Life Stories

Many people in Ireland have had a real encounter with the living God.
Here are some featured life Stories:
This page: Joe Donnelly, Madeline Joyce, Vincent Gannon, Yvonne Sinclair
Next page: David Ross I Loretia Hamer I Nick O' Connell Gretta Ó Donnell 


Irish Mountain Psalm 32





My Story : Joe Donnelly

I have great memories of growing up in Ringsend...football and fishing, various gangs at war with each other, exploring the locks, the docks, the ‘shelly-ers’ and the strand. The best memories for me were of enjoying being part of a loving and supportive family in a close knit community. All of us were brought up to attend to all of the sacraments of the church and to be careful to say our prayers. I remember when I was leaving primary school I was determined not to mess up my life but as I went through my teenage years I seemed to make every wrong decision and take every wrong path.
In my early twenties I was standing looking into the black waters of a canal in Amsterdam and wanting to throw myself into those waters and end it all. I felt that life had nothing to offer me and it wasn’t worth all of the struggle. Thank God I didn’t take that step but I remember feeling so dead and empty inside and yet putting a brave face out to the world.

Shortly after this I returned to Dublin and met this fellah from Ballyfermot who told me that he was a Christian. He was so enthusiastic and thrilled about his best friend Jesus and he wanted to talk all day to me. I remember groaning and saying to myself “I hope whatever this bloke has is not contagious, I’d hate to end up like him” I remember getting a copy of the New Testament from this fellah and walked off hoping I’d never see him again. 

“I remember groaning and saying to myself, ‘I hope whatever this bloke has is not contagious, I’d hate to end up like him!’”

 When I got home I sat in my bedroom and reluctantly started reading the first four books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s Gospel. I had for years been convinced that religion had no relevance for me and as a result I had dismissed Jesus from my life. It is hard to explain my reaction as I read in the gospels the things that Jesus said and the things that Jesus did. It’s not as if I hadn’t heard these things before but for the first time in my life I felt very powerfully challenged to consider that this incredible person called Jesus might be relevant to me right here right now to-day.
I started to attend some Bible studies and prayer meetings and slowly I began to feel drawn like a magnet to this awesome person Jesus Christ. Gradually all of the pieces began to fall into place in my heart and mind and I was willing to accept that what Jesus did on the cross was the full and final payment for all of my sins, past present and future. With 100% conviction I asked Jesus to come into my life and become real to me and take my miserable life into His hands and use it any way that He wanted to.

I quickly discovered that Jesus took me at my word and He has become a faithful, truthful and loving friend and Saviour to me. It is nearly twenty years later now, I am in my early forties, I have five incredible children and a gem of a wife. On top of all this I have had the privilege and challenge of working for Jesus in our society to-day. He has led my wife and I to work in various parts of Dublin’s inner city and share the hope of the gospel with many.
The Bible is full of invitations for us to experience the quality of life that God wants us to enjoy. Why don’t you pick up your Bible right now and give careful consideration to the following passages: Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good, - Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. - Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


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My Story : Madeline Joyce

When I meet people for the first time I always have a problem with the question, “Where are you from?” Born in England, I have a Canadian accent, an Irish passport and a Scotsman for a husband!

On the other hand I never have a problem with the more important question, “Where are you going?” I know for sure that I’m going to be with Jesus for all eternity.

Mind you, I haven’t always been so confident. In fact as a teenager I had come to the “mature” conclusion (!) that life ended in death and that Jesus was nothing more than a good teacher. I even argued (in total ignorance of the biblical facts) against His importance as God or Saviour.

I can see now that in doing so I was freeing myself from any moral obligations so that I could go on doing my own thing and find happiness.

The real problem started when it became evident that what seemed like happiness when viewed from a distance was really a mirage, offering no real satisfaction or pleasure.

18 had seemed like an age of great freedom. The reality was self-conscious misery, as I struggled with social inferiority watching my friends move into a world of “relationships”, a place where I feared to follow.

I consoled myself with study and aimed for the top, only to be robbed of it through the ill effects of stress and pressure. Bad grades and a sense of failure were my reward.

"In fact as a teenager  I had come to the “mature” conclusion (!) 
that life ended in death and that Jesus was nothing more than a  good teacher..."

At university I spent 4 years avoiding the pressure of competitive study while looking for a good time outside the classroom. Yet I had no pleasure from the camaraderie of student life. Mostly I watched from the sidelines afraid to be myself and to let myself be known.

My greatest source of happiness through all these years was to be alone with nature and through the music of John Denver I desired to experience a “oneness”, with nature. Sunsets over the ocean bathed me in the miracle of beauty but nonetheless only intensified a sense of loneliness. No matter, how long I sat communing with nature it remained a one way conversation with me asking all the questions!!

So I had to admit after 26 years of seeking happiness at the end of my next rainbow all I had found was emptiness and depression and a whole lifetime to enjoy it in!!

Societies answer to such a situation is a “shrink”. I’m thankful that it isn’t God’s answer.
At just the time when my empty heart was ready to hear it, I was told of God’s great LOVE for me. Even though I had spent years denying God He was more than willing to answer my cry for help. As I cried out for answers He did not remain silent. I came to see that leaving God out of my life was the root of the problem. He had given me life and He knew best how I should live it – but I hadn’t been listening. Like a rebellious teenager I was determined to do things my own way. And I had made a mess.

At that time I read the words of Jesus in Matthews gospel, “If you want to keep our life for yourself you will lose it. But it you give up your life for me you will find true life.”

And as I handed over control – as I decided at last to follow God’s direction – I knew for the first time what “true life” was.

Still 21 years later, through ups and downs, Jesus has continued to be my help and strength. And even more – I have the promise of life with Him forever.


Irish Forest Psalm 130

My Story : Vincent Gannon

Born into a working class background which was a bit different then most, in that both parents were very republican and would tell stories about the past when they weren’t fighting. This had to with the fact that the eldest daughter who died of the then dread disease of TB (tubercle loci’s) at the age of 18years and the father who was more then found of the drink and lost his job as a result. Then sold the family home in the then suburb of Marino, without anyone knowing and drank the money. Then having to come and live in a tenement house in the city centre. They were not a happy couple and family life was difficult but then so was a lot of others.

Believe it or not religion played a big part in the mother’s life, which she passed onto her remaining four children. Who dutifully went to mass and anything else mother thought best for them? However the love for Michael Collins and the hatred for Dev fuelled the passions and led the youngest into the “movement”. The years that followed were mixed with fear and excitement but never fulfilment or satisfaction. Eventually in trouble with the police because of association with the wrong kind, as it was put by the Garda, led to all kinds of problems. 

Eventually coming out of what might be termed as a phase led me into religion. This was to have a big effect on my life because then I began to consider and search for the meaning of life, which I believed at the time, was committing my self-wholeheartly to the church, which I loved with a passion. Because of a misspent youth and a lack of education I was unable to further my desire to becoming a priest. But remained with the church and gave it my all. I met my wife Margaret who was also very religious and married and had a family and started to settle down. 

"However, the love for Michael Collins and the hatred for Dev fuelled the passions and led the youngest into the “movement”..."

My twin brother met a “born again Christian” at work. He shared the Gospel with him and he in turn shared it with me. I of course rejected it, as been a cult and refused to listen but he kept going on about it. He accepted an invitation to go to a “Gospel Meeting” and included me in the acceptance of it. We went and were bold over by the way the people prayed and the presumption of their statements. They were certain of sins forgiven and going to Heaven. All of this they claimed was based on the Bible. A book I had never read or had any desire to read.

It troubled me a lot as to what they were saying and the apparent influence they were having over the people present at their meetings. So I decided I would be a defender of the “Faith” and go and sort them out and brake up their meeting by exposing them for what they  were. I went armed with my religious arguments but the Lord had other plans. While not entering into the room where the meeting was taken place, I stood on a landing two flights of stairs down. I was going over the reason in my mind and heart why they were wrong and why I was right, when suddenly a still small voice cut across my thinking with the words, “All your good works are but filthy rags in my sight”. It was not a line of reasoning that every crossed my mind before and I did not recognise it as a line from the Bible. But as soon as I began to pay attention to it then it happened I realised for the first time my need of Jesus and why he died on that Cross for me.

Life would change in ways I could not have foreseen or known about but God became real to me for the first time ever. The Bible became not just another religious book but the very Word of God and the living Word of God. As I began to read it verses would jump out and as  it were speak to me. Some were not so nice as they would point to something wrong in my life and I would realise that it needed attention or I need to seek the Lord about it, other verses would bring me joy and comfort and assurances. At last this Jesus was not a dead hero but a living Saviour who was interested in me and wanted to help me. 

Life to day as a Bible believing Christian is a blessing and as I look around me there is nothing to compare with the life I now live by the grace of God and the existence that I had. I am still married to the same wonderful woman and have four children. One married two in collage and one starting second level education. This is a very shorten version of my story, because it still going on. 

Vincent Gannon.  

Revelation 22 O'Briens Castle, Co. Clare, Ireland














My Story : Yvonne Sinclair

I came from a protestant background, read the Bible in school, and went to Sunday school each week, learned from the Bible parables and stories about Jesus in the Girls Brigade, even had certificates for exams on the Bible. I would have believed the bible was the Word of God but it had no relevance in my life, I never knew that I needed to be “Saved” or “Born Again”, or that I deserved to go to hell or that I had sinned against God.

I married my husband who was from a Catholic background, neither of us practised our religion and God had no place in our lives. Our 15 years of marriage was on the rocks and my husband cried our to God for help and God saved him. He would read the bible from morning to night and when he tried to share it with me it made me very angry indeed. My pride welled up against him, “how dare this person who never read the Bible before tell me that I was a sinner and needed to get right with God”.

"Lord, I don’t care what anyone else says - from now
on I am going to take God at His word and believe Him..."

I was working with some people who were in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and they asked me to go to a meeting with them, which I did. After a while I decided to become a Catholic and a nun gave me a book that was used in the schools to teach the children, she thought it might help me learn more about Catholicism. By this time I was praying and reading my Bible every day, attending meetings singing Christian songs, even fasting but not saved.

One morning while having my prayer time, I decided to read the book, which the nun had given me, I was indignant when I read that God had devised a plan to save the world through Mary. Everything in me rejected this because I knew that Gods plan to save the world was through His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, that it was Jesus who died for our sins. I cried out to God, I said “Lord I know you died on the cross for my sins, Lord I don’t care what anyone else says from now on I am going to take God at His word and believe Him”. 


As I read Gods Word it was like a light had been switched on in my head and it became so real to me. God Himself became so real to me. He gave me understanding; it was like the message of salvation had been hidden from me until that moment in time. That was February 1981. I left the Charismatic meeting and I went to my first Christian meeting shortly after that. God has proven Himself to me over and over again and I have grown in grace and in the knowledge of Him. 

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