• Window To My World

John Joseph O’Donnell was born on Monday the 21st of November 1960 at Monfad, Newtowncunningham, at the home of his grandparents George and Mary Burke. John, along with his sisters and brothers, attended Drumoghill National School, which
he fondly remembers in the poem “Drumoghill National School”. At this stage John began to suffer from chest problems and was diagnosed as asthmatic.

After leaving school John worked with an accountant’s firm in Letterkenny, as a bookkeeper. Sadly, two years later, marked a distinct turning point in his life, when the constraints of his illness forced him to give up work and live on oxygen full time.

John’s world became very restricted and his home and local community became his whole world. Nature, world politics and science fiction served as great sources of enjoyment, and the endless stream of visitors to the Corkey household kept him informed of all major happenings. John’s greatest love was comedy and his hoarse laugh was always the loudest to be heard, especially if he was watching Only Fools and Horses. John began writing his poetry around this time, when life had slowed down to the point where he became a keen observer of all things around him.


John‘s love of nature inspired much of his poetry. As his physical restrictions grew, he derived great pleasure from the beauty he could see in the world around him. As his illness progressed John was sent to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, where they tried to understand how a young man could have such a progressive and aggressive lung disease. In January 1987, John was again sent to St. Vincent’s Hospital where he became aware that his final hope of a heart and lung transplant would never come to fruition.

He was admitted to hospital in February 1987 with a chest infection no more serious than the others, but with all hope gone, John felt that he could no longer fight. John died on the 5th of February 1987 aged twenty-six years of age.

Almost twenty years later, the O’Donnell family discovered that John had alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.


Proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards the Alpha One Foundation Charity Code: CHY14812

Alpha-1 is a condition that can cause severe lung and liver disease. It is genetic, meaning it can be passed down through generations of the same family. Alpha-1 is the most common genetic disorder in Ireland after cystic fibrosis, and the rate of Alpha-1 in Ireland is among the highest in the world. The Alpha One Foundation was founded in 2001 to raise awareness, increase diagnosis, promote research, and improve the treatment of Alpha-1. If you are diagnosed with Alpha-1 we provide services including a specialist Alpha-1
clinic, genetic counselling, expert advice and opportunities to enrol in clinical trials

Learn more at www.alpha1.ie

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Window To My World

  • Product Code: Window-To-My-World
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