Sunday 3 February 2008


The Memorial Mass programme
for John O'Donohue which
took place yesterday
P.J. Curtis the well-known radio broadcaster told a packed Galway Cathedral that if they paused for a moments silence they could hear the full hearty laugh of the late John O’Donohue resonate throughout the vast space. He was one of several speakers paying tribute to Doctor O’Donohue at a Memorial Mass yesterday. Other speakers included the M.E.P. Mary Banotti, broadcaster John Quinn, poet Rita Ann Higgins and T.D. Michael D Higgins.All who spoke recalled the humour and humanity that permeated Johns life, he was a huge assuring presence in whatever company he found himself . Mary Banotti met him at the E.U. as part of a delegation opposed to a proposed interpretative centre at Mullaghmore, and was astonished at his impassioned plea to preserve the grand wildness of the Burren landscape. His presentation ,straight from the heart ,even swayed the European bureaucrats and the day was saved for one of our most cherished places.
Much as he was engaged in that sense of place, the human spirit always took first place for John and writer Gareth Higgins spoke movingly of his last meeting with John in July of 2007.He had arranged to meet John in Galway but rang to cancel at the last minute as he was feeling under the weather and a little depressed. John would have none of it and persuaded Gareth to meet for just 15 minutes in the car park of MacDonald’s. As Gareth recounted “Up to that point I had not considered this place ‘holy ground‘, but after that meeting I did!” The 15 minute meeting turned into a 24 hour rendezvous as the pair retired back to Johns Connemara cottage and talked into the small hours. It was good to hear about the ‘man’ behind the books, and refreshing to hear that the beautiful words and concepts he shared with readers around the world were deep bedded realities in his own everyday life.
Music for the Memorial was provided by the Lismorahaun Singers, organist Mark Dooley, soprano Regina Nathan and his niece Katie and nephew Peter O’Donohue who also sang. One of the most poignant pieces was a sean-nos song called The Vale of Fermoyle sang by Jack Carley.This was one of Johns favourite songs and the huge aattendance burst into spontaneous applause after its performance.
John O’Donohue left deep footprints in his 52 years on this earth, he left an indelible mark on the lives of those who knew him. The memory of a life so fully and well lived is a challenge to me to get out there and make a difference for others. Our Christian words are insipid indeed if not incarnated into our active lives where we touch and feel the pain and joy of our fellow travellers.
Gerard O'Shea

1 comment:

rhino said...

Thank you so much for posting.
I knew John in Tuebingen.
He was an amazing friend.
I wish I could have come to Galway yesterday. I was playing John's newest CD Benedictus... during the memorial.