Terry McDonagh

Ripple Effect

ISBN: 9781851320622

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In this new collection, Terry McDonagh is back shaping his real and imaginative journeys round Cill Aodain, Hamburg, Melbourne or Slough. Always the artful storyteller, his language continues to bounce randomly and ordered like the memory of flat stones he used to cast out on the river. When a stone fell splash, it sent big or smaller ripples like voices across timeless water where you could never measure the distance between the concentric circles or the effect that one stone had on the life of water. The poet was sad when a tiny pebble, he’d taken from Raftery’s grave in Killeeneen, fell into a gully in Melbourne. Later I was satisfied – I had passed it on. The ripple effect resonated near Flinder’s Street Station. He’s in a Doll’s House in some city or other, and in the Small Townville of his teenage years in County Mayo. He returns again and again to Cill Aodain – a place he never quite left but could never have stayed in, either. There is script upon script on streets with strange names and habits, or again, a story fell ping into my lap as birds continued singing for me and for people I didn’t grow up with. But these streets and people are the true, dislocated home of Terry McDonagh. His lyrical moments lie about like spiritual observations. You just knew there was a god of a kind, or elsewhere, the dead were never far from us as children.


Terry McDonagh’s poems begin in places we can all recognise, but take us into uncharted territories with tall tales that are funny, unsettling, and wise. There are hints of wistfulness in these poems, of getting older and looking back, but he is confident that we do the right thing in the end, and like Raftery’s pebble that he loses in Melbourne, he may no longer hold it but is happy that he has passed it on. These are poems we can immerse ourselves in, and will emerge richer from the experience.

– Andrew Forster,

poet and Literature Officer at the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere


Exile and dislocation are familiar themes in Irish literature and Terry McDonagh explores these to the full. His poetic self continually reflects on journeying and he crafts images to make sense of it all. Memory, alienation and longing are leitmotifs within him.

– Carol O’Connor,

Tintean, Melbourne