There are no words for the deepest things. Words become feeble when mystery visits and prayer moves into silence. In post-modern culture the ceaseless din of chatter has killed our acquaintance with silence. Consequently, we are stressed and anxious. Silence is a fascinating presence. Silence is shy; it is patient and never draws attention to itself. Without the presence of silence, no word could ever be said or heard. Our thoughts constantly call up new words. We become so taken with words that we barely notice the silence, but the silence is always there. The best words are born in the fecund silence that minds the mystery.




The John O'Donohue Symposium: To Bless the Space Between Us
Towards a Conversation of Healing for Our Wounded Earth

April 24-26, 2020
Ennistymon, County Clare, Ireland

Dan Siegel, Diane Ackerman, Ellen Wingard, Davy Spillane, Caroline Welch and Richard Harrell


Fr. Martin Downey, Lelia Doolan, Deirdre O'Donohue

We extend a warm invitation to the second John O'Donohue Symposium in the heart of John's beloved Burren landscape in County Clare, Ireland. Join an international circle gathering around John's themes of connecting with self, others, community and the world. At the heart of John's awakened beliefs was the premise that ancient wisdom could offer desperately needed nourishment for the hunger experienced in our modern world. His work directs our search to crucial thresholds: past and future, life and death, the visible and the invisible world, encouraging us to become agents of transformation and change. Our time together will be celebrating the rich Irish traditions of conversation, poetry and music, with John's close friends and family.

Our focus will be centered around the themes: Mind, Music, Poetry and the Environment.

We are made from the clay of this earth and the rhythm within, is one with the rhythm outside. We have lost touch with this rhythm and our footsteps on this earth have faltered, our reckless stride is wrecking havoc.

John's writing awakens our spirits, encouraging us to look beyond the small flat screen in the palm of our hand where our world is condensed to immediate accessibly and function. We must turn to one another, creating a conversation of connection to consciousness towards action to reimagine a sustainable future for ourselves and our planet.

See speaker biographies below.

All Symposium Events will be held at the beautiful Falls Hotel and Spa, in Ennistymon, County Clare, Ireland

  • Friday, April 24, 2020

  • 3:00 - 6:00 Symposium Check-In
  • 6:00 - 7:30 Wine and Cheese Reception on the Terrace / Falls Hotel
  • 7:30 Evening Concert and Opening Ceremony featuring Guest Speakers with John's niece and nephew, Katie and Peter O'Donohue (soloists)
  • Saturday, April 25, 2020

  • 9:00 - 5:00 Conference
  • 8:00 Celebration of Irish Music at the Dylan Thomas Bar / Falls Hotel
  • Sunday, April 26, 2020

  • 9:00 - 5:00 Conference

Symposium ticket includes all conference activities and the following: wine and cheese reception, buffet lunches (special diet requests accommodated) morning/afternoon tea and coffee. Lodging is not included and the responsibility of the ticket holder to make arrangements.

Lodging and Transportation:

The Falls Hotel and Spa has rooms held at special pricing for Symposium guests: click here to make a reservation. Numerous additional lodging options are available in the surrounding area with Lahinch, Doolin and Ennis in close proximity. We encourage making lodging reservations immediately to ensure availability. The closest airport to Ennistymon is the Shannon International Airport, with ground transportation options available.


Join the O'Donohue family and John's close friends for an intimate journey of the landscapes and people that formed him, later to deeply influence the world through his writings. We will return to the mythic lands of the Burren and venture to the pilgrim paths of the Aran Islands, tracing John’s steps and weaving his words throughout our days. From the sacred thresholds of ancient ruined chapels and holy wells to meandering the pastoral green roads, our pilgrimage together will be spent at the ‘Hearth of the Soul’ immersed in the ethereal landscape of County Clare, the ancestral home of the O'Donohue family.

Ireland is an ancient island where many worlds intermingle. For anyone awakening to the spiritual world, a visit to Ireland can be a life-transforming event. It is a land of spirit glimpsing the invisible world. The Irish spiritual tradition trusted the invisible world to harvest the wisdom to guide, shelter and nourish. The eye of the invisible world sees more deeply and clearly than we can. In these frightened and empty times of stress, anxiety, and confusion, we need to turn aside from our crowded lives and become still. We need to learn how to anchor the frenetic self in the tranquility of the invisible world. Then we will begin to discover fresh wells, new landscapes and exciting invitations of transformation of spirit. Forsaken spaces will gradually transform into new pastures. We will find new courage of hope and rekindle that which has grown cold within us. This sacred journey will long linger in the memory of the heart.

"My earliest memories are of the landscape of the Burren in the West of Ireland. The Burren is an ancient kingdom of limestone sculptures carved slowly by rain, wind and time. It is an ancient conversation between the land and the sea."


Our days will be a balanced blend of engaging the mind and body, spirit and soul, looking through the lens John came to know well as a trusted interior companion excavating the themes of Awakening, Transfiguration and Homecoming. Come join us at the edge where there is an ancient conversation between the land and the sea…we look forward to welcoming you!


In order to gather a balanced group of approximately 25 people on the tour, we will be accepting applications until February 15, 2020 and notifying via email by March 1, 2020.

Tour Application

Upon acceptance, additional registration materials and the first payment will be due immediately.

Please contact Ann Cahill with any questions: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Our warm greetings with appreciation for your interest in John O'Donohue's work and the public events we are hosting.

We have just announced our week-long Irish tour in September 2020.

We were thrilled to welcome 400 international guests to our 2018 O'Donohue Symposium in Ireland! Shortly, we will be announcing our next symposium, April 24-26, 2020, in John's beloved County Clare.

And finally, deeply grateful for the warm reception for John's latest book, Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World - more information here.

Abundant blessings on behalf of the O'Donohue family,

Ann Cahill
Director, John O'Donohue Literary Estate