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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Irish History

Breaking Their Will

The physical violation of the body in force-feeding, introduced against suffragettes, highlighted issues of domination, servitude, and the desire to humiliate. Infinitely worse than the pain, wrote Sylvia Pankhurst, was the sense of degradation.

The Most Gifted Woman in Ireland

Hannah Lynch’s enthusiasm for travel was central to her writing. Her status as a lone, unchaperoned woman traveller, and coming from Ireland, a country much travelled against, doubtless sharpened her critique of existing dominant travel narratives.

Unintended Consequences

In December 1920 the Catholic bishop of Cork said violence in the city had ‘become like a devil’s competition in feats of murder and arson’ between the IRA and Crown forces. Shortly afterwards a large gang of men destroyed the printing presses of the ‘Examiner’, which had printed his pastoral.

The Boys of the Blue Brigade

The burning of churches and wholesale murder of priests and nuns during the Spanish Civil War provoked an expedition of Irish volunteers, led by the Blueshirt Eoin O’Duffy. Their intervention was to fizzle out in drunkenness, indiscipline and some not very Catholic behaviour in bars and brothels.

The Queen’s English

Language shift in Ireland has usually been seen as deriving from integration into the British economy and the resulting pragmatic choices made by peasants. But this is to neglect the role of the state, which conducted its business in English and tended to force its clients to do the same.

Freedom’s Just Another Word

There is a good deal of evidence to suggest that rock music was foundationally both socially liberal and economically neoliberal from the mid-70s onwards. The social liberalism may have been most evident in the music, the neoliberalism in the media infrastructures that carried it.

The Unknown Eileen

Had Eileen O’Shaughnessy not taken up with George Orwell, she might have found success, if not fame, in her own right, possibly as an academic or a child psychologist. Her loss was to be his gain, something neither he nor most of his biographers have properly taken on board.

Didn’t They Do Well?

Irish settlers in Argentina saw no contradiction between leaving a country wracked by land conflict and occupying land in the one to which they’d moved from which the native people had been expelled. For they were a civilised people and the dispossessed were savages.

Holding the Fort

The fact that Trinity College, in central Dublin, was not taken by the insurgents in Easter 1916 can largely be credited to the defensive actions of colonial soldiers, including New Zealanders. The Rising, and the war that followed, put the New Zealand Irish in an invidious position.

A Different Kind of Republic

While it is part and parcel of a ritual reaffirmation of identity, republicanism in Ireland has no practical significance in everyday life: it does nothing to alleviate burning problems in areas such as housing, health, transport or pollution. The concept once had other, more fruitful, meanings.