The greater the state, the more wrong and cruel its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Beckett Remembering/ Remembering Beckett

Samuel Beckett has changed tense (the pretty euphemism comes from Raymond Federman) with extraordinary smoothness, escaping any postmortem wane of reputation. Death has only consolidated his stature and appeal. The process whereby a sporty Irish Protestant from a comfortable background turned himself into a classless, ageless and timeless figure is mysterious, though a new book of interviews edited by James and Elizabeth Knowlson does its best to offer clues.,,1749913,00.html

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Now Denis Donaldson haunts Sinn Fein

IRA informer has been silenced but his death raises questions for Sinn Féin's leadership.,,1749607,00.html

Saving Grace

In an essay written just before his death last week, John McGahern considers the role of religion in his life.,,1749117,00.html

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sinn Fein British agent shot dead

Former senior Sinn Fein member Denis Donaldson has been found shot dead in the Irish Republic. Mr Donaldson is believed to have been living in County Donegal since December when he admitted he had been a paid British agent for 20 years. Early reports, as yet unconfirmed, suggest that he had had one of his hands cut off.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Watch Towers go moaning goes on

The British army began dismantling its last five watchtowers along the Northern Ireland border Monday, a long-awaited move in response to the IRA's decision last year to disarm. But the moaning continued on all sides, with the Unionists crying "sell out;" the moderate Nationalists saying that they should have been got rid off years ago and Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein saying that locals suspected that British troops would replace their listening posts with more covert forms of spying and surveillance. Strangely no locals were available for comment and Thomas Slab Murphy was nowhere to be seen....

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Heaney comes to terms with his Irishness

After his debut, Heaney was seen as a standard-bearer for a 'Northern Renaissance', but he has never been comfortable with labels. During the murderous decades of the Troubles, Heaney found it taxing to position himself vis-à-vis local politics. After the publication of his fourth volume, North, he moved to Dublin. Now, in a mood that's at times valedictory, he writes with a new freedom, and a new engagement.,,1744733,00.html

Flann O'Brien - Satirising the Irish Condition

He has been called Ireland’s patron saint of brilliant failures, the lost literary genius whose early talent was thwarted by rejection. But if Flann O’Brien ended up in a twilight world of darkened pubs and unrealised promise, it was largely his own choice. Even before he became known to the world by his pen names of O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen, the man born Brian O’Nolan — who died 40 years ago this weekend and is the subject of a new RTE film — had already been something of a cult hero, only to throw it away.,,2101-2110672,00.html

Ahern to reclaim Oglaigh na Eireann for Irish defence forces.

Last year, the IRA -- which used the name Oglaigh na Eireann in Irish, considering itself to be Ireland's legitimate army and with Sinn Fein the true heirs of the 1916 Rising -- pledged to lay down its arms for good.
It was against this backdrop that Ahern announced his plans to hold the parade -- and reclaim the title Oglaigh na Eireann for the Irish defence forces.
"The Irish people need to reclaim the spirit of 1916 from the extremists because they had denigrated the sacrifices of Ireland's greatest generation and had abused and debased the title of republicanism," he said.

McGuinness displays characteristic mulish tendencies

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has said his party will have nothing to do with any British/Irish government proposals to delay the restoration of power sharing until November.
The two governments are expected to propose that the Assembly be reconvened in mid-May with a deadline of six months to restore power-sharing.Mr. McGuinness said that although his party will discuss what the British and Irish governments propose next Thursday, it will not facilitate what he called "kow-towing" to Ian Paisley.Mr. Paisley, he said, had not shown the slightest interest in sharing power with nationalists and would say "No" in the autumn just as he is saying "No" now. So as to avoid any confusion, Sinn Fein would say "NO" now...

Paisley remains as stubborn as a mule

DUP leader Ian Paisley has said it is nonsense to say the Northern Ireland Assembly will be restored by November.

Farewell to rural Ireland's voice

When I met John McGahern for the first time last August, just before the publication of Memoir, his extraordinary excavation of a childhood blighted by a bullying father, he fleetingly mentioned his 'illness', and only then when the tape recorder was turned off. He seemed in good spirits, engaging and slightly mischievous as we relaxed, post-interview, in the Dog & Duck in Soho.
As we parted, he invited,,1744748,00.html

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Better to die a mule, than to have ended up a complete ass.


In its common modern meaning, a mule is the offspring of a male ass and a female horse. Compare hinny — the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. The term "mule" (Latin mulus) was formerly applied to the offspring of any two creatures of different species — in modern usage, a "hybrid".