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 History


Endgame in Paris

On February 13th 1936, the French socialist leader Léon Blum left the Palais Bourbon in Paris, the site of the lower house of parliament, to travel the relatively short distance to his home on the île Saint-Louis. He was driven by Georges Monnet, a friend and colleague, and they were accompanied by Monnet’s wife, Germaine. […]

The Conditions of Liberty

  He is most powerful who is in his own power. Seneca The strength of our nation must be the strength of the whole people. Michael Collins                                                        i […]

First, the Struggle

Liam Lynch: To Declare a Republic, by Gerard Shannon, Merrion Press, 342 pp, €19.99, ISBN:978-1788558211 Liam Lynch was a key figure in the IRA between 1919 and 1921 and went on to become commander of the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War of 1922-23. He is perhaps most important for his central role in the […]

White Mischief

Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire, by Caroline Elkins, Vintage, 896 pp, £16.99, ISBN: 978-0099540250 Age of Emergency: Living with Violence at the End of the British Empire, by Erik Linstrum, Oxford University Press, 328 pp, £26.99, ISBN: 978-0197572030 Untied Kingdom: A Global History of the End of Britain, by Stuart Ward, […]

When Everything Seemed Possible

An American journalist sympathetic to the causes of labour, the emancipation of women and Ireland’s liberation from British rule shaped her journalism into a book. Soon enough, she disappeared into the quiet obscurity of a worthy teaching life. Ruth Russell’s account of her Irish experiences, What’s the Matter with Ireland?, disappeared into obscurity too, surfacing […]

The Fashion for Fascism

Mussolini in Myth and Memory: The First Totalitarian Dictator, by Paul Corner, Oxford University Press, 179 pp, £20, ISBN: 978-0192866646 The Pope At War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini & Hitler, by David I Kertzer, Oxford University Press, 621 pp, £25, ISBN 978-0192890733 I begin writing this review on a day (October 13th, […]

Bohemian Encounters

Postcards from Absurdistan: Prague at the End of History, by Derek Sayer, Princeton University Press, 752 pp, £38, ISBN: 978-0691185453, ISBN: 978-0691239514 (e-book) Postcards from Absurdistan is the third volume in a ‘loose trilogy of cultural histories’ in which Derek Sayer has argued that European modernity is best examined from a vantage point located, both […]

Singing Ireland’s Song

Books drawn on in this essay include: Bard of Erin, The Life of Thomas Moore, by Ronan Kelly, Penguin Ireland, 624 pp, £25.00, ISBN: 978-1844881437 Memoirs of Captain Rock, by Thomas Moore, Longman 1824, Field Day 2008, 328 pp, €25.00, ISBN: 978-0946755370 Captain Rock Detected, by Mortimer O’Sullivan, T Cadell, 1824, 450 pp,   With […]

Idols and Good Old Gods

The arrival of Christianity in Ireland and the unhelpful notion of ‘paganism’

Changing the Question

The triumph of liberal Britain, which survived the eclipse of the party