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.

Tom Wall

Red Shift

The Soviet Union was happy in the 1980s to forge links with a party that was acquiring more than its fair share of young intellectuals, many with influence in the Irish trade union movement. Nevertheless, Sinn Féin the Workers Party’s hostility to the IRA was a problem for Moscow.

Back to Basics

Much of the gloom about European politics and society is rather overdone, particularly given the recent economic recovery, admittedly still fragile. It is undeniable, however, that social democracy has lost ground. Might its future lie in returning to the vigorous pursuit of equality?

The People’s Alfie

Alfie Byrne was a public representative for more than 50 years, a member of both the House of Commons and Dáil Éireann, and lord mayor of Dublin ten times. He was hugely popular, yet perhaps as much in spite of as because of his Catholic, conservative and Anglophile politics.


Many young Irishmen went to sea on British vessels in the 1930s. After the outbreak of war some were captured by the Germans, imprisoned and often harshly treated. Though eventually efforts were made to help them, for a long time they seemed to be an embarrassment to the Irish government.

Bohemian Travesty

The bohemians of Munich, who led its shortlived socialist republic in 1919, ‘are a foreign legion, kept for amusement and fun’, wrote Victor Klemperer. But whatever about their entertainment value in the arts, their contribution to governance was to prove more inane than comic.

The Truth and Colonel McGrath

By the closing stages of World War Two, the Germans had assembled a substantial number of hostages, ranging from Allied army intelligence officers to rebels against Nazism, to politicians from defeated countries or former allies. Among them was an Irishman from Co Roscommon.

The Great Incendiary

A new study of James Larkin takes some of the shine off his reputation; still, plaster saints are no longer in vogue. Big Jim’s vision was fundamentally moral. His gift to workers will be remembered and he can afford to be taken down a peg or two and still tower above.

A Captain among the Pigeons

Invited to run for the Dáil by the Donegal Republican Workers Council, Jack White insisted he would do so only under the etiquette ‘Christian Communist’. A key figure in the formation of the Irish Citizen Army and collaborator of Connolly and Larkin, Captain White is the subject of a new study.

One Book, Two Cities

James Plunkett’s classic novel reminds us of a society in which the poorest lived in the most appalling and hopeless conditions and the middle and upper classes were barely conscious of their existence.

The Inishowen Oracle

John Toland, born into Gaelic-speaking north Donegal in the late seventeenth century, became an important controversialist, deist, pantheist and passionate anti-cleric.