imagination’
George Bernard Shaw

I came back, looking to find the pieces I’d left behind,
in my parting, having since shed so much of the things
once thought treasures along the trail. I came back,
wondrous for the parts as yet unopened, unlike the heart
I never knew how to close, or the route I never knew
how to resist. Even in that taxi, that took me away,
I held your hand and thought of another, since departed,
and wondered whose next I would hold. Even my thoughts
had been off and running, always eager for something else,
the something shiny, the scent of something in flight.

I never liked to nest too long in the shadow of the same tree.

I came back to recall the beginning, to remember all
the dreams I had yet to deliver and there, upon a wall
where I watched a robin consider the rouge of his chest,
a wall I thought I’d never get back over, I saw your words
and realised all that I am and will be is because of how
faithful this heart has been to the concept of imagination.

And I turned and took to the task with red chest ready to roar.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

I’m off now to attend the first day of the Doolin Writers’ Weekend here in Doolin, Co. Clare on the west coast of Ireland. 



I saw a heart of metal encase a heart since stilled
on a pillow of white purity, precious protected
in a glass case, without a key and I wondered
how far people would go to protect themselves?

I have never known how to cut glass carefully
nor cared to consider a case for this organ
which I offer up without consideration itself.

I’ve never known how to restrain the beats
that slip out from under this skin and there are
times where I can barely catch my own breath.

I do not own the rhyme nor rule any ripple
that rises up after the fates have been flung.

I climb over volcanoes instead of into cases
and tremble above shores too pure to sit upon.

I have not come to lay love lightly upon a pillow.

I leap off burning cliffs with even sharper edges
in the call of amour, not the encasement of armour.

I have been made merrily of these immeasurable
mistakes with an abhorrence to metallic restraints.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Photograph from Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, of the encasement of the heart of Lorcán Ua Tuathail (1128 / 1180) who became Saint Laurence O’Toole, Patron Saint of Dublin.



Remembering Nana Frances on Nollaig na mban (Women’s Little Christmas)

Evolution 13. The Whole

My grandmother, whose name was Frances and not Nana
as I used to think, started baking cakes for Sunday’s tea
on a Monday morning, slow and steady was her process
like her concentration while waiting for pennies to drop
from slot machines on summer Sundays after train rides
all the way from Lusk to Bray. She was never that tall
but grew down towards us all so she could slip treats
into pockets or kisses onto cheeks. She married Pop,
whose name, I later discovered, was actually Bernard,
but I never remember them together, he died before
I started collecting memories of her comfortable cardigans
and flat feet and that coat she kept for Sunday mass
and the soft evening light pouring in through the narrow
window as she sat by the table ironing my underwear
of an evening, the same table we crowded round on Sundays
for her high tea when we’d devour the cakes she’d started
to prepare for us on Mondays, in her kitchen, at the back,
off the station road in the countryside she hated at first
until she met Bernard and never left. Frances and Bernard.

Nana and Pop. Nana who I knew better and longer,
Nana who we buried with a bottle of Tweed perfume
in her coffin because that was her smell though I recall
more the fresh bread from the oven, in the morning,
as she sat on her stool in the kitchen, waiting and watching
things coming and going. It’s not the finished product
but the collection of ingredients that makes up the whole.


All words by Damien B Donnelly