Category: Books

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…

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…

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…

A local scholar of Medieval Ireland

60 at Roscrea: Celebrating the Roscrea Conference at Mt St Joseph Abbey, 1987-2017 edited by George Cunningham (The Roscrea People; 300 copies numbered and signed; nos 1-150 h/b, €40, and 150 Card covers, nos 151-300, €20;  p/p  €5 within Ireland.) Terry Barry   Ireland is truly lucky for a small island to have so many excellent local…

A once in a lifetime exhibition

Frederic William Burton: For the 
Love of Art Exhibition curated by Marie Bourke, with essays by Patrick Duffy and others, edited by Claire Crowley (National Gallery of Ireland, €15.95) Thanks to RTÉ we know that ‘The Meeting on the Turret Stairs’ is Ireland’s favourite painting.  Yet experience tells us, too, that many who admire it are…

The real creator of our long lasting constitution

John Hearne: Architect of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland by  Eugene Broderick (Irish Academic Press,  €29.99) A study of all constitutions promulgated since the French Revolution in 1789, by the Chicago Law School,  found that the average constitution lasted a mere 17 years, before it was replaced. By that measure, the Irish Constitution, which will be…

The memory of the dead

Centenary / Comoradh Cead Bliain: Ireland remembers 1916 / Tugann Eire 1916 chun cuimhne edited by Ronan McGreevy (Government Publications, €25) Felix M. Larkin   Most people take the view that the centenary commemoration of the 1916 Rising was a “Goldilocks moment”. Whereas the 50th anniversary events in 1966 were too hot, and those for the…

Memento Mori: The real message of halloween

Mors Britannica: Lifestyle & Death-Style in Britain Today by Douglas J. Davies (Oxford University Press, £30.00) Death: The Graveside Companion edited by  Joanna Ebenstein (Thames & Hudson, £29.95) Halloween, or rather the Eve of All Saints, has passed once again, and again with perhaps less religious observance than in past centuries. Halloween seems to date only from…