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Caravaggio and the Reformation

Born 450 years ago, on 29 September 1571, Caravaggio lived during the Counter-Reformation. The art form of that time, with a specific political function, was the Baroque. The development of the new middle class—the bourgeoisie—brought with it the dawn of the modern, capitalist era. The artistic expression of this new […]

Culture Ireland

Laughing at what we are

In what other country would there be web sites offering the equivalent of “funny Irish place-names”?—which in fact are not Irish at all but corruptions. And the great majority of these are not even corruptions in the usual linguistic sense—i.e. changes made over time by the usage of people (in […]

Books

Shuggie Bain | Book Review

■ Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain (New York: Grove Press, 2020) Douglas Stuart won the 2020 Booker Prize for his debut novel, Shuggie Bain, set in his home town, Glasgow, in the 1980s. Like many working-class writers, Stuart found himself doubting the value of his story. “I used to ask myself, […]

Books Culture

The innumerable facets of a true story

Colum McCann, Apeirogon (London: Bloomsbury, 2020) In the context of the recent escalation of violence in the Middle East, and Ireland’s condemnation de facto of Israel’s annexation policy, this book by Colum McCann is worth reading more than ever. Unlike a pentagon, an apeirogon has an infinite number of sides, […]

Books Culture

Priests of the Resistance

Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie, Priests de la Resistance! (London: Oneworld Publications, 2019) With a jokey title like that, an equally jokey subtitle (The Loose Canons Who Fought Fascism in the Twentieth Century), and a super-scrupulous attention to his own title (“the Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie”), I should have sensed something fishy, but […]

Culture Current Affairs

James Connolly Festival returns

The annual James Connolly Festival returns for its seventh year on 3–9 May, bringing together working-class arts, culture, and politics. This year’s week-long virtual events, recorded at the New Theatre, will include lectures, panel discussions, round-table talks, debate, and performance, covering a wide variety of contemporary and historical topics and […]

Books History

A valuable contribution

■ Patrick Magee, Where Grieving Begins: Building Bridges after the Brighton Bomb (London: Pluto Press, 2021) Patrick Magee’s memoir is an insight into both his personal history and what was for decades the harsh experience of life for Northern Ireland’s non-unionist community. Although he will forever be identified with the […]

Books Culture Ireland

Irish as spectacle

Manchán Magan, Thirty-Two Words for Field (Dublin: Gill Books, 2020). This acclaimed book ostensibly celebrates the Irish-speaking community in Co. Kerry, where the author spent his holidays as a young man. He explores the rich vocabulary of traditional Irish-speakers and their words for natural phenomena: the weather, the sea, plants, […]

Culture Ireland

Another phoney celebration

Just as it did with St Patrick’s Day, the state has decided to take over the 1st of February—the beginning of spring, traditionally known as St Brigid’s Day—and convert it into another cheap stunt for promoting tourism and “selling Ireland.” (The only wonder is that there’s anything left to sell.) […]

Culture

John Keats: A revolutionary romantic

George Bernard Shaw wrote: “Keats achieved the very curious feat of writing a poem of which it may be said that if Karl Marx can be imagined writing a poem instead of a treatise on Capital, he would have written Isabella.” The 200th anniversary of Keats’s death this month is an opportunity to celebrate this revolutionary romantic.

Culture Ireland

Exiles – Dónall Mac Amhlaigh

Dónall Mac Amhlaigh Exiles. Translated by Mícheál Ó hAodha (Parthian, 2020) Awareness of working-class literature is only slowly growing in Ireland. This is not because it has not so far existed – far from it. Working-class people have known and cherished their tradition for a long time, as a source […]