John O'Donohue laid to rest today in Fanore

20080112a.png John O’Donohue, poet and philosopher, is being laid to rest in my home parish of Fanore in the Burren, County Clare today. John passed away suddenly last week while on holiday in France. I remember John as a friendly, kind and intelligent man, and I was lucky enough to attend some of his inspirational sermons when he visited Fanore church during his time as a priest. He received his PhD from Tubingen in 1990, was a renowned expert on the philosopher Hegels, and he wrote many influential books on Celtic spirituality. John was certainly the most important ambassador for the the Burren and Connemara that I can think of, and he also spoke Irish as his native language while living in County Galway. I know that many others will join with me in sending sincere thoughts to his family and friends at this time.

You can also read this tribute to John on the Huffington Post, and view some recent articles about John from the Galway Advertiser (1, 2). KLCS-TV, a PBS station in Los Angeles, will feature a special tribute to John at 8:00 PM tonight on the show “Between the Lines”. There will be a public memorial service for John in Galway on February 2nd. More information on John is available from his official website and (in German) from You can also listen to interviews with John from NPR in 1999 and 2005.

Categories Ireland, Literature

35 thoughts on “John O'Donohue laid to rest today in Fanore

  1. All are invited to John’s Pacific Northwest’s Celtic Memorial in Seattle, Washington on Sat. Jan. 26 at 3pm. For more info please visit


  2. a voice is stilled
    we thought would be forever teaching
    and we always learning.
    rest now, your journey begins

  3. I loved John O’Donohue, though like thousands who loved him, I never met him in person. He spoke of the mountains in Ireland in a way that I understood, from my mountains in Southwest Virginia. It is a fact very like an O’Donohue statement that our mountains were once part of the same range, before the continents split apart.

    May we all live in these important times as he did–bravely, with fierce love of our ancient landscapes, the trees and the wild that awaken our souls. In his honor, let’s keep the wild viable–in ourselves and in the landscape–and keeping our longing for connection alive in these alienating times. I feel sure that he will be helping us.

    Liza from Wytheville, Virginia

  4. I did not know John personally but have been touched by his verses.
    I am a friend of Dan Siegal who kne John.
    Every kindness to you.His poems touched me deeply.
    My hert is with you and I will share with you one of mine written for a recenlydeparted friend.
    My heart is with you .However I knwthe stillness is teh best I ca ay.

    StephenUnder the bridge
    there is a tiny rainbow
    that no one sees
    in each experience is the answer
    to everything
    live it live it now
    and let it go
    with tears if need be an anguish but let it go
    let if fly over the fields
    to the far corners of the earth
    the desire to make an impact for good in the world
    is what we need more of
    underneath the bridge there is a tiny rainbow
    hidden to the naked eye
    It is the beauty in all things revealed
    The beauty of a soul
    The journey of a life
    inspired by gentle rain drops upon the skin
    the wind running through you across your face
    the freshness
    of being alive
    and allowing life to be in you
    Under the bridge there is a tiny rainbow.

  5. John was truly held together by a deep trust in a guiding, inner wisdom, and in his presence I felt at home before I even got to know him.
    I met John before he became famous, when he was working on his Ph.D. in Tuebingen in 1986. We met in the student cafeteria and I was intrigued by his Gaelic accent and the warmth in his voice… and by his wild, furious laughter.
    He helped me through some hard times, I proofread his German manuscripts. We had Irish whiskey together, moonshine he called it..
    So many years later I discovered his books in a California bookstore. I have kept Anam Cara and Eternal Echoes close to me ever since.
    I was signed up to go to his retreat in Oregon last October. I could not go due to an illness. There won’t be another retreat in Oregon in 2008. But John is not gone. He is just on the other side.
    I feel so privileged that he was my friend.
    Christine, Mountain View, California

  6. …I met him and lost him in an hour. Upon reflection I realise although I will never see him in person my life will be changed by the cloak that his words wrapped around me last night. I watched a video of him speaking at findhorn passed on by a friend – I felt I had indeed come home whilst listening to his words find the hidden places I didn’t remember existed within my soul. I laughed and I cried. Then I cried some more when I went to his website to find out where he was next speaking and saw that he had gone on the next part of his incredible journey. Today I am grateful for being introduced to him last night and know my life and those that hear his words will never quite be the same.
    Bernadette Darnell Kentford Suffolk

  7. Never met or heard John live but his words explain feelings and beliefs I could never put into words.

    May he rest in peace.


  8. John I miss you so much. I am so glad that John made it to Killorglin in November 2006. His lecture was just so wonderful

  9. It is with great sadness that I recently learned of the death of John O’Donohue. In written and spoken word, John embodied the voice of Spirit. He traced her movements through hills, caves, homes and the caverns of mind. I recall once having just missed him at Sounds True where I was informed that John was taped the week before. The sound engineer, who had taken him to lunch, said that there was no difference in John’s poetic way of speaking whether he was sitting across the table eating lunch or in front of a microphone. Another memory that comes to mind: one of my patients, who shared my love of John’s work, signed up for a week long workshop with him in Ireland. I was green with envy. On her return she gave me a treasured gift – a signed book of Beauty. She complained that he’d written more to me, a complete stranger, than to her who had just spent a full week with him! I don’t understand why God reclaim his soul after only giving us 52 years of his Celtic alchemy, but I am thankful just the same. Although I never had the good fortune to meet him personally I consider him my anam cara. Farewell, good friend.

  10. I was introduced to the wonder of John O’Donohue this past weekend, thanks to an interview with him that was broadcast on Speaking of Faith. His poem Beannacht is a treasure. I wish I’d heard of him before now.

    You can find a pointer to the Speaking of Faith site on my blog where I also posted a copy of Beannacht.

  11. My wife Lynn and I were able to find John O’Donohue in the wilds of Connemara in September, 2005. We had accompanied our daughter to Ireland for her international studies term at University of Limerick, and we stayed for an extra week. During this time, we made day trips from our B&B in Adare. One day, we decided to try to find John O’Donohue. After much sleuthing, we found him, and he was actually at home. He agreed to meet us at the Peacocke Hotel in Maam Cross, and we spent a wonderful hour with him in the little pub there. I had read all his books and listened to all his lectures on CD as I faced a life-threatening illness. I connected very deeply with his spirituality, and felt that I simply needed to meet him and thank him. Which we did. He was a warm, delightful man, full of life and humour. He is now my new patron saint. I have just listened to the NPR interview Krista Tippett of National Public Radio did with him. It is a downloadable podcast at the “Speaking of Faith” website, and is well worth listening to.

  12. Two quotes that remind me so much of John O’Odonohue.

    When we have done all the work we were sent to Earth to do, we are allowed to shed our body, which imprisons our soul like a cocoon encloses the future butterfly.
    And when the time is right, we can let go of it and we will be free of pain, free of fears and worries, free as a very beautiful butterfly, returning home to God.
    Elisabeth Kibler-Ross.

    The other:

    In my end is my beginnning.
    T. S. Eliot.

  13. Francesca Tolond March 26, 2008 — 11:01 am

    This is a thank from someone who began her spiritual journey with John. I will continue to search for love and beauty in the world, and try and spread as much love as I can.

    Thank you for your friendship on the journey. Go in peace for I will miss you.

  14. may John’s soul rest in peace!

    thanks you for the update here.


  15. I am so fortunate to have met John twice and heard him speak on 4 or 5 occasions. He came to Belfast one Saturday and lead a small group in a day long reflection…it was amazing! He was nearing the end of his talks and he sat in the seat next to me – a spare seat inbeween us. I so wanted to tell him what the day had meant to me but I guess I do have a shy side after all and said nothing. Just before he went to the front of the room and as others were coming in and sitting down… he looked round…I smiled and he reach over the empty chair and put his hand of my shoulder. I knew then that he knew what I wanted to say but couldn’t.

    I met him again at a book signing last August at the Greenbelt Festival in England and reminded him that we’d met briefly before. He smiled broadly, stood up from his chair, bent forward of the books and gave me a big hug and kiss…what a man!

    I won’t see him this side of heaven but boy…I still hear that voice in the days when I need encouraged!

    Mo – Belfast

  16. slan leat
    eistigi! chualamar an ciunas
    feachaigi! ni fhacamar eine
    feicimid le suil amahain
    ar anam mor choillte

    slan agat
    beimid le cheile fos

  17. Go raibh maith agat a Sheáin.
    Slán leat mo chara….

  18. Reamann O Briain May 29, 2008 — 12:51 am

    I read your words slowly ,for it was the only way that I could absorb and understand them ,that first day.I thought to myself “he must have spent forever compiling his words into sentences ,for surely no one can speak unrehearsed with such eloquence and with such discernment .Then I heard you speak I watched your every expression ,all I saw was sincerity ,all I heard was love ,words bursting with love ,love for the land ,love for your fellow man, and a deep understanding of the strengths both possessed,of the beauty both beheld, and the innate attraction of one for the other,and of the dependency of one for the other .I listened as you passively explained how developers with perfect eyesight were still blind to the ancient beauty and how you involved yourself in the protection of our ancient footprints from the speculators.For these but few of your greatnesses I am eternally grateful ,but most of all I am indebted to you for the loan of your wisdom at a time I needed it most .Enjoy your forward journey for I am sure your adventure goes onward and forward ,but for you John O’Donohue never backward.Say hello to Mohandas for you both have a lot in common, and many views to exchange .

  19. Denis Canty, Ennis. May 29, 2008 — 8:56 pm

    Pope John 23rd. said ” Do not walk through time without leaving worthy evidence of your passage”.

    John O Donohue in his books left “worthy evidence” in his passage through time.

    May his beautiful words sing in our hearts forever.

  20. Denis Canty, Ennis. May 30, 2008 — 8:30 am

    No change

  21. I travelled to Burlington, VT to hear John because I had read his books and listened to his tapes. I especially needed to see him because my daughter, Katie, had died of cancer and I wanted to thank him for writing because his words helped me to survive; his words helped me to bear up under my pain and I wanted him to know that. We need to hear from the people whose lives that we have touched; it is a human desire for connection. I will always be grateful to John O’Donohue, his grace, his soul and his words. Meeting him also helped me decide to write my first book, which I did. Please look for it in October. When Every Day Matters: A Mother’s Memoir on Love, Loss and Life by Simple Abundance Press.

    Mary Jane Hurley Brant from Bryn Mawr, PA USA

  22. I was just thinking about how much John loved his father Paddy. I loved mine, too. We are greatly blessed when we have a father that we feel cherished us even if they, as we, are not perfect.

  23. I was give a tape by a friend some ten years ago. I started listening to a man with an unusual accent. Within minutes I was mesmerised by his message. I read Anam Cara and found such beauty, wisdom and truth. I did volunteer work for years in jails, dealing with people going through tough times. I brought John into those meetings and was able to intruduce him to these souls through his words. I have just recently returned from the San Juan Islands and met someone who mentioned that John had passed. In reading the comments of the lives he touched I realized that indeed there is a group of Soul Friends that will continue to grow.

  24. I began my book and ended my book with words from John O’Donohue. People who don’t know about him (which is hard to imagine) will know about him soon. Oct. 1, feast of St. Therese of Lisieux is my release date. He was a gift to us all. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

    Mary Jane Hurley Brant

  25. Two nights ago I was exhausted and wigged out. As I lay in bed I thought about John O’Donohue and I prayed for him and to him. I believe some souls are so ancient that they are always present to us and for us: saints in the making! I felt better afterwards.

    He has met my daughter in heaven by now – saw her beautiful red hair and torquoise eyes and they have put their Irish heads together to help me in this next phase of the book. It looks like it will be ready on time, God willing, Oct. 1st 2008.

    Mary Jane Hurley Brant

  26. I came upon John Donohue’s material quite by accident. Yet, not an accident at all. His work has so deeply touched me and spoken directly to my heart that I will always cherish him and the gift that God has given him.

  27. My Friends,

    I have begun my book When Every Day Matters: A Mother’s Memoir on Love, Loss and Life (Simple Abundance Press) with John O’Donohue’s words and I have finished with John. It is appropriate and fitting. Please look at my site, and buy the book to feel the comfort of a soul companion as you walk through your losses because by reading my words you will be looking at heaven, something John believed in, deeply believed in.

    God love you and bless you.


  28. I think I post more on this site than any other!

    I have joing a woman’s group at my parish, St. Thomas of Villanova. A delightful and soulful woman is a member. She came to PA from Ireland when she was 18. She is now in her late 60’s. She tells of the mothers having to say goodbye to their children, many at age 16. These were hard economic times. Frequently the moms (and I guess that means the dads) never saw their children again. I feel a sea of mourning with that one, I really do. I never knew. It’s heartbreaking. So I raise up my sisters and my brothers in Ireland, John Breslin and John O’Donohue’s Ireland. I send my prayers for those who have lost and feel sad.

    Mary Jane Hurley Brant

  29. miss John O’Donohue

    “the greatest privileges of a human life is to become midwife to the birth of the soul”

    “When the inner senses are dull and blurred, you become a respectable prisoner of a mind able to receive everything except the extraordinary.”

    “The greatest friend of the soul is the unknown”
    to watch video of john please go to

  30. For my fellow friends of John O’Donohue,

    I’ve just written an article about grief during the holidays that I thought you might like to read. It’s right below.

    Managing Holiday Grief & Loss

    The holidays have arrived. Normally they are a time for family fun and celebration but when you are grieving the loss of someone who has died, the season is different: it is painful.

    Grieving is a long process. It takes time to heal the loss of a loved one. When we are grieving we can feel completely overwhelmed with sadness; overwhelmed with missing the beloved person who has gone and we long for them. We think we will not survive. So we ask ourself, “How can I make it through these days?” Here are some thoughts that have helped me. Maybe they can help you.

    For Your Body ~
    Rest – Your body has experienced loss. It is exhausted. Take a nap when you can. Walk in the sunshine every day, even 15 minutes will help to elevate endorphins. Take some baths instead of quick showers. Eat nourishing foods like a delicious soup and a slice of warm whole grained bread. Limit your sugar, caffeine and alcohol; they affect mood. Drink generous quantities of water; it restores energy. Get a back massage; it lessens the stress lodged in our muscles. Get and give as many hugs as you can; touch heals. Stroke your pet; it calms the body. Pray, meditate, breathe deeply, practice yoga, and exercise; it brings you home to yourself.

    For Your Mind ~
    Start a new tradition – If you don’t have small children to attend to, simplify the decorations – an aromatic wreath on your front door and bakery purchased cookies are more than enough. Keep these days simple and peaceful: if you always prepared a big sit-down meal, have a little brunch instead.

    Carve out some time for yourself such as an overnight to the beach or the mountains with your prayers, your journal, your favorite inspirational books and your music. I browse the shelves of our local library; it is calming for me. If being around other people helps, seek them; people like to be asked for help; it makes them feel useful when they don’t know how to help. Watch any movie that makes you laugh; you need to help your process along. Lastly, find a person to share your sorrow with whether a friend, a spouse, a minister, a priest, a rabbi, a clergyman, or a counselor.

    For Your Spirit ~
    First, give compassion to yourself. Remind yourself that you did a good job loving the departed person and trust they are now safe and free. Second, be around those people whom you love and who love you; they will soothe your weary soul. But remember, you are vulnerable now and a remark from an insensitive person will injure you as never before.

    Attend church, or synagogue, or temple and pray for the departed, for yourself and your family. Pray for peace, pray for faith, pray for grace, pray for forgiveness. Have a small ritual that not only acknowledges the continued spiritual presence of the deceased but a ritual that you know would make them happy, too. An idea to celebrate the person that you have lost during the season would be to get every member of the family together and bake their favorite cake, pie or cookies then sit down with tea or hot chocolate or cold milk and share happy holiday memories. Maybe family photos or mementos could be brought out. Tears may come but let them; they open up the gates for laughter and hope. In our family we talk about our Katie with our three precious grandchildren so that they have a chance to know her through our remembrances. She is their Aunt Katie in heaven with God now. Katie loved the magic that children bring and she would love how we have opened our hearts to this chapter in our lives.

    When we remember that no one’s spirit ever dies we will feel the light of confidence and direction shift in our souls to remember that our loved one is always with us as we are with them. And yes, we acknowledge that our life is not the same without them and we know that we will miss them forever. But we are grateful, so very grateful for having had the great blessing of them in our lives. We will honor our deceased by loving those still in our life and by making every day matter.

    Mary Jane Hurley Brant

  31. A belated prayer for John O’Donohue. Introduced to his work this year, I didn’t know he had died. Unexpectedly…as if any death is not really in a sense unexpected. What can be said about John? He was a wonderful poet, writer, thinker…yes, all this, but more…he was gifted by God himself.
    As an Irish-American, I will continue to read and study and hold sacred his work. God Bless you Joh O’Donohue

    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

  32. Hi Everybody,

    I wanted to give you my February thoughts because it’s the month that focuses our attention on love. Cards are bought, candy is given, kisses abound. What is it about love? We simply cannot get enough of it. “I love you” and “I’m in love with you.” Is there a difference? Yes. “I’m in love with you” has more infatuation and projection attached and “I love you” has more of day-to-day companionship attached. Each has its mystery. Mystery, by definition, cannot be completely understood. I like the word mystery because it elevates a subject. Anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher, writes that mystery is part of infatuation and critical to romantic love. But the feeling of security that long lasting love provides is important, too. Both kinds of love do indeed make the world go round.

    This second month of the year also brings our focus to the heart, this vital organ which beats an average of 100,000 times each day. But our emotional heart is complicated: it has both dark and light places. On the dark side of the heart are emotions such as jealously, envy, rage and revenge. These negative feelings feed on themselves and harbor ill will.

    We have all experienced being hurt and hurting others – sometimes knowingly; sometimes unknowingly, but continuing to hurt another is beyond the pale. Darker feelings also lower the self-esteem of the person carrying them. We cannot have high self-esteem while holding onto the darker emotions in our hearts; they are mutually exclusive. I have never known anyone to hold both.

    On the light side of the heart are love, forgiveness, compassion and transformation. The Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, taught that the “Self” was the organizing principle in our psyche which brought harmony to our unconscious, our conscious and our ego. Our personalities become more “whole” when we pay attention to our inner worlds as well as our outer worlds and behaviors. Developing the “Self” (which I think is the sacred part of us) is key to our personal happiness when we desire a compassionate and loving relationship with our God, ourselves and others as well. John O’Donohue liked Jung and so do I.

    People who love are people who forgive. Who cannot appreciate how our hearts are transformed when we hear someone say, “I’m sorry; please forgive me.” So let us have the grace to forgive or at least to let go. Let us reach out to everyone this month, but particularly extend a hand to those with broken or grieving hearts who have suffered a loss of any kind. February – with society’s emphasis on Valentine hearts – can be especially painful if someone’s arms ache for a beloved.

    And so, my Friends, I embrace the frequently quoted bible passage, “There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.” A wise thought indeed which offers each of us an immediate and beautiful plan to make Every Day Matter.

  33. I accidentally stumbled across John O’Donohue. Maybe it is my Irish ancestry, maybe it is the deep longing ~ knowing that he reaches in me~ and in all those who sit with him awhile….I cannot even begin to explain the wonder and joy I have listiening to his CD’s and reading his writings. My heart is broken with the news of his death…an incredible loss. John is a rarity …sent from God.

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close