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.

Seamus Deane

An Unbaptised Saint

It seems appropriate that Simone Weil was buried between a cemetery’s Jewish and Catholic sections. Ultimately, belonging in any sense provoked in her an allergic reaction. She was Christian but not wholly Catholic, and perhaps also, as a Platonist, Catholic but not wholly Christian.

Down on the Plantation

Slavery was not an institution in colonial Ireland. Rather the condition was reclassified as an almost ontological one, that of ‘poverty’. This had a natural alliance with ‘Irish’, just as ‘negro’ had with ‘slave’ in the racial hierarchy that helped assuage class subjection among American whites.

Paris Destroyed, Paris Surviving

Paris has always been a moveable feast. There are many people, Parisians and others, who think the city was destroyed long before Hitler ordered it to be burned in 1944 and others who think it has been repeatedly destroyed since, in the name of renovation, development, restoration.

In Himself an Entire People

Charles de Gaulle was a traditional Catholic Christian. He rarely spoke of or even mentioned God but rarely failed to speak instead of France, the great stained-glass rose window in which the divine light had glowed through the centuries in radiance or in sombre melancholy.

Expunged

Two figures dominate in Breandán Mac Suibhne’s history of a Donegal community, one an informer, the other one of the hard-faced men who did well out of the Famine. Together they help ruin the community, transforming it into a world stripped of people and of communal ethics.

That Which You Had To Do

When democracy arrived in full force in Paris in 1848, Tocqueville led the assault on its pretensions. No universal tendency was going to have its way there. It could go tend elsewhere. A good war would stop it; bring the artillery on to the streets and let the army behave as though it were in Algeria.