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.

David Blake Knox

The War on Words

Spoken Chinese is a tonal language quite unlike English – with four possible tones to each sound and a fifth atonal sound that can turn a sentence into a question. The chief problems that translators of ‘Ulysses’ have faced in mainland China are not, however, issues of language but of politics.

Legal Fictions

In the story ‘Ichthyanthrope’ a defendant in a murder trial urges his counsel to present an explanation for his wife’s death that defies conventional reason, arguing that it matters less if that defence is true than that it should be original and delivered to the jury with complete conviction.

Rude Mechanicals?

The 19th century construction of Irish identity involved opposition to ‘English materialism’, with an accompanying tendency to belittle or exclude the industrial North East. But is Protestant desire to be ‘fully national’ sometimes like a man wanting to rent a room in another’s house?

The SS’s Bargaining Chips

As World War Two drew to an end, a number of prominent prisoners of the Germans were moved to South Tyrol in the Italian Alps. Among them were veterans of the Great Escape, two former European prime ministers and a handful of Irishmen who had served in the British army.

Halting the Waves

In the last three years, more than two million immigrants – primarily young men – have entered EU states. The policies being followed by European governments in response to this phenomenon are not only harsh and oppressive, but may also be counter-productive.

Van The Youth

The postwar decades in Northern Ireland were ones of modest prosperity, and the bitter conflict that had marked the birth of the state seemed on its way to becoming memory. For some – mainly Protestants ‑ the 1950s and early 60s have the innocence and charm of a lost Eden.

Family Troubles

A novel set in Ireland and in various of the theatres of the Second World war is based on the historical story of an Irish family of the minor gentry, who, like well over 100,000 other Irish citizens, took part in this conflict, in which nine thousand of them are estimated to have died.

A Canine Resurrection

The ancient Irish Wolfhound was chosen as an emblem for the Abbey Theatre and a mascot for the Irish Volunteers. But in fact the dog we know as the Wolfhound is far from ancient and far from ‘pure’. And perhaps, as such, it is not an unsuitable symbol for the Irish ‘race’.

Gypsy Dancer

Johann Trollman was a gifted athlete who floated like a butterfly through German boxing bouts in the 1930s. But he was a member of the Sinti community, operating in a sport the Nazis considered a forum for the display of essential Aryan values. He could not be allowed to win.

Rebellion of the Intellect

In the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, published one hundred years ago this year, the hero’s father, Simon Dedalus, describes the Irish as a ‘priestridden Godforsaken race’. That claim may once have had validity, but it does not any longer ‑ at least as far as the ‘priestridden’ part is concerned.