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Austin Donnelly

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I am an Irish vet – qualifying in UCD Dublin 10 years ago. I am Originally from County Armagh Northern Ireland. Over the last decade I have worked in a variety of vet roles, from rural Ireland, to the big cities of Australia and New Zealand. I am a newcomer to writing in recent years. I love to write nonfiction stories from my work as a vet ( humour / memoir) and more recently some adult fiction.

Current project

Debut Adult Fiction/ comedy

Peter McCarthy, a 33 year old Irish pharmacist arrives back to his hometown, Ravenstown (fictional) North Co Dublin Ireland after 4 years away in Australia.

Mystery initially surrounds why Peter left for Australia, but we learn that his trip away was after a very big personal loss.

This is the story of a migrant coming home.

Back at the McCarthy’s, Peter’s father (a retired taxi man) has all the gossip on the neighbours along Lewis street, from a drug bust 3 doors down, to a minor celebrity moving into the old vacant house, 3 the other way.

Helen his sister is now a single mum and juggling that with her stressful management job at upcoming fast food chain, Veg-Patch-Express. She is in need of much Gin & Tonic therapy. Peter is kept busy, with many of the neighbours and family dropping over to welcome him home (and get the odd bit of medical advice while they are at it.)

Aunt Marian is already plotting her matchmaking, convinced she needs to find Peter a partner. Peter’s old man asks him to join him on a very unexpected holiday.

For Peter, despite all the joy the move home brings, he has to face the heartache and anguish he left behind. Although now there’s more riding on his move home, than meets the eye.

Writing sample

Look out for my – Animal Tale series – monthly in the Ireland’s Own magazine
Next two will be the 22nd of October and New year’s special.

Nonfiction Writing

My first nonfiction book, is a book of veterinary short stories. These are tales from my journey into veterinary medicine starting at childhood and vet school right through to working as an international travelling vet Locum ( working short term contracts / providing maternity cover etc). The stories are set in a wide variety of locations and with a range of animal and human characters from a Galway postman that hides out and raises a nest of baby robbins in his post van, to live fish falling from the sky during an agricultural show, to a farmer’s lost wedding ring whilst lambing a ewe.
The first collection is called
Whiskers, Feathers & Fur: Veterinary Tales – there’s a story behind that name too.

From the chapter – The Craic’d Sheep Farmers

Craic pronounced ‘crack’ has nothing to do with the illicit substance but it is just as addictive. Craic happens in many different places. Good craic can give you goosebumps, but mighty craic can knock your socks off! It is subconscious and joyful, better than just fun and laughter alone – it enlivens an experience . It’s like the monosodium glutamate (MSG) seasoning on your chips that elevates them to another level and just like MSG- too much craic mightn’t be good for you either. It has similarity to the English man’s banter but Irish Craic is better! You can do certain things for the craic, like an Australian would – for the shits and giggles. There could be craic even at a funeral- if it’s not an overwhelmingly sad one, especially if a previously unannounced offspring of the deceased turns up. There certainly is no craic in misery. A full measure of craic is said to be ninety. Some people have it, some people crave it, unfortunately some people are minus craic and yet other people will never get it. It’s not just drunken frivolity, its more than a gossip’s tale or scandal. Any age group can have it. Irish people can detect and find it – they live for it! The Potts’ farm was full of it. I would come to think of them fondly as – the Craic Potts.

From the chapter
The Tassie Twins and the Orgling Debacle

“You are not serious? Surely you are having me on Rose?
I just can’t quite believe it,” I said
We were standing on the patio at the front of Rose’s cottage. Rose was stroking Butters, her podgy Russian blue cat. He was freshly brushed and mostly asleep on the garden bench enjoying the attention.
“It’s like some kind of perverse cycle of life right here,” I said, still trying to get my head around it.
“It’s as if Butters hunts the wild birds (I presume)
You brush Butters and peg the little tufts of his excess fur to your clothes line for the birds.
The birds pick it up for their nests, and then the cycle perpetuates.
Butters eats the birds… The premise of some sort of horror movie perhaps?”
I had a chuckle! Rose just looked at me kind of funny.

The birds were now in a frenzy to get the fur, no more than a couple of metres away from us. Looking on at Butters and his close proximity to the birds, my laugher slowly changed to horror as I started to worry there could to be a show down right there!
An avian massacre in the making.
Discretely I started tapping my foot, to try shoo the birds away from Butters, my attempt to avert the impending bloodbath. My theory was dismantled alas, when in the rush of birds grabbing beaks full of fur off the clothes line, one of them, a yellow throated honeyeater, landed right beside Butters and helped herself to a few tufts of fur directly from Butter’s rump, perhaps not fully realising this fur was still attached to the cat! Butters just sat there in a sleepy indifference, looking at the bird. I don’t think Butters was into the bird hunting after all.

Taken from the chapter – The Hairy Fairy Goat Dairy

Arriving at the main courtyard, in the centre of the farm buildings, I parked up and was out getting my kit organised when I heard an exuberant,

“Helllloooooo!! ! Welcome to Kiwi land! You must be the new vet!
You are most welcome!”
As Ian appeared from one of the nearby doorways and introduced himself with a firm handshake.
Ian was tall and slim, with a shaved head, and I quickly picked up on a northern English (Jordie) accent; he appeared to be in his early forties. It was a nice sunny morning and he was making the most of it, wearing some ( sawn off arms and legs) dungarees and a pair of hobnail boots. I remember thinking it really was quite a fashionable look, for a goat farmer!

Enthusiastically, he asked, “So, do you like it? My new sign! It’s just been installed yesterday!”
I said, “You know what Ian, I think it’s great!”
I added, “Coming all the way from Ireland, I feel privileged to visit a hairy fairy goat dairy!”

Ian replied, “Oh my God you are Irish!”

He said, “I bet you are wondering where the fairy is? and he stood back and did a little dance, somewhere between the floss dance tossed up with a bit of ballet, performed with a beaming smile and occasionally cupping his hands about his face, much like petals on a flower. He then loudly exclaimed, “It’s me!” And with a quick spin and a curtsey, he said, “I am the hairy fairy!”
I smiled and said, “I am most humbled to meet you, Mr. Ian the hairy fairy!
And we both had a giggle.

Ian then said, “Wait to you meet my husband Dave and he finds out you are Irish!
He is going to die!
He loves Irish people, – what with his ancestors being Irish convicts back in the day!”
He made these comments with a cheeky grin and it all sounded funnier in Ian’s Jordie accent than it should have;
again we both laughed.

From my debut fiction book ( work in progress) ‘Peter’

Take it, take it, don’t be such a pussy, I willed myself. I was lying face down on the narrow bed, starting to think about biting the pillow, with the pain. ‘Do you want me to go harder or any deeper?’ The voice behind me said. No, as far as my kidneys was deep enough, (I thought, but didn’t say) I groaned. My struggles escalated tangentially, as, at one end of me, my inner pep talk continued- Do not make a show of yourself and yell out- and at the other end of me, well now there was danger of a bit of unruly flatulence. I clenched my teeth, surely it would soon be over. My thoughts turned to Dad and how he would be coping with it all, as he had arrived in to meet me and was getting the same works. They had put a screen up and he was on the other bed.

It was when Makasi, my featherweight, Korean masseuse took a break from battering my back with butter paddles, that I breathed a sigh of relief. Then when she took off her slippers and using the handrails along the walls above me, began to walk up and down the centre of my back, she caught me completely off guard. I couldn’t help it now as, mostly in shock, I involuntarily blurted out, ‘I thought this was supposed to be HAPPY HANDS massage, not feckin HAPPY FEET!’ She just giggled and kept going, no fear on her. It was mostly my post- stag party hangover talking anyway. All those glasses of Writer’s Tears at the whisky bar were starting to pound in my head.

Afterwards, slouched on recliner chairs in a zen recovery room, Dad and myself wearing bath gowns, just the two of us, drinking some sort of herbal tea and trying to balance cucumber slices on our eyes, Dad had to go and lower the tone. ‘Peter son, I enjoyed that a bit more than I thought I would,’ (he must have winked as one of his cucumber slices fell from his face and he was now patting around his chest searching for it. Although this was an improvement as he’d already eaten his first two.) He replaced it and then went on. ‘ My masseuse, she had the magic touch, if you know what I mean,’ as he made an uncharacteristic chuggling, slow laughing, noise. Horror rose inside me. What did he mean? He was going to leave me in no doubt, as he went on, ‘I got a stir Peter, Just as her wee slippery fingers went in between my toes, I got a stir.’ As he made that awful slow motion laughing sound again. I didn’t know what to do with the uncomfortable feelings and imagery these words had inflicted upon me. And for once, I held my tongue back enough just to say, ‘ Oh that’s great Dad,’ I even convinced myself that was sincere, although I also bargained I might need to go puke in a bin later. What was it with us McCarthy’s and our erogenous feet.

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