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KEVIN WHELAN WRITES: It was with great delight that I found myself quoted by Alan Bennett in his LRB Diary for 2008; he is my favourite living writer. Those who dismiss his work as 'twee' or even 'cuddly' are fools: some of it is about as 'twee' and 'cuddly'
as badger cornered. Check out his Talking Heads monologues, those carefully crafted portrayals of people on the margins of society, misfits, the lonely and the timid and the broken. Bennett writes about their lives with such compassion. My poem is very much autobiographical--lots of us 'pull our punches'--but I think it applies particularly to some of his characters.

I am an Irish writer based in Galway, and the author of two published books: Izzy Baia: Autism, Life and other Unsolved Mysteries, and a novel, A Wonderful Boy: A Story of the Holocaust [both Mercier-Marino, Dublin].My namesake is a highly regarded historical geographer and the author of The Tree of Liberty, among other books.

I am represented by the Jonathan Williams Literary Agency, Rosney Mews, Upper Glenageary Road, Glenageary, Co. Dublin.



Impeccable manners: kindness in a bespoke suit.

Cynicism: the wisdom of the disappointed.

When science or advertising discovers a way for men to be men and remain fully human, it will be a huge step. Until then, we're all going to be in a lot of trouble.

We are what we remember.

I like to think that when we die and pass into our new life, all our deepest questions will be answered--and all our Earthly answers will be questioned.

It is true that God cannot change the past, but it also true that we can always change our attitude to it.

Stephen Fry once said: "Never regret the things you've done, only the things you haven't done". My opinion of him has never recovered from reading this idiocy. It clearly has not occurred to Fry that one of the things he might have regretted not doing is regretting some of the things he did do, not least walking out on Simon Gray's play 'Cell Mates' in 1995, a departure the production never fully recovered from [it subsequently folded some weeks later].

The successful become successful from making a number of mistakes and learning from them; the unsuccessful remain unsuccessful from never learning from theirs.

When you really love someone you understand a fundamental thing: It's all about them. You, with all your faults and weaknesses, grow from this; and this knowledge that you have made a good and lasting impact on another's life, even when the loved one is with another...well, that's not bad, is it?


KEVIN WHELAN: I'd rather be paranoid than know it's true.(This is from my first book Izzy Baia: Autism, Life and other Unsolved Mysteries, and relates to an incident in there.)


KEVIN WHELAN ON PRAYER: Perhaps knowing how to pray is like knowing how to swim: You never know when you might want to. Or need to.

Having religious faith is not unlike the irrepresible urge to gaze in wonder at beautiful women: I just can't help myself and it feels right.

Where is the fun, the mystery, the poetry, in atheism? It appears to be a cold, gimlet-eyed approach to life, a kind of intellectual Darwinism that eschews a sense of brotherhood with a "tough luck--it's all about the survival of the fittest." A certain Me Me Me moral selfishness. Imperfect as many people of faith are, and as a very inadequate Christian, when at church a plate is passed around--as it was some years ago for victims of an earthquate in Pakistan--the congregation readily gave up whatever they could afford to help their Muslim brothers and sisters. Where do atheists gather when charity is needed? I'm not saying that atheists cannot be deeply good and moral people--the late Studs Terkel and Kurt Vonnegut come to mind--but there is an intellectual coldness to the philosophy that I find quite repugnant and intellectually unsatisfying.

Kevin Whelan

KEVIN WHELAN: A loving heart closes all distances.

Bitterness is a fruit that is always in season.

Loneliness: soul cancer.

Yesterday is gone; tomorrow hasn't happened; today is all we have.

Kevin Whelan

KEVIN WHELAN: A loving thought closes any distance.

Bitterness is a fruit that is always in season.

Loneliness: soul cancer.

Every act of kindness is a prayer.

Kevin Whelan

KEVIN WHELAN ON BEING A WRITER: Occasionally I will meet someone I haven't seen in some time and they will ask me I am 'still' writing. Well, it is kind of them to even ask, but I wonder are doctors, for example, ever asked such a question, eg. "So, still practicing medicine, eh? No offense, but maybe you should think about doing something practical with your life. Ever thought of being a writer?"

Kevin Whelan

KEVIN WHELAN ON CONTEXT BEING EVERYTHING: In Galway recently it was not an uncommon sight in William Street to see a tall, thin American reading aloud from the Bible. Well, Galway is always a very welcoming place for, er, eccentrics of every stripe. This American visitor is generally ignored, or else he receives not unkind glances of the 'he's gotta be nuts' variety. But take him from the street to the Augustinian Church a few hundred yards away, and let him stand on the altar to read aloud to his heart's content, and no one would think it the least bit odd or eccentric.

Similarly, in Eyre Square, in the very centre of Galway, it is not uncommon to see winos drinking, indifferent to the looks they get from both native Galwegians and passing tourists.
If you were to sit there in public swigging from a wine bottle, you would almost certainly be on the receiving end of similar attention. However, put out a picnic blanket, take two glasses from a basket, pour a glass for yourself and one for a friend, and immediately the setting is changed: It's okay now. You're picnickers. And as we all know picnickers can't possibly be winos.

Kevin Whelan

The entire world can be found within a one mile radius of wherever you are right now. Every possible human type is to be found there, if you look hard enough: the ambitious, the slovenly, the good, the cruel, the generous, the mean, the bully and the bullied, the lover and the unloved, the newly in love and the brokenhearted.

Put another way: A man born and raised on the the west coast of Ireland might not, on the face of it, have much in common with a man of the same age from, say, Sierra Leone. But if both men are fishermen, then there will be an immediate bond of recognition, a commonality of experience.

And if they are writers you can be certain they will soon get around to bitching about other writers who are more successful, or bitching about their agents or their publishers or...I could go on but I won't. But that's that wonderful contradiction in terms called 'the literary community' for you.

Sometimes I wish I knew how to fish...


Kevin, I think you need to start your own blog!

Kevin Whelan

KEVIN WHELAN: DEFINITION OF 'HELL': Helplessness before the suffering of someone you love.


KEVIN WHELAN ON 'RESPECT': People will treat you the way you let them treat you. It took me a long time to learn that.

ON HELPING OTHERS: You cannot help someone to change unless they want to--it took me a long time to learn that too. The only person you can really help to change is yourself, and that's never easy. But perhaps in changing yourself for the better you can be the catalyst for change in others.

ON FIRST LOVE: Even now, over twenty years later, I think about her everyday. And perhaps sometimes I enter her thoughts (and I hope in a good way). I think that such all-consuming love is like a fire that never goes out; tiny embers still glow no matter how much time has passed.

Kevin Whelan

3 CERTAINTIES: 1. You live and learn. And if you're living, you're learning; and if you're learning, you're living.

2. There is a time and a place for everything.

3. Anything can happen.

Kevin Whelan

On 'Death': The circumstances of another's death should not be the defining point of their life ("She was too young to die"; "He had everything ahead of him".

While we are living our lives are being defined all the time; we do not always know how valuable our words and actions are on others, on the world itself.

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