VOICENOTES (selected)



Face down and still on airplane mode so the din of the world is yet to weigh in. The future is precisely where I’d left it the night before, the Oreo crumbs too. A whistling kettle and percolating coffee comes to a standstill as the kitchen chorus becomes silent.

Locked into position, my hand about to link my thoughts to a waiting page. How many of us have idolised the pose. I feel the weight of the pen pressing down on paper, watching the squiggles fly off into their legible formations. Funny how they evoke great feelings inside us, and all they are but shapes on a page, easily reduced to an indecipherable mess when turned upside down.

Today of all days is a day to look outward. A beehive lit up by the morning sun, around which a swarm of honey makers perform beelines in every direction. Looks a bit like the Shibuya intersection in Tokyo at 1.5x speed. But what appears as chaos couldn’t be further from chaos - bees act with purpose. Full-time workaholics. I’d say it’s a labour of love but I wouldn’t know, I’ve never asked. I know for sure though that there’s nothing crooked about them, they belong to a dutiful chain of command.

As reliable as the bee to fulfil its duty, and the sun to throw the first spear of light, Spring will come, and that’s how it feels this morning. It hasn’t yet shown up in full, but it’s painting the rooftops yellow - nature being the true artist, all of our creative endeavours are just our attempts at matching it.

Inside our new apartment, a once blank wall provides the backdrop for a St. Brigid’s cross. An object we’d try our best to make in primary school. Now serving as a reminder of home.



Sunk into a park bench with my legs outstretched, I’d almost be horizontal if it wasn’t for my impeding politeness. I let the tip of my nose feel the cold before dipping it back down into the warm haven of my jacket. If I really want to treat myself I’ll exhale hot breaths to ricochet off the inside of my jacket and onto my nose, sanding down the chiseled corners of December air. Leave it too long though and the condensation builds up and you’ve worsened your situation entirely.

I come to this park a lot because it’s the closest thing to Mountjoy Square. You’d think the fact I was attacked by a swan in it’s canal would have put a dampener on it, but it hasn’t, and the fucker really went for me.

The park wouldn’t like to know that I’m writing about it because it’s too modest, so I don’t want to do it an injustice by describing it in like an architectural thesis, but more like how I’d introduce a work colleague at a friend’s party. The park is just sound. And while that’s a massive oversimplification and doesn’t help in creating a mental picture in any way, it’s an almost perfect description. Among the park’s fixtures that you’d expect such as trees, dogs, people, water and green space are these concrete tables adorned with chess boards. They sprout from the ground like little notes of encouragement addressed to the public, promoting the chance to get better at something.

Instead of using them myself though, I’ll sit here and ponder and in the process get my money’s worth from my jacket. I scuff the ground with my Sambas and their rubber sole against the gravel makes the gritty sound of a word that’s spelled with a bunch of r’s and k’s - krrkkRkKKrrk. It’s a very specific sound that represents a slow pace of life due to the rarity of having spare time. I hate the phrase killing time. We should consider ourselves lucky to have a few extra turns of the clock and enjoy it.

That said, it’s hard work gleaning news from no news - arrogating the scraps of conversation heard in passing. “Yes, fuck - not now!”, uttered a man who looked like he was climbing the ladder in a property investment firm. Although he and his salary will contest this, I can only imagine him sitting on a toilet. Maybe because he came across as an asshole. Or maybe because there’s one around the corner, I just can’t think of another reason why he’d be in this park if not to avail of the lavatory of the every-man.

Unfortunately, for me, and you, I can picture it all. It’s a small cubicle where the angle is upward-facing from the floor where his suit trousers drape his ankles. His two garish, white legs stand like weathered Roman pillars that look disconnected from the rest of his body, or to be more vivid, disconnected from the scene of the gruesome deed - a metabolic elimination of a breakfast-on-the-run, raging amounts of black coffee, a bump of coke and bottled up anxiety.

I mean, you could excuse a soldier in the trenches for such a scene and that’s setting a pretty low bar. I can picture our less heroic character exit the cubicle as if the stench is somehow the fault of the next person, and standing in front of the mirror he strokes his chin as if he’s the star of a Gillette ad.

But maybe the grotesque deed isn’t what went down in the cubicle, it’s what’ll happen after - the signing of a deed to confiscate public land for his investment portfolio. Perhaps his gut was trying to warn him, which would explain the convulsions of someone on the receiving end of an exorcism. He simply ate the flying breakfast sufficient for success. Look - time is money - alright? And eating a proper brekkie might stimulate his moral compass which would only stand in the way of making him more money. A healthy body and mind can wait, this is fucking work we’re talking about here. He’s part of a team that brings in a turnover the size of a small nation’s GDP. That explains his anxiety. He’d rather bow out like a samurai defeated in battle than return to the boys in the office empty handed.

So, what next? Well, as I scuff the ground once more, I notice the cranes in the distance above the treeline. And as I lift my warm, ruddy nose from my jacket, it’s not the cold that it’s drawn to, but the newly present waft of shit.



The sun, reliable as ever, peers through the window and lights up the airborne particles of dust that hover above the windowsill. And on the armrest, a long strand of red hair that twirled from the crown of its owner now lies dormant. An easy job for the sun to unleash the vibrancy of colour and life contained inside it; the essence of her, in absence of her.

It’s a still morning, giving the impression that it’s happened before. But not so much a déjà vu, more lingering on an unturned page that’s already been read, allowing for the information to turn to knowledge and in time, turn to wisdom. Mornings such as  these call forth that feeling of solitude that exists inside us all. And although I’m making faces from the plug socket which might allude to loneliness, it’s not loneliness. In fact, there’s a word for seeing human-like faces in inanimate objects, it’s called pareidolia. I now find myself using all my energy to refrain from quoting Ralph Fiennes in In Bruges.

Perhaps in the city there’s more proof of life. Armed with bucket and mop, shopkeepers stand in doorways that spill happenings of last night. The trampled-on cobblestone provides for them the space to roll out the morning-after red carpet; a concoction of antiseptic liquid, vomit and piss. The perpetrators of which, who are still fast asleep, have no idea that the contents of their stomach and bladder are on the morning to-do list of a student working part-time.
Poor students. Not so much the backbone of the economy, but the rib cage - and not because of a protective function, but because of the ease at which they can be broken. Dwelling on my own long list of experiences of power naps and weeping real tears in stock rooms  is why I lower my expectations and up my empathy when being served by a feeble student whose eyes are glazed with two-for-one cocktails. Poor bastard. If he was a gazelle in the wild he’d make easy pickings for a leopard. Actually, even if he was a hunter with a rifle he’d somehow end up on the wrong end of the murder.

The morning here, however, is not that of desert heat. It looks sharp, fresh - like breathing in when you’ve just broken the minty seal of a chewing gum; coldness making a beeline for the back of your throat. The pigeons don’t mind it though, fluttering from balcony to balcony. I have the utmost respect for pigeons but yet they rarely receive the gratitude they deserve from the public. We coexist with the little geezers quite well I think. It’s unfair to bring dogs into the equation for their obvious heavenly qualities, but I can't think of another animal you can confidently share a footpath with. While most wild animals get the fuck out of dodge, pigeons see us as the saps we really are, with our trendy notions and places to be. A pigeon knows where it comes from - maybe that’s why they’re good at their sport.

Like a subculture committed to an aesthetic, they’ve been rocking the same wardrobe for as long as I can remember. Those muted tones of grey, specks of white and navy - pigeons do street wear better than JD. And even if one of the well-dressed vagrants is missing a toe, it won’t try to hide it. Sometimes its missing an entire fucking foot and it hobbles about minding its own business. The crow however, in all its professionalism, with its fitted black suit and slicked back hair as if it’s a member of Interpol. Not to mention the size of them.

Although I can feel that beady eye staring me down, I’d be disappointed if I took the inevitable route by siding with public opinion and declaring all seagulls as pricks. So, before I do, let’s consider the role of humans in the seagull’s behaviour. We’ve probably over-fished their waters which has forced them inland to source food elsewhere - so yes, your chips are obviously appealing, let alone the battered cod which the bird believes was theirs to begin with. But that said, they still act like pricks.

Seeing as the crow was given a musical comparison to Interpol, I think pigeons are the Liam Gallaghers of the world. They’re brazen and street smart, and while their unapologetic attitude and ego might appear arrogant on a surface level, it’s also a sign of self-belief, an ability to take risks, and probably at the core of it, at least in Liam’s case, is a youthful insecurity and a good heart.

On the other hand, seagulls cleverly use their angelic whiteness to trick us into thinking they’re as pure as doves, and that by associating themselves with the mystical sea we’ll then assume they’re a deeper sort of bird than we think. Surely it’s a disguise, but it’s hard to dismantle as they perform well as a band. We can only wait for the seagull to go solo and only then will its true form be revealed - something akin to Morrisey, I suspect.



“Freshly opened, plucked from the seal of slumber. Barely keeping my eyelids open. They don’t even blink when you’re this tired, instead they fold with deliberate sluggishness in an attempt to lure you back to sleep. If they had it their way they’d remain closed but unfortunately for them they’ve no say in the matter, they live at the beck and call of my neurotransmitters.
Tough job, especially when eyelashes get all the credit. Open, close, open, close - probably wrecked they are. They’d better not unionise, then I’d be rightly fucked; getting out of bed and my eyelids are on strike.

I’m now reconsidering the compassion I felt for my little night shift workers. I’ll preempt their rebellion. I’m their lifelong employer. With immediate effect I’m demoting their rank from eyelids to foreskin of the eyes. Makes sense when you think about it, but best not to think about it. They’ll be eligible for a promotion, of course - they’ll need to grant me a serious night’s kip is all. You say harsh boss, I say a Roy Keane approach to management. This isn’t a tech company - no bean bags or free lunches here, just a pair of brown eyes that need lubrication.

All these little bodily mechanisms working in unison so I’m able to perform as a human. And the only reason is because Mam and Dad kept me alive all those years ago, so now what - it’s my job to keep myself alive? Talk about a hospital pass! It’s not as if I was enjoying my time as a little photon moving from one temperature to another at the rhythm of the disordered cosmos. I could’ve easily nipped into a black hole and buzzed around as an energy particle for eternity, but instead I ended up with five senses, a national identity and fuck-tonne of feelings.

But since my stint here has spanned almost three decades, I’ve noticed a few things, and not to obsess over eyelids or anything but have you ever noticed how calmly a horse blinks? It’s sincere, spiritual even.
When I’ve been successful in beckoning a horse, the first thing I’d notice is how their gait becomes more prudent with each step in my direction. As they assess the threat posed to them, a profound communication takes place between us and them. You do your best to transmit your essence and wear all the goodness of your heart, and in return the horse allows you the gift of its proximity. You’re alive every second spent in the horse’s company, bearing all your best memories and childlike innocence to feel worthy in its presence. In all its honour, so effortless and pure, the horse slowly blinks. Just like that, history’s greatest speeches, and all our attempts with word and song are made redundant by an animal’s gesture of trust.

Soothing. And right now whilst I sit by a radiator in my apartment, somewhere in a field back home a foal nestles into its mother to shelter from the pelting rain, the first it's ever seen. She, all too familiar with the wetting, propels bursts of hot air from her thick nostrils, maternal snorts of protection. Not the faintest sense of movement elsewhere yet we guard those we love most. Instinctual. Close enough that no cold air pierces through the heat that emanates between them, the foal bows its head close to the damp earth and smells the petrichor. Afraid of what it doesn’t yet know, it nudges the underbelly of its mother. Wisdom has yet to earn its stripes, so for now, the softness of love will do.

I unplug my phone charger and I receive a shock, except its voltage has been reduced by an extension cord, and that voltage further diminished by the european adaptor, so in reality it’s not a shock. It’s a bing, a notification to remind me that I’m also just an animal, though my world is less governed by laws of nature but of economics, and that my arrangement of elements of the periodic table mean I’m writing at this laptop instead of chewing on grass.



“Flying over the city you can’t help but think you’re already a nuisance imposing on the dolce vita. Like a bird of prey the Boeing 737 haunts the airspace, full of wide-eyed tourists thirsty for a taste of the past, the plane lowers over the rooftops and their clay slates skim off like a dealer slinging cards at a poker table. I gaze downwards from my window seat directly into the now-roofless kitchen where a man stirs a pot on a gas hob - his gusto interrupted by a gusty budget flight.

As I postulated Venice’s future from seat 26F, the thought of rising sea levels raised the hairs on my neck. If you’ve ever been to Venice I think it’s plausible to say it’s quite a surreal experience. When I landed that feeling only grew larger as I walked through its streets. Venice is surreal because of how familiar it feels and it’s familiar because of how many photos have been imprinted in my memory from school books, Google images, and back-of-the-seat travel magazines on Ryanair flights. Don’t get me wrong, the city is exquisite, unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen, and the locals were very hospitable. But something was off.

Maybe it’s our ability to predict our expectations with the joy-killing accuracy of Google maps, or because low budget airlines have made these fantasy destinations more accessible than visiting your granny in Donegal. It’s that, plus the fact that within these dense parts of a city, like Dublin’s Temple Bar or Amsterdam’s Nine Streets, it’s the tourist who reigns supreme. It’s an awkward sense of ownership, kind of like watching a family movie on a stolen tv. But we didn’t steal Venice, nor did they steal Temple Bar. It was a decision made by government that a slice of the city would be gifted to tourism, served on a plate with an overpriced Campari or pint of Guinness, turning each respective region into a fail-safe playground for those who come to spend their hard-earned dosh, and for those who don’t want to play, well, you’re gonna need to stretch your legs a bit further because once you’re there you realise that you’ve slowly killed the very thing you seek; authenticity.

Luckily, I stretched my legs. My cynicism was alleviated and the Venice I dreamt of had materialised thanks to a few detours and side streets. The Gucci shops were no more. Instead, washing lines of freshly washed bed linen flapped in the wind, acting more than just a symbol of domesticity but a victorious flag waving in the face of mass tourism. I’ll forever relish my association of the smell of fabric softener with the ‘fuck you, tourist’ stares from locals. Because there’s a sense of relief, achievement almost, in receiving these disdainful glances. They’d rather see the back of you than serve you another espresso taking up a space at the counter. It’s fair enough, I get it, I’m actually glad to see it.

I find it amusing that we allow locals with whom we don’t even interact to inform our opinion of a place. The local in question might be the biggest arsehole, The Melt of Venice, but because he sipped on a latte while stroking a cat basking in the sun, he’s now the saviour of Italian culture. On a different day the cat could’ve scratched his eyes out, he could’ve scalded the cat with his hot coffee and the last thing this unfortunate pair would see before they departed this dear old city would be me, standing there like a big fucking tourist. Instead, destiny chose this docile cat with one intention, to elucidate my opinion on Venice. Job done, I think the city is spectacular, so the man and the cat can take a bow.

Venice is remarkable, simple as. It’d be my new favourite place in Italy only for the vertigo from being in a floating city. But this doesn’t mean I’m about to spew a list of must-sees, this isn’t the fucking lonely planet. But I will close with this Italian saying that an elderly waiter told me on my last day - sorry, typo. I’ll close with this Italian saying that I just Googled because it’s cute and bears no relevance whatsoever: “Chi beve vino campa cent’anni”. Translating as ‘he who drinks wine lives one hundred years’.


“I can’t settle up here until I see evidence of the sun. It just feels weird otherwise. Because the backs of the gaffs are separated only by a few bricks, it might seem like I’m trying to see what they’re having for breakfast. But a quiet shadow fades in and waltzes over my feet, reassuring me that I’m permitted to stay.

It’s its own world up here - the inside-out ceiling. A landscape of unusual shapes and proportions, of parts built not intended for us to see, nor space intended for us to use, unless you want to see how your neighbours poach an egg.

But it’s an endearing space. It’s only frowzy when compared to the facade of the front where people are referred to as guests. Nothing of the sort here, only trespassers tiptoeing out of fear they might miss a beam. 

But its imperfection is why I stay. The same appeal of a dingy pub. In a time of micro-celebrities and monetizing the self, this face answers only to the sky. And what would it have to say, this geography of broken pipes, stubs of earth and moss, and cracks enforced by the sun; paint spills, rusty screws, faded sweet wrappers and those lava-like casts of thermal insulation that look like tumors of vanilla. Probably left by builders, now artifacts left to atrophy.

This is where the cats play jazz at night. In a little green velvet waistcoat, eyes closed behind a pair of shades, paws moving up and down the neck of a double bass causing his whiskers to vibrate. The saxophone about to air before a toilet window shrieks open and expels a godly beam of light. They scatter into the night and their absence is filled by the sound of a saucer pirouetting on its rim in the spotlight.

Having no alternative the morning will come, radios will be cranked and the news of the world will echo from window sills. This is the land of in between, the secret garden of every city where to become a key-holder, one need only look at the moon long enough before it winks back. It’s definitely not the comfiest, by no stretch, but a dreamer can find an armchair pretty much anywhere.”