In 1921, the second Dáil innovatively nominated a minister for fine arts, Count Horace Plunkett, and two staff. In his nineteen weeks in office, Plunkett organised one public event, a sexcentenary celebration of Dante. Then his ministry was subsumed into a department of education. Plunkett’s appointment was the first of many false starts, as the state, like many others throughout the twentieth century, struggled with the idea of supporting the arts as a good in itself.
Frank McGuinness is a writer of openness and adventure. Openness to form: while best known as a playwright, while highly regarded as a poet since the 1990s, he has made forays into other genres, writing short fiction in the early 1980s and publishing two novels in the last decade; openness to varying manner and textures, which can range from tightly focused social realism to fantasy. The list of his stage and film adaptations suggests a keen literary appetite, eager to try anything.
As might be expected, the immediate response to the Rising of those that were or would soon become the leading Irish writers was probably as complex as that of the Irish public more generally. If a generalisation might be risked, the letters and other early writings of 1916 suggest a sense of stunned incomprehension, this sooner or later modulating in some cases into a grudging respect for the executed leaders.
The arrival of Christianity in Ireland and the unhelpful notion of ‘paganism’
The triumph of liberal Britain, which survived the eclipse of the party
The troubadour who mangled ‘Moore’s Melodies’ and inspired Joyce
Modernism and the influence of ‘cinematicity’ on perception
The hyphenated music of Maurice Scully’s shadowy airs
The life of Belfast trade unionist and revolutionary socialist James Baird
A selection of from the pages of the prestigious ‘Dublin Review’