Morality and moral behaviour, based on informed choices, lead to good laws and good policy. There is a concern that, if religious education disappears from schools, society could bankrupt the moral capital accumulated through centuries of Christian faith – unless we have something strong to replace it.
A collection of poems by Connie Roberts, who grew up in an institution after being removed from a violent home in rural Ireland, portrays her horrific childhood world both inspiringly and artistically, while refusing to ‘tell it slant’ or to ‘gussy it up / in Sunday-best similes’.
Afric McGlinchey’s second collection revolves around a central conceit – the fisher cat, familiar of the fifteenth century alchemist Dom Perlet. Drowned by ‘vigilantes’ in the Seine, the animal reappeared with its master some time later when they took up their old pursuits anew.
Mary O’Malley’s poems have seen a thing or two, but the light has not gone out. They are honest, tough, tender, beautiful, alive to the redemptive possibilities of Ireland’s languages, tuned into popular speech and ready to walk into the world and find something worth loving.
A thoroughly researched novel centred on the events leading to the 1798 rebellion in the North is both a gripping narrative and a fascinating account of the half-forgotten history of political Presbyterianism, a movement in touch with the most radical ideas in France and America.
The musician John Beckett, cousin of the writer, comes across as a difficult character – some thought a crank. Stories abound of his rudeness, especially with drink taken. His musical tastes too were extreme: Handel was too commercial, Beethoven merely ‘souped-up Haydn’.