John O'Donohue
photo: Will O’Leary

“It’s strange to be here,” John O’Donohue wrote, referring to life. “The mystery never leaves you.” And creating this show has been a lovely, if strange and mysterious, experience.

O’Donohue was an Irish poet and philosopher beloved for his books, including Anam Ċara — Gaelic for “soul friend” — and for his insistence on beauty as a human calling and a defining aspect of God. I sat down with him in the fall of 2007 for a wide-ranging, two-hour conversation. Then just a few months later, before it could go to air, he died in his sleep, suddenly, at the age of 52. And so this hour of conversation (mp3, 51:00) has become a remembrance of him.

We’re putting his lovely, lively, exuberant voice out there in the world, as it touched so many the first time. And he would surely see this as a serendipitous continuation of his life’s work — of bringing ancient Celtic wisdom to modern confusions and longings.

We ended the show with his reading of “Beannacht,” a poem of blessing he wrote for his mother upon the death of his father. A number of listeners who read and loved John O’Donohue’s work have written to us as we began to post this and other poems he read to me during our interview:

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the gray window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colors,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

Overlooking Fanore

And we’ve posted our research into the beautiful, essential music for this show — including the style of Gaelic singing called sean-nos and the helpful contributions of an Irish listener from Belfast.

“Music,” John O’Donohue said to me, “is what language would love to be if it could.”

Share Your Reflection



such beautiful words...such stirring thoughts.

I grieve the loss of him, and yet his work seems to have "eternal life". You haven't mentioned another fine book which I enjoyed, "Eternal Echoes". Thanks for the way in which you have helped to preserve his personhood and the beauty of his soul. I believe he is a saint of our time.

I have O'Donough's collections and they never fail to offer hope, encouragement, inspiration.

Gorgeous image.

Thanks Maureen. It's incredible how his popularity grows each time we release the show.

Food and drink for the soul! Thank you so much for this particular program.

Thank you for posting more John O'Donohue.Much appreciated

It has renewed the joy within my being and becoming. I had intended to take a course with Siegel and O'Donahue and never did so was delighted to hear your interview. thank you, catherine fraser

You're welcome!

O'Donohue.....He brings out the Irish in me.

amazing, thanks

I've been moved spiritually, charmed, and delighted by this interview. Thank you for taking us on the journey into the soul of a beautiful person. Ellen Wixted

Lovely tribute to Sage...

Wonderful & endearing interview again and again with John O'Donohue....