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Video: John O’Donohue | Beanacht


For Josie, my mother

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets into you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue,
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

From Echoes of Memory (Transworld Publishing, 2010). Copyright 2010 by the estate of John O’Donohue. The text of the poem is included here for educational purposes only.


John O’Donohue (1956 – 2008) was an Irish poet, author, priest, and Hegelian philosopher. He was a native Irish speaker, and as an author is best known for popularising Celtic spirituality. Eldest of four siblings, he was raised in west Ireland in the area of Connemara and County Clare, where his father Patrick O’Donohue was a stonemason, while his mother Josie O’Donohue was a housewife. O’Donohue became a novice at Maynooth, in north County Kildare, at age of 18, where he earned degrees in English, Philosophy, and Theology at St Patrick’s College in County Kildare. He was ordained as Catholic priest on 6 June 1979. O’Donohue moved to Tübingen, Germany in 1986, and completed his dissertation in 1990 on German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel for his PhD in philosophical theology from University of Tübingen. In 1990, he returned to Ireland to continue his priestly duties, and began his post-doctoral work on the 13th century mystic, Meister Eckhart. O’Donohue’s first published work of prose, Anam cara (1997), catapulted him into a more public life as an author, speaker and teacher, particularly in the United States. O’Donohue left the priesthood in 2000. O’Donohue also devoted his energies to environmental activism, and is credited with helping spearhead the Burren Action Group, which opposed government development plans and ultimately preserved the area of Mullaghmore and the Burren, a karst landscape in County Clare.

Credit: CBC Radio

6 comments on “Video: John O’Donohue | Beanacht

  1. Lisa Zimmerman
    May 17, 2023

    Lovely to hear him read it❤️


  2. allisonfine
    May 14, 2023

    A most beautiful and brilliant man. He had already died when I discovered his work and have been touched by it ever since. His work will live on.


    • Vox Populi
      May 14, 2023

      His poems have a timeless quality. I suspect they will ring as true in a thousand years as they do today.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bosselaar Laure-Anne
    May 14, 2023

    This old mama is all teary reading that poem…


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