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Celtic Revisionism

Patrick Parrinder, 24 July 1986

A Short History of Irish Literature 
by Seamus Deane.
Hutchinson, 282 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 09 161360 4
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The Peoples of Ireland 
by Liam de Paor.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £15, April 1986, 9780091561406
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Portrait of Ireland 
by Liam de Paor.
Rainbow, 192 pp., £13.95, May 1986, 1 85120 004 5
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The Complete Dramatic Works 
by Samuel Beckett.
Faber, 476 pp., £12.50, April 1986, 0 571 13821 7
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The Beckett Country: An Exhibition for Samuel Beckett’s 80th Birthday 
by Eoin O’Brien and James Knowlson.
Black Cat, 97 pp., £5, May 1986, 0 948050 03 9
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... De Paor is closest to the traditional Romantic outlook. His writing is sometimes reminiscent of Sean O’Faolain’s vigorous study of The Irish (1947), a book which its author described in the uncomplicated idiom of forty years ago as a ‘creative history of the growth of a racial mind’. Seamus Deane, by contrast, offers a political reading of cultural ...

Green Martyrs

Patricia Craig, 24 July 1986

The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse 
edited by Thomas Kinsella.
Oxford, 423 pp., £12.50, May 1986, 0 19 211868 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry 
edited by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 415 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 0 571 13760 1
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Irish Poetry after Joyce 
by Dillon Johnston.
Dolmen, 336 pp., £20, September 1986, 0 85105 437 4
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... of recent years is the group of translations, by Thomas Kinsella, of poems assembled by Sean O Tuama, and brought out in a dual-language anthology called An Duanaire 1600-1900: Poems of the Dispossessed (1981). During the three centuries covered in this book, the destruction of Gaelic Ireland was deplored as it was taking place, in the mordant ...

How many nipples had Graham Greene?

Colm Tóibín, 9 June 1994

... he wrote, ‘a marvellous book – so much better than my own Power and the Glory’. To Flann O’Brien: ‘At-Swim-Two-Birds has remained to my mind ever since it first appeared one of the best books of our century.’ To Roald Dahl: ‘I have just finished reading Boy with immense pleasure and great horror.’ To Brian Moore: ‘I always remember our ...

On (Not) Saying What You Mean

Colm Tóibín, 30 November 1995

... the Irish middle class, new and old, had, in the cabinet, voices of reason, such as Conor Cruise O’Brien and Garret FitzGerald, to lead them away from a notion of their Irish heritage as something dark, catastrophic and violent towards the bright light of European Union and Anglo-Irish Agreement. I went to secondary school in 1967, the first year of free ...


Anne Enright: Call Yourself George, 21 September 2017

... poem, ‘Women’s Christmas’, was also printed in the books section. This was a translation of Sean Ó Riordáin’s ‘Óiche Nollaig na mBan’, about the feast day on 6 January when women traditionally gathered to socialise without men. ‘There was power in the storm that escaped last night,/last night on Women’s Christmas/from the desolate madhouse ...

How We Remember

Gilberto Perez: Terrence Malick, 12 September 2013

... Witt dreams of a life close to nature among the Melanesian islanders, while Sergeant Welsh (Sean Penn) holds the view that each man should look out for himself, had better make himself an island. And yet a sense of connection between these men comes across, in no small part because of the collectivity of voices, inner voices linking soldiers outwardly ...

Issues of Truth and Invention

Colm Tóibín: Francis Stuart’s wartime broadcasts, 4 January 2001

The Wartime Broadcasts of Francis Stuart 
edited by Brendan Barrington.
Lilliput, 192 pp., £25, September 2000, 1 901866 54 8
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... grandeur, Máire Mhac an tSaoi has her own elevated co-ordinates. She is married to Conor Cruise O’Brien. Her father, Sean McEntee, fought in the Irish War of Independence and was a minister in most of Eamon de Valera’s Governments. Her uncle was a cardinal. Every schoolchild of my generation knew her poems, written in ...

Marching Orders

Ronan Bennett: The new future of Northern Ireland, 30 July 1998

... 1964) – he was the first Unionist prime minister to do so – and for receiving Sean Lemass, the Irish taoiseach, at Stormont. In reality, O’Neill was never much of a cake-sharer. His attitude to Catholics – and to working-class Protestants, for that matter – was patrician. ‘It is frightfully hard to explain to Protestants,’ he ...

Gaelic Gloom

Colm Tóibín: Brian Moore, 10 August 2000

Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist 
by Denis Sampson.
Marino, 344 pp., IR£20, October 1998, 1 86023 078 4
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... as in the novels of Beckett and Francis Stuart, or offered elaborate comedy, as in Flann O’Brien. In Irish fiction after Joyce, the women suffered and the men were anti-social, and the tone is one of unnerving bleakness. The problem for Moore, McGahern, Higgins and many others was how to create a male character who was neither comic nor lying on ...

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