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We eat ham, and jam, and Spam a lot

The two funniest moments in the history of Monty Python were also two of the darkest, and both were thanks to Graham Chapman’s death. Chapman, who played King Arthur in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Brian in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, died of cancer in 1989, aged 48. His friends… read more +

Review: Raoul at the Abbey Theatre

This might be the most beautiful thing you will ever see on the Abbey stage. Some philanthropist should block-book the Abbey for the week and give the tickets to teenagers and people who’ve never been to the theatre. And then they should persuade James Thiérrée to stay on for a few nights, and straight after… read more +

New radio series on theatre & protest

2010: A good year in Irish theatre

As the media and political system obsessed with the question of Irish sovereignty, late last year, in one area at least we were still in control of affairs, and running them well. Irish theatre had a good year, one of the best in my time covering it. Theatre companies responded to more difficult circumstances with… read more +

Review: Scrooge, at the Grand Canal Theatre

It was a Dickensian night in Dublin as we hustled towards the Grand Canal Theatre, skating under the shadows of empty buildings, and reeling from the austerity of the budget and the winter. Rarely can the story of A Christmas Carol have been told in more auspicious a context. As poor Bob Cratchit (Morgan Crowley)… read more +

Angola After the War

A new documentary film by Colin Murphy, with stills photography by Guy Tillim (as below), screening on Thursday September 23 on RTE One, at 10.50pm, and on the RTE Player at

The iPad: welcome to the future

Paper is dead. The culprit is, oddly, an oversize phone that doesn’t make phone calls. It could also be described as a computer that doesn’t run computer programmes (at least, not as we know the. It’s supposedly a good device for email, but it doesn’t have a keyboard. Every developer and media company out there… read more +

Prospect Magazine: Letter from Dublin

There are two kinds of ghost village in Ireland. Each is the legacy of over-reliance on an exotic and apparently endless resource. In the 1800s, Francis Drake’s potato rapidly became the staple crop of the Irish peasant. Nutritious, bountiful and resilient, it could support families on tiny parcels of land, and new settlements extended far… read more +

That quare fellow Brendan Behan

At 31, Brendan Behan had been drinking for 23 years, had spent seven years in jail, had tried to kill two gardaí, and had written one hit play. At 41, he was dead. Behan was the classic case of the Irish writer destroyed by drink and demons. Though his literary reputation was built on the… read more +

Flann O’Brien’s unfinished saga

Two years after Flann O’Brien penned the obituary for his one-time drinking companion, Brendan Behan, O’Brien too was dead. Behan and O’Brien were two of “a generation of Irish writers who plunged themselves recklessly into the lotus-eating atmosphere of Dublin pubbery,” as Ulick O’Connor put it. Along with Patrick Kavanagh, they effectively drank themselves to… read more +