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 Literature

The Seamus Heaney Experience

On a jaunt to Ayrshire, Seamus Heaney came upon the Robert Burns Visitor Experience. When friends joked that there might soon be a Heaney Experience he suggested ‘a few churns and a confession box’. Roy Foster’s impressive new study provides an alternative route into that experience.

The Past, Revisited

Niamh Campbell’s ‘This Happy’ finds coordinates for today’s slumlords in Ireland’s colonial past. She also edges her readers to the idea that the attempts of the socially dispossessed to transcend class belittlement through the corridors of education might be based on an illusion.

A Female Text

Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s writing in her first prose work is as compelling and accomplished as in her best poetry. The book reveals her as a writer who is willing to take risks, to push back boundaries, refusing to let herself be hemmed in by the demands of genre, gender or tradition.

Whatever You Say

The narrator of Alice Lyons’s novel, an American of Irish stock raised in New Jersey, finds on a second visit to the auld sod that she has to learn to speak the language ‑ which is not as easy as she thought, as the true native language, she finds, is not Irish but silence.

The Procrustean Bed

Since her remarkable debut, ‘The Heel of Bernadette’, Colette Bryce has shown both variation and range in her work, developing a distinctive poetic personality that places her outside of and beyond the ‘Northern thing’.

Great Upheavals, Small Triumphs

In “The Changing Mountain”, his recent essay on the mutable parameters of elegy (Poetry London Issue 96) Stephen Sexton notes “the imperceptible change a photograph, say, undergoes when someone depicted in it has died; how these images seem, somehow, utterly changed without having changed at all”.

Into the West

From Killary to Barna, Salthill to Inisbofin, a collection of twenty short stories gathered from Galway city and county evokes the unique spirit, atmosphere and salty tang of the western city and county perched on the windswept edge of the Atlantic.

The Hard Life

When he agreed to allow her to be his biographer Samuel Beckett told Deirdre Bair that his friends would help her and his enemies would also surely seek her out. She was to find that while Beckett was honourable if elusive, it could be hard to tell his friends and enemies apart.

Nobody will see us

Out of bleak contexts and grey ingredients, Conor O’Callaghan creates a spare, emotionally fraught story of home, homelessness and unsettlement. Yet there is no absence of emotion: the approach is to strip away the fat – to permit a wide view, while withholding much by way of detail.

Time and the Woman

Eimear Mc Bride’s new novel presents us with a woman, or maybe a series of women, at various stages of life, presented within the confines of a hotel room, but on each occasion in a different city. There is a twist at the end. But it’s not a plot twist, because there is no plot.