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

Found Again

Towards the close of Gerard Smyth’s quietly impressive collection, a sequence of elegies acts as both an act of creative solidarity and a defiant rebuttal of creativity’s all-too-inevitable cessation. The poems, rather like memory itself, call out to and answer each other.

The Poet and the City

Austin Clarke, who started his writing career during the Celtic twilight years and adapted some Irish language poetic forms and themes, has suffered from falling on the wrong side of the nationalist/modernist divide, a contrast partially built on critical essays by Beckett.

Grá Don Domhain

Cathal Ó Searcaigh’s love poems are part of a bigger picture in which quite simply love of life is the driving force. This love of life can be furled down to love of place, and love of nature, and love of language, more simply, love of the world.

The State of Us

Elaine Feeney combines linguistic verve, biting irony and unflinching commentary on modern Ireland to produce a tragicomic tour-de-force. Shocking, exhilarating and life-affirming, ‘As You Were’ is a masterful debut by a fresh new voice in Irish fiction.

Getting Away

A necessary literary device to throw characters together in unfamiliar settings, communal family/friend away-events feature a lot in genre and popular fiction. If fiction teaches us anything it is that we should steer well clear of attempting anything similar in real life.

Into Us to Keep

Seamus Heaney’s Virgil translation was one of a number of posthumous publications, but now it seems there is no more to come. As Auden wrote in memory of Yeats, the poet has become his admirers. And of course there are the poems, on offer here in a new selection by Heaney’s family.

Pontifex

For Michael, the engineer protagonist of Adrian Duncan’s new novel, lovers’ entwined arms are a reminder of the connections of girders on a suspension bridge. For readers sated with sensitive literary heroes, Duncan analytical and oblique approach to relationships could come as a relief.

Daddy’s Girl

Laura wants to be a big-time sharp-talking actress like those in the ’40s films noirs she watched with her father. She has loads of parts in her: ‘easy-to-see parts and long forgotten parts and parts I encounter in my problematic dreams. I have shadow parts. They do not wish me well.’

The Ring of Truth

There are things you ‘know for a fact’ but perhaps cannot prove. Sometimes the frustration of such situations can drive a journalist to turn to fiction, as Frank Connolly has done with a compelling story set against the background of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974.

The Capital of Modernity

When James Joyce chose exile he opted not for England, where the Irish writer was an entertainer, but Paris, the epicentre of a ‘Europe’ that was utterly different from the Anglo-Irish world in which he had grown up, a world full of possibilities, openness and experiment.