Category: Reviews

The Pope’s hopes for the only planet we have

Laudato Si’: An Irish response, essays on the Pope’s Letter on the Environment edited by Sean McDonagh (Veritas, €14.99) Eamon Ryan   The papal encyclical Laudato Si’ has been described as ‘a most dangerous book’.  It attempts a giant leap forward in the church’s social teaching by calling for a profound ecological conversion, which brings…

An Irish legend in his local landscape

Murtaí Óg: Murtaí Óg Ó Súilleabháin (c. 1710-54): a life contextualised by Gerard J. Lyne, (Geography Publications, €25.00) Here once again this author writes with authority about his local area.  His The Lansdowne Estate in Kerry under the agency of William Steuart Trench, 1849-72 was a classic account of an Irish landlord’s agent in the…

BBC’s Maze leads to intelligent debate

I’ve long admired the media work of Michael Buerk, and his show The Moral Maze last Saturday on BBC Radio 4 was a most thorough, insightful, and civilised discussion – people were listening to each other! The topic was ‘moral progress’, especially in the light of current Westminster controversies. The format was unusual enough –…

Discerning truth among the noise and the bluster

At times one wonders about the loudest voices on the Catholic internet – the old adage about empty cans making the most noise can seem alarmingly apt. Andrea Tornielli surely has a point on lastampa.it when he observes: “Too many are causing unceasing confusion in their self-referential media circles and then say that today in…

Knock’s Messiah marks 275th anniversary of première

Pat O’Kelly   History will be made this weekend with Handel’s Messiah heard for the first time in the Basilica at Knock on Saturday evening. Under Proinnsías Ó Duinn, the occasion commemorates the 275th anniversary of the oratorio’s première in Neal’s Musick Hall in Dublin’s Fishamble Street. The current event unites Our Lady’s Choral Society,…

A stalwart lady of the new Ireland

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington: Suffragette and Sinn Féiner, Her Memoirs and Political Writings by Margaret Ward (University College Dublin Press, €35) Sonja Tiernan   The memoirs and political writings of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington is an extensive and valuable collection that makes for a thoroughly engaging read. Publication of this book provides a tremendous primary resource to…

Exposing an RUC cover-up of pub massacre in 1994

No
 Stone
 Unturned
 (PG)   The euphoria experienced by six people in a bar in the village of Loughlinisland, Co. Down, shortly after Ray Houghton scored an unforgettable goal against Italy in a World Cup match on June 18, 1994, was short-lived. Soon afterwards three UVF men burst through the door and mowed them down mercilessly. The atrocity…

Chris Patten: A modern Catholic statesman

First Confession: 
A Sort of Memoir by Chris Patten (Allen Lane, £14.99) I have just finished reading  with very great interest this most absorbing memoir of a modern politician of a special kind. Chris  Patten  was a Minister in Margaret Thatcher’s and John Major’s  governments,  and was  the Director of Elections for his party in the…

The Great Hunger in the Kerry hills

The Great Famine in Tralee and North Kerry by Bryan MacMahon (Mercier Press , €35) The Great Famine, or ‘Black ‘45’ as it is known in the oral tradition, was a seminal event in the modern history of Ireland.  It initiated the great emigration to the ‘New World’. Regrettably it also grafted on to the folk…