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.

Issue 127, November 2020

Seigneur Moments

Martin Amis’s work can be understood as a series of riffs on the base elements of male friendship: rivalry, companionship, sublimated desire. The bullshit quotient is in some ways an index of the bullshit quotient of male friendships, or maybe just the bullshit quotient of men.

A Mission to Unite

Deeply Catholic, though also feminist and liberal, President Mary McAleese built bridges between the denominations. Her commitment was impressive and her story is an inspiring one, even if its large cast of popes, cardinals, bishops, priests and nuns sometimes overwhelms.

Toasted Heretic

Kevin Myers: a conservative failing to keep down his inner adolescent

The Aptest Form

Ranking writers is silly. Affinity, love, allure; consolation, seduction, desire; want – these are the words. Yet it cannot be resisted: no one writes a more alluring, more seductive sentence than Brian Dillon.

Laughter from the Grave

In a media mire of tragedy porn and toothrotsweet sentimentality designed to blunt both our senses and our judgement, revisiting Jenny Diski’s essays, with their wonderful jokes and deftly contained anger, is both a pleasurable experience and a salutary exercise.

Ambassador of Conscience

Kevin Boyle’s authority within People’s Democracy and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association authority derived essentially from his calm, measured delivery. Others certainly had charisma to burn, but as one contemporary observer put it ‘this guy had analysis’.

The Most Gifted Woman in Ireland

Hannah Lynch’s enthusiasm for travel was central to her writing. Her status as a lone, unchaperoned woman traveller, and coming from Ireland, a country much travelled against, doubtless sharpened her critique of existing dominant travel narratives.

The Liar’s Dividend

If what passes for political satire has as its chief effect the buttressing of the belief that all politics is mired in deceit, then shameless, unconcealed mendacity can come to seem, however perversely, refreshingly honest ‑ with results that by now are too depressingly clear.

Unintended Consequences

In December 1920 the Catholic bishop of Cork said violence in the city had ‘become like a devil’s competition in feats of murder and arson’ between the IRA and Crown forces. Shortly afterwards a large gang of men destroyed the printing presses of the ‘Examiner’, which had printed his pastoral.

Shaping ‘Nature’

The problem for many of the ‘improvers’ of 19th century Ireland was that they saw too much ‘nature’ – wild, uncivilised, uncouth. An unwillingness to face the implications of expropriation meant that ‘improvement’ was more often tendentious, moral scold than economic remedy.