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 48, January 27th, 2014

Issue 48, January 27th, 2014

Recovering Princes, Respected Prelates, Reduced Poets

There appears to be some repressive force, almost an enchantment, affecting academic thinking. The experts cannot or will not suspect, let alone address, the crucial position of poets in Gaelic civilisation and in Ireland’s enigmatic history.

Tales from Bective

None of Mary Lavin’s books was actually ever banned, but some critics argue that in order to survive in an era of harsh censorship she may have learned to rely on devices such as ellipsis, allusion and irony more extensively than would otherwise have been the case.

A Cold Literature

The writer, Chinese Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian insists, is not a prophet. He must tell the truth and articulate difference. The only criteria are aesthetic quality and truth to the emotions. “Cold literature” does not seek to change the world.

Frolicking in the Ether

Ciaran Perry’s second poetry collection has feel of a project wholly preconceived and systematically carried out, almost like a doctoral dissertation. Fortunately, he has knitted so skilfully that the sense of a systematic project pales, in the end, against the sense of an achievement.

Making the Link, Breaking the Link

The common religious outlook of the English and Scots, albeit favouring different forms of Protestantism, produced conditions that were more favourable to political union than was the case in Ireland, where the majority continued to cling stubbornly to its Roman Catholic inheritance.

The Listener

The gifts that those who knew him would expect to encounter, intelligence, wit and playfulness, are in ample evidence in Dennis O’Driscoll’s posthumous prose collection, as is his conviction of the central importance of poetry and what it can do.

Governing in Hard Times

Ireland’s first independent government was faced with the ruinous cost of the Civil War, low levels of educational attainment and a tax base heavily eroded by emigration. While they could perhaps have done more to develop the economy, they succeeded in establishing a stable democracy and, in a Europe that was plunging into authoritarianism, transferred power peacefully to their successors.

Slim Pickings for the Soft Left

France has long been a beacon for social democrats but we may be looking at the beginning of the fall of social France. The political elites of right and left increasingly conform to Peter Mair’s idea of the cartel party, but the politically crucial fact is that they conform on the right of the spectrum.