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.

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Heaven Can Wait

The Good Enough Life, by Daniel Miller, Polity, 280 pp, £17.99, ISBN: 978-1509559657 The world is full of war, fear, anger and hatred. One of the big questions for moral philosophers and anyone else interested in living a good life is why human beings can’t co-exist in peace and harmony. Why can’t they be content […]

Whole Lotta Shakin’

One thing that endeared my in-laws to me was that they held on to my wife’s collection of 45s – her records, I mean, not her (non-existent) collection of other revolvers. True, they were buried in a box under crumpled high-school decals, spineless paperbacks and ratty college notebooks. But there they were: originals of ‘Please […]

The Outsider

A Thread of Violence, by Mark O’Connell, Granta, 288 pp, £12.99, ISBN: 978-1783789573 They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you. Philip Larkin, ‘This Be The Verse’ In 1982 Malcolm Macarthur murdered […]

Football Crazy

  Soccer and Society in Dublin: A History of Association Football in Ireland’s Capital, by Conor Curran, Four Courts Press, 352 pp, €35, ISBN: 978-180151-0394 When I was a half-Irish boy growing up in London in the 1950s and 1960s, I was football-mad. And the thing that distinguished me from my soccer-obsessed school and club […]

Covering the Eighth

  The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution was passed in a public referendum forty years ago. As a result of that amendment, any form of abortion in the Irish Republic was henceforth considered to be unconstitutional. In March of 2018, Simon Harris, the minister for health, told Dáil Éireann of the government’s plan to […]

The Grit and the Glitter

Two Brothers: The life and times of Bobby and Jackie Charlton, by Jonathan Wilson, Little, Brown, 384 pp, £20, ISBN 978-1408714492 It was 1972 and the Sunday Mirror was not allowed into our house in rural Tipperary. On Saturday evening, May 20th, there was startling news in the ads on television before the Late Late […]

A Place for the Arts

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.

Celebrating Bricktop

A recent serendipitous find in the Oxfam shop in Belfast and costing all of £1.75, Professor Sharpley-Whiting’s account (she’s a US academic specialising in African-American and Diaspora studies) of the African-American women who travelled to Paris during the roaring 1920s to showcase their creativity away from the restrictive Jim Crow laws of their native land […]

The Good Fight

American foreign correspondents at large in an age of optimism

Good Things

Reading the cookbook as an instance of self-expression and social display.