Christy O'Donnell


A regular reader at the White House. Christy O'Donnell's  first collection, 'From Gloves to Pen', (launched Sept. 2013) is published by Cló Duanaire/Irish and Celtic Publications. (isbn no. 978-0-9569092-8-2).

' I grew up in the sixties and seventies on the north side of limerick in a family of ten girls and two brothers . I went to school in Saint Munchins C.B.S. at Hassetts Cross. Moved to Moyross and then joined the army to see what life, and conflict,  was really all about, if only to find out if it was the life for me. It took some time but I left that life behind to live and work in London only to find that life was a war zone at the best of times. My first poem published was given second place in the Poetry America magazine in the early eighties. Since then, I've had the good fortune to be published in the Mater Hospital (Dublin) quarterly magazine. I am also fortunate to be able to say that, with John Carew and with the help of all the Whitehouse poets, we raised over €2000 for charity through their publication of Poetic Humour (Cube Printing Ltd., 2012), which sold out in 4 weeks. I've also been published in:- Anthology For A River as well as various editions of the poetry journal, Revival (Revival Press), The Blue Hour magazine (first edition, as well as their online magazine) and other magazines and booklets over the years. I have a blog and YouTube presence where you can find my poetry. To find me, type    christyodonnell1963(either blog or YouTube) to view what’s there.'

Writing poetry is fun and serious but having fun is serious and at times poetic. As for my reading in front of an audience, well, it has to be said, if it weren’t for Barney Sheehan and Dominic Taylor and what they provide to us wannabe writers we may never be heard.






I always thought you were right, when I was a child, After all, your word was law, it was final, Sat in your chair, watching the sports, on T.V. as you did, As I sat on the floor watching you, beguiled, For years I gazed trying to figure out your denial, Lost in the sports channel, in a world where you hid, It was you and you’re chair and the sports, dare anyone intrude, Silently taking in scores and positions, Who played well, who was a disaster on the day, Just a glare to see who it was being noisey and rude, You disagreeing with some referee’s decision, Yet a shout when something seemed to go your way, I grew up watching you take part from your chair, As if you were on the field of play, Watched you decide, how to turn your team into winners, Heard you tell anyone who’d listen, “it has to be fair”, When you lost that there would be another better day, And here I was just a watcher a beginner, You’re gone now; there is no sports channel on my T.V. No one to shout who or why some play was wrong or right, I sit and watch my son, as he watches me, lost in thought, I recall it was I watched you as you decided to teach me, When something was wrong, if I could, I should stand and fight, There were no rules for being an adult, my chair new bought, I wonder if he will look as much at his son, While he studies the way things will turn out, Like my father before me sorting his little team, As I look back I recall that it was for me so much fun, I jumped each time my father let go with a shout, With delight and sadness, I sit back in his chair and dream.




1935 -2014

You shone a light on poetry in a city that had none,
As you set out across the globe to share your word,
From a boarding school in Roscrea learning was fun,
Across the world your poetry was heard,

Always with a wry smile knowing all who listened,
Would Basque in all you had to say,
Never forgetting your home where poetry you christened,
And a place where your heart would always stay,

Having done with traveling and teaching, to a poet’s life,
Retiring to a cottage near all you held dear,
Writing of past lives of love happiness and strife,
Places lived where skies were so clear,

Gathering years, age followed as youth faded,
Collections of poetry sitting on libraries, shelved,
Your poetry shouts read me unaided,
Thought provoking from your mind where you delved,

Your last journey finally taken this day,
No suitcase packed just pen in hand,
Desmond o Grady never afraid to have his say,
No finer poet or teacher will hereafter stand.

*Christy added: "Just my way of saying R.I.P.
I had the pleasure of reading this to his family in the Spaniard Inn, Kinsale at the wake."







I opened the door and you almost hit me as you flew by,

 Flapping your wings like it was too hard to keep a straight line,

 Having passed me you landed on my front room chair,

 As you rested a tear dropped from my left eye,

 Yet somehow my mind said don’t worry all would be fine,

 Then the phone rang and my thoughts were clear,


He’s gone the caller said have you heard?

 And I looked and answered no he is still here at rest,

 A bewildered voice asked “are you alright”

Fine I said staring at you there as you rested unnerved,

 As you opened your wings and looked your very best,

 As if to fly again using all of your might,


I did it many times set you free and on your own path,

 Held your wings gently and set you free,

 Watched you as you moved awkwardly finding your way,

 Saddened yet delighted mourned your aftermath,

 Knowing once you left never again would I see?

 Your beautiful wings shared and on display,


“Did you hear me he’s gone he died?”

The caller wept from the other end of the line,

 The silence was deafening right then on the phone,

 With no effort you flapped your wings as I tried,

 To hold back the tears praying all would be fine,

 Without help freedom was yours as you flew off alone.


 The door is still open on sunny days,

 I hope you will call again as you did that morning,

 The second you landed I knew you were free,

 I needed no phone to shock me into a daze,

 Your life forever more transforming,

 Like the butterfly short lived beautiful to me.








He sits quietly in his single armchair, 

Watching his world evolve in real time, 

It’s playing like a movie, no script, yet clear, 

He sits quietly but still he is there, 

Mother’s day is coming and there’s lots of hype, 

Flowers chocolates and all things nice,

Kids away but there’s always Skype,

He sits quietly counts the price,

There is a day for fathers, less advertised,

Comments of every day is father’s day,

He worked hard never compromised,

He sits quietly has very little to say,

He has been there for all a shoulder for many,

They feed him and let him watch his T.V.

All things considered, it seems so uncanny,

He sits and watches all he can see,

No one recalls when he was so ill,

At no time did he ask for their aid,

In a home full of people he sat so still,

He sits here a father with very little said,

They come now to visit and watch his chair,

His world stopped no more time,

No movie no script everything unclear,

So quiet now he no longer sits fine,

Memories of why didn’t someone ask,

Is there something you might like to do?

Perhaps get involved in some or other task,

An empty chair time stopped missing you.










You were there before I could recall,

If memory serves me right, you were always there,

Like a single thought or pride going before a fall,

You just seemed to always be near,


I never heard you say that you cared,

Yet you were like thought in the back of my mind,

There were times when trouble neared,

You were always easy to find,


I never heard you say you loved me,

No, I never heard you say that,

You didn’t show it for anyone to see,

Nor did I hear it in our little chat,


Still you were always forever there,

Lending a hand every now and then,

It was your way of saying you cared,

No words spoken since first we began,


You were there when I woke each new day,

And also, when I slept in my bed,

You never had much to say,

Other than use your head,


I watched you shave and get ready,

To go meet your friends for a drink,

Saw you return feet unsteady,

Yet you were there teetering on the brink,


Later when I was older not yet too old,

You were there pointing to show me the way,

Whether inside or outside the fold,

Our journey crossed paths almost every day,


I can’t recall a time when you weren’t near,

And I’m still trying to use my head,

To me you are a father dear,

Fondly, recalled each day as I rise from bed.











Tough it is making ends meet,

Especially when you are on the dole,

You have to suffer with the aches in your feet,

If you need to go and achieve some goal,

Still not so easy when there are kids to rear,


Always wanting one thing or another,

So much pain and so much to fear,

Left alone to become both father and mother,

You hope and pray things will not be so bad,

As you scrimp an' scrape to just get by,


Late when night falls your world seems so sad,

You ask yourself if you’re still willing to try,

But you rise each morning with good intent,

The kids dressed and heading for school,

A few moments peace is heaven sent,


How you ask could you have been such a fool,

All in all as time passes by,

You give you’re all and try your best,

Most things yourself you are willing to deny,

This life you now live has become your test,


In this tunnel there is very little light,

But you stumble on through things unclear,

Then one morning in the mirror a fright,

A reflection old a face without cheer,

Children left now adults grown,


Busy lives all hustle and bustle,

Like migrating birds all have flown,

No one left here your feathers to rustle,

But clearer now in the tunnel more light,

A new chapter about to begin,


You may be older but your spark is still bright,

As once more you venture to love someone again.








On winter nights the cold from the Shannon makes you shiver

Thomond Bridge beckons some not to cross that River,

There are ghostly things here that to some call out,

Some people see moon beams others hear distant shouts,

Wars have been fought from it to conquer men have tried,

And throughout the years in battle many have died,

A witch was once rumored to have jumped from this place,

Into the bridge her handprint burned its trace,

Kings have looked down on it from their castle on high,

This bridge to the afterlife watches those dead float by,

Many have fell or jumped choosing suicide,

And the bridge watches only for the coming of the tide,

Some have fought on it from one side to the other,

All souls remain here comforting each other,

So often boats search for what the river will hide,

And the bridge watches on it will not be denied,

On one side the church on the other the castle,

In the middle Thomand bridge offering a way out of hassle,

And from its wall’s many have jumped,

Some were saved as their chest was pumped,

Lost souls gather here on most winter nights,

Waiting for new arrivals to lose life’s fight,

No mercy from this bridge as the tide goes out,

From the ebbing water a lonely shout,

I stood and watched from where so many fell,

Some jumped freely thinking this life was hell,

Mixed up feelings swirling in their head,

Lost to the river they become the floating dead,

Memories remain within those bereft,

All were loved before here they left,

On moonlight beams you can hear their song,

In death there is neither right nor wrong.

Crossing Thomand Bridge on any night will give you a shiver,

You can hear the souls floating beneath it down the Shannon River.







Eight out of ten men will admit to being a cheat,

Simply because most of them are slow on their feet,

In a survey someone decided to cast for information,

I would like to see those who gave confirmation.

  Where are all the men who are having these affairs?

Is this why we name them all as being players,

And if they’re players taking part in this game,

Keeping it secret and not seeking notoriety or fame.

  But 8 out of 10 men say they’re getting a bit on the side,

Talking about it in pubs with chests full of pride,

Having a drink and boasting in front of their mates,

Partners sat at home in all kinds of states.

  So if all of these men are out there and cheating,

Relationships and marriage steadily depleting,

It appears it’s the men, who are berated for their sin,

But who are they cheating with? where does it begin?

Let us recall that its 80% of those cheating men,

When the only data from women is that it’s 2 out of 10,

So its either 8 men bragging or 8 lying women,

But somewhere in there is still someone sinning.

  This still leaves 2 men out there trying their best,

With 2 women trying to get under their vest,

So out of 10 men there are 8 that are bad,

And out of 10 women only 2 that is sad.

  Are men on the whole just too honest to lie?

Are women just lying quoting pies in the sky,

But it’s all a bit dark and too shady for me,

Having listened and learned here’s what I see,

  Somewhere in all this could be eight lying men,

Or to put it another way 2 extremely busy women.




What they said:- 

Christopher ‘Punchy’ O Donnell, expresses a myriad of themes and situations, with which one can readily identify, right from the opening poem, the child’s imagination compensates for the material shortcomings in life, and the moral of doing good and life rewarding you, is exemplified in the acquiring of a bike through helping a lady with her shopping.   We share in, and identify with his world, from childhood to school, to falling in love, feeling rejected suffering pain physically and emotionally, gems of wisdom gleaned from life experience. All these moments, especially the difficult ones, are made more bearable, because humour is the shield that holds these observations and emotions in check.   In life, we are confronted with many options, but in any given situation the resolution boils down to, either we getting the better of a situation or it getting the better of us. In this poetry, through all the humour as well as moments of joy and despair, a great determination not to be overwhelmed by life, but to confront it pulses beneath the surface.   This collection also exemplifies the sensitivity of its creator toward mankind and the human condition, although this is often wrapped in a ‘macho’ cloak of humour and jest, although it is not so saintly that there are not moments where it delights in someone getting their just deserts, revenge is sometimes sweet.   ‘Punchy’ himself, through his poetry, tells us that he does not take himself too seriously, he simply enjoys the impulse to write about life as he sees it. Often it is an unrestrained outpouring of expression, there are also moments of refined thought and poetic harmony that create thought provoking resonances.   This collection constitutes a solid foundation. The future? That is for ‘Punchy’ to build upon. All creative voices have something valid and pertinent to impart that in some way enrich the manner in which we perceive life. 

 - Máirtin o Briain


See also:

John Carew