Notes on Confidence.

It’s over. It’s done. No more writing. Time to delete all the files, all the words, all the articles and the half finished novels and badly baked stories. Take down the blogs. Remove all the links and pictures. Burn all the reviews. Put the laptop in the microwave and swing the microwave to full power. When you’re sure the hard drive is toasted and burnt you take the microwave and all and throw it in the skip downstairs. And now it’s done. No more anxiety about what to write, who to write about, where to start. No more fear that the world is secretly laughing at you, talking in quiet circles about how you can’t write, shouldn’t write, wrote something terrible that makes everyone cringe. How they smile to your face and roll their eyes behind your back. It’s all a joke, a conspiracy, a waste of your life and time and social reputation and it’s time to grow up and stop dreaming. Get a job, a normal job, one that pays normally and you don’t have to beg for the crumbs off the Arts Council table or the publishers that don’t pay on time or the theatres that take 40% of the door when they had agreed 20% but hey, read the small print. Best of luck with the eviction.

But you are now free. The path is clear. The distant dream that has dominated your thoughts for years is gone and now you can sit back and enjoy your life without the unrealistic pressure of making it as an artist. And….well. What else? The next day you wake up and all you want to do is write. There’s that story you’d forgotten about. That song that’s looping in your head and you’re sure it’s original. It’s yours, it’s been fermenting for months and you finally have the tune. That line to finish that poem. That word you’d been waiting for turns up on the newspaper and you know it’s perfect. It’s the perfect ending to the verse of the Poetry that yesterday you regarded as pointless. The theatre isn’t that bad, it was just a clerical error and they call you to apologise. The publisher wants to know why your site is offline because people are trying to buy your books. An e-mail comes from a random stranger to say they’ve enjoyed your work and it touched them in a way that was unique and made an important difference to their lives. And here’s that idea for a film. The soundtrack, the themes, the script, all coming together in a flood of inspiration like water and your head’s like a submarine that’s about to burst with the pressure. Time to go back down to the skip and rescue the laptop but the skip is gone. Still, deep down you know you’ve saved everything on an external hard drive and you needed a new laptop anyway so time to head to the computer shop and ask for Flexi finance. After, you put back all the links, find all the reviews, put the website back online. Find them half baked stories and discover they’re not that bad. Maybe that novel’s closer than you think. Here’s the royalty payment in the post. Rent paid for another month. You confidence is back. Time to get writing.

All the bad news on the radio.

Wasn’t even sure I wanted to go but, fuck it, here I was. Drink around, upturned ashtrays, cheap wine, cold night, dim light, Family Guy on the telly and me waiting to give a lift home but no stir, all talk and be ready in five minutes and all that.

Then I remembered I was in the same estate yesterday. Sitting in the car, listening to all the bad news on the radio, when a man hobbled by. So I asked the girl there: ‘Do yo know a fella around here, walks funny, saw him yesterday.’

Yeah, she said, that’s Brian.


‘Yeah, he has problems.’

And then I knew I was right. That it was him and the years hadn’t been good. Days gone by. Before the world crumbled, back when mystery was still a thing, and life hung on friendships and intuition and knowing one of your own. He was a journalist, looking to get into the fiction game. Smart mind, good with people, knew how the world worked. Musta been, what, ten years ago, fifteen now, who knows. Last I saw him we had a session before I hit the road. Did the town. Places around Galway that are long closed since. Johnny Cash was only after dying and everyone was singing Folsom Prison Blues and then time went on. Different countries, different lives, different histories.

Girl here now is making mention of things. Alcoholism, drugs maybe, could be schizophrenia. He shouts a lot. Keeps locking the door, then opening it again, then locking it again. Some days it looks like he can’t walk properly, others that he can. Talks to himself. Always shaking, tremors, nerves, something.

Most people walk by in disgust, fear, nervous misunderstanding. And yet there was a time when his hands didn’t shake and his mouth didn’t quiver and his walk didn’t slope and he was going to be a writer. Had met plenty through the papers and the material was there. Somewhere in the mind, beyond the Galway rain and the cold cider, behind eyes that hovered on the ledge of sanity. He’d lost weight too. Thin now, delicate musculature, imminently breakable. Acne, stubble, torn shoes and rotting teeth. There was a girl somewhere I think. A daughter maybe, a past lover, some story of love and loss. He was working through it at the time, waiting for the cloud to pass and age to do her thing and find the level where they could work it out. Maybe settle down, maybe try again. Maybe find a room where the world could quieten down and he could let the demons sing, purge them on a page lit by the warm sun of peace and possibility. Listen to the laughter of life downstairs and leave the horror locked in the words and it would all be ok.

Girl here now says she doesn’t like him. Nobody does. He has a housemate that wants to move out. Or him to move out. Or something. He should really be put somewhere, sent somewhere, some home, some place, somewhere else. Last time I saw him we were outside a pub at some unholy time. There was mongs selling cheap wine on the street, a flavour of pizza in the air from Monroes pub across he road. Boom time style and opulence glittered at the taxi rank, looking for the next lift to nowhere. I had a flight in a few hours and I said to Brian I’d be in touch, and I’d see him around, and good luck with the writing. Sound, he said, and I’ll catch you when you’re home and we’ll have a pint and we’ll compare stories. And we shook hands and he left and I hadn’t seen him since. Until now.

Mick Donnellan’s new novel celebrated by Westmeath Independent.

Mick Donnellan’s new novel

The Naked Flame 

Athlone Castle


Sunday 8th of May

*TIME: 2pm.


In conjunction with the All-Ireland Drama Fringe Festival


Poetry in the Park

Media Contact:

You can now read The Naked Flame on Kindle here: 

The Naked Flame on Kindle

You can now buy The Naked Flame on Paperback here: 

The Naked Flame in Paperback 

About The Naked Flame:  

Set in Athlone, the heart of the Irish midlands, The Naked Flame is a story of love, loss, betrayal, and passion. John joe is engaged but doesn’t want to get married. He’s not sure how to break this to Karen. Then it’s time for the stag party in Madrid. There he meets Marilyn. They spend the night together and everything changes. Now the wedding is cancelled, the police want to talk to him about a double murder and the phone is ringing with mysterious requests to come to London. John joe suddenly finds himself in a surreal world, full of unusual characters and extreme danger, with no obvious way out. Met with impossible choices he can only trust the alluring woman that offers all the answers – but at what cost?  

 Mick Donnellan’s fourth novel is rich in comedy, tragedy, hints of the absurd and undertones of a man in existential crisis. The story thunders along with unexpected twists and ominous turns that culminate in a devastating climax. A unique tale, it strikes an emotional note, and is guaranteed to supply an entertaining read. 

Poetry in the Park & Fringe Festival.

Poetry in the Park is a community event, open to all ages and nationalities. It is held on the first Sunday of every month at 2pm. This month’s event will take place in Athlone Castle and will feature many local writers, musicians, and poets. As usual, all artists will have a chance to showcase their work and add to the cultural ambience of the occasion. The group have been kind enough to offer Mick Donnellan the opportunity to launch his new novel – The Naked Flame on the day. It also promises to be a very exciting and creative time around Athlone as the All-Ireland Drama Festival and Fringe Festival will be in full swing. All are welcome and urged to attend and the invite is open to all artists, families and anyone else looking for day out with a creative difference. 

About Mick Donnellan 

Recent Awards/ projects: 

Mick Donnellan is the author of three previous novels. El Niño (2012) Fisherman’s Blues (2014) and Mokusatsu (2019). 

The Naked Flame was completed during a retreat at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in late 2021. 

When not writing fiction he works as a successful Playwright and Screenwriter. Film credits include Tiger Raid (2016) adapted from Mick’s Play Radio Luxembourg.  He has recently received the Agility Award through the Arts Council of Ireland and the Mayo Theatre Bursary through Mayo Arts Office.  

His most recent Play Nally was supported by Westmeath Arts Office and aired in May 2021 as a Zoom/Youtube performance. It was attended by over two thousand viewers on the night and many more since.  

You can watch Nally here:  

In May 2020 Mick had a monologue (The Crucified Silence) chosen as part of the Scripts Ireland Play festival. After a week of intensive workshops with Playwright Eugene O’Brien, the monologue was directed by Jim Culleton (Fishamble) and performed by Aaron Monaghan.  

Mick is currently part of the Galway Theatre Development Programme run by Andrew Flynn in conjunction with Galway’s Town Hall Theatre. He is also listed on the Irish theatre institute here: 

About Mick Donnellan:

Mick Donnellan completed the MA in Writing at NUIG in 2004. Since then, he has worked as a novelist, travel writer, teacher and Playwright. He completed his first novel, El Niño, in 2004 and immediately secured a literary agent. He left Ireland soon after and went on to live in Spain, Australia, and Canada. While traveling he worked as a journalist and co-founded the Arts Paper – Urban Pie – in Vancouver. Upon returning to Ireland he went on to work with Druid (2009) and RTE (2010)  and El Niño was published in 2012 with excellent reviews.   

Later, Mick established his own theatre company, Truman Town Theatre. All Truman Town Plays are written, directed, and produced by Mick. The company exploded on to the theatrical circuit in 2011 with their hit Play – Sunday Morning Coming Down. Following a national tour, they went on to produce (and tour) two more hugely successful Plays Shortcut to Hallelujah and Gun Metal Grey. These dramas eventually became known as the “Ballinrobe Trilogy.”  

Moving slightly from rural settings but not themes, the theatre company toured a fourth Play, Velvet Revolution. Set in a stark urban landscape, it created interest in Mick’s work among the film industry. He followed Velvet Revolution with his fifth Play – Radio Luxembourg – and it was immediately optioned by London Film Company Dixon/Baxi/Evans and adapted for the screen.  

While the film was in development, Mick’s second novel – Fisherman’s Blues – was published. As it rose up the ranks, and enjoyed positive reviews, Mick was taken on board as screenwriter on the Radio Luxembourg project. After some months commuting to and from London, the script was complete, and a shoot was organised in the Jordanian desert. Titled Tiger Raid and Starring Brian Gleeson, Damian Molony and Sofia Boutella, it was accepted into the Tribeca film festival (New York) and was also seen at Cannes and Edinburgh. The Irish Premiere was screened at the Galway Film Fleadh. You can read more about Tiger Raid and watch the trailer here:    

 Other exciting projects include the screen adaptation of Shortcut to Hallelujah with Florence Films. The screenplay is titled Sam and is based around the gypsy curse supposedly set on the Mayo Football team as they returned home as All Ireland Champions in 1951. Set in the present day, Sam is drenched in Irish lyricism and modern-day dark humour. The script has been met with keen interest by film producers and actors throughout the industry.  

Mick has lectured part-time in writing at the AIT (Athlone Institute of Technology) in County Westmeath. The course has enjoyed an exponential increase in numbers since its inception in September 2017. April 2019 saw the release of the well-received Tales from the Heart which is a collection of creative work from the students. It was launched at the college by bestselling author and esteemed politician Mary O’Rourke. 

Mick has worked as a writing lecturer at NUI Galway.