The Great Extermination

The Great Extermination

Patrick Duffy

In 1810 Alexander Wilson watched, in Kentucky, a ‘prodigious’ procession of wild pigeons which took six hours to pass over him. The column, he estimated, had been 240 miles long. Just over a hundred years later the last passenger pigeon died in captivity, having never laid a fertile egg.

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Partisan reviews

Partisan reviews

Bryan Fanning

From Pearse and Connolly, through AE, Sean O’Faolain, John Mulcahy and Vincent Browne, a number of specialist periodicals have set out to write against the grain of mainstream Irish society and provide a space for diversity of opinion not available in national newspapers or the provincial press.

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End of an Era

End of an Era

Pádraig Murphy

The Ukraine crisis has demonstrated, if further demonstration was required, that Russia will pursue its interests aggressively in what it regards as its legitimate sphere of interests around its borders ‑ and that Europe and the West have no agreed policy on how to react to this.

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The Orangeman who loved Ireland

Andy Pollak

The prolific singer, actor, traveller, film-maker and writer Richard Hayward, who died in 1964, was in many ways a pre-partition figure, the kind of Irishman who combined a passionate love of his country with a strong unionist allegiance that was not uncommon in the nineteenth century.

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The Uses of Art

John Fanning

Alain de Botton has been the recipient of much sniffy condescension, being characterised as a chiropractor of the soul. But this is somewhat unfair: he is not trying to make us happy but to help us to understand ourselves better, and he sees art and philosophy as allies in this pursuit.

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A Captain among the Pigeons

Tom Wall

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.

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Enemies Within

James Moran

Irish names crop up with a fair degree of regularity among the promoters of xenophobia in contemporary Britain. A study of the interwar period demonstrates that Irish migrants were then the subject of similar unsound suspicions and fears of being ‘swamped’ by ‘scroungers’.

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Getting the Sauce Right

Paschal Donohoe

The conventional wisdom is that small states have little power in the face of globalisation and must do the bidding of larger states, multinational companies and international organisations. Other evidence, however, suggests that it is small states which perform best in the globalised world.

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The Borrowers

Ian Maleney

As corporate profits soar, the working poor are increasingly driven into the hands of unscrupulous ‘payday’ lenders charging extortionate interest. Regulation can have some positive effect but the real solution, for individuals and the economy, is to pay a living wage.

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Slaying the Octopus

Tom Hennigan

Brazilians have decided that the Workers Party’s efforts to improve the lives of tens of millions of the poor trump the fact that after twelve years in power it is now as corrupt as the regimes that preceded it. But corruption itself is an obstacle to pursuing the equality agenda.

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The World Turned Upside Down

Hugh Gough

Ideas certainly played an important role in the intellectual and political ferment that was the French Revolution, but it may be going too far to attempt to separate those ideas into distinct, contending political philosophies to which the main revolutionary figures can be attached.

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The Last Chapter

Enda O’Doherty

Books and bookselling have been with us for a couple of thousand years, in which time they have progressed out of the libraries and into bookshops and homes, away from institutions and towards individuals. A great success story, but nearly all stories have an ending.

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Less Thought, More Action

Antony Tatlow

The German theatre company Schaubühne has toured its surtitled version of Hamlet in a translation which would more be accurately described as a transformation. The interpretation may be daring but the interweaving of meaning and “music” which makes Shakespeare’s language so memorable is lost.

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The Scruple of Detail

Michael Cronin

Shifted whole from one language to another, philosophical terms leave behind a rich history of usage, interpretation, and interaction with other terms. To understand them properly we must recover some of that past, working against the grain of  the monologic of the monoglot.

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The Civic Public Square

Fergus O’Ferrall

How should religious groups interact with the public sphere and attempt to influence policy? Or should they stay out of the political marketplace altogether? The liberal Catholicism of Daniel O’Connell, which emphasised that a right or freedom is a right or freedom for everyone, may provide a model.

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Imagining the Irish

David Blake Knox

Good-humoured, charming, hospitable and gregarious, yet drawn to tragedy. Are the Irish subject to some kind of collective manic depression ‑ lurching wildly from exuberant craic to existential despair? Or is this just the kind of moonshine we like to feed our customers?

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Education for Democracy

Jonathan Creasy

Founded in 1933 in western North Carolina, Black Mountain College sought to promote the educational and democratic principles of John Dewey. It had enormous success in attracting major figures to teach but still had some difficulty in implementing racial integration.

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Sharp words from elsewhere

Thomas McCarthy

Like a cranky uncle who has spent too long in the tropics, Harry Clifton has thrown insults at every poet-cousin he has read, yet his own verse seems to know more and to be wiser than his often ill-advised urges to lecture others on what they are doing wrong might suggest.

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A Life in Books

Carlo Gébler

Denis Sampson’s memoir has no major dramas, and all its crises are inward and personal. Nevertheless it gives readers a sense of what constitutes the real value and the real worth of literature and  writers a sense of what is possible, which can only be good for standards.

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Good Remembering

Gerald Dawe interviewed by Andrea Rea

Five questions for Gerald Dawe from US radio journalist and presenter Andrea Dawe on the occasion of the publication of his collection Mickey Finn’s Air cover composition and selection, memories of Galway and the difference between nostalgia and sentimentality.

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"Becoming Freud" Review Issue 61

Ross Skelton

Ross Skelton responds to a review of Adam Phillips’s Becoming Freud by Seamus O’Mahony in Issue 61 of the drb.

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Time is What We’re Made of

Ailbhe Darcy

Peter Sirr professes wariness of ‘consoling fictions’, of too easy moments of spiritual plenitude, which too easily pass from us again. His new collection catalogues temporary moments of access to the eternal, but it also stresses our inevitable mortality.

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Travel and Cosmopolitanism

Danielle Petherbridge

Michelle de Kretser’s Dublin IMPAC Award-shortlisted novel, Questions of Travel, delves into the many meanings of home. The Sri Lankan-born author explores themes of trauma, dislocation and inequity between modern travellers, revealing the disparities between those forced and those free to move around the globe.

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Mister Perfect

Michael Hinds

The frequently quoted descriptions of Michael Donaghy as a modern metaphysical may make prospective readers nervous; yet in the main there is nothing ostentatiously intellectual about his work. Rather, the abiding impression is that a poem is a minor fuss worth making.

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The Big Show

Pádraig Yeates

A new book on 1914-18 is lavishly illustrated and, without doubt, a rollicking good read. This is military history as entertainment on a scale that we have not seen since, well, since the First World War.

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Becoming a Conservative ... and After

Frank Freeman

Political journeys are not always one-directional. For some people neither the right nor the liberal left is an entirely satisfying place and it becomes necessary, if one is motivated by a desire for the common good, to endorse values from one and the other.

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Irish Art Series

Catherine Marshall and Rachel Moss

The Royal Irish Academy’s five-volume history of art is a hugely ambitious project which has been five years in the making and involves two hundred and fifty contributors. Here two of its editors explain its range and place in the development of Irish art history.

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The Dead Assemble

Nathan Hugh O’Donnell

The title piece in Brendan Cleary’s new collection is an elegy on the death of his brother. Overall, his poetry conveys an experience of real privation, of alcoholism and loneliness, which speaks to a wider and more long-standing reality about which we in Ireland perhaps don’t want to hear.

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Budget Ritual and Reality

John Bradley

The question we will face in the coming years is whether we can trust governments in Ireland to take wise budgetary decisions that are in the wider, long-term interests of citizens rather than in the narrow, short-term interests of politicians, lobby groups and powerful banks

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The Coast of Bohemia

Maurice Earls

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.

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The Lightning and the Thunder

Philip Coleman

A study marked by brilliant analyses of some remarkable works of poetry and fiction written by US authors in the first half of the twentieth century allows us to hear inflections of voice that owe much to an enchantment with Ireland – that ‘Celtic parcel of irresistible allure’.

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Norsemen, Normans, Wicklowmen

David Dickson

The latest volume of studies from the Friends of Medieval Dublin benefits greatly from the efforts of many young scholars, more adept at moving across disciplinary boundaries and methodologies than were some of the heroes of the first generation who fought for Wood Quay.

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The Turks are at the Gate

How much in common must a community have? Quite a lot, says Carl Henrik Fredriksson. At the very least a common public sphere. Because without it, Europe's publics will be easy prey for those who know how to play the strings of history.

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A Gift of Cabbage, A Stolen Cauliflower

In November 1938, on the pretext of revenge for the assassination in Paris of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, the Nazis launched the attack on Jewish life and property known as Kristallnacht. Some subsequent exiles ended up in Ireland.

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As a dog pisses, so a bird sings

Young cock robin, extensive territory, HWP, D/D free, red breast, seeks hen. When a bird sings, it sings itself, and principally what species it is. A robin after all can do very little of any interest or to any purpose with a wren.

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Death in Zurich

After the fall of France in 1940, Joyce became increasingly uncomfortable. In December he went back to his former home of Zurich, but died there suddenly in January of the following year.

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Harsent wins TS Eliot Prize

Britain's most valuable poetry prize, funded by the estate of TS Eliot, has gone to David Harsent for his collection Fire Songs.

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Tributes to Kent Haruf

The American novelist Kent Haruf, whose novels were set in small town Colorado, died late last year. 'I don't feel like death is right round the corner. But if it is, it's a bigger corner than I thought it was.'”

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Iconic Words to Curate Less Often

It being January and a new year and all that, perhaps there are some locutions that we should think of putting on the back burner going forward.

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Lawrence of Judea

John Henry Patterson, born in Ballymahon, Co Longford, was a soldier, then a big-cat hunter in Africa and eventually a sponsor of Zionism and the creation of an Israeli fighting force. He died in California in 1947 and was reinterred in Israel last month.

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Mnemosyne Lay in Dust

A reading will take place at St Patrick's Hospital in Dublin of the poem Austin Clarke wrote around the breakdown he suffered in 1919/20, when he spent some time in the hospital as a patient.

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Mystery and Marian

Blazes Boylan's secretary, Miss Dunne, didn't like too much ould nonsense in her love stories. Did Walter Hartright love Marian Halcombe or didn't he? Probably not, but did Blazes Boylan love Marian Tweedy (Molly Bloom)?

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Guinness Has Been Good - For You

When told that the Guinnesses had been good for Dubliners Brendan Behan responded that Dubliners had been good for the Guinnesses.. A good quip, but not entirely fair, as the historical record indicates.

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The Silent Intellectuals

John Carey thought that Oxford academics were a privileged bunch who had a nerve telling other people what to think. Irish professors are not so rarefied a breed. Perhaps more of them should occasionally peek out and contribute to public debate.

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Heading towards Nation

The names of the metro stops in Paris have a certain poetry, Richard Cobb thought, while its reassuring efficiency conveys a sense of security, a sense that one will certainly, at the end of the night, get home to bed.

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Bob Purdie: 1940-2014

A tribute to the life and work of Bob Purdie, left-wing writer, activist and analyst, a Scottish trade unionist who identified with militant Irish republicanism, then changed his mind, and ended up campaigning for Scottish independence.

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Owning Up

Made a mistake? A really bad one? The best thing to do is to own up. In full..

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Crustaceans on D'Olier Street

One of Dublin's main North-South thoroughfares once boasted a fine dining venue which attracted poets and writers, when they had a few bob.

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Expelled from the Word Hoard

Is it good news or bad news when 'selfie' is added to the dictionary? And what if 'sepia' is chucked out to make room for it?

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New Books

Ireland 1912 - 1922

A fresh look at the close relationship between Irish nationalism and Catholicism when a new republicanism emerged after the 1916 Easter rising, Freedom and the Fifth Commandment.

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Irish Literature

Poet Jessica Traynor’s debut collection, Liffey Swim.

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World Literature

Clive James’ Poetry Notebook and a cultural investigation into our view of books as objects of affection in Loving Literature.

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Irish History & Politics

Una Mullally’s oral history of the movement in Ireland in favour of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, In the Name of Love.

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World History & Politics

An overview of Rwandan genocide and French justice; a new edition of the story that inspired the film The Imitation Game about mathematician Alan Turing; and an anthology of lectures from renowned sociologist Pierre Bourdieu.

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Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

The memoir of classical composer, author and political activist, Raymond Deane, covering his childhood on Achill Island, up to his rapid descent into alcoholism.


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World Culture, Philosophy & Science

An intellectual and literary history of a cultural episode dubbed The Age of the Crisis of Man in mid-century America; and an analysis of the theory and politics of openness in relation to Wikipedia.


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