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.

Writers And Artists

Lord of the Files

Seamus Heaney pays tribute to a man beloved by his friends for his originality as a poet, his acuity as a critic, his probity and courage and merriment.

The Language Police

George Orwell taught us how to detect cant and doublespeak. He also had some views on language that would do credit to a retired colonel in Tunbridge Wells.

Light, and bright, and sparkling

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was published two hundred years ago today. Miss Austen couldn’t wait to try it out on the neighbours.

Was the Famine a Genocide?

Two historians clash in a Belfast radio interview on the Famine. Did the British deliberately plan for genocide by 'allowing nature to run its course'?

Dreamtime in Llareggub

A little bit of Under Milk Wood for St David's Day. Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard rehearses her two late husbands.

Moscow Year Zero

A detailed study of Moscow in the year that Stalin's purges got into full swing is, writes one reviewer, an almost impossibly rich masterpiece.

Gentleman At Arms

Evelyn Waugh writes to his friend Dorothy Lygon about his wartime adventures and work on what was to become Brideshead Revisited.

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.

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!’

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?

Apocalypse No

Predictions of apocalypse tend to situate the ultimate hour within the lifetime of the predicter. Unsurprisingly, since the notion is essentially a metaphorical transference of our individual mortality. And in both biblical and secular versions it is profoundly anti-political, distracting us from what we must do.