Saturday, 30 January 2021


 Here is a recipe which I improvised today for a quick pasta sauce which I found particularly tasty:


Cold-pressed olive oil

Half a small onion, finely chopped.

Tiny amount of leftover juice from a ribsteak braised with onions

Roma Passata

Half an Avocado, mashed

Chicken stock cube dissolved in hot water

Red chilli pepper deseeded and chopped

Saute the chopped onion in the olive oil and add the leftover ribsteak juice

Add a shake of Roma Passata and the mashed Avocado. Fold together.

Add the chopped chilli pepper

Pour in enough chicken stock liquid and stir to thin sauce to required consistency.

Add salt to taste.

Heat and serve over cooked tagliatelle, with or without grated parmesan.

Saute the chopped onions


Wednesday, 20 January 2021



Mark Whelan died in Limerick University Hospital yesterday. The most recent poem of his I have read was in The Hong Kong Review, Volume II, No 2, edited by another Limerick man, John Liddy. Presciently, it was called 'My Death', and in it Mark writes:
There is a song to be sung
     to break the windows of light
and to have nothing more
to do with time

I published the poem above, called 'Prelude', when I was guest-editor of Cyphers No 37. It is a poem which shows some influence of Beckett, to whose work Mark was devoted, but it also shows his very striking originality as a poet, and this originality is also revealed in the lines quoted from 'My Death'. A poem which Mark frequently recited to Limerick audiences, whether off the cuff in taverns such as Tom Collins' of Cecil Street and Flannery's of Catherine Street, or in more formal readings, is called 'A Shine Easy' and it ends:
  A shine easy light
               making the day reincanate
like a star
fallen into water

There's a lot more to be written about Mark, but let this suffice for the moment from a fellow practitioner and admirer of his unique poetic talent, following on the shock of his untimely death. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam. (This latter wish is fairly certain to be fulfilled, I'd say.)

                                        Mark Whelan (right) with Paul Sweeney 2019

Tuesday, 8 December 2020



(on the 20th Anniversary, 08/12/20)

There’s a map and a line on a map

that moves from one identified place

in Dublin to another, past premises

still standing as they stood that night  

among the city's transformations.

A line which comes to an end

at his last confirmed sighting.

There’s a clear-cut journey traced

to the last CCTV footage

where he is seen in wind and rain,

bent under an umbrella, passing

an ATM on Haddington Road,

a man in black not far behind him.

And beyond that, mystery,

and all that it entails.

O day and night but this...

The journey on the map

has a clear and verified progress,

the kind which many follow

after an office Christmas party –

moving on to a night club

and walking home in the small hours,

calling to collect an umbrella 

at his workplace on the way.

A time recorded to the millisecond 

by a phone's answering machine

on which he left a message

spoken in good spirits.

And then the cruel hiatus

of twenty years, a young man

who should be in his forties now 

an uncle to grown children,

but is nothing more than the point

where a line stops on a map

some distance from his home,

no voice or sight or touch

and nothing making sense.

A trail that vanishes before

reaching the frontier of meaning,

a sinkhole in the city’s heart.

O Hades, may Persephone

soften your heart to those

who loved this youth and who

have parented for far too long

the night’s unkindest mystery.

© Ciaran O'Driscoll, 2020

Thursday, 12 November 2020




Our city is a tort, with the cherry

in the middle. And this is Schwartzenberg

on his horse after the battle of Leipzig,

and you can see he was victorious.

And here is a street that was built to bring

beer to the poorer kind, not to disturb 

the elegant people in the centre circle.

There was no food in the old coffee houses –

they didn’t want to have the smell of onions.

And this is the Town Hall – in German called

the Rathaus, with the Christmas Tree in front,

which is not ready yet. A different window

is opened every day to bring the gifts.

And here is the Ministry of War, now called

the Ministry of Defence, but in those days

they called it what it was. The city has

four railway stations, but for fifty years

it had no trains that travelled to the East.

And there you see the Church of St Charles,

patron of Black Death and various plagues.

Here is the Natural History Museum,

it is ranked among the first ten of the world.

Everything is in it, like pockets of boys.

This is the New River. The Old River

is now a lake. The artists used to live

over there, but they had much scandal,

and so they were not given galleries.

And this is Metternich, who told Franz Joseph

‘You don’t discuss with the people, you thump them.’

Later, we go to Concert Hall for Strauss.

Watching the shops is also interesting

but in the fog you can’t do anything.

© Ciaran O'Driscoll 2020

Wednesday, 23 September 2020


The long-running Umbrian poetry festival, Riflessi DiVersi, which occurs around the end of September, has had to be postponed this year until 2021 on account of the Coronavirus. That is to say, the intended participants for 2020 will be the participants, hopefully, in the 2021 edition of Riflessi DiVersi.

    In the meantime, a website has been created, "Irlanda in Umbria", which features the work of the postponed poets, as well as the musicians, together with items from past incarnations of the festival. 

    Click on the link below the picture to view the website

L to R: Aurelio Stoppini, Vera Lucia di Oliveira, Ciaran O'Driscoll, Margarita....., Rita Castigli, Andreina Panico; Riflessi DiVersi 2015.

Friday, 14 August 2020



A fresh growth of Spleenwort spotted on the ancient wall between our garden and the school grounds of Scoil Máthair Dé, Limerick.

Do you like lichen? Or does it rouse your spleen?

The Spleenwort plant reminds me of winter because its fronds remain green throughout the year and I first noticed them in winter.


Parsley pales. The cat craps in the flower box.
Round the garden table, garden chairs still range,
an icebound working group on climate change.
The car door’s frozen doorhandle unlocks

when blessed by water. Christmas rules TV.
Although no visitor’s appeared in weeks,
the feeble latch-grip slips, the front gate creaks
its winter wolf-crying expectancy.

Our neighbour takes his DIY indoors,
no longer deafens us with power tools.
Spleenwort fronds survive on old stone walls,
each finger-lobe a blister-strip of spores.

© Ciaran O'Driscoll 2020

Wednesday, 1 July 2020


SurVision Magazine #7 is now online for your reading pleasure.
Edited by the redoubtable Anatoly Kudryavitsky, this midsummer issue has a remarkable translation of a poem by Giorgio de Chirico, the painter/writer and Surrealist Precursor. The poem is 'Speranza' and the translation is by Anatoly himself.
There is a generous sprinkling of Irish poets among the International gathering of original poems and translations. SurVision Magazine #7 may be accessed at 'current issue'.
Oh, I forgot to say, I have three poems in it myself. How self-effacing of me!