Michael J. Whelan - Writer

Michael J. Whelan - Lebanon 1994 Michael J. Whelan – Lebanon 1994


I am forever walking upon the shore

       betwixt the sand and the foam.

       The high tide will erase my footprints,

       and the wind will blow away the foam,

        but the sea and the shore will remain forever…’


                                                                         Kahlil Gibran

In Lebanon I sought redemption

like the pilgrim at the crossroads of Heliopolis,

on the Bekaa’s great range where Bedouin caravans met

and Romans laid their bodies down in supplication to their gods,

to Aphrodite and Jupiter, and long before this peacekeeper came

on what seemed…

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Moments of Connection


baltinglass-abbey Baltinglass Abbey

In September 2015 I awoke from a dream compelled to note down the details before they faded from memory.

My mind was alive with images of gothic stone arches, awash with emotional experiences, and vibrant imagery of historical events.

I’m no stranger to aspects of Irish and Welsh medieval history, and maybe this was  just an unconscious memory breaking the surface, but I knew immediately this was a place that I wanted to locate.

Sixteen months passed, until late December 2016, along with my father, I found this place, and a pile of headstones bearing the ancestral family surname, Moore.

The energy of the place continues to inform my  fascination.

Having felt that a piece of history had fallen into place for me, I was also struck at the effect it appeared to have on my father. Few words were spoken, but the silences in-between were heavy with…

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HARVEST TIME – a poem by Michael J. Whelan

Michael J. Whelan - Writer

Harvest Time - postcard - Lebanon 1990s Harvest Time – postcard – Lebanon 1990s


A 155mm shell

fired from northern Israel

collides with an orchard

in south Lebanon

villages shake

landscapes awake

and echoes

rush the wadii

fear clings to grass and stone

retaliation or a violation?

we listen for the small-arms fire

but there is only crying.

Michael J. Whelan

Painting on a postcard, which I sent to my parents almost 25 years ago, titled ‘Harvest Patrol’ by Commandant J. Coates of 72 Irish Battalion UNIFIL. A postcard depicting Irish Peacekeepers protecting local Lebanese villagers during the olive harvest. This was dangerous work for them during the conflict.

Published by Mark Ulyseas in a sequence of poems titled ‘A Hundred Black Horizons’ in L.E. Poetry Magazine, February 2017

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An Irish peacekeeper’s war poetry – Irish Times article, 8 December 2016

Michael J. Whelan - Writer

An Irish peacekeeper’s war poetry

Michael J Whelan’s collection Peacekeeper draws on his experience as an Irish soldier serving with the UN in Lebanon and Kosovo

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Making Peace with pain



The hot, sharp sear, cauterising your breath; that heavy, dull ache droning on, dragging your shoulders to the ground; the icy echo of isolation, or abandon, numbing your brain and slow-freezing the beat of your heart; pain takes on many forms.

At its most severe, pain may grab you by the back of the neck (as in my case) and lift your feet from the path. Suspended in its grip, initially your choices appear limited. You could try asking it nicely, through gritted teeth, to gently let you back down to the ground. Or you could resist its power, struggling to physically loosen yourself from the vice-like restraint. You can declare chemical warfare by downing a handful of strong medication, or stick your fingers in your ears and chant rude words and rhymes in loud defiance.

Or you can take a deep breath, and acquiesce.

When pain is movement-related, you…

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GOLGOTHA (The place of the skull) after Siegfried Sassoon, poet WWI – Michael J. Whelan

Michael J. Whelan - Writer

GOLGOTHA (the place of the skull) GOLGOTHA  
(The place of the skull)
…after Siegfried Sassoon,
                                   poet WWI…
At once I knew the resurrection,
then far away the thudding of the guns.
In the clockwork of that battle
a silhouette came to me
carrying beams of wood across his breast,
walking with words of love
along the broken trench
to lay upon the floor of my Golgotha.
‘I know you,’ I said in the midst of the strafe,
‘Yes, you know me,’ he replied,
‘like war we have known each other forever.’
Michael J. Whelan
Published in the ECHO Newspaper (Life Magazine p.46)
07 March 2013, Sketch by Michael J. Whelan – 2013

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Lessons Along the Way

The World In Between

Unhappy Feet.jpg Not my happy day

The doctor suggested I take a statin. Hiking 85 miles through the Wicklow Mountains seemed a rational alternative.

It wasn’t an ostrich response—not exactly. I just felt lifestyle should lead medication. I was less fit than I should be; this wasn’t rocket science.

I amped up my walking, doubled down on my diet, and last week, walked 90 miles in seven days on the Wicklow Way into Dublin. I made it!

We had moved by bus from Dublin to Bunclody, a town near the southern terminus of the trail, in order to hike from south to north. The bus route paralleled the Wicklow mountains and gave me the first glimpse into just how far and hilly this walk would be.


The night before we set out, I lay awake. Had I signed up for too much? Was I fit enough? What would I do…

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Gifted and Misunderstood

Your Rainforest Mind

photo courtesy pixabay CC photo courtesy pixabay CC

How are you misunderstood? Let me count the ways.

People tell you to lighten up when you’re just trying to enlighten them.

People tell you to stop being so critical when you’re just making careful, thoughtful and thorough observations.

People tell you that you need to stop overthinking when you haven’t even begun to truly analyze the situation.

People tell you that you’re arrogant when you’re just desperate to find someone who can discuss the philosophy of William James. Doesn’t everyone love William James?

People tell you that you don’t know how to have fun when you’re having a ball reading Tolstoy.

People tell you to slow down when you’re already going at a painfully plodding pace.

People tell you that you’re OCD when you’ve painted your living room 12 times in the last 3 years, but you discern the difference between white, off-white, and off-off-white. And, you’re distressed when the color…

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PEACEKEEPER by Michael J. Whelan – Introduction by Peter O’Neill (Arma virumque cano!)

Michael J. Whelan - Writer

Hi everyone, this is Peter O’Neill’s fantastic introduction to my debut collection ‘Peacekeeper‘ (Doire Press) at the launch in the County Library Tallaght on the 13th of April 2016 .

It was recently published in this current issue (June) of Ireland’s Military Story & Reveille Magazine for which I would like to say a massive thanks to Wesley Bourke and his team and also to Peter O’ Neill.

Arma virumque cano!

Peacekeeper by Michael Whelan,

Doire Press, 2016.

War is the father and king of all (Heraclitus).

Every age has its wars.

Since the first existing literary text, believed to date from Babylon in 1300-1000

BC, The Epic of Gilgamesh and onto Homer in 750 BC, till the arrival of Virgil,

whose opening line to The Aenied forms the title of this text, in and around 40

BC, to our own Táin , or Cattle Raid…

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