Monday, October 11, 2010
I remember very well the time Anne Rynne told me Donnacha had multiple sclerosis. We were on the phone. It must have been about fifteen years ago. Or thereabouts. Donnacha was in his mid twenties. Although she was scared Anne was very brave about this traumatic development in the life of her son. Donnacha was even braver. They are like that, this mother and son who have faced adversity for every minute of the forty years since first they came into each others lives.
Donnacha is one of twin boys. Niall and he are the second born of Davoc and Anne’s family. Then there is Áine - off now doing good in Vietnam - and the wondrous Turlough. Davóg is the oldest. Donnacha’s story is incomplete without them. Especially his amazing parents. And they would be incomplete without Donnacha. He is the touchstone in the lives of his family. And in the lives of many others including this blog. He is a huge inspiration for me.
So who is Donnacha?
Donnacha Rynne was born six weeks prematurely. He had cerebral palsy. Anne and Davoc were told he would never walk. Life for him could not be the same as other boys. Not the same as his twin brother Niall. No school. No boyish experiences. And eventually…..an institution.
Anne and Davoc decided this was not their way. Their son would be reared same as any other child. And he was. In the early days in Kildare, later on the west coast of Clare. He went to school and later to work. For a time he flew the nest and moved back to Kildare to live with his aunt. His mother taught him life skills in Galway. Then back to Clare.
That’s when I first met Donnacha. In the hostel at Spanish Point.
Our Gearóid and I were camping our way around Ireland. I knew Donnacha’s aunt Terry and his uncle Christy (Moore) and I knew of Anne and his Uncle Barry aka Luka Bloom. That was over twenty years ago. Donnacha was working away at peeling and washing spuds, greeting guests and telling yarns. He was great craic and we hit it off from the get go.
Before long he was in Belfast, up for the Féile. In those days Donnacha didn’t need the wheel chair or at least he didn’t bring it to Béal Feirste. He was out and about bopping his way from gig to gig, looking for a girl and to his annoyance being chaperoned by Minnie Mo who shooed all promising females away. He appeared on Féile Radio and promoted disability rights. He camped in our back room, ate us out of house and home, laughed a lot and charmed big Eamon and especially Colette with his take on life, love, lust and the importance of being.
By the time Gearoid and Roísín got married Donnacha was wheelchair bound. But that didn’t stop him bopping it up with the rest of us before ever patient sean Davoc and wonderful Niall whisked him off again the next day. By now Donnacha was living independently in a house of his own in Miltown Malbay and he and I would get together occasionally for coffee as I wandered through the land. Increasingly dependent on carers for everyday necessities, yoga, music, and friendship uplifted him.
Now Donnacha has a book. Being Donnacha. There are three parts to it. Donnacha’s thoughts as captured by his friend Tom Prendergast, 16 of Donnacha’s poems and short reflections about Donnacha from family and friends.
This blog is biased. I love Donnacha. Read this book and you also will love him. You will get a sense, but only a sense of what it must be like being Donnacha, living alone and confined to a wheelchair. Prepare to be inspired. And his poetry is very good. Whimsical and funny. I like the one about his Nana,
My Nana’s wisdomwise is a symbol prize to us all.
Love like the scent of a rose
Love like the scent of a rose.’
Tom Prendergast deserves great credit. Donnacha is very private and brutally honest. Tom’s interviews and this book provide him with a platform and a means for expressing himself. Many other citizens in his situation will never get that chance. Donnacha is a voice for them. I thank him for that, for his great courage, wisdom and friendship. As he says himself he lives in the nowness of life. Well done Donnacha. Keep er light!
BEING DONNACHA is availible on the web. www.beingdonnacha.tumblr.com. Or in Hurley’s Newsagents, Scéal Eile bookshop in Ennis and the Post Office in Milltown Malbay.
Niall, Holly and Donnacha