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Sunday, December 12, 2004

12/12/04 Read Ireland - Irish Non-Fiction, History & Bio for 2004

If you are still stuck for Christmas Presents, here is the last Read Ireland Book News for 2004, a highly subjective and selective list of the best Irish Non-Fiction, History and Biographies published this year. They can all be shipped immediately. I wish also to take this brief opportunity to thank you very much for your support in 2004, and to wish you all a safe and happy holiday season! I look forward to sending you more Irish interest books in 2005! Sincerely, Gregory Carr ------------------------------------------- Read Ireland Book News – ‘Best’ Irish Non-Fiction, History & Biographies of 2004 -------------------------------------------- Gaelic Ireland: c. 1250-c.1650: Land, Lordship and Settlement edited by Patrick J. Duffy, David Edwards and Elizabeth FitzPatrick (Trade Paperback; 30.00 Euro / 35.00 USD / 24.00 UK; 450 pages. With illustrations and maps.) This book recovers many aspects of a forgotten Gaelic world. Using a wide variety of sources – historical documents and bardic poetry, maps, place-names and the archaeological landscape – eighteen authors reveal the later medieval period to have been a time of profound and complex regional change. In Part I the survival and reconfiguration of Gaelic government and political structures are investigated in the Mac Giollapadraig lordship of Ossory and the trans-insular Mac Domnaill lordship of Antrim and the Isles. Social organization is highlighted through studies of landholding in MacMahon’s county of Arighialla and the custom of fostering and gossiprid as practiced by Gaelic aristocracy in the late sixteenth century. Part II provides insights into both the natural and cultural landscapes of Gaelic territories. The representation of the built environment on maps of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the nature and extent of woodland cover are reviewed. Scientific analysis of pollen profiles provides a rare insight into woodland and agriculture in medieval landscapes of the north of Ireland. Part III deals with the archaeology of lordship, an exciting new area of research. The strongholds and residencies of Gaelic aristocracy, ranging from crannogs and moated sites to natural island fortresses and tower houses, are examined for parts of Ulster, Munster and Connacht, and a more humble Gaelic vernacular dwelling is revealed in an Ulster Plantation context. ------------------------------------------- The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000 by Diarmaid Ferriter (Hardback; 40.0 Euro / 48.00 USD / 30.00 UK; 890 pages) In 1900 Ireland was a restless, impoverished, neglected corner of the British Empire. By 2000 it had become the ‘Celtic Tiger’ of Europe. How did this happen? This landmark book by one of Ireland’s most exciting young historians sets out to answer the question – what was it life to grow p and live in 20th century Ireland? – and is the first comprehensive social, political, cultural, intellectual and economic survey of that Irish century. In this book the author draws together the many threads that make up the complex story – from the drama of its politics to the ‘hidden pasts’ drawn from memoirs and previously unused sources. The book is also a history of a society, both North and South. In dealing with the bitter struggles in the North, it focuses on the social and cultural aspects, not just the obvious political and religious divisions. It also considers women in a way no previous account of modern Ireland has. From religion to literature, from family to football, this book is a seminal work. --------------------------------------------- Dublin’s Lost Heroines: Mammies and Grannies in a Vanished City by Kevin C. Kearns (Hardback; 30.00 Euro / 36.00 USD / 21.00 UK; 330 pages) This book is a masterly chronicle of the forgotten, ‘voiceless’ women in Dublin’s impoverished old communities. It is based upon thirty years of research trips to Dublin where the author gathered original oral testimony about the daily lives of mothers who struggled to survive in difficult, often dreadful, circumstances. What emerges is an intimate and poignant account and celebration of the mammies and grannies who held the fabric of family life together in an environment of hardship, and often cruelty. This work covers the squalid tenement days of the early 1900s, through the mid-century decades of ‘slumland’ block flats, into the 1970s when deadly drugs infiltrated poor neighborhoods, terrified mothers and stole their children away from them. Telling vividly of how they coped with grinding poverty, huge families, pitiless landlords, the oppressive Church, dictatorial priests, feckless and often abusive husbands, the voices of the mammies and grannies from the Dublin slums course through this remarkable book. Yet, throughout their heroic struggle, they maintained an astonishing dignity, early wit, pride and resilient spirit. ---------------------------------------------- A Very British Jihad: Collusion, Conspiracy and Cover-up in Northern Ireland by Paul Larkin (Trade Paperback; 20.00 Euro / 25.00 USD / 15.00 UK; 314 pages) In April 2003, the Stevens Report provided the first official acknowledgement of collusion between loyalist armed groups and British security forces in the murders of nationalists in Northern Ireland. Yet, as this book demonstrates, such collusion and associated conspiracies have been a central feature of the British response to the conflict in Ireland for more than 30 years. That response, argues the author, amounts to a Holy War, or Jihad, in the name of Protestantism and the British monarchy. That war has been swarthed in secrecy and denial, protected by notions of \'national security\' that pervade every corner of the legal system and the political establishment of Britain. The author is an award-winning investigative journalist. He made the first of many investigative films for the BBC Northern Ireland\'s current affairs programme, Spotlight, in February 1989, about the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane. Since then he has covered other controversial killings, Royal Ulster Constabulary cover-ups, the burgeoning illicit drugs trade, the role of informers and agents, and the notorious Portadown based \'ratpack\'. He has also produced a special investigation into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings for Irish television. The research for these films is the raw material of his book. Building on his investigations, he presents a detailed, revealing and quite frightening account of many aspects of Britain\'s \'dirty war\' in Ireland, and also provides a unique insight into the dangers and political pressures facing journalists who dare to investigate the unsavoury relationships between the intelligence agencies, politicians, the police, the British Army and loyalism. ------------------------------------------ The Last of the Celts by Marcus Tanner (Hardback; 37.00 Euro / 45.00 USD / 25.00 UK; 390 pages) A cultural tour spanning the Celtic world from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland to Brittany, and from Cape Breton to Patagonia, this book sets out to find out what has happened to the Celtic peoples in a world where pressure to conform to Anglo-American culture has grown ever stronger. Taking the form of a journey that starts in the wilds of north-west Scotland, before proceeding through western Wales, the Isle of Man, troubled Northern Ireland, the western seaboard of the Irish Republic and The French region of Brittany, the author weaves solid historical research into the language, religion, music and customs of the peoples concerned with first-hand encounters with a host of priests, ministers, government officials, cultural activists, musicians and writers. The author finds talk of a Celtic revival much misplaced, for while the term \"Celtic\" is banded around as never more, largely to suit the needs of commerce and tourism, the fragile cultures the word actually refers to in the north-west of Britain, Ireland and France are closer than ever before to extinction. As the author discovers on his journey, the tide is going out at different speeds in different places. While Welsh culture and language are (relatively) robust, the rich culture of the Bretons is heading for almost certain oblivion in a decade or two at most, as relentless, centuries-long pressure to \"be French\" reaches its climax. Nor are the prospects much brighter for the small Celtic communities in the New World. As the author travels from Cape Breton in Canada to Patagonia in Argentina, he finds the once sturdy communities of Gaelic and Welsh speakers facing exactly the same threats of assimilation and ultimate disappearance. It is a development that impoverishes as all. --------------------------------------------- Ireland and the Jacobite Cause, 1685-1766: A Fatal Attachment by Eamonn O Ciardha (Trade Paperback; 30.00 Euro / 35.00 USD / 24.00 UK; 468 pages) Jacobitism (Irish suppoer for the exiled House of Stuart) was the ascendant political ideology among Irish Catholics between the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and the French Revolution in 1789. This book provides a sustained analysis of this key ideology and the first major monograph on post-1691 Irish Jacobitism in English. Two critical features are the analysis of Irish-language poetry in its proper ‘British’ and European contexts and the inclusion of the Irish diaspora in France and Spain as an integral part of the Irish political ‘nation’. It seeks to redress the anglo-centric bias in eighteenth-century Irish history, as well as the excessive preoccupation with the Protestant minority and the last twenty years of the century. -------------------------------------- No Ordinary Women: Irish Female Activists in the Revolutionary Years 1900-1923 by Sinead McCoole (Large Paperback; 20.00 Euro / 25.00 USD / 15.00 UK; 288 pages) This book tells the story of the Irish revolutionary period 1900-1923, from the perspective of female activists. The focus of the book is on the period when vast numbers of Irish women were politicised and sent to jail for their beliefs, with a special emphasis on their imprisonment in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, and during the War of Independence and the Civil War. The seventy-three biographies included provided information on what the lives of these courageous women were like before and after they took part in the pivotal historical events that helped shape the Ireland of today. The author, an historian and curator, uncovered in her research that the women who were politically active in this period were not confined to a particular social grouping, but represented a cross-section of Irish life. They were shop assistants, doctors, housewives, laundry workers, artists, teachers and even mere schoolchildren. They were married women, mothers, single and widowed women. A number were titled women. Some had not even been born in Ireland, and not all were Catholic: there were Protestants, Quakers, Jews and atheists. The vast majority became involved because of familial links to the nationalist movement, and their commitment to the cause and sacrifices they made were in no way inferior to the male members of their households. They were willing to give their lives for their ideal, and while imprisoned, endured the full rigours of hunger strike and separation from family and friends for their beliefs. This book reasserts their rightful place in Irish history. ------------------------------------------ The Modern Traveller to the Early Irish Church by Ann Hamlin and Kathleen Hughes (Trade Paperback; 15.00 Euro / 17.50 USD / 11.00 UK; 135 pages) The monastic sites of early Christian Ireland have always been an attraction to visitors. Now issued in a new edition, this book is intended for use by those who wish to understand the religious and secular life of early Ireland. The authors have used the site remains and historical source material to reconstruct the life of the Irish monks and laymen from the fifth to the twelfth centuries. Here the reader will find treatments of the function of monasteries in early Ireland, the daily life of their inhabitants, and the significance of their art and sculpture. The appendices include a county-by-county guide to the most interesting early Christian sites. ------------------------------------- The World of Geoffrey Keating: History, Myth and Religion in Seventeenth-Century Ireland by Bernadette Cunningham (Trade Paperback; 25.00 Euro / 30.00 USD / 20.00 UK; 263 pages) Geoffrey Keating’s ‘Foras Feasa ar Eirinn’ was among the most popular and influential Irish histories ever written. It offered a sense of Ireland, or Irishness, and of Catholicism that had wide appeal. The work has long been valued for its mastery of the Irish language and its attractive literary style, yet its significance as history has been ignored. In this innovative book, the author evaluates Keating’s role as both historian and theologian, providing an interdisciplinary analysis of the entire range of his writing. The world of scribes, translators, publishers and readers of Keating’s works is included in this assessment of how ideas about religion and history were interpreted and transmitted to later generations. Geoffrey’s Keatings intellectual legacy is influencing perceptions of Irishness has been profound, not least as the populariser of the myth of a special relationship between Catholicism and Irishness. ----------------------------------------- Irish Folk, Trad & Blues: A Secret History by Colin Harper and Trevor Hodgett (Hardback; 25.00 Euro / 30.00 USD / 20.00 UK; 420 pages, with illustrations throughout) Irish Folk, Trad & Blues: A Secret History is a substantial work by two Belfast authors and music journalists of long experience and authority within their fields of interest. Aimed at filling a gap in the literature on both the early years and the more recent ‘ethnic fringes’ of Irish musical history since the beginning of the ‘rock era’ in the fifties, the book is designed to, hopefully, both entertain and intrigue the casually interested and delight the more serious music buff - with 420 pages, 180,000 words of text and over 130 rarely seen photographs of the famed and the forgotten. Scrupulously avoiding the use of footnotes and other trappings of authorial solemnity, the book is nevertheless the result of many years of insanely dedicated, rigorous and often painstaking work. With much of the content adapted and expanded into a loosely chronological ‘patchwork narrative’ from pieces originally commissioned from the authors by a wide range of newspapers and magazines (spanning 1975-2004) it is at once an anthology of the modern music writer at work and a treasury or tales which reveal the frustrations and celebrate the triumphs of those whose trails were blazed at a time before the Irish music industry, in any meaningful sense, even existed. Forgotten heroes and the first steps of latterday legends intertwine with illustrious visitors, like Arlo Guthrie, who took something of Ireland away with them. Homegrown pioneers from Ottilie Patterson in the fifties through Sweeney’s Men in the sixties and on to the likes of Horslips, Mellow Candle, Skid Row, Clannad, Rory Gallagher, Paddy Keenan, Shaun Davey and Martin Hayes are all given their place in the sun. And, rescued at last from the shadow of Van, the further and long-lingering adventures of Them are finally told. Somewhere in between, the shadowy yet seminal influences of near-mythical figures like Anne Briggs and Davy Graham, from England, are revealed alongside – 30 years apart – first hand descriptions of the first and last Irish visits (to Belfast) of Muddy Waters, the godfather of Chicago blues, and John Fahey, the singular creator of the fingerstyle guitar industry. Appreciations of Cara Dillon and Colin Reid, Northern folk heroes of the present day, and Trevor Hodgett\'s Python-esque attempts to gain access to a \'secret\' Bob Dylan club show in Dublin bring things whimsically, and affectionately, up to date. ------------------------------------------- Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism by Dean Godson (Hardback; 45.00 Euro / 55.00 USD / 35.00 UK; 1002 pages, with 3 8-page photo inserts) David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, is one of the unlikeliest and most complicated political leaders of our times. Long reviled by nationalist Ireland and much of British opinion as an awkward and flinty loyalist extremist, both his admirers and detractors agree that the Belfast Agreement could not have been made without him. This taciturn ex-Queen’s University law lecturer and lover of opera has become the first Unionist leader to enjoy international recognition, being praised by the Nobel Peace Prize committee for his ‘great political courage’ and regularly visiting the White House. But in the process, he has been excoriated as a traitor by many of his one-time supporters. In this comprehensive biography, the author has been given unique access to the politician and his papers. In addition to conducting over one hundred hours of interviews with Trimble and his wife, the author has spoken to over three hundred friends, foes and colleagues of the unionist leader – including Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern, Mo Mowlam, Peter Mandelson, John Hume, John Major, John Bruton and Gerry Adams. He has also enjoyed privileged access to the private papers and diaries of other leading politicians in Ulster, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. The author also reveals Trimble’s dependence on an extraordinary ‘kitchen cabinet’ of informal advisers, composed largely of southern Irish Catholics, including the ex-senior IRA member, Sean O\'Callaghan. Rarely can any practicing politician have spoken so candidly to any biographer. This book is a remarkable study of a man and his times, and an illuminating record of the political dynamics of the Troubles and the complexity of the calculations which all leaders locked in such disputes much make. ----------------------------------------- Choosing the Green?: Second Generation Irish and the Cause of Ireland by Brian Dooley (Paperback; 15.00 Euro / 18.00 USD / 9.00 UK; 184 pages) In this book the author traces the history of prominent and unsung second/third generation Irish individuals in the founding of the modern Irish state, including the story of the Kimmage garrison. The GPO was full of Scottish and English accents on Easter Monday 1916. Dooley takes the reader through the War of Independence and the Civil War. He discusses the extraordinary career of John Stephenson – Sean MacStiofain – who joined the IRA before even setting foot in Ireland and who became the first Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA in 1970. The impact of the IRA actions in Britain on victims, on the justice system and on second and third generation activists is considered in detail. The author’s assessment of how the armed conflict helped shape modern second/third generation Irish identity in Britain includes the role of Irish people in the British Army – ‘misfit soldiers’. Finally, the author shows the importance of second generation Irish in the peace process. This is a remarkable book and vital for anyone seeking an understanding of the Ireland of today. ------------------------------------- Sean O’Casey: A biography by Christopher Murray (Hardback; 30.00 Euro / 35.00 USD / 24.00 UK; 350 pages) Christopher Murray\'s work on Sean O\'Casey is a critical biography. In addition to the normal biographical elements, Dr Murray provides a strong interpretative context for the life. For example, he looks afresh at the Dublin of the 1880s and 1890s in order to provide an updated background to O\'Casey\'s childhood. He pays a great deal of attention to the political situation from 1880 to 1922, setting it against O\'Casey\'s own treatment in his six volumes of autobiography. In general he attempts to establish \"O\'Casey\'s Ireland\". This leads naturally to a fresh examination of the great Dublin trilogy, The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars, the three works on which O\'Casey\'s reputation stands. The rejection of his next play, The Silver Tassie, by the Abbey Theatre precipitated O\'Casey\'s move to England. Except for some very brief visits, he never returned to Ireland. Murray establishes O\'Casey as a self-made man of letters, an irrepressible fighter, a man who combined political courage and innocence, an individual torn between a humanist vision of life rooted in his Dublin childhood and a utopian but blinkered loyalty to the Soviet Union. Murray acknowledges that while much of O\'Casey\'s work was uneven, flawed and over-ambitious, at its best it was infused with a passion and generosity that place it among the best bodies of drama in the twentieth century. Christopher Murray\'s biography will be the definitive work on O\'Casey in our time. Rich and original material, including unique access to the O\'Casey papers in the archives of his publishers, it is a book that will stand for many years. ------------------------------------------ Brewer’s Dictionary of Irish Phrase and Fable by Sean McMahon and Jo O’Donoghue with a foreword by Maeve Binchy (Hardback; 40.00 Euro / 50.00 USD / 30.00 UK; 1140 pages) Brewer\'s Dictionary of Irish Phrase and Fable is devoted exclusively to the history, culture, mythology and language of the island of Ireland. Like its parent volume (Brewer\'s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable), the \'Irish Brewer\' covers a huge range of different subjects, and will be particularly generous in its account of legend, superstition and folklore. It will be generous also in its insights into the origins and history of words and phrases, and will contain an remarkable array of expressions and allusions that the user might struggle to find in an \'ordinary\' dictionary or encyclopedia of Ireland. Its 5000 A to Z entries entries include Celtic gods and goddesses, bards, beasts, literary allusions, proverbial sayings, idiomatic phrases and expressions, characters from Irish literature ancient and modern, resonant place-names, and individuals and events of \'iconic\' stature in Irish history. A significant number of entries will relate to contemporary Irish life and culture. As is de rigueur with all Brewer\'s-branded titles, there will be material in abundance here to delight lovers of the odd, the obscure and the arcane. -------------------------------------- The Road from Ardoyne: The Making of a President: Mry McAleese by Ray Mac Manais (Hardback; 30.00 Euro / 35.00 USD / 24.00 UK; 400 pages) Born the eldest of nine children in 1951 in Belfast, Mary McAleese witnessed as a teenager the anti-Catholic pogroms on 1969 that saw streets around her burned out by loyalist mobs. Her father packed his family into the car and set off for the safety of Dublin; they returned to Belfast, but were forced to flee again from their home in Ardoyne, after it came under repeated attack. This book traces the life of Mary McAleese from her girlhood in Ardoyne to the threshold of the presidency. Her story is a chronicle of triumphs and tragedies, of self-belief and tenacity. It is both an adventure story and a love story; it is also a tale of grit and determination on the part of the man who would become her husband. In writing this book the author has had the cooperation of Mary McAleese and members of her family, and has had access to many of her personal papers. Mary McAleese, Ireland\'s President, has a long standing interest in many issues concerned with justice, equality, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism and reconciliation. She was a member of the Catholic Church Episcopal Delegation to the New Ireland Forum in 1984, and she was a founder member of the Irish Commission for the Prisoners Overseas. On 11 November 1997 she became the first President to come from Northern Ireland and has enjoyed a remarkably high approval rating in opinion polls. ------------------------------------------- To order books from the Read Ireland Book Review you can send an email to the order department at: Please be sure to include your mailing address and credit card details. You can of course also post your order to: Read Ireland, 392 Clontarf Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3,Ireland. Telephone and Facsimile number is: +353-1-830-2997. Read Ireland Web Site Home Page: All Prices and Rates are in Euro (US Dollar and UK Sterling prices are guidelines based on current exchange rates.) Euro prices on books reviewed above are firm. Post + package is charged at cost.
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