About Dónall Dempsey
Dónall says (in "Dragged Across the Carpet by the Cat"):
A kind of Intro...I guess?
Despite the little accent on the ó telling them just where to go - people always mispronounce my name... aghhhhhhhh the pain! Ain't it plain!
My name in Gaelic translates as:
'World Mighty! ' or 'Spear Power! '
...so, I'm sticking to it: so there! (I won't get a name like it again) .
.My second name Dempsey (O' Diomsaigh) translates as:
'The Proud One! '
So, call me by my name!
'World Mighty Spear Power The Proud One! '
'Ain't it the truth...ain't it the truth! ' as the Cowardly Lion would say. Bit difficult to live up to at times! But actually the truth is this...an Irish sense of humour! Yes...nothing more...nothing less. Impressed?
No... neither was I!
I was a mere slip of a boy when I was born...weighing in at an enormous...two pounds! My belly weighs that now all by itself! So what do you call the littlest baby you've ever seen...why...'World Mighty! ' of course. Of course...there's that Irish sense of humour and wonder.
When I was born they didn't have any incubators and so they used to have to wrap me up in cotton wool to keep me warm. I used to hate the stuff and would shuffle out of it at every
opportunity! That's how I learnt how to wiggle so well....even now if you were to wrap my nakedness in cotton wool...well... I'd outta
there in a flash. A skill I will have until I shuffle off this mortal coil. I'm just a natural talent.
'Man... it's the weird white stuff again...just what do they think they’re playing at...sh** man, I mean...don't do that! ''
I guess I'm just a natural nudist...when I came to my birth...I just came as I was.
Weighing no more than a bag of sugar I would disappear in my Dad's mighty hand with just two little legs no bigger than thumbs sticking out.
A nurse with a sleight of hand did this disappearing trick and chuckled: 'He's so small Mrs. Dempsey...I'm gonna drown him in that pot of geraniums! ' To her horror my mother pleaded for my life ('Oh no sister...don't! ') and proceeded to haemorrhage massively. The poor nurse didn't know what to do and almost fainted with me in hand but as you see I survived all these attempts on my life.
Above our bed in the hospital ward was a painting of the Sacred Heart (you Catholics know the one.. the one with Jesus tearing open his clothes like Superman to reveal his thorn encrusted burning heart and following you everywhere with those never leaving you eyes) and this was the first thing I seen after I woke up from being borned.
I could only assume (aw come on... I was only a couple of hours old...how was I to know) that this was my Dad... so I thought I was the son of Christ! Christ...what a mistake!
Anti-Christ more like as my mother would say.
I had arrived ready to party and I had come prepared. I had heard the sound that that Elvis guy (was he the son of Christ if not me?
had made and I nearly slithered off the labour ward table I came out so fast...I almost hit the ground running! I was a well held
baseball at an all important moment in an all important game. Well held...sister! I had long black sideburns(see I had done my research) and I was all shock up... uh huh.. uh huh...oh yeah!
But when I got there it was...Doris Day! I checked to see if I had got the right mother but yup...she was mine all right! I was the first boy after three girls and my mother desperately wanted me(well...not me particularly...I guess any boy would do but she was stuck with me) .
She pleaded with Doc Carroll to: '.. make it a boy...please...will it be a boy doctor! '
And he said: 'I don't f*******know...Eta... whatever will f******be will f******be! '
As it happened this was the song playing on the labour ward radio as I made my escape from my mother where I had holed up inside for all of seven months. So I came to be... accompanied by the best selling 45 of the moment. And so Doris was my first love! Being born was like taking a sentimental journey and she was my secret love. I was a breech birth...so as I put first one and then two cautious toes out into the world to test the water...what quickly followed after...confirmed my manhood.
My mother said: 'I don't care what pain I now undergo as long as I know...it's a boy! ' And then she said: 'aghhhhhhh....agHHHHHH! ! '
She's been a good mother to me and I was glad to have her present at my birth...I don't know what I would have done without her! I still ring her up on my birthday and thank her for having me...after all she did all the hard worked and I simply went with the flow. O happy day: yeah...right! ...
OTHER FACTS ABOUT DONALL
Dónall Dempsey was born in 1956 in the Curragh of Kildare, Ireland, and was Ireland’s first Poet in Residence in a secondary school. He has read on Irish radio and appeared in TV programmes where he was called the ‘Soldier Poet’ because he was a young volunteer in the Irish Defence Force – known to his fellow army recruits as “Shakespeare” after he held them spellbound with tales from the plays of the Bard of Avon!
Dónall moved to London in the 1980’s and completed his university degree there. He continued to be a prolific poet and became well known on the London poetry scene for his poems, particularly those on the themes of love, death and the innocence of children’s vision of the world. His poems were inspired by his work as a care-worker for the elderly and mentally infirm, his experiences as a London school-teacher, and as a loving father. and his own family and upbringing in Cork (where his family came from) and Kildare.
In August 2011 Dónall was invited to perform and read his poetry in Edinburgh, Scotland, and in 2012 he was featured at the St Clementin Bilingual Bilateral Festival in France (August 2012). He featured at the Fermoy International Festival, County Cork, Ireland, in September 2013.
Dónall’s poems have been published in numerous magazines, anthologies and journals, both online and in print. Recently his work has been used by the Overlook Academy to make teaching videos. In 2012-13 he published four collections of his poems: “Sifting Sound into Shape” and “Being Dragged Across the Carpet by the Cat”. “The Smell of Purple” was launched at the 2014 Delhi Poetry Festival in New Delhi where he was invited to feature. Since then he has published two more collections: "Gerry Sweeney's Mammy" in 2017 and 'Crawling Out and Falling Up" in 2019.
Donall hosts a very successful monthly performance poetry night in Guildford, Surrey, UK, where he now lives. He is well known as an inspiring and prolific poet and teacher of poetry.
He now lives in Guildford with his wife and editor Janice Dempsey, in a state that looks like being Happily Ever After.