Sad News: John O’Donahue Dies



It’s was with enormous sadness I received the news that John O’Donahue has died.

Martin Wroe, who had for so long championed him at Greenbelt Festival, sent me this email:

Our friend John O’Donohue has died. John was on holiday in France with the family of Kristine, a wonderful woman he met at Greenbelt just last August.

Poet, priest and philosopher, John was a one-off, the warmest, funniest, wisest person you could hope to meet.

His most recent book, ‘Benedictus‘, was published just before Christmas. It’s a book of blessings and this is an extract from one.

May there be some beautiful surprise
Waiting for you inside death
Something you never knew or felt,
Which with one simple touch
Absolves you of all loneliness and loss,
As you quicken within the embrace
For which your soul was eternally made.

‘May your heart be speechless
At the sight of the truth
Of all your belief had hoped,
Your heart breathless
In the light and lightness
Where each and every thing
Is at last its true self
Within that serene belonging
That dwells beside us
On the other side
Of what we see.

May John know that serene belonging dwelling beside him. May we all.




2 responses to “Sad News: John O’Donahue Dies”

  1. David Lachapelle

    A tribute to the passing of a Bard
    A voice slipped silently into the night that I did not recognize as so near to my heart until the word of its passing greeted my morning.
    I never met John, and barely touched his writing.
    Several mutual friends knew him well and through them I felt his life from afar.
    In the way the waters of our lives cannot be kept bound in the ocean of our existence
    his voice helped keep my ancestral home land anchored in my heart.
    My ancestor was taken from the docks of Ireland by the British Navy, and pressed into service upon one of their vessels. He jumped ship somewhere off the Carolinas and made his way into the heart of the Cherokee traditional lands.
    The restless journey of his spirit has lived in the marrow of my own life
    and the eloquent fire of John’s articulation and life expression
    was a harbor of rest
    of which I did not fully realize till now.
    May the voice of true insight, the current of renewal which sustains all of us amidst the waves of culture that break upon the homeland
    of our soul, be remembered and honored in the wake of John’s passing.
    The quiet dignity of a language which helps us remember
    is a gift that we can bow deeply too,
    as the great silence known as death carries John into unspeakable words of being,
    ringed in light and so brilliant
    no human frame seems to be able to contain them.
    John died in France
    and not in his homeland.
    This I find most intriguing.
    A few years ago I was driving in the Yukon through an crystalline fall day, etched in a way that only the northern latitudes can cut. I notic ed a flock of geese flying low, in front my view. To my great surprise they came closer and closer to my car, until the lead goose nearly tries to land on my moving windshield.
    He//She swerves at the last minute and the flock lands, in tumbled chaos, unhurt, on the side of the road.
    I marveled at this gift from the heavens and discovered that wild geese are the name given to Irish expatriates who have left their homeland in order to fight in foreign armies against the British.
    That John should leave his body in a foreign land, means much to me. A tribute, perhaps, to all the Irish who have left home throughout the ages
    to speak their truth in whatever manner they might best find.
    The other day, here in the rockies, with the temperature around zero I looked up and there was flight of geese flying south high above the mountains of this valley. They must have been flying at around 15,000 feet. With little oxygen and sub zero air, I was amazed to see the regularity and strength of their flight. So clearly it was shown that the flock was their warmth and their strength.
    John has taken flight. If you catch the eddie of his departure your soul may fly into realms you did not think possible to navigate.
    Thank you, John, for your journey.
    David LaChapelle

  2. Thanks for eloquent writers who pour insight out, who cast word-shadows on human hearts. Thanks for John gone like a great swan into freedom, crying its confusion at being suddenly awake as it flies into the sun.
    Thanks for John’s earth visit. (How strange to die just when you find your Anim Cara.) Thanks for Love no matter what amidst all I don’t understand. Thanks for human sorrow, the great empty hole, the ache only Love can fill.
    Thanks for Ireland and the hope of a deeper spiritual beauty born out of ruins, old stones, wild seas, the cry of gulls, dead poets, a wilder Christ and the lonely look in a white seal’s eyes.
    Thanks for a whiskey drinking poet-saint. Thanks for those with the fire to take up where he left off.