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.

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Seamus Deane
The End of Outrage: Post-Famine Adjustment in Rural Ireland, by Breandán Mac Suibhne, Oxford University Press, 352 pp, £20, ISBN: 978-0198738619 It is generally agreed that The End of Outrage is a remarkable book. It tells the story of a west Donegal community, Beagh, in the years after the Famine, when the Ribbon Society was making its feeble attempts to modify some of the worst excesses of the land and landlord system that had and would always have the exterminations of the Great Hunger as its most notable and characteristic achievement. We look here at the aftermath, at the shattered community, or the fragment of it, that tried and failed to survive or seriously to contest the brutalities of the colonial regime, its police, magistrates and courts, hangings, virtual burial alive in prisons and workhouses, continuous radical hunger, the death of the Irish language, the unceasing haemorrhages of exile or of its first cousin, mon semblable, criminal transportation. That community died of its injuries. What had been its vivid internal life withered and hardened into a rabid Catholicism (of a reactionary, baroque kitsch form imported from anti-revolutionary France) and, simultaneously, dissolved into the Anglophone capitalist modernity that continues its wild Atlantic ways to the present. Two slimy figures dominate. One is an informer and the other is, to turn a phrase, one of the hard-faced men who did well out of the Famine. Together they help ruin the community and transform it into a world stripped of people and of communal ethics. The informer, Patrick McGlynn, turned on the Molly Maguires, aka the Ribbon Society, of which he was a member, in early April 1856, when he wrote his first letter to the local magistrate and thereafter sustained his calculated treachery with success until mid-August 1857 when he and his family embarked from Dublin to Liverpool en route for Australia, on a witness protection programme, passage and expenses paid by the government. The hard-faced man was James Gallagher, whom McGlynn claimed he was anxious to protect from the Ribbonmen. Gallagher allowed his father to enter the poorhouse, exploited the distress of his neighbours, swallowed their land, cleared his subtenants, became, in his iron coldness, the paradigm figure of the economic world in which possession was nine points of the law and dispossession the fate of those beyond it, the out-laws. Ribbonism fades, corrupts, Irish-America, itself a harsh environment, becomes part of Irish political…



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