Mary Noonan’s descriptive powers recall, in their meticulous detail, Elizabeth Bishop. She is a poet of the senses – this collection is drenched in colour, from the blue of her father’s eyes to the dreamy greens of the swamps, but of all the senses, sound is perhaps the most prominent.
References to a First Communion, a birthday, suggest a recognisably Irish calendar, where seasons, generations, routine festivals, interweave, and time tolerates these interlocking layers of the traditional and brand-new, which sit alongside a range of reference from classical mythology.
What distinguishes Peter Sirr’s latest collection from the usual themes of nostalgia and consciousness of time passing is a kind of psychic connection with both the observed and the unseen worlds, a conflation of past and present, where ‘centuries hang like apples on the trees’.
Christine Dwyer Hickey has written a profoundly empathetic novel, its impact all the greater for its abiding reticence. Its great achievement lies in its balance of a deliberately unshowy form and tone and the great sweeps and depths of feeling embedded with the narrative.
A mildly salacious exchange in 1966 between Gay Byrne and a ‘Late Late’ guest, and the controversy which followed, were often later cited as a classic example of the binary clash between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ Ireland. But was the controversy largely a media-fuelled affair?