A Seed Of Heavenly Doubt

You passed my darkest night a comet

Writing cold fire above my wasted Earth

In the dead of my most evil hour

I looked up and saw you

And marvelled at your bright ghost plumage

Your raiment of mud and ice.

My Hale-Bopp, my Shoemaker-Levy,

My glad and distant tiding

My month of giddy news from worlds undreamt.

You made me rethink distance

And the things that stitch up time

Why the faraway seems so near

And the neartime crowds itself

With things impossible to touch.

Your course by time takes you far

From my numbed sky

Which dances still a little.

Where once you raptured my naked eye

Now you live in a telescope of memory

Which like flesh will fade

Leaving aught but a shadow

On a retina of doubt.

But memory has a skin

And fathoms underneath.

Somewhere in those measureless reaches

Lies a shadow on a rock

A fossil stressed under layers of time,

The memory of all you were to me

While your corona danced hymns to your glory

‘Gainst the dark of my adoring sky.

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Listen To It Now On Newstalk

Global intrigue, 21st Century warfare and a haunting love story: they’re all part of the mix in the thrilling ‘A Pilot’s Honour’ now available on podcast from newstalk.com/documentaryonnewstalk

The drama is the latest offering from the team of writer / director Jason Gill and Producer / Editor Alan Meaney. It’s the intriguing and controversial tale of a US airman, shot down in Iraq, whose broken body and soul find love in the unlikely setting of windswept Galway on Ireland’s western coast.

Powerful and heartrending, ‘A Pilot’s Honour’ charts the star-crossed love of Captain Bob Conway, a pilot washed up in Ireland’s western capital, and Mary Brady, a young student from Donegal.

Their relationship is beautiful and captivating, but each of them is harbouring secrets, and their love is threatened from the very beginning by forces no one can control. Bob in particular must make a choice, one which will have implications not just for those closest to him, but for people all over the globe.

Part political thriller, part taboo busting love story, ‘A Pilot’s Honour’ is a pulsating drama which will haunt and enthral the listener. It features fantastic performances from Joe Steiner as Bob, Martina Dolan as Mary, Martin Kelleher as Seamus Brady and Ronan Flynn as an unnamed interrogator.

The drama features excellent performances, a tight and tense script, and a richly diverse soundscape beautifully realized by Producer Alan Meaney.

It can be heard on podcast, anywhere in the world, anytime, on any device – all you need is some kind of Internet connection – on newstalk.com/documentaryonnewstalk. Whether it’s a wild Montana night, a long cross country drive, or a chilled evening by a beach, this is like a warm bath for the mind, comfort food for the soul.

The plot is basically Top Gun meets Line of Duty. There are very few places in the world where you can get to hear radio like this. This is a unique opportunity to be, in the words of an ancient Irish TV host, both excited and delighted.

Alan Meaney and Jason Gill have previously worked together on acclaimed and award nominated dramas such as ‘Fairies Only Wear Wings,’ ‘The Prime of Johnny Broody’ and ‘The Killing of Sheila Price,’ many of which can be heard online by going to mixcloud.com

Prepare to be entranced!

Counting Down to A Pilot’s Honour

Things move to a new phase this weekend with the premiere of my new radio drama, ‘A Pilot’s Honour’ on Ireland’s Newstalk Station at 8am this Sunday, August 20th. The drama will be rebroadcast on Newstalk on Saturday, August 26th at 10pm and will of course be available via podcast, the Newstalk website and the TuneIn radio app.

To say that we’re excited would be too obvious. But more, I and I think the whole team are deeply proud of what is a memorable and unique piece of work. It’s part ‘Top Gun’ meets ‘Line of Duty,’ part love story, where cutting edge use of sound and music intersects perfectly with beautiful and natural, utterly haunting performances.

Producer Alan Meaney and I have been making radio dramas together for a few years now. I think we’re proud of everything we’ve made, but I suppose this script called for pushing the boat out a bit. You’ve got to go all over the world in less than an hour, you don’t have visuals or huge budgets, plus you’re limited to engagement with one human sense.

‘A Pilot’s Honour’ whisks you from war torn Iraq to windswept Galway on Ireland’s western coast. You move from student locker rooms and bars to a claustrophobic interrogation room, you sit inside a control room in an antiseptic complex located somewhere in the Nevada desert, where pings on keyboards command drones thousands of miles away to start killing people. All of this is accomplished through the medium of sound; there really is nothing else like it.

I have been deeply fortunate to have hooked up with a true artist of sound. And I want to say thanks again to Alan: an absolute master of his craft and a fantastic collaborator. Four years on from our first, madcap adventure, the ideas are still teeming and I hope we get to make many more.

We were blessed to have a brilliant, perceptive and generous cast, who make my words come alive in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Our star crossed lovers – Joe Steiner as our downed American Pilot and Martina Dolan as the young student he meets – are simply heartrending. If you’re not moved, then that’s it, you’re actually dead.

Martin Kelleher as the embittered older brother is simply outstanding, and Ronan Flynn’s slyly insinuating, slightly sympathetic agent is cynically delicious. I can’t thank these guys enough, but I will continue to try.

Works of art can have curiously gnarled and torturous passages towards finally being seen or heard. I remember reading an introduction to Dostoyevsky’s ‘The Idiot’ which described the great man’s process on the way to completing the work. Basically, over the course of almost a decade, Dostoyevsky would feverishly write a hundred pages, tear them all up, have a breakdown, gamble a bit, have another breakdown, rewrite about fifty pages, burn them, contemplate suicide or just switching to writing porn, write another 70 pages, have a breakdown etc.

To a me aged twenty or so, it sounded like an absolutely brain melting waste of time. But I didn’t know then that it is the work that dictates the schedule, not you. It offers frustrating glimpses and circles the airport until it is ready, and all you can do is try to be open.

‘A Pilot’s Honour’ is loosely based on a subplot in a novel I published online a few years ago. ‘Ghost In The Sky’ is the story of a super secret spy plane, a sort of ultra hi-tech airship, so fast and silent it could hover above your house at night without you ever knowing. I still think it’s a pretty cool idea. Those who want to find out more can visit Amazon and type the phrase ‘Ghost in The Sky’ into the search engine.

But in the way that reality has of ‘trumping’ (geddit?) fiction, our world has seen the growth of a far weirder and more sinister entity than the ghost. It’s a little known fact that drone strikes mushroomed under the Obama Administration. Maybe I’m behind the times, but the notion that you can sit in a computer room much like any large office or call centre we know today, sip your cup of Java, gossip with your neighbour and command some machine thousands of miles away to bring death to people you’ve never met is both unsettling and deeply chilling.

Drones feature in the new story, indeed they are in a sense at its moral heart, but you’ll have to listen to know what I mean.

Many of us already know how powerful radio drama can be. Indeed, the global success of some podcasts offers a clue to just how powerful a medium it can be. Writing for radio is fascinating and liberating. It’s a playground for someone like me: I can let my imagination run wild in the knowledge that my consummate producer and brilliant actors will make it all somehow come true. It’s great fun.

Have a listen Sunday, Saturday, or via the timeless Internet, you might just end up loving it.