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.

Blog Articles

European Anti-Semitism

American novelist and short story writer Cynthia Ozick claims to find an ineradicable anti-Semitism at work in Europe. But her definition of the phenomenon may not be the same as yours or mine.

The Sine Qua Non of Civilisation

Fifty years ago four New York friends met for dinner and came up with a project which was to leave a lasting mark on American intellectual life.

The Impossible Bookshop

There are two ways of looking at it: bookshops are about atmosphere, character, associations, romance; or they are about books. If we go for the former we soon won’t have any bookshops.

Who will own ebooks?

A dispute between France and Luxembourg and the European Commission seems to have implications for the question of whether individual European companies will be able to thrive in the electronic book market or if it will be a case of (American) winner takes all.

The Great Pilgrim Hat Mirror Scam

If Johann Gutenberg’s first money-making wheeze had gone just a little differently he might not have bothered inventing printing.

This Is Not About Me

Why do novelists write novels about novelists? Maylis Besserie presents the thoughts of an elderly gentleman from another generation, someone removed from her by era, gender and nationality, and thus asserts, in defiance of current orthodoxy, the independence of artistic creation.

Derek Mahon, the poet

Although Mahon was the last poet one would accuse of naivety, he was attracted to an ideal of simplicity, writes Magdalena Kay. This correlates with a tacit conviction that feelings of insignificance can bring on ecstasy: ‘Such tiny houses, such enormous skies!’

Derek Mahon: 1941-2020

Derek’s was a life characterised by a certain turbulence, dedication to his craft, a disputatious impulse and an inner reserve sometimes bordering on the stand-offish. But when the mood took him he was uproarious company.

A Long Way Down

Brian Friel, in ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, refers to the sudden disappearance from their Donegal home in the 1930s of two of his aunts, Rose and Agnes. The play is not wholly autobiographical, but the true story of what happened to these women is deeply sad but perhaps not so unusual.


Thirty years after the publication of the ‘Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing’ many critics still dismiss Irish women’s writing as lacking ‘seriousness’ and deride them and their female characters for a supposed lack of ‘likeability’. Could it be that they just don’t like women?

John Hume 1937-2020

Two years ago, Michael Lillis published a review of two books about the former SDLP leader, enriched by his personal experience as an official of the Irish government in working with Hume in the diplomatic process which preceded the Belfast Agreement. We are republishing part of it here.

Foclóir or Folklore?

Darach Ó Séaghdha’s bestselling book ‘Motherfoclóir’ developed from his successful Twitter project ‘The Irish For’. In the book he has been willing, keen even, to lay into scholarly lexicographers past and present. But the number of mistakes in his own work does not inspire confidence.