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 Issue 05, Spring 2008

Issue 05, Spring 2008

Forbidden Memories

The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia, by Orlando Figes, Allen Lane, 740pp, £25, ISBN: 978-0713997026 “I remember the grey wall of silent people who watched us walk towards the cart. No one moved or said anything … No one hugged us, or said a parting word; they were afraid of the soldiers, who walked […]

Swallowed by the Shopping Centre

What Was Lost, by Catherine O’Flynn, Tindal Street Press, 242 pp, £8.99, ISBN: 978-0955138416 Of all British cities Birmingham has perhaps best reason to feel aggrieved by the work of the mid-twentieth century planners. Although the Luftwaffe mauled the area during the war, residents initially had good cause to expect a speedy recovery following VE […]

Out of the Ashes

Auf der Höhe der Zeit: Soziale Demokratie und Fortschritt im 21. Jahrhundert (Up to Date: Social Democracy and Progress in the 21st Century), by Matthias Platzeck, Peer Steinbrück and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Vorwärts Buch, 344 pp, €14.80, ISBN: 978-3866026292 In spite of a fair modicum of electoral success in recent years the main formation of the German […]

Give a Thing and Take it Back

Walk the Blue Fields, by Claire Keegan, Faber & Faber, 163 pp, £10.99, ISBN: 978-0571233069 The story which has attracted most critical attention in this, Claire Keegan’s second collection, is one which she writes in explicit homage to John McGahern: “Surrender”. Inspired by an event recounted in his final work, Memoir, it focuses on an episode […]

Battling the Beast of Brussels

On Thursday June 11th, 1992 I spoke at a public meeting in Bray, Co Wicklow as part of the Maastricht Treaty referendum campaign. With colleagues, I strongly advocated a Yes vote and engaged in a quite intense debate with those arguing against the treaty. As we ended the formalities and made the usual enquiries about […]

A Long March

Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789-2006, by Paul Bew, Oxford University Press, 652 pp, £35, ISBN: 978-0198205555 Paul Bew is an extremely intelligent, widely read, urbane, productive, original and extensively published historian with a sustained record of public engagement in politics. As an historian he professionally reads his way through multiple, and not just official, […]

Silent Symphony

Music in Nineteenth-Century Ireland, Michael Murphy & Jan Smaczny (eds), Four Courts Press, 336 pp, €55, ISBN: 978-1846820243 That Music in Nineteenth-Century Ireland should be the ninth in a series of Irish Musical Studies might not strike the general reader as anything remarkable. But such continuity of effort (under the general editorship of Gerald Gillen and Harry […]

Ancestral Vices

Soldier, Sailor: An Intimate Portrait of an Irish Family, by Eliza Pakenham, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 312 pp, £20, ISBN: 978-0297843771 Soldier Sailor has many charms. It’s a clever concept – a young member of a well-known Anglo-Irish family wishes to find out who the subjects of the oil paintings on the walls of the dining room […]

Lost in the Jungle

His Illegal Self, by Peter Carey, Faber & Faber, 272pp, £16.99, ISBN: 978-0571231515 Peter Carey is lost in the jungle. It’s not the concrete jungle of his more recent home, New York City, but the jungle that is more properly called “the bush”, the anarchic forest of his native Australia. A masterful novelist, one of […]

History Is To Blame

Books drawn on in this essay include: The Plot Against Samuel Pepys, by James and Ben Long, Faber and Faber, 322 pp, £17.99, ISBN: 978-0571227136 The Diaries of Samuel Pepys – a Selection, Robert Latham (ed), Penguin, 1,152 pp, £14.99, ISBN: 978-0141439938 The Glorious Revolution: 1688 – Britain’s Fight for Liberty, by Edward Vallance, Abacus, […]