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.



Imperishable Song

Joseph M Hassett
The echo of Yeats’s voice in Seamus Heaney’s letters is a fascinating example of the way in which a poet’s words can achieve a form of immortality by virtue of their adoption by successor poets. The same process will certainly also happen to Heaney himself. The third century BC poet Callimachus captured this poetic communion in an elegy for his friend Heraclitus, in which the voice of the deceased poet can still be heard in the nightingale’s song.


Ukraine Diary

Francis Foyle
Marta is comfortable speaking Ukrainian, even if it’s not her first language. She’d like her daughter to speak it too, though she doesn’t want to live there once the war is over. The words ‘once the war is over’ were mine. People are traumatised, in the grip of circumstance, not completing thoughts. They’re readying themselves for the least bad future, if still hopeful for anything.


Myths About Migration

David Donoghue
We are witnessing an unprecedented level of human mobility, and this is set to continue. The total number of migrants today is some 281 million, or just over 3 per cent of the world population. Migrants are present in every country, most of them moving back and forth freely. It is wrong to frame migration, as many do, as a ‘problem’, still less as a ‘crisis’. Rather it is a reality, a fact of life, an essential part of the human condition.


Witness for the Prosecution

Katrina Goldstone
Born to communist parents in 1935, at the height of the Depression, and in a neighbourhood almost entirely made up of working class Jews, Vivian Gornick is a representative of a dying breed – one forged in the crucible of twentieth century history and its twin political forces of socialism and feminism, experienced through a secular Jewish identity. Her ambition to write was quite singular and the form it first took perhaps even more so. ‘I grew up wanting to write the Great American Novel,’ she has said. Some chutzpah.


A Century of Art

Christina Kennedy
The local codes are, in fact, those of the serial nature of Ogham script. The charge of the ‘geographical distance’ exemplified by the work is hard to reconcile with its presence in Cobh, an historic point of departure for countless emigrants. Cobh is as synonymous with emigration as Ellis Island or Holyhead.


Attack, attack, attack

David Blake Knox
Stone also worked for a succession of mainstream politicians, including Richard Nixon. He told me he owned the world’s largest collection of Nixon memorabilia, and even had a large tattoo of the former president’s face on his back. I assumed he was joking, but I later saw for myself that he wasn’t.


Lost Poets’ Society

Peter Sirr
Sappho has always been threatened and often marginalised, her work disparaged as inconsequential or emotional, gossipy or bitchy. Yet she was also recognised as a supremely gifted lyric poet. Solon, when asked why he wanted to hear a particular poem by her, replied ‘Because once I’ve learned it, I can die.’


Literary / Capital: Dublin

Orlaith Darling
How spiritually deadening to live in a city which no longer even talks about ‘waiting’ for economic growth to yield benefits to labour. How dehumanising to know that instead of clearing the urban poor to new homes in the suburbs, the government cleans up their tents. How enraging to hear that your right to shelter is significantly less than your landlord’s right to raise the rent for no good reason.


The Causes of Quarrels

Niamh Reilly
Anna Parnell meticulously appraises the problematic elements of the Land League's No Rent Manifesto, the worst of which was its promise of bottomless funds from America to cover all necessary supports to tenants, who were assured: 'If you are evicted, you shall not suffer.' As she puts it, ‘the language used was directly calculated to cause extra trouble for those who had to administer the funds’ and bore the hallmark of people who believe that ‘anything that they never tried themselves is very easy’.


Just Ourselves

Bryan Fanning
The larger political parties have in recent decades courted young urban progressives where once they had sought to appeal to social conservatives, rural voters and religious Catholics. These shifts appeared to ignore a significant minority who might be sceptical of the new progressive consensus. Now, to some extent, a course correction may be under way with a tonal shift to the right in Irish politics on culture war and immigration issues.


The Gate Keepers

Ian Maleney
‘There are two forces forming our tastes,’ Chayka writes. ‘The first is our independent pursuit of what we individually enjoy, while the second is our awareness of what it appears that most other people like, the dominant mainstream.’ It seems obvious to me that this kind of binary is unsustainable nonsense, a simplification of what it is to be a person in the world. But the mode of argument here is to endlessly repeat the central point rather than complicate or deepen it.


Beyond Defiance

Adam Fusco
Northern Ireland’s Protestants have long relied on remembering 1690 while disremembering the important part they played in 1798. With contemporary unionism in crisis and Protestants under demographic pressure, some new ground is being broken by writers who wish to rehabilitate classical republicanism, while others ponder the possibilities of forging a liberal unionism that could appeal to an electorate beyond the Protestant community.


The Devouring Mind

Kevin Power
So did Sontag and Steiner get along? Don’t be silly. It’s hardly worth saying that the two were alike not just as critics but as psychological case studies. Two False Selves, two mosaic-builders, busily building. If there is one true thing about a False Self, it’s that it loathes and despises other False Selves, perceiving in them the falseness it can perceive in itself only at the cost of its existence. Their mutual loathing probably had much to do with the sense that there was room on the scene for only one such person.


Rage for Profit

Farrel Corcoran
The Irish regulator is one of the first in Europe to take on a watchdog role to stop tech companies building profiles of children to manipulate them for profit by artificially amplifying hate, hysteria, suicide stories and disinformation in their social media feeds. We still have little understanding of how ‘recommender systems’ work to select content that is most likely to outrage, so that enhanced indignation will engage users for longer periods on particular platforms.


The Trump Enigma

Kevin Stevens
The pervasive national mood of cynicism makes it easier for a Republican or independent who dislikes Trump to vote for him. If all politicians are liars, the reasoning goes, and if Democrats are bent on creating a socialist state, I may as well support the liar who will uphold conservative values. Take the unbudgeably loyal MAGA, add in conservatives willing to vote holding their noses, and the possibility of a Trump majority becomes real.


Orwell: The Rewrite

Martin Tyrrell
Anna Funder finds that George Orwell’s previous biographers, in neglecting the role of women in his life, have been guilty of ‘fictions of omission’. To compensate for these perceived failings she has interpolated a number of imagined episodes into her own study, most of them showing Orwell in a bad light. While these are clearly signalled in the text, their long-term effect could be to confuse the readers as to which elements of her narrative can be taken as fact and which have been invented.


Beyond Revisionism

Richard Bourke
Intellectual life is not beholden to any specific constituency. Given this freedom, academics in the Irish context should extend the framework of their inquiry, moving beyond asking which of two unions – a United Ireland or the United Kingdom – best caters to national allegiance. Nationality should not determine the remit of government. The legitimacy of a regime depends on the quality of its administration, not the principle of nationality as such.


The Third Man

Luke Gibbons
Reversing the standard model of a progressive metropolitan centre modernising a backward rural periphery, struggles in the Irish countryside ushered in the modern, but with a notable difference: instead of producing ‘economic man’ or homo economicus, the ‘land for the people’, in the eyes of figures such as Andrew Kettle, redefined proprietorship itself as part of a wider, collective political project of national self-determination.


Heaven Can Wait

Tom Inglis
Maybe the best guides to living ‘the good enough life’ are the Greeks, like Socrates, who while interested in the nature of the world and how we know it, and the nature of right and wrong, did not obsess but mostly got on with living, happy to hang out at the gym, staying healthy and taking pleasure in talk and company. He might have been happy in Skerries, being, in Miller’s words, ‘a philosopher who fully understood the principle of good craic’.


Hatred’s Underground Streams

Farrel Corcoran
We may be entering an era of post-democracy, a malaise linked to pessimistic nostalgia, where a manipulative minority claims to speak for vaguely defined ‘ordinary people’, who can be induced to want whatever their leaders need them to want. Current developments on the far right may well be the seedbed for future digital post-democratic parties who hammer home a number of populist messages using the best organisational and user-surveillance techniques of the Internet age.


A Hyphenated Identity

Michael Neill
The problem with the compound term Anglo-Irish is that it too readily assumes that it is easy to be both. Yeats hoped for a spiritual union in a new Ireland of the peasantry and ‘country gentlemen’. Casement first served the empire, and then, following his conscience, Ireland. Others found no solution and were left stranded as the floorboards of their once comfortable ‘Big House’ existence began to rot beneath them.


Sweeney Astray

David O’Connor
She had had enough of those young women ‘who blame everything on their parents’ generation and cry if they see a dead fox on the road’. Yet there was her own daughter, with all that ‘entitled suburban comfort … calculated self-presentation, advertised commitment to abstractions, unchecked hypocrisy, reflex sentimentality and a pitiless moral arrogance’.


Confusio Linguarum

Luke Warde
The great Italian semiotician Umberto Eco understood Europe as a product of difference, going so far as to write in his 1993 book ‘The Search for the Perfect Language (Making of Europe)’ that before the confusio linguarum, the confusion of languages, ‘there was no European culture, and, hence, no Europe’.


Nobel Noir

Terence Killeen
Fosse’s characters – perhaps not the right word – are constantly reaching out for something transcendent but just as constantly confronting realities of ageing, death, poverty and deprivation that cannot be and are not wished away. Sex, too, is a reality, though it is hard to discern whether it is a force for good or a distraction.


A Smiling Public Man

Patricia Craig
Seamus Heaney’s letters, many of them related to his escalating responsibilities as he became increasingly celebrated, amply demonstrate his personal kindness and the scale of his generosity to friends and others. They also reveal his fear of the effects of being just too visible, of becoming ‘a mascot’, or even, as he delicately phrased it, ‘conniving in the overstatement of my own meaning’. For all his amiability, indeed, he was always prepared to put his foot down whenever it came to overtures which he felt overstepped the mark.