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News, current affairs & arts from Ireland

The theatre of 2012

Recent Irish theatre has lacked a master imagination: it’s too long since we have seen a new play to rival the best of John B Keane or Brian Friel or Tom Murphy. Or so I wrote this time last year, reviewing the theatre of 2011. In 2012, Irish theatre found a master imagination again. And… read more +

What the Dickens

In late September, 1843, Charles Dickens was sent a recently-published report on child labour in Britain. It enraged him. He set about writing a response; six weeks later, he was finished. It was published on December 19 and was an instant success. On Christmas Day alone, it sold 6,000 copies

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 +

Pass the Ferrero Rocher

I was in a café in downtown Johannesburg, discussing a project with a Japanese friend, when my phone rang. I apologised and answered, and she noticed surprise cross my face. The caller introduced himself, on first-name terms, and proceeded to invite me over to his house. Who was that? she asked, when I’d finished. “Our… read more +

From Dev to Macca: Irish presidents

Thirty years after he handwrote the Irish constitution, President Eamon de Valera found himself having to justify the role of president he had created. The occasion was a visit from a newly appointed British ambassador, Sir Andrew Gilchrist. “I’m rather ignorant about the Irish constitution,” Gilchrist admitted. “Does the Cabinet write you a sort of… read more +