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.

Irish History

Who Fears to Speak of ’99?

What would have happened if General Cornwallis had been sent to Ireland a year earlier? Certainly repression would have been less, though perhaps the revolution would have happened anyway, though somewhat later, and while it would probably also have failed then it might have done so in interesting ways.

A Crowded Stage, an Empty Room

Contrary to popular opinion, there has in fact been a working class Protestant contribution to culture in Northern Ireland. What is more problematic is a specifically Loyalist contribution, as the recent staging of a new play, Tartan, and surrounding events illustrate.

The French Connections

Two new books of essays, one in English and one in French, and a study of Charles de Gaulle’s Irish antecedents reveal the many links, political, historical, cultural and artistic, between ourselves and our next-nearest neighbours.

History: Discipline or Instrument?

Was professional history, based on dispassionate sifting and analysis of evidence, replaced after the 1960s in response to the developing Troubles by a public history more interested in reception than in method, which saw historians take on the role of legitimising the Irish twenty-six-county state, and the border?

Response to Review

The author of Massacre in West Cork maintains that Gerard Murphy’s review contains many errors. The author, Barry Keane, also argues that the reviewer engages in crass speculation regarding his motives.

Generals and their Masters

A guerrilla army wins if it does not lose, Kissinger observed, while a conventional army loses if it does not win. A new edited account of the British army’s campaign to suppress the War of Independence shows a force which felt its hands were tied by its political superiors.

Murder on the Bandon River

A new study of the Dunmanway, Cork massacre of Protestants in 1922 brings some fresh evidence to bear and tries to be fair-minded. It is also hard to quarrel with its main conclusion – that the killings were motivated mostly by revenge for the killing of an IRA leader rather than being specifically targeted at informers.

Fishers of Men

A brace of books on Catholic missionary activity in the early twentieth century in Nigeria show that politics, in the context of rivalry with Protestantism, often featured strongly, while pioneers and idealists where not always well treated by their superiors.

The People’s Parties

If Sweden and Ireland are ever compared, it is almost always to the detriment of the latter and many on the left entertain the notion that we would be a lot better off if we could be more like the Nordics. Yet there are curious similarities between the dominant parties that have been in power for most of the modern history of both countries.

Guns and Chiffon

Nationalist women in early twentieth century Ireland had a sometimes difficult relationship with the conservative mainstream. Yet while they were often quite bohemian they were alive to the need to build a constituency and, as it were, advance with a Lee-Enfield in one hand and a loaf of soda bread in the other.