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.

John Swift

Taming the Past

The terms ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ are not mutually exclusive, in the present or in the past.

The Long Road to Peace

On whether strategic thinking in peace negotiations should outweigh moral considerations, Bertie Ahern’s mind was clear. Isolating the extremes and supporting the moderates would not solve the problem: the challenge was to make peace with your enemies, not your friends.

People Power

Does political democracy have a value in the absence of economic democracy? Should social distinctions be maintained? Ancient Athens largely practised a mixed system, with a modus vivendi between the classes that posed little threat to wealth and kept most public offices for the elite.


In the long Home Rule crisis of the second decade of the twentieth century, John Redmond, the leader of constitutional nationalism, counted too much on unreliable British allies. His rival, Edward Carson, was a more able tactician, more daring and decisive, and perhaps less unlucky.

Revolution for Export

A major new study explores the relationship between the American and French revolutions and goes on to consider how events in the Thirteen States impacted on Canada, Ireland, Haiti, Spain and Latin America, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Greece in the period up to 1848.

Defending Freedom

Contemporary critics of the human rights tradition argue either that it is a racket for the benefit of lawyers or that it is based on impractical idealism. But we should not forget what a dictatorship looks like; to fight for civilised decency is still important, and success is not impossible.

Sharing the Island

In the difficult and protracted Cypriot peace talks both sides need to take a cooler and more imaginative look at what they have chosen to remember, and, most importantly, what they have chosen to forget. Each in fact has much to regret as well as to commemorate in their common history.

Misery and Improvement

The European Enlightenment made its mark in Ireland as well as elsewhere. In the middle decades of the eighteenth century there was optimism about improvement and progress, while at the same time poor harvests, famine and disease took off between 13 and 20 per cent of the population.

The Critic as Colleague

The exemplary career of Irish broadcaster Andy O’Mahony illustrates the role that can be played by the critic in the public sphere. Standing beside the novelist and the poet, he or she illuminates experience through texts, as the others do through plot and character or rhythm and metaphor.

The Commemoration Trap

All political parties cannibalise the past selectively for facts and arguments deemed useful to safeguarding and advancing their future fortunes. This is normal and to be expected. But what is produced in this way is not history, which is a discipline whose goal is understanding.