I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

HISTORICAL REPUTATION

Blackening Casement

British intelligence and the making of the ‘black diaries’ of Roger Casement
The British establishment was enraged at Casement because, in their perception, after earning an exceptionally high public reputation for his courageous reports into gross human rights abuses and being knighted, he had then sided with revolutionary Ireland, Irish-America and imperial Germany from the outset of the Great War. Now they wished to fully discredit him, portraying him as a traitor and a morally reprehensible individual.

FASCISM

Marching on Rome

William Wall
Fascism’s origins in violence and repression of the labouring poor Nostalgia for fascism, which is alive and well in Italy today, centres on the belief that Benito Mussolini brought order to his nation, restored its pride after the First World War, made things work, including railway timetables, built fine buildings and drained the Pontine Marshes. Possibly fascism’s one great achievement was the electrification of the railways, but otherwise most of this is a carefully propagandised mythology. John Foot, in his new study, is unequivocal about this. Fascism was about violence and repression from the outset.

Dublin Review of Books

Greed or Good?

John Fanning
Business and politics: two views on how they should interact

Writers United

Alena Dvořáková
The pros and cons of bringing writers together in a corporate body

Full Throttle

Rosemary Jenkinson
Dark but exhilarating stories of surreal events and parallel universes

For Your Discomfort

Afric McGlinchey
Lullabies, but not the kind you’d want to sing to your baby

A Model for Everything

Sean Byrne
Maths, microeconomics and ‘losing sight of the bigger picture’

The Irish Reach

Rory McTurk
The influence of Gaels and Gaelic tradition on Old English poetry

Against the Tide

Adam Coleman
George Berkeley interprets the mysterious language of God

Flowers of Orwell

Aidan Tynan
Putting economic and social justice at the heart of the ecological project

IRISH MYTHOLOGY

The Keening Waves

Síle Ní Mhurchú
Lady Gregory’s legends of ancient Celtic gods and fighting men

THE UNITY DEBATE

Hearts and Minds

Enda O’Doherty
The stubborn obstacles that stand in the way of a unitary state in Ireland

THE UNITY DEBATE

Hoping for the Best

Emmet O’Connor
An optimist examines the prospects of achieving Irish unification

ARGENTINA

Under Southern Skies

Andy Pollak
Ireland’s links with Argentina, from the prosperous to the oppressed

REPUBLICANISM

What Larks

Patricia Craig
Bridget Rose Dugdale, an English debutante on Irish active service

FASCISM

Marching on Rome

William Wall
Fascism’s origins in violence and repression of the labouring poor

HISTORICAL REPUTATION

Blackening Casement

Martin Mansergh
British intelligence and the making of the ‘black diaries’ of Roger Casement

REPUBLICANISM

What Larks

Patricia Craig
Bridget Rose Dugdale, an English debutante on Irish active service Dugdale and her comrades hit upon the wheeze of a bombing raid on Strabane RUC station using a hijacked helicopter; the pilot had initially been told the project was to photograph Tory Island from the air. The mission was somewhat misconceived. The milk churn bombs were too heavy and half of them had to be jettisoned. The one bomb that hit its target did little damage. Still, looking back after almost fifty years, Dugdale remembered the fiasco as the happiest day of her life. It was part and parcel of her high jinks approach to political activism.

ARGENTINA

Under Southern Skies

Ireland’s links with Argentina, from the prosperous to the oppressed
The left-wing guerrillas had hoped to provoke the military into a policy of repression so as to build up their support among the people. But they were surely not prepared for the sheer savagery of the military’s response. Up to 30,000 people – anti-government political activists, trade unionists, students, artists, intellectuals, relatives of and sympathisers with the guerrillas ‑ were ‘disappeared’ by its police, army and navy death squads.

THE UNITY DEBATE

Hoping for the Best

An optimist examines the prospects of achieving Irish unification
It is doubtful if the Belfast Agreement can be a vehicle for unity. It was a bad deal to begin with, acclaimed by nationalists ‑ including Sinn Féin ‑ primarily because it got the Provos off their backs. After 25 years the North is more peaceful, but no less sectarian and no more united. Nationalists are no stronger electorally and unionists no more amenable to cross-border co-operation.

THE UNITY DEBATE

Hearts and Minds

The stubborn obstacles that stand in the way of a unitary state in Ireland
Those not wedded to ‘peaceful means’ hoped the British would lose the will to stay in the North and that after they left loyalism would prove a paper tiger, with any resisting elements effortlessly ‘pushed into the sea’ or ‘sent back to Scotland’. But Britain did not lose the will to stay and militant loyalism revealed itself as less a paper tiger than a ravening wolf, with a considerable capacity for horrific violence.

FROM PREVIOUS ISSUES

Mean Street USA

George O’Brien
From the novel of manners to the crime novel of bad manners

The Big D

Seamus O’Mahony
Christopher Hitchens enlists science in the face of death

Tales from Bective

Jana Fischerova
Mary Lavin was not banned, but did she leave things out?

Down the Rabbit Hole

Alex Bramwell
A Russian-Irish writer in the tradition of Bulgakov

BLOG

A Classical Education

  Enda O’Doherty writes: “Sorry,” my friend said. “I didn’t get that.” “Get what?” “What you said just now. Something in Latin I think … Not all of us, you know, had the benefit of a classical education.” I can no longer remember what the offending tag or reference was but I doubt if it was particularly obscure, something, I would guess, a bit north of in vino veritas but south of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? For really my Latin isn’t all that wonderful. I did indeed have that enviable benefit of a classical education, but that was all a long time ago and the shards that remained even a decade or so later did not amount to very much. Regularly dropping Latin tags, or even French ones, into one’s conversation is now generally regarded as a sign of pretentiousness, but there was a time when ad hoc, inter alia or primus inter pares were common verbal tics among the partially educated, as essential to civilised conversation as LOL or IMHO are today. “Having Latin” was also of course for a long time a requirement for university entrance and in particular a sine qua non (woops) for the study of medicine, veterinary or dentistry. The secondary school I attended, St Columb’s College in Derry, had finally stopped teaching Greek (which had been timetabled as an alternative to French) in the year before I arrived, so that was one half of the traditional classical education that was never available to me. In a school with a...
A good grounding in Latin teaches us the importance of categories, rules, tidiness and clarity. It has indeed often been taught in our secondary schools, to sometimes unwilling pupils, with a considerable degree of rigour. But sometimes there can be an untamed, unruly spirit bubbling up underneath the imposed discipline which will not be bound and must find its own expression ‑ in rebelliousness or even high jinks.

IRISH MYTHOLOGY

The Keening Waves

Lady Gregory’s legends of ancient Celtic gods and fighting men
Some have found Lady Gregory’s ‘Kiltartanese’ to be twee or reminiscent of the language of demeaning stage-Irish caricatures and arguably, the idiom may be opaque to international readers or even current inhabitants of Ireland, given how much Irish English has changed over 120 years. A more sympathetic view would be to see Gregory’s style as an example of creative cultural synthesis.

Blogs et cetera

BLOG

Javier Marías 1951-2022

  Javier Marías, who died on Sunday in Madrid from pneumonia, contracted after a bout of Covid, was probably the Spanish writer best-known outside his native country. His work ‑ sixteen novels as well as many volumes of short stories and essays – was translated into more than forty languages. In English translation he may be best known for A Heart So White, which won the Dublin International Literary Prize in 1997, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me and the trilogy Your Face Tomorrow. Marias’s mother, Dolores Franco, was a professor of literature, and his father, Julián Marías, a philosopher,... In his novels Marías avoided political subjects, preferring to dwell on the eternal themes of love, betrayal, secrets. ‘The history of literature,’ he wrote, ‘is probably the same drop of water falling on the same stone, only with different language, different manners, different forms adequate to our own time. But it remains the same thing, the same stories, the same drop on the same stone, since Homer or before.’

BLOG

Sabina Right or Wrong ?

Maurice Earls writes: Following the Treaty of Limerick, Ireland’s capacity to put an army on the field capable of defeating the English ended. For some time, there was hope that Catholic Europe would provide such an army. That turned out to be a vain hope. Irish political culture has been shaped ever since by this reality. We are the great negotiators. We are the great users of whatever political instruments are available to exploit. Our method is patience. We proceed in increments toward our goals. We make strategic concessions and blow hard about our peaceful nature, while all the time...
Peaceful methods of pursuing one’s national interests can offer something less than full emotional satisfaction. For some, that satisfaction has been achieved by elevating our military caution into an almost mystical love of peace. But we are not actually an especially non-violent people. Like many small nations we simply learned the everyday utility of pragmatism the hard way.