My interview with writer and See Change Ambassador Gormla Hughes which is on Sound Cloud called "In Conversation with MDM"



I read "Scourged" in Paris. I savoured it like chocolates I didn't want to finish. MDM's writing is from the soul. She was BORN to do this. Her description of having "no top layer of skin" is accurate as she is empathic and about as stable as a stick of gelignite. Incidentally, that is her power.


This book is an absolute treasure, I have not read a book that was so “Real, loving & magical” in years. Michelle lays herself bare and the absolute love within the family simply radiates off the pages. It deals with the taboo subject of Alzheimer’s, as her mother Siobhan slowly fades to this cruel illness. The roles reverse as mother returns to childhood and the daughters assume the mother’s role. Her family deal heroically with the gradual loss of Siobhan, Michelle’s gift is that she restores her mums voice and Siobhan as a character, is omnipresent. The lovely Thomasina & Nicola must be very proud of MDM. It is also full of delightful humour & as may laughs as tears and continues to keep the memories of her mother very much alive. Michelle’s writing style reminds me of popcorn popping as ideas come flooding so thick & fast that it is giddying trying to keep up with the random chaos. I believe Michelle’s talent is stellar and compares with the absolute greatest of Irish writers.

"Van Gogh painted "sunflowers" penniless and insane .... I believe the amazing "Scourged" to be the "sunflowers" of books!"

 Jim Hickey, UCD



 There are several worthy memoirs written by authors who have watched their loved ones suffer from Alzheimer’s, most notably: “Elegy for Iris” by John Bailey and “My Journey into Alzheimer’s Disease” by Robert Davis.

Scourged” by Michelle Dooley Mahon is another remarkable piece of work and documents her late mother Siobháns descent into Alzheimer’s.

The book’s title cleverly plays on two meanings.  The “Scourge” is Alzheimer’s, but also it is an affectionate term that Siobhan uses when referring to her daughter throughout her life.

An important aspect of Michelle’s writing, which separates it from other Alzheimer memoirs, is the unique artistry and configuration that underpins the text.  The juxtaposition of the author’s voice, in chapters beside her mothers, effectively creates a dissonance, reflecting the confused mind of someone in the grip of Dementia. 

The memoir travels backwards and forwards throughout the decades, flip flopping through time zones, switching voices from chapter to chapter as Mother and Daughter express their inner most thoughts.  Since Alzheimer’s disease affects the memory, the book’s non-linear narrative also - from a structural perspective - echoes the sense of time displacement an Alzheimer sufferer experiences.

Fizzing synapses” is one of the brilliant phrases that Dooley-Mahon adopts, conjuring up an image of what goes on in the Alzheimer brain.

 The struggle of the synapses trying to connect is synonymous with the battle a sufferer has when trying to interact with the outside world. This is writing at its best, and it is not easy to think of another phrase that appears so simple, yet encapsulates and captures the essence of an illness so effectively.  

Shakespeare was adept at writing this way, and this memoir has a poetic, Shakespearian quality to it, examples being the rhythm of speech in the opening chapters and when Siobhan’s expresses an inner monologue while in a health facility in October 2009. The book is full of poetic language and one link that bonds mother and daughter is their love of art and literature. Siobhan possessed an intellect that was as razor sharp and quick as her daughters.  Thus it is heart rending to witness, on the page, the ravaging of Siobhan’s eloquent mind.

What is particularly poignant about “Scourged” is that the love between Michelle and her mother transcends the illness. The memoir delineates that even through adversity love blossoms and deepens. This is reminiscent of the Buddhist analogy of the lotus plant flourishing in the muck. Beauty and love often bloom where there are cracks in the darkness. As a line in the Leonard Cohen song “Anthem” goes:  - ‘There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.”

 “Scourged” is an uplifting book that sparkles with wit. The author’s comedic talents are self evident (Michelle has also worked as a stand up comedienne) But on another plane it does not shirk away from the most difficult moments of illness and care giving.  Scenes include Michelle’s own frustrations, particularly when she perceives teenagers smirking, while she tends to her Mother in a supermarket toilet.

Scourged” is also full of philosophical musings and makes reference to many of Michelle’s heroes including Terry Pratchett, who questions the role of God in the universe. Her reference to music and songs invoke the atmosphere of varying eras that play throughout the book like a musical score.

In numerous ways the book engages all the senses and is a gem that needs to be re-read several times to fully appreciate its creative genius.

Importantly it raises awareness on a deep human level, of the plight of Alzheimer’s sufferers and the effect it has upon those closest to them.  

Scourged” is, in essence,  a highly commendable piece of literature.



Richard Connolly  - July 2016


“Dooley Mahon’s talent lies in conjuring up not only crystal clear nostalgia and events, but describing them in a way that drops the reader straight into the story. I could smell chips and clove rocks and roses. I was in that room with her.... a beautiful brave book”

Theresa O’Brien

"Scourged is a triumph. I could not put it down long enough to find a lighter"

Joanne Robinson

"A remarkable book filled with humour and savage honesty. I tried to ration it but instead became engrossed and in a marathon session finished it.

I am gobsmacked by it.

It is truly beautiful, and inspirational"

Moya Finnegan

"I have not the authors use of words to describe this truly amazing book, it is brave beyond belief, and heartstoppingly beautiful, her candid description of her Mothers death is almost a religious experience, this is a book that takes you on a journey and leaves you gasping, it is so layered it can be re-read endlessly, it made me laugh, it made me cry,  it made me remember"

John O Connor


"Scourged is a fascinating insight into a unique relationship. I want to thank the author for her honesty and determination to see this project through to the bittersweet end. It has been and will continue to be, an inspiration - to me, and anyone else I can pass it on to"

Tony Reck

 "From its beautifully honest opening  Scourged  takes me off in a time machine to a house I was in but a time I was not, I can see the cars, smell the cow shit, feel the honesty, pain, and frustration until suddenly here I go again – off  on another wild trip.  I have read it 3 times so far. Next week I will see something new in it.   Again.   It’s an interactive book. This is great work. In my book it’s 10 out of 10.

James MacIntyre

"Scourged  is a beautiful read. A raw and honest insight into a life, an illness, and also the coping mechanisms used in the struggle with the  highs and lows of an exhausting creative mind. I cried buckets towards the end recognising my own bereavement and grief, and found the words to be cathartic.

 And by the way she is a damn fine poet"

Elizabeth Whyte
(Director of Wexford Arts Centre)

"In Scourged MDM comes damn close to describing the ineffable , I felt swept up in the lyrical passionate prose, and truly touched by its heartbreak and wisdom.
John Noerdlinger

“I read it in 2 sittings. My eyes hurt from laughing and crying. I’m going to read it again immediately”


Jennifer Traupe


scourged Book

Get the Book

Signed copies of Scourged are available directly from the author via the website,  through a selection of retailers nationwide, or online at Amazon.

You can find the book on Amazon by clicking on the link below.

A digital version is also available on Kindle.


""to Vincent, a lifetime of shared history and nostalgia " she wrote inside it, and it is. There's the Da whitewashing the wall and the blind man singing 'joy to the world' is my cousin Tommy, and ...

Vincent Byrne

Contact Us provide packages that suit all events, ie schools, groups, corporate, cabaret, motivational, after dinner speeches etc. Alzheimers Support Groups or Mental Health Charities are free of charge.
Phone: 089 210 0337

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