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.

Michael Lillis

The Boys of the Blue Brigade

The burning of churches and wholesale murder of priests and nuns during the Spanish Civil War provoked an expedition of Irish volunteers, led by the Blueshirt Eoin O’Duffy. Their intervention was to fizzle out in drunkenness, indiscipline and some not very Catholic behaviour in bars and brothels.

John Hume’s Legacy

John Hume, though acting with the co-operation of other political figures, was the main force in Ireland’s move from war in the 1970s and 1980s to peace from the 1990s onwards. His legacy is a considerable one, but it is under threat today as it has not been for some time.

Ronan Fanning: 1941-2017

Ronan Fanning was of course known as one of the most distinguished historians of his generation. But he also played an important part behind the scenes in preparing the ground diplomatically for the peace process in Ireland.

Mr Haughey’s Dud Exocet

Continental European reaction was relatively low key, though in some cases attributing Mr Haughey’s motives to bitterness in Anglo-Irish relations. The Irish Press chorused support, the Irish Independent grumbled and Mr Gageby’s editorials in The Irish Times were unsurprisingly laudatory. All of this was I suppose, at least in retrospect, predictable.

The Good Statesman

My work meant that I travelled fairly frequently with Garret and Joan and he would often extend an invitation to dinner. These affairs were always convivial but also intellectually stimulating occasions. In private I found him to be extraordinarily humble about himself, often disclaiming any expertise about matters on which he was much better informed than the rest of us. He listened to the opinions and concerns of literally every person, no matter how lowly he or she might feel themselves to be.

Aiken’s Playpen

Later that evening, dressed in a hired “white tie”, I called at the residence of General Franco and escorted his granddaughter to the opera, where we sat in the royal box under the watchful eye of her duenna. Later we joined the generalissimo and his wife and family at home at dinner. I recall that we were driven to and from the opera in the caudillo’s splendid motor, a beflagged Hispano-Suiza if I correctly remember. I think I may have been the only foreign diplomat ever to dine with the Franco family.

Riddled With Light

O Death, you have taken Muircheartach from us, / far too late in everyone’s opinion; / snatch Tadhg quickly also to the graveyard, / those two should never be separated … / Hell is not punishment enough for him, / Muircheartach O’Griffin of the wily leaping.