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.

History

Educating Margaret

How Margaret Thatcher was persuaded to sign the Anglo-Irish Agreement
David Goodall’s engaging account of the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement is dominated by the potent presence of Lady Thatcher, a goddess both exacting and capricious. Her acute intelligence and phenomenal energy made her formidable to her subordinates. It is impossible to know whether her capricious side, including her rather odious impulse to bully, was her way of weaponising to her advantage the offensive trope of the irrational female or was just an expression of her character.

Fiction

A Learning Curve

Enda O’Doherty
A German writer learns the cost of making a god of the nation In 1914 Thomas Mann was an unquestioning patriot. His country, whose unique spiritual qualities no foreigner could appreciate, had been forced into a war not of its choosing, but one he was sure it would win. Defeat in that war and the disastrous path Germany followed after the economic crash of 1929 were eventually, slowly, to change his mind. Colm Tóibín’s new novel provides a well-crafted and hugely enjoyable account of the trajectory of this important writer and his talented but turbulent family.

Dublin Review of Books

Back Stories

John Horgan
A miscellany of tales long and short from a career in Irish journalism

Written with Tears

Amanda Bell
An inspiring essay collection from inside the Travelling community

William’s World

Peter Brooke
Blake’s visions of Eden and the meaning of imagination in his verse

Yes We Can

Caroline Hurley
An argument against pessimism and in support of deep human potential

The World Remade

Éamon Mag Uidhir
A journey to motherhood, from miscarriage to the joy of birth

Surviving

Dick Edelstein
Poems of strife and discovery that recall Swift, Behan and Durcan

University Pioneer

Judith Harford
An Irish historian who encountered misogyny in her academic career

Late Blossoming

Maeve O’Sullivan
A moving poetic exploration of impermanence and mortality

The Attic Tarantino

Sean Sheehan
The innovator Euripides puts the heedless Greek gods on the stage

Class

Eat Up

Maura O’Kiely
The right stuff: how to eat your way into a superior social class

German History

The Rebound

David Donoghue
Germany’s rapid bounceback from the destruction of 1945’s ‘Zero Hour’

Empire

Bearing the Burden

Philip McDonagh
Historians’ role in excusing the brutalities of empire-building

Fiction

The Story from Below

Patricia Craig
The Irish working class’s long search for its voice to be heard in literature

Social Planning

People Like Us

Bryan Fanning
Progressivism’s dirty secret: the left intellectuals abolish the poor

Fiction

A Learning Curve

Enda O’Doherty
A German writer learns the cost of making a god of the nation

History

Educating Margaret

Seán OHuiginn
How Margaret Thatcher was persuaded to sign the Anglo-Irish Agreement

Social Planning

People Like Us

Bryan Fanning
Progressivism’s dirty secret: the left intellectuals abolish the poor Marie Stopes, who founded Britain’s first birth control clinic, warned loudly against the folly of allowing ‘the diseased, the racially negligent, the thriftless, the careless, the feebleminded, the very lowest and worst members of the community, to produce innumerable tens of thousands of stunted, warped and inferior infants’. Other keen eugenicists argued for progressive welfare measures that would encourage persons of good breeding stock to have more high-quality children.

Fiction

The Story from Below

The Irish working class’s long search for its voice to be heard in literature
Before the twentieth century, the poor were in general subjected to the scrutiny of others, with few displaying the confidence to speak for themselves or taking their own lives as subjects. Cultural, as well as physical, deprivation contributed to the stifling of the Irish working class voice, and it wasn’t until the advent of James Stephens, say, or Sean O’Casey, that its utterances began to be heard.

Empire

Bearing the Burden

Historians’ role in excusing the brutalities of empire-building
In historians’ apologia for empire the march of progress is seen as impersonal in that it stands above – or is imagined as standing above – the choices of any one person. The ‘great man’ exercises arbitrary power in his own or his country’s self-interest while claiming powerlessness in the face of something bigger than himself. The suppression of natural shame becomes a virtue.

German History

The Rebound

Germany’s rapid bounceback from the destruction of 1945’s ‘Zero Hour’
In the immediate postwar era, feelings of guilt were thin on the ground in Germany. Indeed many felt that, having lived through the terror of nightly bombing raids and the harsh and hungry winters of 1946 and 1947, they were themselves the victims. They therefore, as Harald Jähner drily remarks, ‘had the dubious good fortune of not having to think about the real ones’.

FROM PREVIOUS ISSUES

Essay

Not a Gentleman

Tadhg Foley
Working class Dub and venerated pioneer of Burmese nationalism

Our Enemies’ Enemies

John Mulqueen
How the US and the Vatican combined to help Nazis escape justice

Not So Equal

Patricia Craig
They lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles

Grá Don Domhain

Alan Titley
Love of place, love of nature, love of life: the poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh

Class

Eat Up

The right stuff: how to eat your way into a superior social class
Food exists not just as essential nourishment but sometimes also to hoik us sharply up the social scale. Pen Vogler recalls a friend’s mother once saying that when she was young, ‘you were middle class if your father had heard of Saul Bellow and your mother knew what an avocado was’. It’s a narrow definition, but you know what she meant.

Blogs et cetera

Blog

Aren’t we great?

John Fanning
John Fanning The Irish, Terry Eagleton wrote, were put on earth for other people to feel romantic about. If the positive image we have long enjoyed internationally is now slipping, one reason could be our perceived status as a tax haven. Given the benefits attached to having an attractive ‘brand’ as a nation, we might ask if stubborn defence of our 12.5% corporate tax rate is a wise policy. SEO: Combating negative perceptions of Ireland’s brand deriving from the ‘tax haven’ accusation Nation-branding first began to attract attention in the 1990s, for a number of reasons. Prior to that branding was assumed... The Irish, Terry Eagleton wrote, were put on earth for other people to feel romantic about. If the positive image we have long enjoyed internationally is now slipping, one reason could be our perceived status as a tax haven. Given the benefits attached to having an attractive ‘brand’ as a nation, we might ask if stubborn defence of our 12.5% corporate tax rate is a wise policy.

Lecture

Unionisms and Partition

Richard Bourke Two years after the 1920 Government of Ireland Act which first established Northern Ireland as a distinct jurisdiction within the United Kingdom, Ronald McNeill published a book justifying partition under the title Ulster’s Stand for Union. When it was finally completed in February 1922, McNeill’s work amounted to the fullest attempt to date to champion the legitimacy of Northern Ireland. To this day, it remains the clearest statement of the case for Ulster nationalism. McNeill, who had been educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, was the son of a Co Antrim landowner. He entered parliament in 1911...
Unionism’s fear is being swallowed whole by a conniving Southern administration, yet the truth is that the Republic is deeply uneasy about Irish unity and its electorate will be reluctant to absorb the cost. This gives unionism the chance of pursuing a lasting settlement instead of idly protesting as its future is shaped behind its back.