About Time

About Time

Lia Mills

If the mystery could be taught, poetry would die, argues one contributor to a new study of creative writing teaching in Ireland. But what workshops and courses can do is save time – condensing years of toil and experimentation and leaving writers equipped to do the real work on their own.

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The Hard Life

The Hard Life

Neandertals were expert toolmakers, had big brains and lived in small communities which hunted large, dangerous beasts. A Neandertal, man, woman or child, was likely to sustain huge numbers of injuries in the course of a short life, yet there is reason to believe the community cared for its incapacitated members.

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Generals and their Masters

Generals and their Masters

Ronan Fanning

A guerrilla army wins if it does not lose, Kissinger observed, while a conventional army loses if it does not win. A new edited account of the British army’s campaign to suppress the War of Independence shows a force which felt its hands were tied by its political superiors.

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How Scientific Inquiry Works

Seamus O’Mahony

Postmodern critics of science have sometimes argued that it is a ‘narrative’ like any other and cannot be privileged over other narratives, for example alternative medicine. A new book, written with careful, nuanced scholarship, reasserts the value of the scientist’s calling, of rigour in research and of the importance of evidence.

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Hoops of Steel

Chris Lawn

At a time when people feel they need social media to keep track of the number of their so-called friends and ‘followers’, a philosophical study invites us to ask ‘who is my friend?’ and reflect on what quality of friendship qualifies as ‘real’.

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Fiat Justitia

Kevin Cross

There are opposing views on what judges do, the realist school maintaining that they can be legislators, not bound by convention and precedent but making law based on their idea of utility, while the formalist school urges them to make wise, limited decisions which will serve justice and fairness and preserve the rule of law.

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The Errand-Boys of Europe

Pádraig Murphy

There is a strong current of thought in Russia which wishes to see the country assert its complete independence from the West and ‘Western values’ and follow its own path as a great Eurasian power. Yet others believe engagement is still possible. What has not been helpful is a US disregard for Russian interests and susceptibilities which has been seen as amounting to an ‘empathy deficit disorder’.

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Lovely Visitors

Kevin Stevens

Lorrie Moore, like Beckett, can find comedy in utter darkness and uses the richness of language as a way of finding, if not solace, at least a way of framing and confronting tragedy.

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Sometimes it’s Hard to be a Man

Terence Killeen

The ambiguous concept of “manliness” played an interesting role in the Irish Revival, posing a dilemma for both men and women in relation to an ultimately colonial ideal. Through this lens, Joseph Valente has dismantled the edifice of Revivalist ideology.

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Fishers of Men

Joe Humphreys

A brace of books on Catholic missionary activity in the early twentieth century in Nigeria show that politics, in the context of rivalry with Protestantism, often featured strongly, while pioneers and idealists where not always well treated by their superiors.

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I made a posy, while the day ran by

Florence Impens

A new biography of seventeenth century English poet George Herbert reads his life through his work and his work through his life, and suggests that Herbert is more than just a religious poet, and that his influence on modern poetry should not be overlooked.

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Ulster Polyphony

Gerald Dawe

Northern literature and culture, if it was seen to exist at all before the 1960s renaissance, tended to be blackened by a caricatural view of the wider culture, seen as ‘dour’. John Hewitt’s memoir of the 30s and 40s, however, shows that there were many and varied voices at work.

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Murder on the Bandon River

Gerard Murphy

A new study of the Dunmanway, Cork massacre of Protestants in 1922 brings some fresh evidence to bear and tries to be fair-minded. It is also hard to quarrel with its main conclusion - that the killings were motivated mostly by revenge for the killing of an IRA leader rather than being specifically targeted at informers.

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Commemorating what? And why?

Padraig Yeates

Our acts of remembrance in this decade of commemoration should perhaps include some consideration of the failures of the past as well as its successes, and indeed the failures of the present. And might this not be a good time to have done with militarism once and for all?

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Apples at World’s End

Enda O’Doherty

Czesław Miłosz lived through a century in which many thought they could take History by the scruff of the neck, for the aggrandisement of their own nation or the betterment of mankind. The notion at one stage half-appealed to Miłosz too, but he was to learn to be less ambitious.

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Guns and Chiffon

Richard English

Nationalist women in early twentieth century Ireland had a sometimes difficult relationship with the conservative mainstream. Yet while they were often quite bohemian they were alive to the need to build a constituency and, as it were, advance with a Lee-Enfield in one hand and a loaf of soda bread in the other.

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The People’s Parties

Brendan Sweeney

If Sweden and Ireland are ever compared, it is almost always to the detriment of the latter and many on the left entertain the notion that we would be a lot better off if we could be more like the Nordics. Yet there are curious similarities between the dominant parties that have been in power for most of the modern history of both countries.

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Janus-Faced Europe

It is now in the interests of the EU to set about calming the bear at its door, convincing the Russians that mutual respect and trade is in everyone’s interest and that no one will benefit from a new great game conducted in Eastern Europe.

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Look! No Wheels!

The Cold War, or at least the First Cold War, is now long over. Curiously, it ended without a war. Afterwards, the US global hegemony that some predicted failed to materialise. As in other areas, victories in history don’t always amount to as much as was expected. Meanwhile the debate seeking a credible explanation for the implosion of the Soviet Union continues.

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On the Necessary Execution of a Prince

Was the recent arrest, trial and execution of North Korea's number two politician just another sign of the madness of the regime? Or was it perhaps a sign to the people that things could actually change for the better and that no one - none of 'them' - was necessarily too powerful to evade punishment?

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HAVE A NICE DAY, DAY, DAY ...

Fast food workers in the States don’t earn enough to eat ... fast food. Too bad, say the employers, what they do can easily be done by machines.

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Slim Pickings for the Soft Left

France has long been a beacon for social democrats but we may be looking at the beginning of the fall of social France. The political elites of right and left increasingly conform to Peter Mair’s idea of the cartel party, but the politically crucial fact is that they conform on the right of the spectrum.

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The Big Splatter

John Montague

What is truly dazzling in Heaney is his descriptive power, his almost hymn to a Conway Stewart fountain pen, or glimpses of his father performing a farmyard task, wrought to a hallucinatory, Van Gogh-like intensity. Like Gerard Manley Hopkins, Seamus is a mystic of the ordinary, which he renders extraordinary, though unlike Hopkins he does not leap towards God.

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Cold War Reinvented

It is more than a little depressing to contemplate the possibility that the old cold war narrative which restricted the potential of so many  individuals and peoples over the latter half of the twentieth century has given way to a new overarching narrative ‑ equally laden with oppressive potential for anyone in the way ‑ that of multipolarity versus unipolarity.

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Rich Folks’ Politics

As Wasps and similar types decline as a percentage of the US population, things don’t look great for the Republican party. But its creation of safe seats through gerrymandering has facilitated a takeover by extremists, against whom the traditional ‘country club’ moderates seem to be helpless.

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Syria, Goodbye to Diversity

Authoritarian but relatively secularist regimes in the Middle East have often been protectors of diversity. If they are destroyed, where will the region's minorities go?

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Iran and Realpolitik

In the West people generally think of the Islamic world as very ideological, and indeed it is, but the world is complex and realpolitik plays a dominant role in the Muslim sphere just as it does everywhere else.

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This is my Letter to the World

Maurice Earls

Emily’s self-seclusion was in the family tradition, as was her feeling of superiority, which she expressed in her inimitable manner. At a dinner during her visit to Boston, when presented with a flambé dessert she enquired from the judge sitting beside her, with characteristic poise, whether it was permissible in the capital of Unitarianism to eat hell fire. First published Spring 2011

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The Road to Genocide

The ancient Christian communities of Syria, having survived the rise of Islam in the seventh century and the fall of Constantinople in the fifteenth may be driven into the sea in the twenty-first.

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Citizens of the Republic, Jewish History in Ireland

Manus O'Riordan

In the turbulent early years of the Irish Free State, 1922-23, two people who had been listed in the 1911 census as neighbours on Dublin’s Lennox Street met violent deaths at the hands of Free State army officers, one a Catholic and the other a Jew, one a civil servant and the other a tailor. Confounding the stereotypes, it was the Irish republican leader Harry Boland who was both a Catholic and a tailor, while the Jewish victim - Ernest Kahan - was a civil servant in Ireland’s Department of Agriculture.

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Hope in Guatemala

The overthrow of Árbenz in 1954 was among the most ill-conceived CIA operations. In the hypercharged atmosphere of the early cold war, President Dwight Eisenhower, secretary of state John Foster Dulles, and his brother, CIA director Allen Dulles, decided that Guatemala threatened the United States.

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A massacre averted

Sometimes it can be advisable to ignore the orders of one's superiors if one wishes to avoid a pointless massacre.

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In love with Europe

Those condemned to spend their lives under grey northern skies can understandably harbour deep longings for the Mediterranean. But there is little reason to think Europe's current headaches will be cured just by knocking back a few beakers full of the warm south.

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Eat the frail

New Labour and others enthusiastically embraced a model of society which relegated many people to the margins while embracing and celebrating the buccaneer virtues. We have seen where that got us. Is it too late for the left to think again?

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Not yet heaven, not quite hell

First of all you knew you were going to one place or the other. Then along came purgatory. Why it was required is a complex matter, but for heavy work under ground they knew they were going to need the Irish.

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Galway celebrates the book

The West's biggest literary festival kicks off this week with leading Irish and international figures due to come to read.

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The writer cast out

Adam Thirlwell wishes us to contemplate the writer as great soul, cast out of bourgeois society for his compulsion for truth-telling. But the examples he chooses seem a little strange.

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Jacques Le Goff 1924-2014

France's greatest medievalist, and one of Europe's leading historians, has died after a life filled with achievement, aged ninety.

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A Greek sacrifice

The Greeks have been asked to liberalise book prices, a move which publishing and cultural interests in both Germany and France see as inimical to the long-term health of the book sector.

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She wore short shorts

Ireland was backward way back then, or so the story goes, but a capital city is always a capital city and who knows what you might get away with?

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Le livre est mort. Vive le livre

It would be naive to think that new media do not have an eroding effect on old, but traditional forms of reading are not dead yet.

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Dublin Gossip

Dublin's Stoneybatter was a happening place well before the hipsters started moving in five years ago. The alleged doings of Doyle the publican and the delectable Miss Devine were trending back in the 1830s.

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First Catch Your Fairy Godmother

The London Review of Books is a marvel. Cool design, sharp opinion, cosmopolitan style, intellectual depth. How does it do it? Money.

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Auden on good and evil

Doing good is all very well, but best to keep it to one's self. Being good is a more slippery matter still, and the good man often shares a bed with the bad one.

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Homes for the Blind and Deaf

There was perfect cleanliness and order in all parts of the establishment, and a large allowance of fresh air. We took leave of the kind and courteous Brother and left the Home for Deaf-mutes, heartily wishing that the blind boys could enjoy the privilege of being under the care of the excellent and intelligent Christian Brothers.

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Filthy Lucre

Money makes the world go round, but I think sensitive people like you and I can leave that to others.

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A Fair Price

Classical and medieval thinkers had a great deal of difficulty coming to terms with the practices of merchants, shopkeepers and stallholders. 'Five obols, guv, and I'll throw in the amphora. Can't say fairer than that.'

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The City in Song and Verse

The new One City One Book choice, in succession to 2013's Strumpet City, is to be launched early next month.

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Political Imprisionment

For a revolutionary generation of Irishmen and Irishwomen - including  suffragettes, labour activists and nationalists - imprisionment became a common experience. In the years 1912 - 1921, thousands were held in civil prisions or in internment camps.

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With the Dublin Brigade

Charles Dalton was only fourteen when he joined the Irish Voluteers in 1917, yet his commitment and intelligence quickly became apparent. An active Volunteer in F Company, 2nd Brigade, Dublin, and a member of Michael Collins’ elite intelligence unit.

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Is the E.U. Doomed?

In this compelling essay, leading cholar of European politics, Jan Zielonka argues that although the EU will only survive in modest form – deprived of many real powers – Europe as an integrated entity will grow stronger.

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Can Science Fix Climate Change?

In this book Mike Hulme argues against the kind of hubristic techno-fix. Drawing upon a distinguished career of studying the science, politics and ethics of climate change, he shows why using science to fix the global climate is undesirable, ungovernable and unattainable.

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Carnival Masks

Séan Lysaght's Carnival Masks is a collection of poems which pivots on sequence of Venetian epigrams that open into the new light and erotic world of the French Riviera, Tuscan land- and seascapes and an olive grove in autumn.

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Dorothy Stopford Price Rebel Doctor

Dorothy Stopford Price played a key role in eradicating the TB epidemic in Ireland. This  biography uncovers the importance of her medical work and of the measures that placed her in opposition to one of the strongest voices in Ireland at the time – the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid.

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Ireland in Official Print Culture 1800-1850

This volume illuminates two contemporary aspects of the development of the state. The 1820’s saw the beginning in Ireland of a comprehensive engagement with the parliamentary process by the population at large, with the appearance of the first mass electoral organization in Europe, the Catholic Association.

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I Lost You

I Lost you is a charming verse memoir of a new wave poet’s life in Dublin in the 1970s and beyond

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Murder Most Foul

This new study considers Shakespeare's great play from its origins in Scandinavian epic lore to the dramatic version from Shakespeare's own hand and the reception of his famous play over the centuries since it was first performed.

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Third Stroke Did It

During the last ninety-odd years, three big blows were struck against European civilization by the Russian Revolution, the Nazi Revolution and the Second American Revolution. The Last of these, launched in the 1960s-70s by left liberals with the support of American capitalism, shapes the West today.

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The Rise and Fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger

In 2008 Ireland experienced one of the most dramatic economic crises of any economy in the world. It remains at the heart of the international crisis, sitting uneasily between  the US and European economies.

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Listening to Bach

A posthumous collection of Pearse Hutchinson’s poems has just been published. His poems have long been recognized as unique, for their lively, learned, humane framing of experience, and for their urgent and communicative language. They are redolent of his personality: of a life lived wide awake and in many places, of a mind adventurous and well equipped that engaged above all with the truth of things as they happen.

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