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 17, Spring 2011

Issue 17, Spring 2011

Mean Street USA

From the novel of manners to the crime novel of bad manners

History In A Hurry

Murphy shows little interest in or awareness of previous studies of the social context of the revolution, accepts the reality of the probably imaginary “Cairo Gang”, and utterly misrepresents the level of confidence of IRA leaders at the time of the truce. Far from “almost universally” claiming “that victory had been snatched from their grasp by the Truce”, leaders such as Collins, Mulcahy and MacEoin all emphasised the extreme military weakness of the organisation when contributing to the Treaty debates.

This is my Letter to the World

Emily’s self-seclusion was in the family tradition, as was her feeling of superiority, which she expressed in her inimitable manner. At a dinner during her visit to Boston, when presented with a flambé dessert she enquired from the judge sitting beside her, with characteristic poise, whether it was permissible in the capital of Unitarianism to eat hell fire. First published Spring 2011

No Sad Imperialist of the Aesthetic Self

Just as the exiled Joyce carried his own flawed Ireland into exile with him and had then to devise his own means for imaginatively reinventing it, so O’Doherty carried with him an Ireland and found in the then radical movements of minimalist and conceptual art in New York his own forms for expressing elements of his originating world. As his alter ego William Maginn says in The Deposition, “home isn’t where the heart is, it’s where you understand the sons of bitches”.

Behind The Curtain

The memory of Robert Emmet would remain venerated in the James family – Henry James Snr was adept at reciting the speech from the dock. But his novelist son had little sympathy for Ireland. When his sister’s diary was printed two years after her death, he remarked how the years which Alice spent in England had revealed her to be “really an Irishwoman! … in spite of her so much larger and finer than Irish intelligence”.

Augmenting Memory, Dispelling Amnesia

Clearly these iconic books resulted from intervention on the part of outsiders, who convinced islanders they had something of importance to say. This was consonant with the ideals of cultural romantic nationalism, whose impulse to recognise the richness and depth of the vernacular culture of the “people”, and the Irish-speaking people above all, achieved material expression in these works.

Must Do Better

The banks made supernormal profits and knew that if they ever got into trouble the taxpayer would bail them out. This was a wonderfully easy way of making big money. There were hardly any risks involved as far as bank executives were concerned. Fraud may technically be a crime in this country but it is impossible to prove. It is like the modern theology of hell: it exists as a concept but no one actually goes there.

Secrets And Lies

The claims long made in Irish Republican circles of a shoot-to-kill policy are vigorously denied. Andrew states categorically: “There is no evidence in Security Service files that it countenanced or assisted a shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland.” But does this mean it didn’t happen? And what if it had happened? Might a researcher expect to find a file named “Ireland: Shoot-to-Kill Policy”?

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The kaiser was a pioneer in the notion of using Turkey as a bridge between Europe and the Islamic world. The events chronicled in this book are not particularly encouraging, being more consistent with Dr Ian Paisley’s insight that the trouble with a bridge was that it went over to the other side.

All Things Considered

As a child, Czesław Miłosz wrote, ‘I was primarily a discoverer of the world, not as pain but as beauty … Happiness experienced in boyhood does not disappear without a trace.’