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.

irish history

On the Brink

Breaking away from the empire: the dilemma of the 1921 Treaty negotiators
The British might privately concede that a dominion could not be prevented from seceding from the empire by force. But that was not their attitude towards the colonies before 1960, nor was it towards Ireland in 1921-22. While the empire, or the British commonwealth as it began to be called, was presented idealistically as a voluntary association of free nations, membership was to be compulsory for Ireland under the threat of the resumption of immediate and terrible war.

literature

Wild Child

Early to late: questions about the conventional Jane Austen timeline For later commentators hostile to the social milieu portrayed in her fiction or scornful of her characters’ immense decorum, Jane Austen came to represent the antithesis of the natural and authentic: polite but repressed, clever but buttoned-up. Yet a perusal of her teenage writings reveals a young woman who was tough, unsentimental and mischievous, drawn to rude, anarchic imaginings and black jokes, qualities that are sublimated but not absent in her later published works, in spite of the sad case of the priggish Fanny Price.

Dublin Review of Books

A Revolutionary’s Life

Gerald Dawe
An affectionate portrait of Ernie O’Malley in war and in exile

Family Troubles

Tanvi Roberts
Nobel laureate Louise Glück’s poetic use of figures from Greek mythology

Wheeler Dealers

Mary Nagle
Luke Cassidy’s novel of drug deals, heists and mess-ups along the border

Making Israel Unreal

Donal Moloney
Opinion: The faulty thinking of the boycott and divestment campaign

Caldron Bubble

Dick Edelstein
Where the line that separates our lives from chaos seems alarmingly thin

From out of the Box

Ross Moore
Vona Groarke marshals her strengths to poems notably apt for ‘these times’

Hello to Berlin

Margaret Haverty
Dropping in, not dropping out: Irish emigrants find a new destination

memoir

Hugging Stalin

Michael Foley
Growing up under, and then losing, the certainty that socialism will win

Literary Theory

Where To Next?

Enda Duffy
Joe Cleary explores world literature and Irish literature’s place in it

irish literature

Down on the Farm

Heather Laird
Farming, land and land hunger as a theme in modern Irish literature

identity

Are We Civilised at All?

Luke Warde
Fintan O’Toole’s personal narrative of Ireland’s ‘ascent to normality’

popular music

The Reunion

Philip Ó Ceallaigh
Leonard Cohen’s fusion of sacred and profane, of words and music

irish history

On the Brink

Martin Mansergh
Breaking away from the empire: the dilemma of the 1921 Treaty negotiators

literature

Wild Child

Ann Kennedy Smith
Early to late: questions about the conventional Jane Austen timeline

popular music

The Reunion

Leonard Cohen’s fusion of sacred and profane, of words and music When it came to the sacred and the profane, Leonard Cohen liked to shake it up, seeing love and sex in sacramental terms, yet suffering crippling guilt. His and Dylan’s great achievement was to return poetry to its traditional marriage with music. One can analyse Cohen’s words without the music, but it’s like discussing form and content: neither actually exists without the other. The music can be played without the lyrics or the lyrics printed without the music: but neither of these is the song.

identity

Are We Civilised at All?

Fintan O’Toole’s personal narrative of Ireland’s ‘ascent to normality’
The narrative Fintan O’Toole presents is dramatised for the purposes of the kind of book he has written. Ireland’s ascent to ‘normality’ comes off as remarkable because freakish. Unlike other ‘proper Western countries’, we faced unique psychic headwinds. Yet surely France and Germany, Spain and Italy had demons of their own to exorcise, many of them equally if not more troubling than our own?

irish literature

Down on the Farm

Farming, land and land hunger as a theme in modern Irish literature
The small family farm, Nicholas Grene argues, can be seen as a metonym for Ireland. The historical context is the late 19th century alliance between the land movement and nationalism. The transfer of ownership resulting from various land purchase acts could, therefore, be equated with the transfer of ownership of the Irish nation.

Literary Theory

Where To Next?

Joe Cleary explores world literature and Irish literature’s place in it
Rooney’s ‘Normal People’ was set in an Irish town and Trinity College. But it could have been Alsace and the Sorbonne or Minnesota and Stanford. If subsequent Irish writing is to build on Rooney, as it must, what message from an Ireland no longer marked by a tangible uniqueness of history and place will be offered to the world?

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

Mean Street USA

From the novel of manners to the crime novel of bad manners
A few bald generalisations first. If we were asked to say what was the hallmark of English fiction, the chances are the answer would be that it’s very concerned with manners – good manners, that is; with the types of behaviour permissible under an agreed code which combines prescriptions and expectations.

memoir

Hugging Stalin

Growing up under, and then losing, the certainty that socialism will win
A coming of age story set in communist Albania that is lyrical, funny and moving and also a serious work of history and politics. Thirty years on, Lea Ypi does not mourn the repressive state but rejects a liberalism that claims to enable people to realise their potential but fails to change the structures that prevent everyone from flourishing.

Blogs et cetera

blog

How can you sell Killarney?

Enda O’Doherty writes: One of the more amusing moments in the neither long nor glorious history of far-right politics in Ireland came in the late 1990s when an election candidate carrying the banner for Ireland for the Irish expounded on the (many) reasons why immigration was a bad thing. The particular one that has stuck in my mind was its supposedly negative effect on our tourism industry. People come on holiday to Ireland, the candidate argued, not just for the scenery but to meet Irish people and to sample our culture. If the people they actually encounter, at the... Governments in every country seem to be just as much in favour of culture as they once were of motherhood. They are, to varying degrees, prepared to finance it, to subsidise those persons and organisations who help ‘make it happen’. Yet there are others who would prefer to see it put to work, to earn its keep by hauling in the tourists or serving a political agenda.

Eulogy

Frank Callanan 1956-2021

  Frank Callanan died suddenly at his Dublin home on December 12th last year. Frank was a distinguished senior counsel and historian. The author of ground-breaking works on the politics of Ireland between the Land War and the independence period, he combined careers at the front rank of the Bar and as the author of extraordinary historical works. His first published book, The Parnell Split, 1890-91 (Cork University Press, 1992) transformed understanding of Parnell’s strategy in that crisis and the politics of that shaping division in the Home Rule period. His biography T.M. Healy (Cork University Press, 1996) displays his...
Frank Callanan was a distinguished senior counsel, historian and Joyce scholar. His first published book transformed understanding of Parnell’s strategy during ‘the split’. His biography of TM Healy profiled the leader’s nemesis. His study of Joyce’s politics is due to be published posthumously this year. We publish the text of the eulogy delivered at Frank’s funeral by his friend Margaret O’Callaghan.