"The drb sustains a level of commentary on Irish and international matters that no other journal in Ireland and few elsewhere can reach. It deserves all the support that can be given it." X
Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

    In the Mix

    Adrian Scahill
    A new study of the traditional music of Co Clare employs an approach which highlights the fluidity and play between periphery and centre, between the dynamic of flow and the rootedness of place, between past and future, music as heritage and music as a creative art.
    More

    Traffic in Mockery

    Adrian Paterson
    The selling off of Ireland’s cultural heritage makes for decent business. Recently the treasures of what the auctioneer described as ‘Ireland’s greatest literary and artistic family’ netted just shy of £2 million. Where, if indeed anywhere, does the public interest come into this?
    More

    Whiskey In The Jar

    Keith Payne
    An intoxicating new study of Irish pot still whiskey tells us what it is and how it is made, while also managing to bring into the blend economic and social history, gastronomy, revolution, science and alchemy, Prohibition, Catholic Emancipation and the temperance movement.
    More

    Family Troubles

    David Blake Knox
    A novel set in Ireland and in various of the theatres of the Second World war is based on the historical story of an Irish family of the minor gentry, who, like well over 100,000 other Irish citizens, took part in this conflict, in which nine thousand of them are estimated to have died.
    More

    Desperately Seeking Focus

    Catherine Marshall
    Desperately Seeking Focus
    An exhibition that confuses painting with reportage does not make for great art. History painting is not and was never meant to be reportage. Rather its aims were to instil feelings of reverence for the heroes of the past and pride in the stories that shape a nation’s identity.
    More

    Subaltern Songs

    Fintan Vallely
    A new collection of Cork songs assembled by Jimmy Crowley achieves a model standard in the genre – setting the work in its place, establishing the relevant voices and according the lyrics their historical period and purpose, adding value for singer, listener - and even reader - alike.
    More

    Mapping the Revival

    Barra Ó Seaghdha
    A handsome new publication provides a survey of that period of ferment and rejuvenation that, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, ‘fashioned a new civic culture outside the scope of institutional religion, the colonial state and conventional politics’.
    More

    The Critic as Colleague

    John Swift
    The exemplary career of Irish broadcaster Andy O’Mahony illustrates the role that can be played by the critic in the public sphere. Standing beside the novelist and the poet, he or she illuminates experience through texts, as the others do through plot and character or rhythm and metaphor.
    More

    Cold War Art

    Brenda Moore-McCann

    The Rosc art exhibitions, which ran in Dublin for twenty years in the second half of the last century, opened up Ireland to the experience of modern and Modernist art. But did the impulse for them come from the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and its ultimate paymaster, the CIA?


    More

    Webs of Meaning

    Mary P Corcoran
    We manage our existence largely by conferring meaning on the world around us. World views play a significant role in motivating humans to engage in purposeful actions and our beliefs and dispositions have a shaping role in the constitution of society, broadly defined.
    More

    Not Biting Their Tongues

    Adrian Paterson
    An exhibition at Trinity College Dublin shows the wonderful variety and vigour of writing about the visual arts in Ireland in the 1890s and the early years of the last century, a phenomenon which the prestige of more purely literary work tends to make us forget.
    More

    After the Catechism

    Carmel Heaney
    Morality and moral behaviour, based on informed choices, lead to good laws and good policy. There is a concern that, if religious education disappears from schools, society could bankrupt the moral capital accumulated through centuries of Christian faith – unless we have something strong to replace it.
    More

    The Harp That Once

    Fintan Vallely
    A reprint of an important historical work on Irish music reveals that the Armagh-born collector Edward Bunting with some justice regarded Thomas Moore as having plagiarised his collected and published music and sanitised it, making himself wealthy and famous.
    More

    Cranking it Out

    Mark Fitzgerald
    The musician John Beckett, cousin of the writer, comes across as a difficult character – some thought a crank. Stories abound of his rudeness, especially with drink taken. His musical tastes too were extreme: Handel was too commercial, Beethoven merely ‘souped-up Haydn’.
    More

    Man of Aran

    John Wilson Foster
    Many cultural commentators and analysts have overlooked Tim Robinson’s many-faceted significance. Matters are now being rectified with three ambitious sets of essays, on his cartography and geography, his prose narratives and his place in Irish studies.
    More

    Hadn’t we the Gaiety?

    Caitriona Clear
    One writer has claimed that the singing of Percy French’s comic songs was once considered by some to be offensive, yet the best-known collection of his work, the ‘Prose, Poems and Parodies’, went into fourteen editions between 1929 and 1962 in a very nationalist Ireland.
    More

    Meet the Folks

    Nicola Gordon Bowe
    The term ‘Celts’ has been used for 2,500 years and has changed its meaning many times. Though a cultural construct, it continues to strike a chord both nationally and globally among the populations of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and in their diaspora communities around the world.
    More

    The Analyst as Eeyore

    Tom Hennigan
    Fintan O’Toole’s narrow focus allows him to portray Irish public life as suffering a grave malaise, a condition one could almost say was unique to our society. His closely cropped view allows him to denounce our public services as “squalid”. But squalid compared to what or to where?
    More

    Captured By Light

    Catherine Marshall
    Captured By Light
    Stained glass is a difficult medium to make one’s living in. Even in wartime, when Wilhelmina Geddes received many commissions for memorial windows, her work was frustrated by the scarcity of lead, which was also needed for bullets and coffins.
    More

    Captured By Light

    Catherine Marshall
    Captured By Light
    Stained glass is a difficult medium to make one’s living in. Even in wartime, when Wilhelmina Geddes received many commissions for memorial windows, her work was frustrated by the scarcity of lead, which was also needed for bullets and coffins.
    More

    Captured By Light

    Catherine Marshall
    Captured By Light
    Stained glass is a difficult medium to make one’s living in. Even in wartime, when Wilhelmina Geddes received many commissions for memorial windows, her work was frustrated by the scarcity of lead, which was also needed for bullets and coffins.
    More

    A Book of Two Halves

    Andy Pollak
    A new history of sport in Ireland impresses with its meticulous research and its account of the historical origins and the momentous developments of the nineteenth century but somewhat runs out of steam and loses direction as we approach the present day.
    More

    Communities At War

    David Blake Knox
    It might be expected that World War II’s impact in Northern Ireland would be determined by sectarian criteria, with unionists relishing the opportunity to prove their loyalty and  nationalists stubbornly withholding their support. In reality things were more complex.
    More

    Daddy’s Pal

    Enda O’Doherty
    A memoir can be an expansive story in which, regrettably, nothing is left out and which one would really prefer not to have to listen to. Or it can be a careful literary construction where much raw material has clearly been set aside and what remains is shaped by patient artifice.
    More

    Philosophy in UCD

    Attracta Ingram and Clara Fischer
    What kind of place was Dublin’s main university for Catholic students at a time when Ireland was just beginning to be affected by the youth and other revolutions and when the Catholic Church was at the very beginning of a process of relaxing control? Extracts from an interview.
    More

    Cocking A Snook

    John McCourt
    ‘The Lepracaun Cartoon Monthly’, which ran from 1905 to 1915, was Dublin’s leading satirical publication. While its sympathies were more with Sinn Féin, Home Rule campaigner John Redmond, in his triumphs and failure, was to feature extensively in its pages.
    More

    Working With What’s Left

    Patrick Claffey
    Clearly Catholicism can never recover its former dominance in Ireland, a dominance which was itself an historical aberration. But if it is forced to live as a religious remnant community, as has happened in many other places, therein might lie the start of its spiritual salvation.
    More

    A Dance You Should Know

    Jeremy Kearney
    In the era of Brendan Bowyer, Dickie Rock and Joe Dolan, Ireland was showband-crazy. The performances may not always have been of high quality but the bands provided musicians with a living and audiences with previously unimaginable levels of glamour and excitement.
    More

    Representing Disaster

    Patrick J Murray
    Responding to traumatic events remains one of art’s most problematic undertakings. Horrific events are often beyond articulation and this sense of inadequacy is enhanced when the creative work, with its overtones of pleasure and even whimsy, enters the fray.
    More

    The Disappearing Priest

    Eamon Maher
    Seminarians were traditionally taught to view the body with suspicion, as a source of temptation and sin. By embracing celibacy, many priests believed they were distinguishing themselves from ordinary men and women, that they were in some way superior to them.
    More

    Douze Points

    Carol McKeogh
    A study of the Eurovision Song Contest and Ireland’s participation in it over the years explores the personnel, the formats and lyrics, the staging, the voting systems and the emotional rollercoaster of being involved in the longest-running entertainment contest in the world.
    More

    Gaelic and Catholic?

    Niall Ó Ciosáin
    Gaelic and Catholic?
    The coincidence of an enthusiasm for Gaelic culture and devout Catholicism in many of the revolutionary generation, and later in the official ideology of the state, disguises the indifference or hostility of the church to the Irish language in the nineteenth century.
    More

    Out of Sight, Out of Mind

    Bryan Fanning
    Studies of the erosion of Catholic religious practice among the Irish in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s found that many emigrants very quickly melted into the non-religious atmosphere of the host country as soon as they felt they were no longer under close observation.
    More

    Signs of the Times

    Keith Payne
    A new Dublin history book is more than just a roll-call of past businesses in the city. It is what much poetry attempts to be, a version of the city that stops you and makes you turn again on your wander through the city centre, tilt your head upwards and take notice.
    More

    The City Mapped

    Patrick Duffy
    The City Mapped
    Two new volumes from the Royal Irish Academy illustrate the enormous variety and detail of eighteenth and nineteenth century Dublin, with its fine streets and walks, alleys and stable lanes, barracks, watchhouses, infirmaries , penitentiaries and multifarious manufactories.
    More

    Working Class Heroes

    Seamus O’Mahony
    Working Class Heroes
    The ghosted autobiography of Roy Keane and a biography of England’s 1966 World Cup golden boy Bobby Moore illustrate hugely contrasting personalities, but also the enormous changes that have come over the culture of the beautiful game during the last fifty years.
    More

    How to be a Dub

    Tom Inglis
    Is it sufficient to have been born in the capital to be a true Dub? What if your parents and grandparents were born there too, but on the middle class southside? Would this let you in or do you have to have been born within the sound of the Hill 16 roar and talk like dis?
    More

    News from the Glen

    Proinsias Ó Drisceoil
    The reissue of an ‘imaginative biography’ which first appeared in 1963 and which was written in the now defunct Tipperary Irish dialect reminds us of a time when Irish-language publishing was moving away from accounts of Gaeltacht life and beginning to favour modernism.
    More

    Thomas Patrick Byrne

    Thomas Byrne
    Thomas Patrick Byrne (1901-1940) was a casual labourer and soldier until he emigrated to the US, just in time for the great depression. The first in our new series, Irish Lives, in which we will publish brief family histories. Submissions are welcome.
    More

    An Irishman in Hollywood

    Harvey O’Brien
    Actors were clay in Rex Ingrams's sculptor’s hands, and his desire to shape and control every detail of his films had both positive artistic and inevitably negative interpersonal dimensions.
    More

    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.
    More

    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.
    More

    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?
    More

    A Voice Seldom Heard

    John Bradley
    There are two ways of responding to perceived injustice: you can complain, or you can get out. If you are loyal to the organisation you will not get out; your choice then is between speaking out and remaining silent. Micheál Mac Gréil chose to stay in and speak out.
    More

    Back to the Well

    Fáinche Ryan
    The ‘ressourcement’ movement helped create the intellectual climate for the Second Vatican Council through its critique of a theology which had as its dominant concern not so much seeking an understanding of faith and mystery, as responding to and opposing heresies.
    More

    The People’s Music

    Jeremy Kearney
    The British folk music scene began to thrive through its extensive club circuit in the 1950s and gave a platform to many Irish singers. It was seldom without tension, however, between purists like Ewan MacColl and others who put greater stress on enjoyment.
    More

    Homo Ludens

    Paul Rouse
    Sport may change over time, and individual sports come and go, but the essential remains, for this mundane activity also offers us a brief snatch at transendence, the moment arising out of chaos when all your teammates occupy ideal positions, when the universe seems to be arranged by a meaningful will that is not yours.
    More

    Bohemian Rhapsodist

    Micheál Ó hAodha
    Walter Starkie was an enthusiast for Gypsy music and culture, a professor of Romance languages, a director of the Abbey Theatre, an accomplished violinist, a literary translator and a harbourer of the hope that Ireland might experience a spiritual awakening which would incorporate a great deal of fascist political doctrine, ‘properly understood’.
    More

    The Death of a Language

    Joe Mac Donnacha
    The Death of a Language
    When does a language begin to die? When children raised to speak it struggle to acquire a native-speaker level, and therefore the “language community” fails to regenerate itself linguistically, Joe Mac Donnacha argues. According to that definition, the evidence suggests that the condition of the Irish language has indeed become terminal.
    More

    That Kind of Beauty

    Niamh Nic Ghabhann
    That Kind of Beauty
    It is difficult to define the picturesque, and yet it is a term commonly associated with the Irish landscape. What makes one site or location a more worthy attraction than another may seem arbitrary, but there is a religious and cultural architecture to what we might consider accidental beauty.
    More

    Words At Will

    Seamus O’Mahony
    To get into the best English society, Oscar Wilde thought, one must either feed people or shock people. And so, while they fed him, he shocked them with his wit and insolence. And yet he managed for the most part to insult the English without offending them.
    More

    Back in the GDR

    Fergal Lenehan
    Elizabeth Shaw, born in Belfast in 1920 to a bank manager father from Sligo, became a celebrated children’s author and book illustrator in postwar East Germany and a member of the state’s cultural elite. A primary school is named after her in Berlin.
    More

    The Light from the East

    Tadhg Foley
    A new book demonstrates the longlasting and deep engagment of various Irish scholars and practitioners with the religious and cultural traditions of eastern Asia.
    More

    No Partition, No Planning, No Poverty

    Breandán Mac Suibhne
    No Partition, No Planning, No Poverty
    Some old familiars are to be encountered in a historical geography of Donegal, but it is more surprising what is not encountered.
    More

    Riverrun

    Nathan Hugh O’Donnell
    A stroll along Dublin’s river Liffey, from Heuston Station, past Eve and Adam’s and out to the bend of the bay, reveals the city’s seventeen and a half bridges and the stories behind them.
    More

    The Work of Giants

    Michael Barry
    The architectural profession, peacock-like, has sprung to the fore in modern Ireland. But in Victorian Ireland the heroes were the engineers, and justifiably so.
    More

    The Stilled World

    Nicola Gordon Bowe
    Unsentimental, sparing and unspecific, the painter Patrick Pye has sought figurative images to represent symbolically “the archetypes of our humanity” depicted in an alternative universe where expiation has been achieved.
    More

    The Wild Harvest

    Cormac Ó Gráda
    Before the inexorable advance of the conifer, the picking of wild berries on Irish hillsides often provided a welcome seasonal boost in income for poorer rural families.
    More

    The Beat on the Streets

    David McKechnie
    From Phil Chevron of the Radiators to Stompin’ George Verschoyle spinning rockabilly hits at the Magnet Bar, it is the evocations of the Dublin music scene that stand out in a new miscellany of pieces on the city’s social and cultural history.
    More

    AN IMPERIAL MEDIEVALIST

    Nicola Gordon Bowe
    A collection of essays pays timely tribute to one of the greatest scholars that Ireland has ever produced.
    More

    Nurse of the Infant Nation

    Nicola Gordon Bowe
    Alice Milligan, political activist and feminist and the first architect of Ireland’s national theatre movement, died in poverty and was largely forgotten by later generations.

    More

    Romancing the Stone

    Richard Tillinghast
    Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin put paid to the Georgian and Regency styles and became the premier architect of the Gothic Revival. He designed one of the world’s most instantly recognisable landmarks, the clock tower popularly known as Big Ben. He can rightly be said to have changed the architectural face of Ireland too, his buildings being particularly common in Co Wexford.
    More