RIP DOODLE

I am sorry to hear of the untimely passing of Doodle Kennelly.


Like everyone who was involved in any way with Dublin bohemia anytime between the 80s to the 00s, I ran into Doodle at various book launches & readings & she was always very friendly & hospitable.


As is her Dad, the famous Brendan, who I studied poetry under at Trinity College back in 2000/01, & who was 80 only the other day. Her mother Peggy is also a poet.
She is also survived by her ex-husband, artist Peter Murphy, & by three daughters.
I am sorry for their troubles & wish them all the best.


Doodle was well known especially to those who were young, unconventional, & artistic in Dublin in the 80s & 90s. These were an important generation for Irish culture, & broke new ground for the expression & discussion of many previously taboo subjects in our literature, including mental illness.


But being among the first to break the mould is often personally difficult & far from rewarding. Many of this same generation have pre-deceased Doodle. Others are deeply troubled, as Doodle was.


Frontline fighters pass away from wounds picked up in battle, while those in the rear & those not around atall reap the rewards – such is life. Such, especially, is literary life.


Doodle wrote autobiographically in the main. She was eloquent & courageous when writing about mental illness in particular. Here she is in the Irish Independent, back in 2017, writing about the difficulty of maintaining relationships when chronically mentally ill:


“I lost numerous friends over the years through sheer neglect on my part – ignoring them, not calling over to see them, not answering their phone calls, not messaging them back on Facebook. I was, for a while, angry that they didn’t understand that I was tied up in my own blackness. However, I now understand that my depression was too much for them to deal with. My eccentricities and quirkiness were misunderstood, and still are.


I feel that many people who are labelled with mental illnesses are indeed unorthodox, creative, and can contribute more to society than the so-called ‘healthy’ members of our communities know or realise. Once branded with a psychiatric illness, a soul is left bare and vulnerable to all sorts of external interferences. Nobody takes into account the so-called ill person’s intellect. A mental illness by no account takes away from said person’s intelligence. In countless cases, people who are diagnosed with a mental illness have higher IQs than those who are, on the face of it, ‘stable’. Look at all the great writers, artists, musicians, actors and actresses who are tagged as crazy”


May she rest in peace.