Frank McGuinness launches début collection by young Dalkey poet


Peter Donnelly, author of “Photons” with playwright and Professor Frank McGuinness

A new and début poetry collection by young local writer entitled Photons by Peter Donnelly was officially launched this week by author and playwright Professor Frank McGuinness. In his speech about the new book, Frank noted that “The most striking and admirable feature that struck me when I read through the whole collection is the sheer size and the ambition of the book”. The launch took place at the UCD Campus Bookshop with a large crowd all out to greet the first time author and join in the support for the publication.

Peter Donnelly, aged 25 and from Dalkey, graduated with a BA International and an MA in English from University College, Dublin two years ago. In 2010 he began to publish poetry in journals across Ireland and within UCD, where he won the Undergraduate Poetry Award; his work has been said to create worlds in which “the familiar and the alien have been seamlessly fused together” by the 2013 University Observer’s Arts Editor Steven Balbirnie. As the back of the book states, “Photons sheds fresh light on a wide spectrum of human experience in verses of striking originality and technical assurance”.


Peter Donnelly with Professor Frank McGuinness and parents, Professor Brian Donnelly and Trish Donnelly.

Such sentiments were clearly supported by Professor McGuinness, who during his speech about the new work stated, “What dexterity of meters there is in it, what splendid sensitivity to the strange changes of the natural world. What sheer delight in the diversity of themes and the diversity of tones, giving this verse its voice, a voice that is already sounding its sureness of identity. A voice capable of characterising its deeper self and finding in that depth much to fear and much to identify”.

Photons is a collection of works which looks back to the poets such as John Donne and his contemporaries, and engages with the spirits of Modernism. According to Frank McGuinness “Peter Donnelly already shows he has a strong imagination. Indeed, a savage one presents itself on occasion when the beautiful and brutal confront and confound each other”.


Playwright and Professor Frank McGuinness, Poet Peter Donnelly, Author and MD of Appello Press Ivor Casey and Artist and teacher Nuala Holloway.

The volume has also been noted for including a first time English translation of one of Dante’s Cantos, which is described as rendering “Dante’s bleak, dramatic vision alive in contemporary English that remains true to the spirit and form of the original Italian”. Titled La Divina Commedia, Inferno, Canto X, this verse translation from Dante’s Inferno, has already made its way to the lecture halls of the City University of New York.

Concluding his speech, before conveying a warm congratulations to the poet, McGuinness explained “Playful intelligence imbues Peter Donnelly’s technique with its sense of fun, for  he is the mark of a true comedian.  He knows when laughter chokes in the throat and he is not afraid to hear it die. But Photons is a celebration of a man, revelling and learning, in loving, in giving his heart and soul and allowing us to share in such joy for all these are joyous texts”. In all, Photons fulfils the Romantic ambition for poetry to illuminate the ordinary and celebrate the wonder of the everyday.

 Photons is available to buy at the UCD Campus Bookshop and on Amazon (RRP€11.99)