WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

The life and legacy of John O’Donohue, an Irish symposium

WelCom November 2018:

Pauline Scahill and Peter Gibbs

John O’Donohue: world-renowned Irish poet, philosopher and author. Photo: Supplied

John O’Donohue was an Irish poet and philosopher, and author of many books including Anam Cara, To Bless the Space Between Us and Divine Beauty. His writing has touched many people throughout the world.

‘At the heart of John’s awakened belief was the premise that ancient wisdom could offer desperately needed nourishment for the hunger experienced in our modern world,’ ‒ johnodonohue.com. Sadly, John passed away in 2008.

In July this year a symposium was held in County Clare, Ireland, to honour all John has gifted us and to explore how to keep his work alive. It was the first time such a gathering had been held, and we were lucky enough to attend along with about 400 others from around the world.

John had an ability to communicate inspirational wisdom through dialogue and writing, which was reflected in the gathering over the three days.

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, opened the Symposium. He spoke as a friend and fellow poet on the theme of friendship and the importance of it in our changing world. This set the tone for the next two days, led by John’s family and friends.

Keynote speaker, Dan Siegel, a scientist and physician, said, ‘John and I were working on a living bridge linking science and mysticism, finding common ground in the poetic study of the soul and the empirical explorations of the mind and brain.’

The days were woven with poetry, music, a range of speakers and reflection, including Ellen Wingard who spoke about John’s legacy of social justice and leadership. This led on to a powerful sharing from the participants on the influence of John’s work internationally.

There are likely to be other similar events in Ireland and the USA. To find out more, visit johnodonohue.com – and who knows, we may even have something similar in New Zealand one day.


‘For millions of years, before you arrived here, the dream of your individuality was carefully prepared. You were sent to a shape of destiny in which you would be able to express the special gift you bring to the world.’ – John O’Donohue