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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

BookView Ireland

_________________________________________________________________ BookView Ireland :: May, 2005 :: Issue No.118 From Irish Emigrant Publications, the free news service for the global Irish community Editor: Pauline Ferrie :: Copyright 2005 Irish Emigrant Ltd _________________________________________________________________ This monthly supplement to the Irish Emigrant reviews books recently published in Ireland, and those published overseas which have an Irish theme. A searchable database of all books reviewed by us over the last six years is now available at _________________________________________________________________ _____________________________sponsor_____________________________ IRISH LICENCE PLATE - EXCLUSIVE OFFER Display YOUR Irish connections with pride - Get 20% OFF Your Custom Irish Plate Now! Exclusive to readers of this newsletter. Click this link now to have the 20% discount applied: You will see your discount when you add your plate to the cart). This offer is brought to you by, one of Ireland's oldest online retailers. Established in 1997, we have a great reputation for speedy delivery from Ireland and friendly service. Visit our website at: to see our full range of products, sourced from all over Ireland or call us toll free 1-866 855 3852 _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ ____CONTENTS Bestseller Lists Reviews - Company of Three – Jennifer McCann - Hanging Crimes – Ed. Frank Sweeney - Family Baggage – Monica McInerney - Haughey's Forty Years of Controversy – T. Ryle Dwyer - Deadlier Than the Male – David M. Kiely - Nothing Simple – Lia Mills - Georgina Campbell's Ireland - The Boghole Boys – Gabriel Fitzmaurice - New Hibernia Review – Ed Thomas Dillon Renshaw - Beastly Jokes – Shay Healy - More Beastly Jokes – Shay Healy - In the Bestsellers but not reviewed General News - Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize - The Open Door Book of Poetry - First New Biography of Pope Benedict XVI Published - History Ireland – May/June 2005 - Listowel Writers' Week 2005 - Kate O'Brien's papers for UL - Joyce Exhibition in Belfast - Clarke papers presented to UCD - Newly published books ____________________________sponsor_____________________________ LOW COST CAR RENTALS IN IRELAND This season get great discounts on car rental in Ireland at Argus Rentals, Ireland's leading independent car rental company offer great rates in Ireland and in over 4,500 locations worldwide. So to choose from a large fleet of modern vehicles and to avail of great rates and excellent customer service just logon today. For further information check our website at Tel: Intl-353-1-4904444 Email: _________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ ____BESTSELLERS LIST Paperback Fiction: 1. Trace, Patricia Cornwell – Time Warner 2. Moments – ed. Ciara Considine 3. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown – Corgi 4. Little Criminals, Gene Kerrigan - Vintage 5. The Rule of Four, Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason - Arrow Paperback Non-fiction: 1. Golden Apples, Bill Cullen - Hodder 2. The Official Driver Theory Test - Prometric 3. Dublin City and District Street Guide – Ordnance Survey of Ireland 4. The Choice, Bernadette Bohan - Thorsons 5. The Tiger's Child, Torey L. Hayden (Element) Hardback Fiction 1. A Long Long Way, Sebastian Barry – Faber 2. The Closers, Michael Connelly - Orion 3. The Black Angel, John Connelly – Hodder & Stoughton 4. Fourth of July, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro 5. Always and Forever, Cathy Kelly – Harper Collins Hardback Non-fiction: 1. The Irish Examiner: 100 Years of News – Gill & Macmillan 2. Book of Feckin' Irish Sayings for When You Go on the Batter, Colin Murphy & Donal O'Dea – O'Brien 3. Elvis: By the Presleys, Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley et al - Century 4. Voices and Poetry of Ireland – Harper Collins 5. Italy: Eyewitness Travel Guides – Dorling Kindersley ___________________________________________________________________ ____REVIEWS __________________________________ Company of Three – Jennifer McCann Jennifer McCann's first novel is a light-hearted look at the ups and downs of life for three young people sharing a house in Dublin. Narrated by Anna, a junior editor in a publishing house, the story takes us into her own life, that of her new landlord, Angela, and the other tenant, Marcus. Much space is devoted to the love lives of Anna, Angela and Linda, Anna's boss, with the intrusive presence also of Marcus' ex-fiancee Isobel. The action centres mainly on Marcus, Anna and Angela, with the latter having become involved with Xavier, a relationship much frowned upon by her two tenants. The differing backgrounds of the three provide an interesting slant on the development of the story; Marcus the only son in a family of girls, all of whom dote on him; Anna with brothers who cannot put a foot wrong, it seems to her; and Angela, the only non-achiever in her family though she does run her own bookstore. The effect on Anna of these two is starkly contrasted; Angela is constantly trying to improve her while Marcus generates a relationship based on a kind of big brother banter. However there is a certain inevitability about the plot which lessens the enjoyment. Of course Marcus and Anna fall in love and, after an initial blip, fall into each other's arms. Angela almost walks down the aisle with Xavier and her sudden revelation as to his real character does not quite ring true. However there are some minor characters who help to keep the story moving along. Anna's mother who, after years of widowhood suddenly announces an impending marriage, Tony the ex-prisoner who is stalking Anna, and Linda and James in the publishing house, all contribute to what is a relaxing and entertaining book, if a touch predictable. (Tivoli, ISBN 0-7171-3818-6, pp380, EU9.99) __________________________________ Hanging Crimes - ed. Frank Sweeney The last hanging took place in Ireland in 1954 and the last public hanging in 1868. The ten cases covered in this volume focus on the crimes of the nineteenth century, and many were heavily influenced by the agrarian unrest prevalent throughout the country, but particularly in counties Tipperary and Roscommon. Fear and intimidation played a great part in the ability of witnesses to tell the truth - something with echoes into the 21st century - as did tribal loyalties, whether the dispossessed peasantry or the beleaguered landlord class. While most of the crimes recorded here which led to the gallows were of murder, one dealt with a case of rape, also a capital crime at the time, along with arson and treason. The fact that the case involved two people of the landlord class, Sarah Sutton and James Lidwell, whose families had been friends for a number of years, led to a number of difficulties, not least the fact that Sarah Sutton told nobody but her mother of the rape until a number of days had passed. The subsequent trial not only led to the conviction of James Lidwell, but also to the unveiling of a number of unreconciled reports of the movements of Sarah Sutton, as well as casting doubts on the fidelity of her husband, Jacob Sutton. An example of a crime which was immediately ascribed by those in authority to "Ribbonmen" or other members of illegal societies is the editor's account of the murder of Charlotte Hinds, a landowner in Co. Cavan who had alienated a number of her tenants by her ruthless determination to re-establish her estate after the Famine years. As happened many times in Irish courts in the nineteenth century, one of those involved turned "approver" and gave evidence against his co-conspirators, resulting in the hanging of two men, James Murphy and Thomas Dunne. Influenced by the establishment of the Land League in 1879 by Michael Davitt, farmers on the Wicklow-Kilkenny border were prompted to take action over their grievances about high rents paid to incomer landlords. In this instance the target of the assassination attempt, Thomas Boyd, was only slightly injured while his son Charles was fatally wounded. The authors of these accounts, many of them graduates of the Masters in Local History at NUI Maynooth, record the details of the hangings. Perhaps one of the most graphic descriptions is given in Sean Bagnall's account of the murder of John Kinlen in Tallaght in 1816. This hanging preceded the introduction of the knot to break the neck, and Bagnall relates how the victim of the gallows "struggled for air in considerable pain". He goes on to say, " was not unusual for relatives to attach themselves to the legs of the hanging person as they hoped by adding extra weight to speed up the process and shorten the pain". Of the three men convicted of the murder of John Kinlen, a father and two sons, one, we are told, was "unusually tall" and it became necessary for the hangman to take a spade and dig a hole beneath the feet of the man "until the victim could find no further support". In addition to recounting the tales of murder and rape and supplying details of the way in which trials were conducted in 19th century Ireland, the contributors have offered a glimpse of how local society functioned, of the interaction between landlord and tenant, the morality of rebellion, the cohesiveness of the various strata of that society and the way in which pressure was brought to bear to conform to the social mores of the time. (Mercer Crime, ISBN 185635, pp284, EU12.95) _________________________________ Family Baggage – Monica McInerney "Family Baggage" is an apt title for the story of a family which runs its own travel company, but the baggage referred to is, of course, of a much more metaphysical nature. As in her novel "Alphabet Sisters", the author moves the narrative backwards and forwards between Australia, England and Ireland, much facilitated by the nature of the family business. Harriet Turner has worked with her parents, her brother James and his wife Melissa in the family business until she suffers a breakdown, and it is her re-entry into the world of tour guides that commands the larger part of the story. While ostensibly a tale of family friction, tragic death and misunderstandings, the author manages to inject some humour into the situation by making the tour to Cornwall soap opera-based. This provides a wonderful cast of comic characters from the forceful Mrs Pemberton to the winsome Ms Talbot whose small size dictates that she dresses in pre-teen fashion. The gradual relationship that develops between Harriet and Patrick Shawcross, the leading actor from "Willoughby" is predictable and not the most riveting part of the story. The saga of the tour is played out against a backdrop of a missing family member, Lara, who became a part of the Turner family when her own parents were killed. The younger Turner brother, Austin, interrupts a musical tour of Europe to help find Lara and his quest takes him, accompanied by Harriet, to West Cork. Here they discover more than their missing sister; secrets are revealed which have been known only to their mother and her colleague Gloria, secrets which have proved overwhelming to Lara and have caused her sudden flight. A further drama is played out in a minor key, with James and Melissa's daughter Molly becoming embroiled with an older man and missing Lara's advice when she needs it most. While all does not quite end happily ever after, Austin finds a soulmate in the form of Lara's flatmate Nina, Harriet moves to Boston to be with Patrick Shawcross, the faithful family friend Gloria retires to be with her blind husband, and even the evilly-depicted Melissa turns out to have the good of the company at heart. At almost five hundred pages "Family Baggage" would be a good choice to pack with your own holiday baggage. (Tivoli, ISBN 0-7171-3864-X, pp482, EU8.99) ____________________________________________________ Haughey's Forty Years of Controversy - T. Ryle Dwyer Historian T. Ryle Dwyer has used the publication of State papers from 1972 to augment the material of two previous books, "Haughey's Thirty Years of Controversy" and "Fallen Idol". He covers all the most famous events in the life of the quintessential politician, the Arms Crisis, the GUBU affair, the gifts from Ben Dunne and the tapping of journalists' phones, as well as some that might be less familiar. The question of the source of Haughey's wealth is also dealt with, and a sense of wonder emerges as to the ready availability of significant sums of money when Haughey was in receipt of only a backbencher's salary. What emerges strongly from these pages is the fact that Charlie Haughey was first and foremost an extremely able politician who was able to cut through red tape to enable legislation to be passed quickly. There is general agreement that he would have climbed the political ladder just as quickly even if he were not the son-in-law of Sean Lemass. He is given credit for the introduction of many benefits including free travel for pensioners and free hospitalisation for those earning less than Stg5,000 a year. The author does not include one of my favourite schemes, the issuing of a free toothbrush to every child in the State. The question of the attainment and preservation of power played a major role in Haughey's life, engendered and fostered by a degree of arrogance obvious to anyone who knew him. He was also, as we know, quite capable of lying in order to extricate himself from his various troubles, and was also quite ruthless in his determination to stay as head of the Government, as his lifelong friend Brian Lenihan found out to his cost. The author does not lay all the blame on Haughey, however, meting out a fair share of responsibility on the press whom he describes at one point as "whoring after false demons" instead of presenting an unbiased account of the facts; this was in relation to allegations about the 'golden circle' of businessmen who allegedly benefited from being friends of Haughey. T. Ryle Dwyer has endeavoured to look at both sides of the story in this examination of the political career of Charlie Haughey and has presented a man who seemed able to manipulate his friends and his enemies with equal ability. The final judgement on him "...he was unquestionably a very talented politician", does not really do justice to the many revelations in the preceding pages. (Mercer Press, ISBN 185635 426 1, pp254, EU14.95) _______________________________________ Deadlier Than The Male – David M. Kiely With the subtitle "Ireland's Female Killers", David M. Kiely's book outlines sixteen cases of murder by women, beginning in the years just after the Famine and finishing just three years ago. In many of the cases the apparent cause was an accumulation of domestic violence and the reaching of a point at which the victim of the violence could take no more. This is not the case with the first murderer, however, for Catherine Flanagan was an Irish immigrant in Liverpool whose motive was purely financial and whose chosen method was poisoning. As in so many of the cases cited, an overindulgence in alcohol had much to do with either the actual murder committed or with the identifying of the murderer. Another Irishwoman who paid the ultimate price for her crime in England was Charlotte Bryant, who had met her husband Frank while he was serving in the army in Derry in 1922; she also favoured poisoning as a means of ridding herself of her husband. Mary Somerville from Monaghan, on the other hand, was found guilty of disposing of her grandchild, born to her teenage unwed daughter in 1938, a crime that at that time still carried the death penalty. However Mary appealed her sentence and it was commuted to life imprisonment, a sentence she served in full. Perhaps the most interesting case recorded is that of Bridget Waters, a war bride who became something of a celebrity in the United States where she travelled with her young son to contest her husband's divorce action. She had the support of the Married Women's Association, established in 1938 to campaign for equality for women. The former Bridget McCluskey from Dublin, who had been nursing in Liverpool, won her case for support from Frank but decided to stay in the US to ensure that payments were made on a regular basis. It was when he took up with another woman that he sealed his fate, for Bridget shot and killed him, but once again her good looks and innocent demeanour stood her in good stead and the jury returned a verdict of involuntary manslaughter. The author does seem to take a number of quantum leaps to support his own theories on the murders; one example is his interpretation of the words of Norma Cotter, who received a three- and-a-half year sentence for the murder of her husband, army corporal Gary Cotter. David M. Kiely states, "In Norma's words they got on all right; 'not brilliant but you could live with it' – shorthand, most would agree, for an abusive relationship". I have to say that I know a number of women who could describe their marriages thus, and none of them, to my certain knowledge, is in an abusive relationship. The Price sisters, Dolours and Marian, provide another motive for killing, extreme nationalism, and robbery was the motive for the killing of Garda Michael Reynolds in1975, for which Marie and Noel Murray were both given life sentences, having successfully appealed the death sentences handed down at their first trial. With each of the sixteen cases the author has endeavoured to look into the minds of the female killers and to try to fathom the motives which led them to commit the ultimate crime. (Gill & Macmillan, ISBN 7171-3894-1, pp188, EU10.99) __________________________ Nothing Simple – Lia Mills The uprooting of a family at the heart of "Nothing Simple" is something that might be familiar to many Irish readers. The importance of following where the work is, of overlooking the problems engendered by such moves, forms the basis of Lia Mills' second novel. Dubliner Ray is happy enough to accompany her husband Dermot as he criss-crosses the United States following the demand for his computer skills, but when their children arrive she decides the time has come to settle, in Houston, Texas. This represents a stable period in their lives but in fact the author opens her story with the disappearance of the couple's eldest child, Hannah, just as they are about to move back to Ireland. The narrative then tells the family's story in a chronological fashion, and Ms Mills accurately and sensitively conveys the different experiences of husband and wife, the former totally taken up with his work and meeting people every day, while Ray languishes at home and becomes increasingly isolated. The book works as a chronicle of an American community and the shifts in relationships to be found there, but the initial disappearance of Hannah, which promised a dramatic outcome, is resolved in a rather understated manner which disappoints. (Penguin Ireland, ISBN 1-844-88057-5, pp392, EU12.99) ___________________________ Georgina Campbell's Ireland Under this heading come two books, The Guide and The Dublin Guide, the latter derived from one section of the former with a number of additions, and in both there is a wealth of reading. There is a detailed account of what can be expected by way of food, accommodation and atmosphere in the best restaurants, hotels and guest houses in the country, many of them off the beaten track. It is interesting, and of great benefit, to hear someone else's views on restaurants in particular, to save making an expensive mistake, and the books are written with sufficient authority and honesty to inspire confidence in the judgements. Each book has an extensive introduction, the nationwide one listing and giving details of the Awards of Excellence while the Dublin one lists Farmers' Markets and the activities of Feile Bia. Both are indispensable guides to fine dining and comfortable accommodation in Ireland. (Georgina Campbell Guides, ISBN 1-903164-12-5, pp546, EU19.95) (Georgina Campbell Guides, ISBN 1-903164-16-8, pp546, EU10.00) ______________________________________ The Boghole Boys – Gabriel Fitzmaurice In the first poem in this collection Kerry poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice sets out his stall as a poet who "finds genius where he can"; in his case this is in his native North Kerry where he minutely observes the people and events of Moyvane, the passions by which they are consumed and the particular problems they encounter. What is remarkable about the poetry is its accessibility, an accessibility that is summed up in the first lines of "At Fifty": "I court the common reader, not the poet – The kind who browses, likes a damn good read:" We hear of the unskilled labourers, looked down on by everyone but essential to the fabric of society; of the "townies" in the village school who sport their superiority over their country cousins, only to become "country" themselves when they go to secondary school; and the sad but defiant statement of the old man whom the guards ignore as he drives himself home from the local pub. The collection includes two sequences, "The Village Schoolmaster" and "That's Football", the latter including Fitzmaurice's thoughts on a memorable Munster final in 1924 when John Joe Sheehy and Con Brosnan, on opposing sides in the Civil War, put their differences aside for the duration of the match: "For what they love, they put down the gun –" In this collection Gabriel Fitzmaurice reaches into his own heart and the heart of his people, the people he has affectionately named the Boghole Boys. (Marino Books, ISBN 1 86023 158 6, pp126, EU12.95) ______________________________________________ New Hibernia Review – Ed Thomas Dillon Renshaw The Winter 2004 edition of this quarterly magazine features new poetry from Maura Staunton; Dr Michael Cronin writes on the increase of multilingualism in Dublin and the possible consequences for the Irish language; Charles Fanning has a particularly interesting contribution on the legacy of Robert Emmett on the lives of Americans in the 19th century; and Leann Lane examines George Russell's writings on the need to stem female emigration from Ireland by releasing women from heavy agricultural work and "ensuring a wholly domestic role for rural women". Also contributing to the Review are Albert J. De Giacomo and Jonas Friddle; Kathleen A. Heininge; Rui Carvalho Homem; James M. Cahalan, Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Anthony Roche and Patrick O'Sullivan. (University of St Thomas, ISBN 1092-3977, pp160, $35.00 per annum) _____________ Beastly Jokes More Beastly Jokes - Shay Healy Compiled for the entertainment of his grandson, these two collections of jokes about animals range from the short and exceedingly punny - "What do you call a camel with no humps? - Humphrey", or my own favourite, "Where do they send mad fleas? - The loony-tick asylum", to slightly more involved stories, though never longer than a few lines. The jokes are interspersed with illustrations large and small and the layout is sure to appeal to the young reader. (O'Brien Press, ISBN 0-86278-923-0, pp96, EU5.95) (O'Brien Press, ISBN 0-86278-924-9, pp96, EU5.95) ___________________________________ In the Bestsellers but not reviewed Of books mentioned in the Bestsellers list which we have not featured, "Little Criminals" is Gene Kerrigan's novel about crime in Ireland; and the anthology "Voices and Poetry of Ireland" is accompanied by three CDs of notable Irish people reading their favourite Irish poems. _____________________________________ Please see Classifieds on our website Announcements Bed and Breakfast Gifts for Irish Abroad: Moving Services: Professional Services: Property Sale/Rental/Exchange: Travel Services: ___________________________________________________________________ ____General News ______________________________________________ Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize The Munster Literature Centre and Cork 2005: European Capital of Culture have jointly launched the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize, sponsored by O'Flynn Construction. With a prize fund of EU50k, this is the single biggest prize in the world for a collection of short stories. With more than sixty submissions to date, a short list will be drawn up in July before the final winner is announced at a Gala Banquet in September. ____________________________ The Open Door Book of Poetry Readings by Paul Durcan, Paula Meehan and Eileen Sheehan marked the launch this month of "The Open Door Book of Poetry", by Niall MacMonagle. Part of the Open Door series initiated by Patricia Scanlan and New Island publisher Edwin Higel and comprising fifty-two poems from Shakespeare to Heaney, the book aims to make poetry accessible to readers. All royalties from the book will go to Focus Ireland. __________________________________________________ First New Biography of Pope Benedict XVI Published Columba Press has published "Benedict XVI: Successor to Peter" by Father Michael Collins, the first new title about Joseph Ratzinger to appear in either Britain or Ireland. Fr Michael Collins is an accredited journalist to the Holy See and was in Rome to cover the funeral of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI. _______________________________ History Ireland – May/June 2005 The latest edition of Ireland's only history magazine includes an article on the question of the Nazi sympathies of IRA leader Sean Russell; Eamon O'Flaherty on the legacy of John Paul II; and Kevin Whelan on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. ___________________________ Listowel Writers' Week 2005 From June 1 to June 5 Listowel will be playing host to its annual Writers' Week with Irish writers Colm Toibin, Roddy Doyle, Ronan Bennett, Michael Longley, Pauline McLynn and Ross O'Carroll Kelly. Among international readers attending the festival are Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Jack Mapanje, Carol Ann Duffy, Joe Simpson, Robert Fisk, Lawrence Block and D.B.C. Pierre. See for full details. ____________________________ Kate O'Brien's papers for UL Austin Hall, the godson of Limerick-born writer Kate O'Brien, has donated a collection of papers to the Special Collections Library at the University of Limerick. The papers cover the author's personal life and include correspondence to family members, diaries and material relating to her financial affairs. ___________________________ Joyce Exhibition in Belfast For the first time, the International Joyce exhibition, organised to mark the centenary of the day in 1904 on which James Joyce's novel "Ulysses" is set, is to be shown in Belfast. The exhibition, comprising twenty-two panels covering a number of different Joyce-related themes, was officially launched at the Linen Hall Library by Seamus Mallon and will be open to the public for the entire month of June. ______________________________ Clarke papers presented to UCD Poetry Ireland has presented more than 6,000 volumes of the works of Austin Clarke to University College Dublin; the archive was purchased by Poetry Ireland founder John F. Deane a number of years ago. Also presented to the university's special collections library were the papers of Poetry Ireland. _______________________________________________________ Other newly published books not featured in the review: "Xenophobe's Guide to the Irish" – Frank Kelly (ISBN 1-902825-33-0) "Killing Finucane" – Justin O'Brien (ISBN 0-7171-3543-8) "A Special Kind of Courage" – Chris Ryder (ISBN 0-413-77276-4) "City of Bridges" – Jo Slade (190339246-2) __________________________________________________________ BookView Ireland/Irish Emigrant Publications Editor: Pauline Ferrie a: Cathedral Building, Middle Street, Galway, Ireland t: +353 (0)91 569158 e: w: __________________________________________________________ To advertise, email Catherine at To help support this publication, see our voluntary subscription programme at __________________________________________________________
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