Michael J. Whelan

Will be launched in the County Library Tallaght on Tuesday October 8th at 6.30pm during the Red Line Book Festival 2019. (Last stop on LUAS red line)’

This collection is dedicated to memory of Tony Roe 1945-2018 (IUNVA & ONE) and in his honour part of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the ‘Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel and the Irish United Nations Veterans Association.

Michael J Whelan is a soldier, poet and historian and member of the Irish Defence Forces.


Rules of Engagement by Michael J. Whelan, published by Doire Press, 2019 (Cover Design by Triona Walsh)




So a massive THANKS to Paul Brookes for this interview with me on his Wombwell Rainbow Interviews website. See link here for the interview about my writing, poetry, inspirations etc and the new collection Rules of Engagement.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Michael J. Whelan

Invitation: Evening of Poetry & Music to celebrate Midsummer at Alan Hanna’s bookshop in Bark Coffee, Thurs 20 June 7pm

Hi all, I will be reading at the above event next Thursday, so please join myself and a bunch of wonderful poets for an evening of poetry and music to celebrate Midsummer at Alan Hanna’s bookshop in Bark Coffee, Rathmines, Dublin on Thursday 20 June. Doors will open at 6:30pm and readings and performances begin at 7pm.

This is a FREE event but places are limited. To reserve a place, please email Orla Grant-Donoghue at thefrayedheart@gmail.com


Alan Hanna’s book shop, Rathmines, Dublin



Performances & readings by:

  • Michael J. Whelan
  • Eileen Casey
  • Éamon Mag Uidhir
  • Kevin Bateman
  • Doreen Duffy
  • David Grant
  • Christian Wethered
  • Orla Grant-Donoghue
  • Susan Condon
  • Vivienne Kearns

Music on the night will be performed by Christian Wethered.

Seven Ages – Sunday Sessions at Books Upstairs 2nd June 2019


Hi all, hope to see you at Berni Dwan’s  ‘The Seven Ages’ Poetry Event hosted by Books Upstairs on Sunday 2nd June 2019 as part of the Sunday Sessions. I will be reading new poems with Jimmy O’ Connell, Berni Dwan with recitations from Alan O’ Brien.


Please come along for what promises to be a lovely afternoon of poetry. See flyer for details or contact Books Upstairs for tickets.


Berni Dwan’s first poetry collection, Frankly, Baby, was published last year by Lapwing Press. She performed her spoken word gig, Unrhymed Dublin, at the Scene and Heard Festival in Smock Alley in 2016. She regularly reads her Frankly Blank Verse at Takin the Mic in The Irish Writers Centre. Her work has been broadcast on Sunday Miscellany and The Quiet Quarter. Her new poems have appeared in Crannóg 50, Dodging the Rain, Galway Review online, and Crossways Magazine.

Jimmy O’Connell was born in Dublin. He has been writing for many years. His poetry has appeared in The Baltimore Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Stepaway Magazine, Flare 7 & 10, and Poetry for a New Ulster. He has had a collection of his poetry, Although it is Night, published by Wordsonthestreet in 2013. He has recently published his first novel, Batter the Heart.

Michael J. Whelan is a soldier-poet and historian. He is author of two books, The Battle of Jadotville: Irish Soldiers in Combat in the Congo 1961 (2006) and Allegiances Compromised: Faith, Honour and Allegiance – Ex British Soldiers in the Irish Army 1913-24 (2011). His debut collection Peacekeeper (Doire Press, 2016) is the first of its kind in Ireland to examine the role of Irish citizens on international peace support missions. He was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and his poetry has been published in Ireland, Mexico, Paris, Indonesia, the UK & USA and is included in The Hundred Years’ War –Anthology of Modern War Poems edited by Nick Astley (Bloodaxe UK, 2014). Michael’ new collection Rules of Engagement is due out in October 2019

Alan O’Brien is a singer, guitarist and producer based in Dublin and will be providing musical accompaniment.



RULES OF ENGAGEMENT – Forthcoming new collection by Michael J. Whelan in October 2019


RULES OF ENGAGEMENT Photo: (c)Michael J. Whelan


So some great news that I have been waiting to share with you.

My forthcoming new book titled RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (poetry) will be published by Doire Press (who published my last collection PEACEKEEPER in 2016). Rules of Engagement will be launched at the Red Line Book Festival 2019 in October this year. I will also be going on a short reading tour of the county in the Autumn with fellow writers from the Doire family so hopefully I’ll see you on one of the organised events and maybe at the launch.

I am very, very grateful to the team at Doire Press for taking on my poems again, for believing in them and for the continuing encouragement of many people over recent years.





Niamh & Me

Niamh and Me. Photo(c)Michael J. Whelan


The Reservoir

For Niamh


It was one of the few days we had off together,

we walked the full route of the waterworks,

chatting about our jobs, our kids,

we spoke of our parents, mine gone,

yours still involved though separated.


We were married a long time, but we were

only catching up with each other the way couples do,

a time out from the unnatural world, a couple of hours

just for me and for you when we plotted the future.


We examined the trees, the flowers, listened to the river

and the breeze, the heat was amazing, and the day was beautiful.

There was a sign on the fence warning us of Japanese Knotweed,

we had no idea what it was but we found some near the wire,

we were careful not to bring it home on our clothes

to infest our garden.


You spotted a faun in the distance,

we stopped and watched for a while.

Hairy caterpillars raced across our path on the hot surface,

I hadn’t seen one in years, so you continued to point them

out as we climbed slowly towards the upper reservoir,

crossed the dam onto the far side of the water

and into the woods on the side of the valley. We were high up,


and I think I held your hand for a few moments then,

or maybe you held mine, it doesn’t really matter –

it was special holding a piece of you there.

I wasn’t taking in what you were saying part of the time

or what was passing me by in the landscape,

I was just looking at you, just looking at you

and remembering all the very first times we were together,


the first time I really felt part of the world, of all this nature.

You were a seed bursting open in my heart, you still are.

It was your idea for us to walk the upper reservoir,

for both of us to stand on top of the dam and see the colours.


(c)Michael J. Whelan

For our 22nd Wedding Anniversary


War of the Worlds


Concrete, stone, metal

all drawn from earth.

I want to climb the white pylon,

this alien thing and search the horizons,

spit on the power lines if I could reach above them.


I feel the urge to be a god too, though not Arcadian,

to be more powerful than Agamemnon at Troy, braver than Achilles.

I would turn this empty world upon its head,

shake the tribes of Babylon and Sodom & Gomorrah

out of these empty streets, see them fall towards Elysium.

They would have newspapers between their hands

with the scripture of Abraham and Mohammed, the WORD

etched on the tablets swallowed by Moses every night

with a glass of water.


It seems this empty stage is the apocalyptic amphitheater,

cold like the ancient tiered steps of history – tired.

I imagine the exhausted voices of actors

reaching up through the epoch’s throat,

reciting the tests of time much like democracy’s genesis

might have imagined us in our failing landscapes,


as if commandments warning us ‘What use is the flyover, the streetlight, the motorway,

the playground if their only witness is the grass?’

Each was first an idea, they measure better as the arteries of a city,

the meter pulsating with lives – not these rinsed holograms

that the Cold War and the Twilight Zone planted in our minds.

There was no dying, no droves of bodies once pitted

against the scythes of enemies, they did not go down like flies

under gas, before the scouring guns. They were marched.


The streets are cleansed, uncrowded, but why does my conscience hurt?

See there, there – the fly that scouts the half empty coffee cup,

the flurry of cherry blossoms twisting on the wind above the trash heap,

the shadow clouds roaming over the hills, look at them, see their existences!

Life – you occupied my senses for so long but where have you gone?

what are you doing?


Michael J. Whelan


Truth or Dare Response to “An Altered Land”, exhibition by David Fox at the Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin on Thursday 2 May 2019, where I read this poem for Poetry Ireland Day. Exhibition runs until May 12th 2019.

The paintings by David Fox in his exhibition reminded me of empty streets, villages and communal areas that had been affected by the ethnic cleansing and violence of the wars in countries I served in as a United Nations Peacekeeper.