John O'Donohue

  • Poet
  • celticKnot2
  • Philosopher

DVD : A Celtic Pilgrimage with John O'Donohue

The Inner Landscape of Beauty : John's Interview with Krista Tippett, Host, On Being

John O'Donohue's life cannot be encompassed within the one act of birth, life and death. He was not a finite act that existed and is now lost for evermore. He is just a story that is written, spoken and lives amongst us. Just as we are and continue to be. His themes of echo as the response of continuity, imagination as the ability to still see the mountain behind the mist, and absence as the transformed presence of the vanished, awaken our thinking and provide food for our spiritual journey in an increasingly hungry world.

Pat O'Donohue
(John's Brother)

John O'Donohue was born in 1956, into a native Gaelic speaking family, on the farm inhabited by previous generations in the Burren Region of County Clare, Ireland. As the oldest of four children, he learned to work alongside his parents and uncle, developing a close kinship with the wild landscape, framed by an ethereal view of a limestone valley and the beckoning waters of Galway Bay. This valley was the shell of John's soul, forging a deep and powerful connection with the elements shaping him. He was educated at the local primary school, alternating his studies with the farm chores of tending livestock, raising crops and carving peat for fuel, in his youth. John later described the profound influence of his childhood home as, "A huge wild invitation to extend your imagination…an ancient conversation between the land and sea."

"John O’Donohue is a man of the soul. His scholarly meditation on the continuing relevance of Ireland’s spiritual heritage has become a publishing phenomenon..." - London Times

Wonder, imagination and possibility were John’s great concerns, and he articulated them in his own inimitable lyrical style. The rich flow of his language - cadences, rhythms, colloquial flavouring – were a large part of John’s attraction to his radio audience.

John Quinn (RTÉ Radio Broadcaster and Friend)

We will always be grateful for the gift of John’s extraordinary presence, the discipline of his mind, and the wildness of his nature. He forged in the smithy of his soul a beautiful spirituality that is a benefit to Ireland and the contemporary world.

Fr. Martin Downey (Beloved Friend)

As with all writers whose fluency and wisdom is refreshing in its apparent spontaneity, the impression was created by years of patient thinking and reflection. He was a voracious reader; he enquired into everything and had prodigious powers of absorption and expression. It was a huge enjoyment to meet so orderly and creative a mind in such an irrepressible spirit. His priestly vocation called for a full, active presence which he provided in attentive stillness and he had an amazing, graciously energizing lucidity in public speaking and preaching.

Dr. Lelia Doolan (RTÉ Producer and Friend)

As a scientist and physician, my own mind was lit up with a spark of connection with John, ignited by our contrasts, and joined by the integration emerging in our mutual interests in exploring the nature of reality. John’s insights into the nature of the invisible world, what he would call the “mystical,” resonated powerfully in new ways with the emerging science on the deep nature of reality—of our brains, our bodies, our minds, and our relationships with people and the planet. John’s work was grounded in contemplative and scholarly study and we discovered it to be consistent with rigorous cutting-edge research. His insights continue to inspire me each day, as they may do for so many, old and new to his life’s work, through John’s powerful presence on the visible page and audible recording, opening a window to awaken us to a deeper, more joyful, and meaningful life filled by the "surprise of its own unfolding." Thank you, John, for being with us, still.

Dr. Dan Siegel (Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine - Close Friend and Co-Teacher)

"O’Donohue has produced a treasury for readers of all faiths. A demanding, high-wire existentialist adventure that will inspire readers to re-evaluate their goals and ways of being in the world. O’Donohue ends each chapter with a lyrical blessing or prayer, and his book itself is a profound, healing prayer."- Publishers Weekly

No conversation I’ve ever had has been more beloved than this one with the Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue. He insisted on beauty as a human calling. He had a very Celtic, lifelong fascination with the inner human landscape and what he called “the invisible world,” constantly intertwining with what we can know and see.

Krista Tippett (Host, ‘On Being’)

John was an inspired pathfinder and remains a great guide for us all.

Davy Spillane (Close Friend, Irish Composer and Musician)

For a student of Hegel who had written his PhD in German, O'Donohue found it amusing that pop stars and presidents had his book at their bedside, that Hollywood directors and household name actors sought his counsel. It confirmed his view that there is an intersection between philosophy, poetry and theology which can host an audience increasingly exiled by what he called "the frightened functionaries of institutional religion." As an accomplished poet, he had the literary tools and dazzling vocabulary to speak a language that persuaded you he was right.

Martin Wroe (The Guardian)

John was an intellectual genius with a rare and profound mystical intuition, able to articulate, both in spoken and written form, like no other, the deepest intimations of the soul and geographies of the invisible.

Dr. Máire Áine Ní Mhainnín (Eckhart Society Review)

John was not only one of the most articulate voices of living Celtic Christianity and Celtic wisdom, but he also had a clear grasp of the beauty of Christian mysticism as well. He was a trained philosopher with a prodigious intellect. He was the only person I’ve ever met who could effortlessly and lyrically weave together allusions to Martin Heidegger, Meister Eckhart, and the Tuatha Dé Danann in a single sentence.

Carl McColman (Author)


Ann Cahill, MA
Director, John O'Donohue Literary Estate

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We receive many inquiries from those seeking permission to use works by John O’Donohue. Please factor into your project deadlines, the consideration process can take several weeks. If you are seeking permission to use John’s work incorporated into your own web site, audio/video presentation, art work or musical composition, academic course materials, book or any other application, please contact Ann Cahill to review your request and applicable fees. Please note, John's name and works can't be used in any capacity for retail products, advertising, nor for any seminar, retreat/tour offering or online course.