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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Rock drummer ready to roll at WMOF

Former Saw Doctors drummer Johnny Donnelly has revealed that he never planned to get married or have children but once he met his wife he knew he had a path to follow.

Donnelly explained that he met his wife, Aisling, while he was still the drummer for the Irish rock band, a time when he said “relationships were never going to work”.

“I was never getting married, I was never having kids, but it’s an amazing moment when you know – it’s a bit like the faith that’s in you, if you have a path to follow, you know that it’s right,” he said in his testimonial for the Humans of World Meeting of Families 2018.

However, despite his initial plans to steer clear of marriage and children, Donnelly spent the first nine months of his and Aisling’s relationship planning how he would propose. The couple, who now have four children, eventually built their home by Lough Corrib, where he asked her to marry him.

However, like all families they have had their ups and downs. Donnelly revealed that their youngest son, Harry spent his first two years in ICU due to a muscular problem that affected his breathing.

“He would just stop breathing. He was pronounced dead on a few occasions. Moments like that change your life…being told that your son has passed – that doesn’t go away from you,” he said.

“Faith, beliefs, all these things come into play because you realise how powerless you are. There are moments that you don’t want to live through, and you start looking for a higher something or other to get you through.”

Harry is now 11 and is “the happiest child you’d ever meet”, he said.

Johnny is now the managing director of global event specialists Arcana, which is helping stage the World Meeting of Families works.

“Yes, at the end of the day, it is an event, but there are sensibilities involved that need to be adhered to,” he said.

Although it is not a rock ‘n’ roll set with flashing lights and loud noise, programming is integral to assisting people on a journey through creating reflective moments with highs and lows.

“We will be trying to bring the audience on a journey, but the word ‘reflective’ is what’s in my head, so you want people to reflect on their lives, their families, where they are at now, and living the moment – that’s what programming is all about.”

Picture: Johnny Donnelly.