Randal McDonnell – ‘I’d gladly strike the first match at his cremation and spit paraffin on his embers’ | Cassandra Voices

Randal McDonnell – ‘I’d gladly strike the first match at his cremation and spit paraffin on his embers’


I was sickened to read a fawning obituary to an absolute creep and impostor Randal McDonnell. It fails to mention that he was a predator and pederast with an insatiable lust for young boys.

He made a misery of my late teenage years and I carried for way too long the shame and guilt for what he did to me as though it had been my responsibility.

Twice he seriously abused me, even once video recording the abuse so he could press pause and marvel at the highlights of his wickedness. I didn’t have the luxury of pressing pause on what was happening to me, nor was I later able to scrub the tape of my life clean.

In my own delusional way, I put it all down to a wild adventure, but I know now that was just a hopeless coping mechanism. They say not to speak ill of the dead but I’d gladly strike the first match at his cremation and spit paraffin on his embers. When a few years back I wrote these lines, it was him I was referring to. Go rot in hell!


As the calendar grew thinner and the water colder, I swam further out into October and November’s waves….cold. Cycling down to the Forty Foot on the green bicycle my mother had bid on in Buckley’s auctioneers, Sandycove. The bike locked with a combination of my age my year in school.

Undressing, the breeze all salty around my jangling Autumn bollox. Holding the hand rail, my feet on the went granite, down into the waves, nerve enough to swim out to the buoy.

Arms of rock on either side, at low tide, laced with green weed, kelp and periwinkles, full tide, they were harbour champions, granite guardians.

And I swam out beyond their embrace, a wink from the Bailey light house, staining their wet side in crushed orange, a neon wink from Howth.

The currents singing their own wild liquid song and me tossed about like drift wood, soaked, fucked, dream song. My arms, all fifteen years of them, ploughing through the dark spilt ink waves.

Into the neon Dún Laoghaire, sea-salted, cold blankets of water.

I saw the spires of the Town Hall, Saint Joseph’s and Saint Michael’s, the clock on the Town Hall, a tiny pale moon chained to Time. The lit front rooms of the houses that looked out on Scott’s Man’s Bay as I swam further into the night.

And there I saw him first, a shadow on the shore. Me bobbing like a seal, him, fawn coat, tall and dry.

Late night eel in the water, I weaved through the water, home to the railing that would hoist me back to land again.

And there he was with his hard leather glove applause, chiming with the wave lapped steps.

Shaking with the cold, I stepped out of the water.

“You are a brave young man, you must be freezing…such a brave young man”

He had my towel, all ready in his hands. Up the jelly fish licked steps I climbed towards that blue Dunne’s Stores towel that had just a while ago been in my bag.

Rubbed down like a gold medal otter. Who was he? Why me?

“Such a brave young man, and so cold, let The Count warm you up”

My shoulders first, then my shivering ass. The Count knew well how to warm up a trembling lip biting lad.

I saw the smudged lights of Dalkey as he grabbed my pleasure.

I came with shame. My white seed floating on a wave that bit my toes with a fresh assault of cold. Who was he? And why did I let him? He held me tight around the neck as I wept into the waves, tears in salt water. His huge leather gloved hand over my mouth, a dark cloud hiding the moon. Forty Feet of silence and salt sprayed shame.

I dreamt of a knife, a blade that would rise out of the water, a sharp tool of the tide that would slice him.

I passed out, so as not to feel his Terra Ferma paws on me. I am a wave not a boy. I am not here.

And then he let me go and all fifteen years of me clung to the rail that led down to the deep and I watched my vomit float, an angry broth on on the night water…..

Obituary: ‘The life and death of Randal MacDonnell – the most remarkable Irish figure you’ve probably never heard of’ – Independent.ie


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