After a life lived mainly ‘elsewhere than in Ireland’, Harry Clifton returned to live in Portobello, near his boyhood home. The return brings with it some foreboding: will the past and its ghosts rush forward to embrace him? Mind you, he’s not the only one who is out of place.
Alan McMonagle’s debut novel has been compared to McCabe’s ‘The Butcher Boy’ and Ryan’s ‘The Spinning Heart’. He has nothing to fear from the comparisons. This is an assured and poised, hilarious and poignant work, both clever and touching, a tour de force.
The Power of Nine
Paula Meehan’s discovery of countercultural influences has long been a strategy of her poetic process, and the idea of divination is the holding pattern for this collection. The first poems are love songs to the moon and sea, the last to a sense of home, on an Aegean island, Ikaria.
Louise C Callaghan’s welcome new collection is shaped as a quartet, with the parts sharing core themes. The first treats of a Dublin childhood; the second features tributes to other admired poets; the third evokes the Aran Islands and the fourth the painter – and man – Francisco Goya.
Tales of Wonder
What we call fairytales rarely feature fairies, but they recount, in a rich code of metaphors and symbols, the journey of human beings from childhood to adulthood. They are simple and profound, in structure elementary and unfussy, in ideas basic and universal, in style beautiful and attractive.
Desperately Seeking Focus
An exhibition that confuses painting with reportage does not make for great art. History painting is not and was never meant to be reportage. Rather its aims were to instil feelings of reverence for the heroes of the past and pride in the stories that shape a nation’s identity.
Lost on Leeside
The hero of Lisa McInerney’s ‘The Glorious Heresies’ is back in her second novel, ‘The Blood Miracles’. Ryan Cusack, now pushing twenty-one, has just come out of hospital confused and depressed. He has been offered a rebirth of sorts but new beginnings are not easy.
Sharing the Island
In the difficult and protracted Cypriot peace talks both sides need to take a cooler and more imaginative look at what they have chosen to remember, and, most importantly, what they have chosen to forget. Each in fact has much to regret as well as to commemorate in their common history.
A Century in Print
Toby Barnard’s quirky and often humorous study of Irish publishing in the eighteenth century contains an immense quantity of information gleaned from a huge variety of sources, all woven into a single colourful tapestry. It is the richest work on the subject ever accomplished.
A Servant of the Crown
When old age pensions were introduced in 1908 there was a fear among senior administrators in Ireland that they would be massively abused by ‘a class of people who have brought scheming for the purposes of obtaining state and charitable aid to a pitch of perfection’.