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.

Home Uncategorized The Ring of Truth

The Ring of Truth

Theo Dorgan
A Conspiracy of Lies, by Frank Connolly, Mercier Press, 352 pp, €16.99, ISBN: 978-1781176627 Consider for a moment the many things you “know for a fact” that you could never prove in a court of law. Every journalist worth her or his salt is familiar with the agony of having the inside track on a story, its truth established to one’s own satisfaction but knowing you will never get it past the in-house lawyers. News of this kind circulates in a particular way, on a level of discourse we have all of us learned to handle skilfully, never giving our full assent but sure, as we absorb a particular story, that there is the feel of truth, or at least of some truth, in what we are hearing. The investigative journalist who has invested time and much hard work in cultivating a wide and deep range of sources, who has become skilled in placing these sources on a scale of reliability, whose honed instinct has been well-developed, will necessarily feel the agony that attends such stories a little more keenly. To have the elements of truth in your hand, to feel the itch to put this truth out there in the public domain, but to be restrained and frustrated by the constraints of what must be provable in law … it’s an occupational hazard of course, but somehow I doubt that this lessens the agony. The customary solution for many journalists, the cure for both pain and the unscratched professional itch, is to write a novel, to cloak truth in fiction, deep enough to keep the hounds of the law at bay yet not so deep that the reader can’t piece out or puzzle out what’s being told. Frank Connolly is considered by many, including myself, one of the best investigative journalists of recent times, so when he sets a novel in and around the tumultuous days of 1974, when the bombs went off in Monaghan and Dublin, one is inclined to sit up and pay a particular kind of attention. Sure enough, in A Conspiracy of Lies the reader will feel that he or she is getting a considerable education in the murky and often savage politics of the day ‑ no shortage here of hints as to the provenance of the bombs (and of the bombers’ masters), and a very great deal of backstairs political intrigue. Much of the texture…

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