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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Read Ireland

Advertisement: So Mammy Said, by Patrick Burke. Publisher: Publish America (August 8, 2005) 207 pages; €18.63 available to order from Read Ireland and all other bookshops So Mammy Said is a powerful chronicle of a young boy's life growing up in a poor Catholic family of sixteen in a small Irish village. In describing the trials he faces and the triumphs he enjoys along the way to adulthood, the author makes wonderful use of humor to add levity to some desperate conditions. This book is storytelling at its best. ----------------------------------------- Read Ireland Book Reviews – Issue 340 – Irish Fiction & Poetry ----------------------------------------- The Rebels of Ireland (Ireland Awakening) by Edward Rutherford (Large Paperback; 18.00 Euro / 24.00 USD / 13.00 UK; 868 pages) The Princes of Ireland, the first volume of Edward Rutherfurd’s magisterial epic of Irish history, ended with the disastrous Irish revolt of 1534 and the disappearance of the sacred Staff of Saint Patrick. The Rebels of Ireland opens with an Ireland transformed; plantation, the final step in the centuries-long English conquest of Ireland, is the order of the day, and the subjugation of the native Irish Catholic population has begun in earnest. Edward Rutherfurd brings history to life through the tales of families whose fates rise and fall in each generation: Brothers who must choose between fidelity to their ancient faith or the security of their families; a wife whose passion for a charismatic Irish chieftain threatens her comfortable marriage to a prosperous merchant; a young scholar whose secret rebel sympathies are put to the test; men who risk their lives and their children’s fortunes in the tragic pursuit of freedom, and those determined to root them out forever. Rutherfurd spins the saga of Ireland’s 400-year path to independence in all its drama, tragedy, and glory through the stories of people from all strata of society--Protestant and Catholic, rich and poor, conniving and heroic. His richly detailed narrative brings to life watershed moments and events, from the time of plantation settlements to the “Flight of the Earls,” when the native aristocracy fled the island, to Cromwell’s suppression of the population and the imposition of the harsh anti-Catholic penal laws. He describes the hardships of ordinary people and the romantic, doomed attempt to overthrow the Protestant oppressors, which ended in defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and the departure of the “Wild Geese.” In vivid tones Rutherfurd re-creates Grattan’s Parliament, Wolfe Tone's attempted French invasion of 1798, the tragic rising of Robert Emmet, the Catholic campaign of Daniel O’Connell, the catastrophic famine, the mass migration to America, and the glorious Irish Renaissance of Yeats and Joyce. And through the eyes of his characters, he captures the rise of Charles Stewart Parnell and the great Irish nationalists and the birth of an Ireland free of all ties to England. A tale of fierce battles, hot-blooded romances, and family and political intrigues, The Rebels of Ireland brings the story begun in The Princes of Ireland to a stunning conclusion. (Also available in Hardback priced at 30 Euro) ------------------------------------- Ludmila’s Broken English by DBC Pierre (Trade Paperback; 14.00 Euro / 18.00 USD / 11.00 UK; 317 pages) DBC Pierre's second novel charts the unlikely meeting between East and West that follows Ludmila Derev's appearance on a Russian brides website. Determined to save her family from starvation in the face of marauding Gnez troops, Ludmila's journey into the world and womanhood is an odyssey of sour wit, even sourer vodka, and a Soviet tractor probably running on goat's piss. Thousands of miles to the West, the Heath twins are separated after 33 years conjoined at the abdomen. Released for the first time from an institution rumoured to have been founded for an illegitimate child of Charles II, they are suddenly plunged into a round-the-clock world churning with opportunity, rowdy with the chatter of freedom, democracy, self-empowerment and sex. A wild and raucous picaresque dripping with flavours of British bacon and nasty Russian vodka, Ludmila's "Broken English" is a tale of tango-ing twins on a journey into the unknown. A ride so outrageously improbable it just may happen, DBC Pierre's second novel confirms his place in the ranks of today's most original storytellers. ---------------------------------------- An Irish History of Civilization volume Two by Don Akenson (Hardback; 40.00 Euro / 50.00 USD / 30.00 UK; 696 pages) 'Some of these stories are accurate; all of them are true...' In his "An Irish History of Civilization", Don Akenson, the world's leading scholar of the Irish Dispora, fuses history and fiction into a remarkable narrative of the people and their influence around the globe. "An Irish History of Civilization" is about the Irish at home and abroad, the great and the small, the noble and the depraved, the saints and he sinners, adventures and idealists. As Akenson follows his chosen people on their odyssey around the globe, the lines between history and fiction become irretrievably, beguilingly lost in the mists of time. Volume Two begins with the Great Famine and goes on to show the Irish adapting, improvising and innovating in Ireland and overseas - in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia and South Africa. The book ends by demonstrating the centrality of both Catholic and Protestant Irish culture to the United States. ---------------------------------------- The Lightning Tree by P J Curtis (Paperback; 16.00 Euro / 20.00 USD / 11.00 UK; 275 pages) This is a haunting novel based on the life and voice of an old "wise woman" and healer. The year is 1954. The place is the Burren, a wild, rugged limestone region on the west coast of Ireland. This is a world of old customs, strong traditions and deeply-held religious and social values. It is also a pagan place, of ghosts and spirits, old beliefs and superstitions. In this time and place lives Mariah, an old woman of considerable powers, the last of a long line of renowned healers. Some say her power is a gift from God; others that it comes from the devil, that she is a witch. In this unique novel a voice from the past speaks with remarkable contemporary relevance. Mariah's views are refreshingly alternative at a time when we may be coming full circle to an appreciation of old healing arts and the concept of contentment with a simpler life. --------------------------------------- The Picture She Took by Fiona Shaw (Hardback; 21.00 USD / 26.00 UK / 16.00 UK; 342 pages) How far will a man go in war? And how far will a woman go to bring him back? In a bombed-out village, on the Western Front, Jude nurses the wounded in her cellar hospital. War is the making of her, and she records all she can, taking photographs of everything, capturing life in the midst of death. Survivor of a very different conflict, Daniel has come home from Ireland a haunted man. Signed up to the hated Black and Tans, he is disfigured by a campaign he fought in but didn't understand. A few years later an innocent photograph exposes an extraordinary tale. A chance snapshot, two soldiers sharing a cigarette, brings together Jude and Daniel and propels them on a strange journey. People travel a long way from themselves in battle and some never return. This searching, beautiful novel is about the wars we wage against others and against ourselves; it is a powerful story of memory, flight and desire. ---------------------------------------- Tell Me Your Secret by Deirdre Purcell (Large Paperback; 15.00 Euro / 18.00 USD / 11.00 UK; 342 pages) A powerful and thought-provoking novel about women's lives from the high-profile journalist and writer. An evocative and dramatic novel told in the voices of two narrators: Violet, who in 1944 is imprisoned in the tower of a rambling country house by her family; and Claudine, a modern-day property negotiator who becomes involved in handling the sale of the derelict Whitecliff in 2004. Violet's story is of young innocent love for a local lad taking an unfortunate twist, while Claudine is a thoroughly twenty-first-century character: daughter of a loving father with a less loving stepmother, she marries in haste after her father's death, and is at a turning point in her life when she starts to find out the true story of Violet. Is happiness a possibility for these women in their separate and very different worlds? -------------------------------------- Pretending by Caroline Williams (Large Paperback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 9.00 UK; 390 pages) Martina is in love with Cuan. Eleanor used to be in love with Cuan. In fact, sooner or later, everyone falls for Cuan. But Cuan knows he can't fall in love with anyone, and he wishes people would stop looking for something he can't give. Now Eleanor is on the verge of falling in love with someone who isn't Cuan, but she still can't stop herself obsessing about him. And Martina can't bring herself to fall out of love with him either. Sooner or later Cuan is going to have to come clean about why he won't do what comes naturally to everyone else. And they're all going to have to learn that true love doesn't follow any rules. "Pretending" is a tender and addictive story of love, secrets, confused identities and learning to see people for who they really are not what they pretend to be. ----------------------------------------- The Knack of Life by Trisha Rainsford (Paperback; 9.00 Euro / 12.00 USD / 6.00 UK; 370 pages) Thirty year-old Seamus can't believe his eyes when he sees his friend Mattie being killed. It just doesn't make any sense, but then not much has to Seamus ever since his lovely wife ran off with another man. Then two feisty women drag Seamus out of his torpor, and into some impromptu detective work. His investigations will lead him not only to the truth about Mattie, but also into the mysteries of his own head and his heart. And lead him to wonder if he'll ever figure out the knack of life ... --------------------------------------- Aisling Ltd. By Sean Harnett (Paperback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 250 pages ) Businessmen are the new revolutionaries’ is the mantra of Lawrence Cooley, the founder of Dublin-based IT consultancy Aisling Ltd. When Eoin Cullen is hired to take ownership of Aisling’s corporate story, he soon finds himself won over by Cooley’s brand of messianic capitalism. But there’s at least one malcontent in the ranks who thinks Aisling’s philosophy is 'f**king new age hoodoo voodoo', and Cullen slowly becomes aware that there’s more than meets the eye to the firm’s office politics. ------------------------------------ Object Lessons by Eavan Boland (Paperback; 20.00 Euro / 25.00 USD / 14.00 UK; 272 pages) 'I have put this book together, not as a prose narrative is usually constructed, but as a poem might be. In turnings and returnings. In parts which find and repeat themselves and re-state the argument until it loses its reasonable edge and hopefully becomes a sort of cadence.' In "Object Lessons" Eavan Boland meditates on womanhood in the specific places and times of her life. She engages, in a scrupulous and evocative prose, the issues of nationhood as well, clearing a space within Ireland where to be a woman and a poet has seemed in the past a contradiction in terms. The book functions in her work as Wordsworth's "Prelude" does in his, though Boland does not allow herself the luxury of rapture: to say no more or less than she means, she focuses on particulars, on 'obstinate details' that contain and represent larger meaning, connection and force. The autobiography here is not of a confessional kind: the facts which connect with other voices, other lives, matter. What the London Review of Books called Boland's 'radical but undoctrinaire feminism' informs all the related meditations in "Object Lessons", an enabling document of our time. Unease with Modernism, a concern with the erotic in time, and at every point a sense of continuities, mark the book as a portrait of a critical imagination of deep integrity finding a way among history's obstacles, finding itself in and through the lessons of the objects - particularly artifacts and poems - that it encounters. ------------------------------------- A Perfect V by Mary O’Malley (Paperback; 14.00 Euro / 17.00 USD / 9.00 UK; 100 pages) The poems in Mary O'Malley's new collection focus on legal separation: of Northern from Southern Ireland, of written Irish from its original script, and of husband from wife. The book explores a season in hell when the verities vanish, the love we live by dies, and the ramparts that shore up our existence are demolished. A marriage breaks down, children leave home, love itself is questioned. What is home now? Where is it? And how do we live when we cannot return? The personal is examined through the lens of the greater human chaos. This is a book about eviction, an examination of the nature of home that is both private and political, written out of a sense of the barbarism that threatens to overwhelm the deep song of Ireland. -------------------------------------- Collected Poems of Greg Delanty (Paperback; 22.50 Euro / 27.50 USD / 15.00 UK; 256 pages) This volume brings together twenty years of the acclaimed Irish poet's work. Each of Greg Delanty's six books so far published is an entity in itself, a single-seeming movement. Bringing the books together in a single volume, juxtaposing them as it were, reveals the enormous resourcefulness and wit of this unusual poet who keenly interweaves material and themes drawn from his reading, writing and living (there is no real line between them). Marriage, childbirth, friendship, landscapes Irish and Indian and American, real and imagined, politics, the personal and private and the public...we are organised as a word and a line and a stanza are made from a tray of type, as in a tapestry the unseen sewing happens and holds, as in growth a foetus evolves into a child. Things fall apart, too, and there is pattern and method in that process as well. The poems draw on a rich inheritance from the different worlds that Delanty moves in: Ireland and America, Gaelic and English, traditional verse forms and modern colloquial. Past and future, their people and places, inform and interpret one another. ------------------------------------------ Highlights from the Previous Issue: ---------------------------------- Ruairi O Bradaigh: The Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary by Robert White (Hardback; 35.00 Euro / 45.00 USD / 28.00 UK; 436 pages, with black-and-white photos throughout) "In a very real sense, Ruairí Ó Bradáigh can . . . be said to be the last, or one of the last Irish Republicans. Studies of the Provisional movement to date have invariably focused more on the Northerners and the role of people like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. But an understanding of them is not possible without appreciating where they came from and from what tradition they have broken. Ruairí Ó Bradáigh is that tradition and that is why this account of his life and politics is so important." —from the foreword by Ed Moloney, author of A Secret History of the IRA Since the mid-1950s, Ruairí Ó Bradáigh has played a singular role in the Irish Republican Movement. He is the only person who has served as chief of staff of the Irish Republican Army, as president of the political party Sinn Féin, and to have been elected, as an abstentionist, to the Dublin parliament. Today, he is the most prominent and articulate spokesperson of those Irish Republicans who reject the peace process in Northern Ireland. His rejection is rooted in his analysis of Irish history and his belief that the peace process will not achieve peace. Instead it will support the continued partition of Ireland and result in continued, inevitable, conflict. The child of Irish Republican veterans, Ó Bradáigh has led IRA raids, been arrested and interned, escaped and been "on the run," and even spent a period of time on a hunger strike. An articulate spokesman for the Irish Republican cause, he has at different times been excluded from Northern Ireland, Britain, the United States, and Canada. He was a key figure in the secret negotiation of a bilateral IRA-British truce. His "Notes" on these negotiations offer special insight to the 1975 truce, the IRA cease-fires of the 1990s, and the current peace process in Ireland. Ó Bradáigh has been a staunch defender of the traditional Republican position of abstention from participation in the parliaments in Dublin, Belfast, and Westminster. When Sinn Féin voted to recognize these parliaments in 1970, he led the walkout of the party convention and spearheaded the creation of Provisional Sinn Féin. He served as president of Provisional Sinn Féin until 1983, when he was forced from the position by his successor, Gerry Adams. In 1986, with Adams as its president, Provisional Sinn Féin recognized the Dublin parliament. Ó Bradáigh led another walkout and later became president of Republican Sinn Féin, a position he still holds. ---------------------------------------- Bobby Sands: Nothing But an Unfinished Song by Denis O’Hearn (Large Paperback; 20.00 Euro / 25.00 USD / 13.00 UK; 434 pages) At seventeen, Bobby Sands was interested in music, girls and soccer.Ten years later, he led his fellow prisoners on a protest that grabbed the world's attention.Bobby Sands turned twenty-seven on hunger strike, after spending almost nine years in prison because of his activities as a member of the Irish Republican Army.When he died on May 5, 1981, on the sixty-sixth day of his hunger strike against repressive conditions in Northern Ireland's H-Block prisons, parliaments across the world stopped for a minute's silence in his honour.Nelson Mandela followed his example and led a similar hunger strike in South Africa.Bobby Sands' remarkable life and death have made him the Irish Che Guevara.He is an enduring figure of resistance whose life has inspired millions around the world.But until the publication of this book, nothing has adequately explored the motivation of the hunger strikers, nor recreated this period of history from within the prison cell.Denis O'Hearn's powerful biography, which contains an enormous amount of new material based on primary research and interviews, illuminates for the first time this enigmatic, controversial and heroic figure. ----------------------------------------- Freewheeling Through Ireland by Edward Enfield (Paperback; 11.00 Euro / 14.00 USD / 8.00 UK; 222 pages) 'At one moment you seem to be in the Lake District; then you could be on the moon; they you are in a wilderness; and then beside a Norwegian fjord.' When Edward decided to cycle around Ireland, he was enchanted by prehistoric fortresses, rugged landscapes, and landladies who insisted on washing his shirts. He takes you with him on a gentle ride up the west coast, eating fresh fish and enormous breakfasts along the way, and stopping to chat to peat-cutters, fishermen, eccentric tourists and a famous matchmaker. With his trademark dry wit, observant eye and a sense of the absurd, he is the perfect companion for a tour of Ireland's most beautiful areas from the lakes of Killarney to the idyllic Joyce's Country, and from the dolmens of Clare to the deserts and neolithic remains of Mayo. ------------------------------------ The Beginning of the End: The Crippling Disadvantage of a Happy Irish Childhood by Walter Ellis (Large Paperback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 255 pages) Walter Ellis grew up in East Belfast. His father was a commercial traveller, his mother a housewife. He and his sister were not abused as children. Ellis was never forced to wear girls' clothes or spend days naked in a cold cellar. Instead, he was sent to school each day and to church on Sunday. In the summer, he and his family went on holiday to the seaside. But, determined that he should not suffer from the crippling disadvantage of a happy Irish childhood, Ellis systematically set about destroying everything that gave him stability. He was expelled from school and dropped out of not one, but two universities. He also acquired as his best friend the Protestant renegade Ronnie Bunting, who, as chief of staff of the INLA, murdered Airey Neave, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the carpark of the House of Commons. Bunting was an extraordinary, demonic personality. He once foisted Joe McCann, Ireland's Most Wanted man, on Ellis's mum for the weekend and gave Walter a suitcase to look after that turned out to contain over a hundred thousand pounds - the proceeds of an armed robbery. The last straw came when Ellis was arrested by Special Branch in England on suspicion of plotting to assassinate top government minister William Whitelaw. "The Beginning of the End" is like nothing else that has come out of the Ulster Troubles and is sure to shock, intrigue and entertain. ----------------------------------------- I Never Knew That About Ireland by Christopher Winn (Hardback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 306 pages) Bestselling author Christopher Winn takes us on a fascinating journey around Ireland, to discover the tales buried deep in the country's history. Packed full of legends, firsts, birthplaces, inventions and adventures, this book visits each of the four provinces - Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connaught - and unearths the hidden gems that each county in these provinces holds. Discover where people and ideas were born, where dreams were inspired and where the unforgettable figures of Ireland's past now slumber. You'll be able to visit the holy mountain, Croagh Patrick in Country Mayo, where St Patrick is said to have driven all the snakes in Ireland into the sea. At Lismore Castle in County Waterford you will uncover the bathroom dedicated to Fred Astaire, whose sister Adele was the hugely popular Chatelaine of Lismore in the 1930s and 40s. On the winter solstice you can bathe in the sunlight that fills the burial chamber at Newgrange, County Meath - the oldest solar observatory in the world. This irresistible compendium of facts and stories will give you a captivating insight into the people, ideas and events that have shaped the individual identity of every place you visit, and will have you exclaiming again and again: 'Well, I never knew that!' ----------------------------------------- County Wexford in the Rare Oul Times by Nicholas Furlong (Large Format Paperback; 30.00 Euro / 37.00 USD / 24.00 UK; 248 pages, 409 black-and-white photos) County Wexford in War, 1910-1924. This book contains a wide spectrum of period photographs covering the political and military build-up to World War One, the World War on land and sea, particularly off Wexford’s coast in the Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean; the 1916 Rising in Enniscorthy, the War of Independence, The Irish Civil War and the aftermath in the strategically important south-east. A limited number of these books has been printed. (Hardback Available at 50 Euro) -------------------------------------------- Bloodstains in Ulster by Tom McAlindon (Paperback; 12.00 Euro / 15.00 USD / 9.00 UK; 174 pages) Bloodstains in Ulster recounts the remarkable true story of one of the most blatant miscarriages of justice in Northern Ireland’s long troubled history. The book recovers from near-oblivion the case of Robert Taylor, known in the media as Robert the Painter, who was sentenced to death in Belfast for the savage premeditated murder of Mrs Mary McGowan and then in January 1950 released on a technicality. The defence revealed that contrary to the judge’s express instructions the jurymen and their four RUC keepers had on two occasions separated and spoken to members of the public while on an evening break, thus infringing a rule then operative in Northern Ireland. Having had two trials, Taylor could not be tried again. Taylor was a Protestant from a hotly Loyalist ghetto, his victim a Catholic, and all the evidence suggests that not only was the judicial process deliberately sabotaged but also that the appeal judges (members of the Grand Lodge Committee of the Orange Order) turned a blind eye to that fact. Taylor returned to his ghetto as a hero. His release was accepted in sullen silence by the Nationalist minority; it fitted with their conception of the way things were. The case riveted the attention of the divided community for six months, but was subsequently forgotten in the turmoil of the Troubles. Yet it was an omen of 1969, when Nationalist alienation from the state, the judiciary, and the RUC exploded in demands for justice and civil rights, only to be met by Loyalist indignation (orchestrated by Dr Paisley), police partiality, burnings and evictions, and the renaissance of the IRA. Uniquely, the Taylor case, although it turned on the fate of two socially insignificant individuals, is a single episode which encapsulates in itself the essential meaning of Northern Ireland’s history from 1920 to the start of the Troubles. ------------------------------------------- 500 Years of Irish Silver by Ida Delamer and Conor O’Brien (Hardback; 35.00 Euro / 42.50 USD / 28.00 UK; 232 pages, Full colour illustrations throughout) This is a fully illustrated catalogue, by two of Ireland's foremost specialists in Irish silver, of the permanent exhibition of some 500 pieces of Irish silver, dating from c. 1500 to the present day, on display in the Museum of Decorative Arts and History, Collins Barracks. As such, it will be the definitive work on the national collection of late medieval to modern silver. In addition to a catalogue of all the objects on display, the text deals with such topics as the organisation and control of the goldsmith's craft and silversmithing techniques, as well as providing tables of Dublin hallmarks and a full catalogue of Irish makers' marks. ---------------------------------------- Slurping Through Europe by Regis Robinson (Trade Paperback; 22.50 Euro / 27.50 USD / 17.50 UK; 200 pages, with full colour illustrations throughout) Exotic, unusual soups and the old favourites from 40 countries, all aimed at tickling the taste buds, are included in this, user-friendly cookbook by retired chef and restaurateur Regis Robinson. Beautifully illustrated with original colour line drawings and photographs. --------------------------------- The Siege of Derry by Carlo Gebler (Paperback; 12.00 Euro / 15.00 USD / 9.00 UK; 366 pages) THE SIEGE OF DERRY is one of the key flash points in the troubled history of Ireland and Britain. In 1688 William of Orange had claimed the English throne, forcing the catholic James II to flee to Ireland. From there he hoped to mount his comeback. In December of that year James' troops attempted to take over the protestant city of Derry. To the now-famous cry of 'No Surrender' the apprentice boys closed the city gates to James' army and the 105-day siege begun. The besiegers effectively used cannon and mortar to shell the defenders - with terrifying results - and conditions became desperate as the city began to run out of food. Carlo Gebler's book thrillingly describes both the events leading up to the siege and the heroic struggles within and outside Derry as the five-month battle waged. -------------------------------------------- Thank you for your continued support. It is vital for the continuation of this service! I respectfully request that if you are considering ordering any of these books that you do so through Read Ireland. I very much appreciate your patronage. To order books from the Read Ireland Book Review – simply return the Newsletter by clicking your reply button. Please DELETE the books you do NOT want and LEAVE the books you DO WANT to order. Alternatively, you can send an email to the order department at: Please be sure to include your full mailing address and credit card details including expiration date. You might like to split this information into 2 or 3 emails for security. You can of course also post your order to: Read Ireland, 392 Clontarf Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3,Ireland. Telephone and Facsimile number is: +353-1-853-2063. Read Ireland Web Site Home Page: or I have added a new feature to the Read Ireland website. It is a page listing ONLY the newest books added to or updated on the website. This new feature page will itself be uperseded at least 3 times per month (next update 14 May). Checking this page on the Read Ireland website is an ideal way to keep abreast of what is happening in the world of Irish Interest publishing. Please visit often! If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you very much for your continued support and custom. Sincerely, Gregory Carr @ Read Ireland
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