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Maeve Brennan, the talk of the town

She was “Ireland’s greatest living writer,” but had been forgotten by the time she died. She was the quintessential New Yorker, but her writer’s eye cast constantly about the Dublin of her childhood. She was famous for her independence of mind and of lifestyle, but she lost both as she gradually descended into bewilderment. 

Find your way around the Fringe

Dublin’s fringe festival, Absolut Fringe, is always a bewildering mass of entertainment, art, experiment and self-indulgence. Here are some suggestions for finding your way to the best of it. Go on a date.

On Smithfield horse fair, for the Dublin Review

I’ve an essay-cum-investigation on the Smithfield horse fair in the current (summer) issue of the Dublin Review. It’s not online but can be bought here or in bookshops. One of my previous pieces for the Review, on the slow decline of the Irish language, is online here.

Pat Kinevane’s silent echoes of WB Yeats

Almost a century ago, WB Yeats attempted to revolutionise the modern theatre with a concept so simple it was audacious: he would write plays designed to be staged in people’s drawing rooms.

Sex and the city: an adaptation of Ulysses

Patrick FitzGerald first thought his moment had come in the early 1990s, when he was offered a lead role in a Hollywood rom-com. And then one of the casting agents saw a preview of a new film, a road movie about two women rebelling against the system, which featured a show-stealing cameo by an unknown… read more +

The theatre of 2011

It was a year dominated by austerity, elections, emigration and unemployment. And yet the key event in Irish theatre this year was one of great ambition and hope. At a time when the education system is buckling and prospects for graduates are the worst since the 1980s (and could well surpass that), Ireland’s first ever… read more +

Peter Sheridan’s 47 Roses

“If there’s a Mr Sheridan on board, could he please make himself known?” The bus had just arrived in Derry from Dublin, and Peter Sheridan was sitting down the back. He assumed they were looking for somebody else. But nobody else responded and so, as he got off the bus, Sheridan asked were they looking… read more +

The nervousness of Tennessee Williams

Who was the cat on the hot tin roof? Elizabeth Taylor was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of the skittish Southern belle, Maggie, in Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But the real cat was Tennessee Williams himself.   Williams took the title from the phrase “nervous as a cat on… read more +

Shakespeare’s anti-Semitic rom-com

The hero is a man who spits on Jews in the street. One of the romantic leads wins praise for winning, and converting, a young Jewish woman. The rousing climax involves the entire cast exulting in the humiliation of a Jew being forced to convert to Christianity. And this is the story of one of… read more +

As Chekhov said, ‘Fuck this’

When actor Conor Madden took a rapier thrust just under his eye during the final scene in Hamlet recently, he joined a long list of actors to whom tragedy on stage has come a little too close for comfort.   The day he was injured, in a production by Second Age, company director Alan Stanford… read more +