Author of three collections published by Doire Press, 2011, 2013 & 2018, Susan reads a selection from all three books here, at University of Missouri-St.Louis (Feb, 2022) . Her poems have appeared, among elsewhere, in: The Cafe Review, Oregan, USA - Gather In, in a Special Irish Edition; Bosom Pals,Ed Marie Cadden (Doire Press, 2017) an anthology entirely in aid of Breast Cancer Research in the National UniversityHospital, Galway and When They've Grown Another Me in Poetry Ireland Review, Dec 2018. In January 2018 her poems were Commended in the Gregory O'Donoghue Poetry Competition.

She has been an invited reader of her poems at local readings in Galway, Cork and Dublin and at festivals, including the Belfast Book Festival, Cuirt International Festival of Literature and Clifden Arts Festival and her poems have been read on radio.

Susan completed her degree in social science and qualified as a professional social worker in Trinity College, Dublin 1975. She was a psychotherapist, trainer, facilitator and occasional consultant to organisations for over thirty years until her retirement in 2012. Drawing together her writing with her earlier skills she has written interviews and facilitated conversations mediated by poetry. She has also published creative non-fiction.

Her workshop Having a New Conversation: About Dreaming was listed on the The Cuirt International Festival of Literature Programme (2015) and she facilitates similar workshops on a variety of themes, discussed through the medium of poetry, regularly and occasionally in local community settings.

While a founding editor of Skylight 47 Susan interviewed: then Ireland Professor of Poetry, Harry Clifton; Kay Ryan, the Pullitzer prize-winning poet and former US Poet Laureate, invited to Ireland by Dromineer Literature Festival - and Dani Gill, who talks about curating The Cuirt International Literature Festival. Susan's interview of Maeve O'Sullivan, appeared in The Honest Ulsterman February, 2018.

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Launch of Crannog 59 6th October '23, with my poem Tiger Skin included,.6.30pm The Crane Bar Sea Rd., Galway.

Looking forward to revisiting The Crane Bar, Sea Road Galway on the Friday 6th October.

I have so many happy memories of attending launches there before returning to live on the east coast. So extra pleased to be reading my own poem Tiger Skin this time. The poem was inspired by the work of Pam Fleming exhibited in her exhibition in Kinvara in 2022.

I'm honoured to be included along with other contributors who I am looking forward to hearing on the night and/or to reading their work inside the covers.

Saturday 12 February 2022

UMSL-GLOBAL Reading at University of Missouri - St.Louis alongside Patrick Kehoe. Host: Eamonn Wall

Even if we couldn't actually be in St. Louis, it was a privilege to read for the University last Thursday - 10th February, 2022. The link below gives you access to a video of the webinair and to the many other great videos on the site.

Friday 12 November 2021


To what ought we attend when life changes 'in the blink of an eye?' How can we best make sense and take care - of ourselves, others and the planet in the chaos that is an implicit part of change? Inspired by an article by Jennifer O'Connell in the Irish Times, fuelled by Dan O'Brien's article in The Business Post, encouraged by a grand-parent of family therapy, the late Virginia Satir, and the words of Financial Times journalist Tim Harford in his book How the World Adds Up, this essay explores the question of when and where to best focus while keeping an essentail eye on the ball as we make the best we can of change. It is available here:

Saturday 21 November 2020

Humanity in Public Faces Unmasked in Alice in Wonderland Politics

 Watching and listening to RTE presenters give heartfelt apologies for their lapse in attention to maintaining social distance at a small gathering we seemed to have moved from the tragic to the ridiculous. Alice in Wonderland came to mind as possibly the best read. It was bizarre to see some of them photographed in small groups, arms around their retiring colleague when, shortly before, attendees had been standing several steps apart and leaning against bannisters on curving stairs in a large vestibule with an apparently harmless drink in hand while listening to a colleague honour a departing colleague, 

How could they have forgotten or, as the daily faces of the international news, been so na├»ve as to believe someone wouldn’t try to make hay with the images?

That, even they, did let their guard down affirms the importance of what the Professor of Health Psychology and member of the UK Sage committer, Lucy Yardley, had to say about the importance of recognising how well people are doing at keeping the virus under control and the need to offer solutions to the problems they experience that have them lapse. To offer solutions to the difficulties that lead them to drop their guard instead of chastising the outriders breaking the rules. 

(see my blog of Oct, 18th

The RTE lapse beautifully demonstrates the difficulties inherent in meeting each other. I’d imagine the urge to let go, for a brief moment to be human again and respond as such to moments in a real and genuine way will become more and more prevalent. 

We have a profound need to demonstrate that our current strange behaviour is temporary and aberrant and that, despite all the horror of the apparent cold-shouldering in socially-distanced attempts to avert the spread of a potentially killing virus, we do actually care and want to be close again and demonstrate affection and appreciation in a real way. We want to keep ourselves human, remind each other of how difficult this is, that we desperately need human contact and to overcome the inhumanity in withholding it – if only for the brief moment it appears possible and is relatively safe. In that moment the virus is something to be briefly ignored. Of course health professionals will rightly remind us that that is the moment the virus would be waiting for, if it was actually of a waiting-for kind of species which it isn’t, but it is the moment it can cross from one to another. They’re right and we need to hold firm.

Arguably it is also essential though, perhaps even more essential for the long term, that we don’t become so adapted to distancing that we forget what it is to be human and to care and to reach out to touch each other in ways that have been demonstrated in the past to be as necessary, and possibly more necessary, than food and drink for our survival

If we don’t recognise this and find solutions for the medium term, psychology and mental health and wellbeing  may have its own way of demonstrating that far from being the poor relation of medicine it can take centre stage when ignored too long.

It’s been a bizarre week.

Debates continued about the need to further enforce lockdown in this horribly serious international game with so much to play for or, as the DCU Professor reminded us is more important, on how to keep each other onside, given that all the research has shown that it is only the onside public who will win the war in the long-term. Debate which culminated in this cameo moment in RTE.

This with a back-drop of intense media support for opposition ‘scrutiny’ of the appointment of a supreme court judge who dropped his guard and then stupidly tried to blag it out instead of immediately offering his resignation (at that stage a few months or a year’s deferral of taking up his appointment would have been fine) suggesting he is indeed not the judge we’d wish him to be but who nevertheless has not done anything worthy of the initiating of impeachment procedures that opposition self-promotion has brought to be considered.

Brexit deadlines appear to come and go like streams that emerge from the mountains when there’s heavy rainfall.

Where once they would have had us glued to our screens they get minimum ‘scrutiny’ now. Further evidence too, of the determination of Fianna Fail members of the Dail to do everything possible to undermine their leader, finally Taoiseach, in their attempts to appease their lobbying constituents or further their own end games.

I’ve never felt as much wish that someone would get behind Michael Martin and give him a chance

Same goes for the rest of the government. The Greens were probably right. This is a time we’d have been better to have a National Government but we are where we are as we horribly say as in ‘if it was there I was going it wouldn’t be here I’d be starting from’. This is the place we have to travel on from.

If even his own team won’t back Martin in the face of world pandemic and Brexit as the country faces the worst financial and social challenge of a lifetime when would anyone?

Everyone in government are doing a great job, as in probably the best they can, with the dogs baying at their heels and so are the rest of us – most of the time. It would be just great if the begrudgers – albeit desperate in their own particular circumstances – would catch on and start playing for the home team to the greater good of not only everyone else but, ultimately, themselves too.

The public have never yearned more for – or appreciated more when it is seen - inspiring, coherent leaders who keep them informed, whether the news is palatable or not.

As my daughter said, even on public transport when the announcements started telling you why you were delayed or how long the delay is expected to last and promise regular updates, everyone relaxes and gets on with doing what they can. Why can’t utility companies, businesses, the government, back-benchers and the media learn this lesson too? Thank-you to every one of you who are doing exactly that and trying to do it better.

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Language is power.

The importance of language is particularly striking me this morning as votes are counted in the US election. Trump's language. His tone, simplicity and evangelical delivery - if only in the way he delivers promises he seems to imagine are reassuring, and maybe they are, for his fans. Have we heard as regularly about other White House incumbents, those who actually deliver on their promises - if/when they do? 

A master at managing the media story and speaking the language of his could-be and actual followers. Now, when he has ‘promised’ to fight in the courts if results don’t go his way, it seems we'll spend today speculating as much on whether/when he'll go to the Supreme Court as on the likely outcome of the US election. What will we talk about in the months to come if Bidon wins? 

One thing you can say about Trump, hate him or love him, a lot of people have voted, even if they haven't for a good while. Sexism, racism, hell-raising, content...? Yes, but if he speaks your language....

Monday 19 October 2020

Could Lives Be Saved by Asking and Answering A Simple Question in Relation to Covid 19?


You could possibly save yourself from becoming ill and from the embarrassment of inadvertently spreading the virus to your team-mates, family, friends by asking and answering a simple question.

As well as paradoxically finding that 

‘most people believe [that] people should follow the rules yet when it comes to their own behaviour they don’t follow the rules’, ‘ 

‘surveys also show that people have very high levels of intending to do everything necessary and report trying to do it most of the time. And where people fail to do it, it’s not really that they’re deliberately trying not to do it it’s that, often for personal reasons, it’s quite difficult for them to do it’. 

This was Lucy Yardley’s answer to the paradox put to her, above, by Andrew Marr yesterday morning  (Sunday morning 18th October, 2020) on his weekly show on BBC television.

Professor of Health Psychology at Southampton  University, Lucy Yardley OBE is a member of the Sage committee that advises the UK government in relation to the pandemic. She continued by saying,

 ‘Sometimes people can’t do it because they can’t afford to and people have all sorts of other  personal reasons where they might have to feel they bend the rules a little and where people are not following the rules. It’s not necessarily [that] they’re doing it in a really blatant … risky way. A lot of people are, for example - when they’re asked to self-isolate, nipping out to do “one last shop”, because they don’t want to bother people with having to do it for them and they don’t really think they can get online and do it. It’s not really the kind of deliberate non-adherence that you might think.’

Lucy Yardley thinks that success in keeping the virus sufficiently under control so that our hospital systems have not been overwhelmed is down to how well people have being doing - a success she thinks we might be better focussing on than on our failure to keep to the rules.

She says, 

‘… it might be a question of helping identify where people are finding it difficult to do  infection control and coming up with positive solutions.’

The distance between us narrowed in the collegiality of our grief

I know that, with hindsight, I didn’t keep the social distance I rigidly adhere to – even outside – on the one occasion I was outside with neighbours and intent on having a moment to honour, and then wave good-bye to, the remains of a lively neighbour who had suddenly passed away as result of an accident abroad. The distance between us narrowed in the collegiality of our grief. In family, too, I lose sight of my good intention. In the moment it seems so much more important to connect.

Happiness is most experienced in moments of forgetfulness. 

Flow experiences researched by author Csikszentmihalyi and described in his book of the same name make us happy. We may experience them when writing -  maybe that’s the reason for this piece, it makes me happy to write it – making music, in sport, being creative and the other myriad ways we momentarily experience forgetfulness. No wonder we want to jubilantly hug the fellow supporters of our favourite team or groan together in despair and leave all thought of the pandemic behind for a moment of respite. Unfortunately they’re also the moments when the opportunity arises for the virus to jump the now non-existent gap. Flea-like it can hope merrily from person to person.

Here’s the question that could save a life, or keep you from the ignominy of discovering you’ve inadvertently become a super spreader. 

What is your personal let out from following the guidelines? When do you feel your personal circumstances require you to be a little more flexible? When do you find you forget to follow your good intention?

 Of course the follow-on question it would be good to find an answer to is: what could you do differently to both remind yourself of your good intention in the moment and find a way to stick with it?

I don’t know how not to forget it all sometimes.

I think a lot of us are embarrassed to appear to be following rules too rigidly. I certainly know I feel embarrassed when I think people are looking at me a little pityingly. I assume they think I’m afraid, see my behaviour as an understandable lack of courage in the face of the fear of being a certain age with a possibly compromised immune system. I can face the look down. We’re in this together. But I don’t know how not to forget it all sometimes. Surely it’s not beyond the IT world to add a tone of reminder when we get too close to others? I'wondering what other remedies we might collectively be creative enough to put in place so that we can support each other to remember, and act in accord with, our best intentions.