I shouted at the TV last week, beyond the stilled fields
recently ploughed of their prize, where now we wait
and watch for new seeds where hope was replanted.
I stopped to moo last week as you bellowed back at us
from the not-so-stilled screen in our isolated living room-

you’d be going to the pub;

One must support the landlords, you said, not everyone, of course
but some of us must do our bit, you said, on This Morning,
with Phil and Holly and Vanessa, now back on Virgin.

I roared like a farmer, last week, who’d lost control
of an old Bull, still so convinced of his shiny cock
and bull tales the Union had regaled since 1845.

We recall what failed us once with every filled plate
that passes our table now, while you bury yourself
in the Best of Bull, keeping up with the Hancocks’-

down the pub with balls forward and brain resting
derriere where you happily placed the Irish, once,
when we were nothing but dying boats running west

from cold hands in the east.

I shouted at the tv last week and yesterday, I asked;
Did you take your son to the pub too, that night after the sofa,
after the stinking bull broke free from the paddock,
all horny but headless; hiding all the fear, all the silage,

in the face of the ripe old rot of the best of British.

Yesterday, they announced the Young Bull at No.10
was poorly. How’s the beer taste now, Old Bull?

PS, the PM ain’t no monument to immortality.


All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly



In the shadows not yet departed
from former students, since departed,
in confined compartments the Polish left to the Irish,
red vinegar wine (as vulgar as the vultures
who drowned in its deluge) caught itself in corners
still not drunk by the blow-ins still bleating
about the burnt beef and sodden soil
as we made smoke chains in our simple chambres
to choke a distance between the homes we’d left
and those hands that hadn’t yet let us go.

We may have been from the same barrel born
but we had desires to be labelled in better bottles.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 This month is about looking back to move on, I started out living, for two months, in the residence of the Irish College, on rue des irlandais in 1997 where I met Mary, still dear friends, and we felt like the only two who wanted to live and breathe and taste Paris while all the other students, studying french history and language, missed the well cooked steaks and wild weather. We were outsiders from the outset.

marydami 002




Entity. Identity. I identify. Running gives no reason
until you run out of places to hide. Identity. I identify.
I recognise now what it means to be connected. A continent
can be chaos. An island doesn’t have to isolate. I. Island.
I can identify as an entity of this island. I didn’t hear them
telling me the truth. I didn’t know they knew me before I did.

I tore through tracks; teenager, twenties, thirties, I am tired
now, my trainers have taken to the tide. I am sand again,
ready to be cast upon beach, I want to be a grain in this garden
I was ground upon. I was barren of breath. I choked, drowned
in an ocean that wasn’t mine to begin with, we can bare too much
as well as being blind to all there is to see. I see now, this entity.
I was split once, by what I dreamed of and what I already had.
I see now, how this island, this entity, held my identity. Whole.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

TRUTH OR DARE, for Poetry Day Ireland


It’s Poetry Day Ireland so I am supporting from abroad. This year’s theme is Truth or Dare and this final new poem recalls older days when this Irishman was still a growing boy on the streets of Paris…


Truth or Dare

At 22 we locked the bar at 2am
and turned empty bottles around
tittering tables, wishes weaving
into comrades’ ears of who to pick
and who to kiss; the ex-pats in Paris,
running an Irish bar like it was
their open bar, even when it was closed,
eager to acquire a taste for foreign desires,
no one ever wanted to know the truth,
we were too young to be serious
and too stupid to know that it mattered,
that taste didn’t lie on the tongue,
though it later laid lies on our lips. At 22
we closed the bar and dared each other
to dive into anything other than the truth.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly, except for the one below as that’s me pulling my last pint in the Irish bar in the 13th arrondissement of Paris.



SUMMER STORM for Poetry Day Ireland


It’s Poetry Day Ireland so I am supporting from abroad. This year’s theme is Truth or Dare so throughout the day I will be posting a few of my older poems on Truth and a few more on being Irish…

Summer Storm

Beat away at breast;
a lie of love grown to lust,
grown repulsive,
‘Whisper who we were,’
rose water, a shadow symphony
drunk on a dream,
smooth shot to sordid,
bitter chocolate screams
beneath the sweaty skin
of a summer storm.


All words and photographs of Dublin by Damien B. Donnelly


In the shadows

not yet departed

from former students

since departed

confined in compartments 

the Polish left to the Irish,

red vinegar wine

(as vulgar as the vultures 

who drowned in its deluge)

caught itself in corners 

still not drunk 

by the blow-ins

still bleating

about the burnt beef

and sodden soil 

as we made smoke chains

in our simple chambres

to choke a distance 

between the homes we had left

and the hands that hadn’t 

yet let us go. We may have been 

from the same barrel born 

but had desires to be labeled 

in a better bottle.

All words and drawing by Damien B. Donnelly


Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 17.06.58

Oh country, my country,

once born in your troubled times
and raised by the banks where your Liffey lies,
I followed the paths of generations moved on
to see what they’d built, to see where they’d gone,
but returned to a home now seriously lacking
a nation of consumers complaining and attacking.
Where are your parishioners, the pride of your isle,
your Emerald’s glory once renowned for its smile?

Oh country, dear country,

now bigger than ever in girth if not majesty,
in greed if not glory, in makeup if not unity.
What has become of those simple smiles,
captured in bar songs of other times?
Is summer gone, have the flowers died
did Danny not return to his father’s side?
A nation once raised on songs and stories,
of people poor but proud of their glories.
Are you better beings in designer labels,
Gucci in hand and louboutin’s under tables?
Maleficent muttons playing innocent lambs
slaughtering histories with blood stained palms.

Oh country, once my country,

there’s no truth to your hunger or depth to your drunkenness,
no moral in your manners or reason for your forgetfulness.
Who’ll be your heroes in the years still to come,
who’ll hear your cries and who’ll beat your drum?
Collins was martyred and there’s no more de Valera
the last of your greats were the end of an era,
now it’s fools fickle to the latest fashion fads
tarted-up teenagers and under aged dads.

Oh country, fallen country,

once a force of marching freedom
while looking to other lands for asylum,
now turned and twisted into narrow opinions
while others seek help and die in their millions.
How has racism risen so loud
in a place once paraded as peaceful and proud,
where its people filled ships that sailed on the seas
in the hope that other lands would hear their pleas,
can you rise again from your Holy Ground
adding names to the list of your heroes renowned?

Oh country, lost country,

where Mary’s cries still ring out to the sea
for Michael who told her nothing matter’s when you’re free,
have you washed down too much of your own importance
and forgotten the fight for your own independence?
Can it be that the tiger, in departing, took your best;
your heart and your soul and just spat out the rest.

Oh country, what country,

how can I find my way back to before
when all I once loved has slipped from your shore?


All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Photograph taken at across the fields at sunset in Lusk, Co. Dublin , Ireland

‘How I Write’ interview for the Series by Nicola Cassidy

Today you can read my interview for the series ‘How I write’ by author and fellow Irish blogger Nicola Cassidy who describes herself as a writer, blogger, Mum, daughter, wife, sister, singer, marketer, pet owner and pet complainer.

Nicola’s blog features posts on marriage, motherhood, fashion, feminism, pregnancy, parenting and her series ‘How I Write’, interviewing published and unpublished writers to get an inside look at how they approach their craft.

You can also find one of Nicola’s short stories ‘The Blood of Goats’ alongside mine in the http://www.originalwriting.ie ‘Second Chance’ short story anthology which was published in Ireland last year and available to buy online from their website.  





If you missed the first instalment of Living With Paris, click the link below:


        December 24th, 1997, almost 2 months living with Paris and set to move into my first Parisian apartment, my own home away from the homeland. When I first arrived from Dublin on a rainy Thursday night, I’d gatecrashed into an Irish home abroad; Jeannie, a 40ish Irish woman with wild red hair, an estranged husband, a son in the shadows of another land and a beautiful daughter, looking set for a photo shoot with Vogue, perfect to fall in love with (if were I straight). I crashed on their couch for a week till I found a place at the Irish College, basically a fancy hostile the 5th arrondissement, once dedicated to the Irish fellows who aided the cause of the liberation of France and now witness to the raging hormones of a plethora of Irish boys and girls who missed the smell of the cow shite and their mother’s overcooked steaks, but I had my own room and that was all I needed. Breakfast was served every morning in the huge hall which was freezing cold so we all huddled together to stop from shivering to death before the morning ritual of rushing to see who got post from home and who got simply forgotten, the Irish can be a tough lot!
        I wanted to be a fashion designer, to be discovered, to be found, but I didn’t speak a word of French (slight oversight) so ended up trolling Irish bars, American bars and English bars hoping one of them was looking for a totally inexperienced bar tender with no French or pint pulling skills! Who could pass that up? Everyone, it seemed! 1 month later, I fell upon the last Irish bar (there were over 55 Irish bars in Paris at the time, I kid you not!), tucked away in the, as yet, undiscovered 13th arrondissement, (it’s a paradise now in comparison to the dead rats and half dead dragueres who once populated it) a stop too far from the tourist trail which unfortunately had a job to offer me and I had barely a French franc to my name to refuse!
        By Christmas eve, I’d been working for 1 month, had learned to pull a pint, change a keg and minimally converse in French with the local clientele. Decided it was too soon to go home for Christmas, I stayed behind to run the bar, find a flat, build a life and maybe even put up a tree. On the 22nd, I dragged Mary, a comrade in arms from the College, off with me to view an apartment. We arrived at the address with an immediate double take. The building was magnificent. On a side street, just off a bustling boulevard, sat a 6-storey mansion. The entrance had a courtyard where a mermaid perched on a fountain, behind which glass doors showcased freshly polished gold banisters and thick pile burgundy carpeted stairs. Could it be true? It was within my price range, which barely exceeded living in a bin, and yet there it was. Chuckling to myself and hugging Mary, we eagerly skipped up the 1st floor and on to the 2nd. By the 3rd floor, our skip slowed when we noticed the maid had stopped polishing the banister. On the 4th, the carpet disappeared. On the 5th, the gold banister became a wobbly unloved one. On the 6th and final floor, my hopes for a palatial dwelling dissolved as viewers came running down the hallway towards us. Behind them a narrow doorway lay in wait but what lay inside was not a lavish apartment as suggested by the building’s façade, nor did it resemble the description in the advert. The reality was a space no more than 6 x 10 feet where you could stand in the centre and touch each wall. It held a skylight partially covered by a water tank, beneath which was a sink, next to which was a fridge, on top of which was a hot plate, next to which was a closet that turned out to be a shower cabinet standing next to the front door and that was it. There wasn’t a bed. There was no room for a bed! There were 3 of us crammed into the room and you couldn’t see the floor for lack of space. The shared toilet down the hall was a little closer to hell in terms of condition. The walls were a musty shade of brown that hadn‘t come from a paint can! I took a deep breath and looked at Mary. “I could do great things with this place, don’t you think?” Her response was to fill up with tears, a reaction to my positive outlook when faced with a hellhole.
        On the night of the 23rd, I thankfully found a decent, clean, safe place. A small studio, with no room for windows, but certainly a bed and I was able to move in on the 24th (just like Mary and Joseph). The Irish College closed on the morning of the 24th so my Irish inmates dumped me and my belongings into a taxi before they escaped to the airport and families and festive food while I headed to work. That afternoon, after a phone call to my landlord, I discovered that my new landlord was now my old landlord as he’d decided to give the studio, that was supposed to be my new home, to someone else; someone with a better job, more papers, more experience, more French, basically! So I was homeless on Christmas Eve, again like Mary and Joseph (no room at the inn). Laurel and Hardy, the comical and continuously drunk duo who owned the bar, found it hilarious and offered me the attic of the bar to stay in over Christmas, (I was being offered a stable on Christmas Eve by the Turkish owner, who looked like Danny de Vito but less intentionally funny). It didn’t have a floor or proper door and you had to climb a ladder outside the building to get into it!
        I had a meltdown on front of them, a minor meltdown, well, not really minor but it scared the owners away and gave me time to think. By 5pm I’d phoned every hotel in town and managed to find a room in a hotel on rue des Mauvais Garçons; street of the Bad Boys, (I know!). Of course it was in Le Marais, the gay centre of Gay Paris! I slammed the doors shut at 8pm, grabbed a complimentary bottle of champagne, a bottle of whiskey, (Tullamore Dew) and all my belongings and jumped into a taxi which whisked me, once again, through the streets of Paris, not to my new apartment but to my new hotel with a tiny balcony that, if you leaned out far enough, you could see the very top tip of Notre Dame. I left the champagne to chill on the balcony, pulled on my best pair of pants and took off into Le Marais to find merry men to kiss away my disaster of a day. It turned out to be one very merry man dressed as Santa, but it was Christmas, after all!
        I woke on Christmas morning with a creak in my neck from the stupid roll pillow which looked more like a draft excluder, but, determined not to be downhearted, I popped the cork on the champagne and toasted myself, Notre Dame and my little life in this foreign land! Lapsed Irish Catholic or not, there was no missing mass at the Irish College, manly for the promise of hot mince pies and mulled wine afterwards even if it meant having to mingle with my other Irish boss! After a quick escape from being invited to an awkward dinner with a possible closeted homosexual and his family, I took off for ice skating at Hotel du Ville, Christmas dinner in a Chinese restaurant (of course) and drinks at the Open Cafe where I found a very attractive man who I choose as my very own christmas gift; a blonde and buoyant architect who was only too happy to have me unwrap him under the sparkle of the city of light! And so passed my first Christmas in Paris, far from typical, barely festive, but utterly magical and completely unforgettable!


So the seagulls sang
As I sailed away
And my future swam out to the seas,
And the cormorants crooned
A slow distant dirge
As my mind swept to waves of memories,
I remembered you there
On the beach that day
As your eyes poured torrents of tears,
I had promised you then
That one day I’d return
But my words could not wash off your fears,
There were often times
I drowned in your arms
Don’t you know how you held on to me,
All the fear that you had
That one day I’d run away
Had chased me off and into the sea,

And so I sailed on,
I sailed on,
I sailed on,
I sailed on into deep and endless seas,
And as you watched on,
You watched on,
You watched on,
I heard your cries on the cold morning breeze,

But I hope you’ll never know
What it’s like to lose your way
While lying as bodies entwined,
And I’m sorry that you’ll know
What it’s like one more time
Being the one who has been left behind.

Till eve turned to night
I swam through the past
Till a wild storm cast our young ship astray,
And the herons all hushed
And the currents all crashed
As the night stole the light from the day,
Then the skies roared with rain
Which the waves rose to meet
As Sirens sang up from the sea,
While in the mounting rage
The pipes called me home
Playing doomed strings of sorrow for me,
And so the wild winds wailed
And the bodies were strewn
And to the moonlight I sent one last prayer,
While like a slow deep dive
Of a gannet in flight
The ship sailed into ice cold despair,

And so I let go,
I let go,
I let go,
I let go of what was once you and me,
And when I let go,
I let go,
I let go,
The waves made a resting bed for me,

But I hope you’ll never know
What it’s like to lose your way
While lying as bodies entwined,
And I’m sorry that you’ll know
What it’s like one more time
Being the one who has been left behind.

So the seagulls sang
As I was slung from the sea
And the crowds gathered slowly around,
And the albatross loomed
And waited and watched
As my body washed up on the ground,
Then the herons all howled
As you heard the news
To drown out your sorrows and pains,
And the cormorants crooned
That slow distant dirge
As I spluttered and slipped and the blood left my veins.

In the distance I saw her
Come floating into sight
Her red hair in ringlets like you,
Swimming through the waves
Like a watering flame
She swept me up and out of the blue,
For seven long years
We’ve mourned for our loss
Like a sharp stab from the roses sly thorn,
That wee child of our love
Who for this earth was too frail
Has dived into this new world reborn,
She forgets it, my love
Forgets that dark night
That last night when she left us alone,
So rest now, my dear
For our angel is safe
Now that her Daddy’s come home,

But I hope you’ll never know
What it’s like to lose your way
While lying as bodies entwined,
And I’m sorry that you’ll know
What it’s like one more time
Being the one who has been left behind,

How many miles
Do we need to walk along
How much do we have to explore?
How many tides
Do we need to sail on
Until we can find our own shore,
Until we can find our own shore,
Until we find true love once more?