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 119, February 2020

Issue 119, February 2020

A Place to Stand

Poems whose titles use the word ‘against’, like ‘Against Despair’, ‘Against Anxiety’ and ‘Against Earnestness’, are not Groucho Marx-inspired (‘whatever it is I’m against it’) but rather resemble small prayers, personal ones rather than those out of the churches’ lexicon.

Shandy, Anyone?

Imagine a ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ for the 21st century, except that the kitchens and flophouses have become nightclubs and galleries and the immigrant dishwashers and angry chefs have been replaced by vagabond writers and stoned conceptual artists.

Moving from the Familiar

Change, Anne Enright tells us, is chiefly what the short story is about, with something known at the end – or nearly known ‑ that was not known before. Many of Pat O’Connor’s stories begin in a place that is familiar to us but soon move to somewhere strange and unsettling.

Glimmering in the Dark

In his artfully constructed second novel, which displays a fine ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for the workings of relationships, Neil Hegarty has conflated patriarchy, religion, violence and family in a manner that is both exactingly specific and utterly convincing.

Saturated with Light

Another perfect volume from Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, the poet of sunlight and cloisters. The collection is a joy to read, and a reminder, yet again, that poets are sent to amaze us, to bring us all nearer to the light.

Putting it on

Katherine O’Dell’s acting fame is based on being Hollywood-Irish, particularly in her role as a nun in the hugely successful ‘Mulligan’s Holy War’. Cinema, of course, trades in yearning and, as her daughter remarks, Katherine could miss the old sod standing in her own kitchen in Dublin.

A European Destiny

A massive and erudite history of southeastern Europe from late antiquity to the present demonstrates that the region is properly part of the continent’s history and culture rather than a transitional place between ‘Western’ order and civilisation and the chaos of the Orient.

Not so Innocent

The ‘Irish slaves’ meme enjoyed considerable success on social media for some time before its lack of historical substance was exposed. As the evidence of both documents and bricks and mortar attests, there is more reason to be aware of Irish slaveowners than slaves.

America Dreaming

There was a time when the American Dream was taken to mean the integration of immigrants and a reasonable level of prosperity for all. Yet it is reasonable to point out the term’s elasticity of meaning, and that today some of the hardest-working Americans remain poor.

Washing the Nation’s Dirty Laundry

The women interned in mother-and-baby homes not only did forced penance for other people’s sins. They also quite literally washed the laundry of the state, including that of institutions like hospitals, the National Library, Áras an Uachtaráin and the ESB.