Last weekend my mother and her two sisters, the identical triplets of Lusk, Co Dublin, the women who shaped my life, came to visit me in Paris for my mums birthday. Mum has been celebrating her birthday abroad with me since I first moved to Paris in 1997, and then to London and then to Amsterdam and now back to Paris again. Some things, it seems, never change. The below poem I wrote 18 years ago after mums first visit…

Mum and I on my street 22 July 2016




The Sisters


Birthday celebrations at La Rotunde, Montparnasse, Paris



Aspirational house hunting by Parc Montsouris


Wishful thinking


Blondes in the Parc







La Mere et Moi

I am sure it was Spring but in the scattered photos
by my slippered feet the weather recalls it winter.
Your first foray into the new world I had run to,
forsaking the familiar for the unknown, discarding
childish ways for other adult desires.
Your glistening eyes lit up as I showed you the treasures
I had found, enlightened eyes that hid so well the tears
reeked down since my departure. Eyes that frowned
upon my green sofa bed resting but a foot from the floor,
that laughed at the view from my first window;
all but another window perched but a hands throw away
and loving eyes that saw through mine and smiled;
relieved, relaxed and enthralled.
And quickly you began to revel amid it all; my new transitory
family who took you to their hearts, tempted you with cocktails,
boat rides and frolics within a Spanish tavern in the Frenchest
of all cities where you slowly found my raison d’être
and the joie that had become part of ma vie became,
as always, a part of yours. My adventure you now a witness to,
a part of and integral to. You had been no more deserted
by me than I by you and so geography became now
no more than a different view and no longer
a means of separation.
You floated through the city, your feet feeling nothing
but comfort even as I dragged you up the steps
of Montmartre, hiding from you the lift behind the trees.
With the wind freezing our faces and tears streaming
from our eyes, we huddled together in queues
filled with adolescent vacationers and mounted fair Tour Eiffel.
Through the nights falling darkness the city lit up below us
and I traced for you the paths I had taken.
You left amid only tears of joy, my life no longer to you
an empty canvas a world away, but a painting
being filled up and coloured in, in tri-color, technicolor,
Damien colour. We painted away the days and nights
ourselves, Mother and son, as inseparable as Mona
from Lisa or the Moulin from the Rouge.
It may have looked like winter but we knew that behind
the wind lay a spring in bloom for both of us. We had earned
our time in the sun and we would wear its rays like medals of honour.

From the vault, Paris 1998.

All Words and Photographs (except the ones I’m in) by Damien B. Donnelly





11 thoughts on “LA MERE ET MOI

  1. Elizabeth Helmich

    This is pure beauty Damien! What a fine tribute! Sighs. Amazing. I could only wish for such an honor someday. ❤

  2. TheLatestBatch

    I was just thinking the other day that I haven’t seen you around, that perhaps you were swamped in wedding dress preps and were unavailable to write…
    Lovely Mum and Aunties you have. So sweet this tradition of celebrating Mum’s birthday where you are. The 18 year poem still appropriate…

    1. deuxiemepeau

      Hello and how are you. And I thought it was you who’d been off traveling! Something seems to have disconnected us!
      Wedding is this coming weekend and dress flew from my hands last month so all is in order. Now it’s just the ceremony and an Irish knees-up!!!
      Mum and the aunts are indeed lovely- and loud too when they need to be! I still hear them singing even though they’ve left!!
      Hope you are keeping well Maribeth, best wishes, Dami x

      1. TheLatestBatch

        We were off traveling, but not for a month! Mexico called–sun-filled, relaxing and yet full of mini trips. I noticed last night that somehow I was no longer ‘following’ you, but fixed that right away. We are back 😉

  3. viviennemackie

    That’s really a lovely tribute! And I love the pics of your mom and the sisters too

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