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.

Maurice Earls

No Myth No Nation

A state will be at a loss if it doesn’t know where it came from.

Little Women and their Pa

Louisa May Alcott’s father was a man of advanced views, a deist, vegan and ‘transcendentalist’. But, as is often the case with those of a theoretical and discursive bent, his practical abilities, as well as his appetite for the hard labour his utopian schemes required, were limited.

A Penny for their Thoughts

The liberal ‘Dublin Penny Journal’ and the conservative ‘Dublin University Magazine’, both published in the early 1830s, can be seen as Protestant responses to Catholic Emancipation, the responses of a group by no means ready to give up its ambition to control the Irish future.

Man of Marble

From 1820 to 1850, the sculptor John Hogan’s most productive period, he was largely based in Rome. Yet despite living abroad he was without question, and especially in terms of his subject matter and patrons – chiefly the Irish bourgeoisie and Catholic church – an Irish artist.

Against Pure Wool

In the midst of the January Uprising of 1863 in Poland, a Dublin grocer, Patrick McCabe Fay, donated money to a fund in support of the Polish rebels, explaining that it was only right that the “Poland of the West” come to the aid of “her sister of the East”.

Part of What They Are

Driven by its history, Britain is hurtling towards a hard Brexit, which is likely to be a quite unpleasant experience for our neighbours, and perhaps to some degree also for us. Unless, that is, a coalition of pragmatists emerges in Westminster. In that eventuality perhaps Ireland should offer a helping hand.

Lost Connections

Most groups wrongfooted by the advent of Irish independence in the 1920s have since made their peace with it: the state’s Protestant minority, Trinity College, even diehard republicans. But the Jesuit order, it seems, is still dragging its feet and hankering after what has been lost.

The Coast of Bohemia

One result of living behind the wall of large states that stands between us and central Europe is the tendency to see our history as somewhat unusual. Irish history is certainly very different from British, Dutch, French and Spanish imperial history but much less so if one looks a little beyond.

One Onion, Many Layers

Irish Catholic social elites, emerging confidently after the ebb of British anti-Catholicism in the nineteenth century, increasingly sent their children to schools, both in England and in Ireland, created on the public school model. There some of them learned that the highest duty of a gentleman was to play the game.

History is to Blame

Samuel Pepys, an insider whom the Glorious Revolution made an outsider, was a brilliant administrator, a great observer and a fine writer, a humane and tolerant man and a great lover of women.