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Monday, June 12, 2006

Read Ireland

Read Ireland Book Reviews – Issue 342 ------------------------------------- Ireland’s Ancient Stones: A Megalithic Heritage by Kenneth McNally (Hardback; 28.00 Euro / 35.00 USD / 20.00 UK; 140 pages, with full colour photos throughout) Scattered across the Irish countryside are an astonishing number and variety of ancient structures of earth and stone: lichen-encrusted megalithic tombs, ritual circles and alignments, mystic cult stones, raths and cashels, and the crosses and round towers of the Celtic Church - tangible legacies of the different cultural groups which contributed to the personality of the landscape from prehistoric times. Kenneth McNally's magnificently evocative photographs of the finest of Ireland's field monuments include many of the most famous examples - Newgrange, Glendalough and Legananny - as well as some of the curious and lesser known - Pat Kearney's Big Stone, the enigmatic Caldragh Idol, Ballykinvarga Fort, The Piper's Stones, and many more around which a rich and colourful folklore has grown up over the centuries. The author's introductions to each section set the background to this remarkable heritage, and the commentaries accompanying the photographs tell the reader all he or she needs to know about each particular site, whether as an intending visitor or as a vicarious traveller. ----------------------------------------- Land Matters: Power Struggles in Rural Ireland by Ethel Crowley (Paperback; 15.00 Euro / 18.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 230 pages) The Land Question has always been predominant in Ireland. According to forecasts, there will be as few as 15,000 farmers in twenty years' time. As the Irish rural image undergoes radical transformation, this timely, informative, vigorously argued book will be necessary reading for those working in rural development, food production, housing, transport, heritage and conservation, to say nothing of those who simply care about Ireland's future. Land Matters concerns social and ecological change, the underlying results of structural and policy decisions made in Brussels or Dublin and their impact on the ground. It addresses the following themes: globalization and the forces that shape society; the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), and why it has been reformed; social inequality; REPS (the Rural Environment Protection Scheme) and its impact; survival strategies in everyday life (farm households and diversification); green capitalism; landscape, heritage and the 'politics of perception'; nitrate pollution; migration; contrasting rural visions (housing in the country, 'clean' food); and views of a region - west Cork - in which competing claims are made by farmers, hoteliers, conservationists and second-home owners. Key organizations such as Teagasc, the IFA, An Taisce and Organic Trust are also examined and profiled. Land matters permeate all our lives, from our supermarket shelves to our television screens and studies, from our boardrooms to our streets, dwellings, communities and belief systems. No one will be untouched by the issues raised in this pioneering, analytic work. -------------------------------------- Wednesday’s Child by Shane Dunphy (Paperback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 10.0 UK; 207 pages) Wednesday's Child" is the story of one year in the life of an Irish child protection worker. Shane Dunphy was involved in social care for fifteen years. This book is a distilling of the cases he encountered in that time to make a single, year-long narrative. Apart from that compression, and some necessary changes of identifying details, everything in the book is true. And what a truth he reveals! Here are the cases of three dysfunctional families, struggling at the margins of a society that barely acknowledges the existence of such people. This is a portrait of fatalistic despair, of families so sunk in chronic poverty and neglect that they are beyond saving themselves or their children. All the elements of social dysfunction are present: the unkempt houses, truant children, endless televsion, anorexia, alcoholism, suicidal desperation. Yet out of this mess there is hope as well as tragedy. Most of Wednesday's children don't make it, but some do. Some survive the most appalling childhood horrors to make it through to the normal adult world. But more are doomed. Despite the heroism of child protection workers and the best efforts of well-intentioned people, we still face a hidden mountain of avoidable human misery. And all this in one of the richest countries in the world. ------------------------------------------- Belfast 1938-1968: Ireland in the Age of the Trolleybus by Mike Maybin (Large Paperback; 25.00 Euro / 30.00 USD / 20.00 UK; 128 pages, with black-and-white photos throughout) Belfast Corporation operated the largest trolleybus system in the UK outside London, and its heyday was in the 1950s. This 1996 book, reformatted and re-issued, captures the flavour of that period with more than 200 photographs, covering the city route by route, with additional sections on depots, tickets and preserved vehicles. ------------------------------------------ Irish Leprechaun Stories by Bairbre McCarthy (Paperback; 8.00 Euro / 10.00 USD / 6.00 UK; 96 pages) This collection contains ten stories, which convey the sense of wonder of the world of fairies, where the marvellous and unexpected can always happen. Among the stories are ‘Princess Marie’, ‘The Leprechaun and the Giant’, ‘Tim the Tailor’ and ‘The Greedy Landlord’. For 8 to 12 year olds. --------------------------------------- Complete Book of Gaelic Games edited by Des Donegan (Paperback; 20.00 Euro / 25.00 USD / 15.00 UK; 352 pages) "The complete handbook of gaelic games: Full GAA records from 1887 to 2005 Inclusive". --------------------------------------- Where to Watch Birds in Ireland and Britain by David Tipling (Large Paperback; 12.00 Euro / 15.00 USD / 9.00 UK; 176 pages, with colour illustrations throughout) This excellent guide contains over 300 of the most popular birding sites in Britain and Ireland, offering valuable infor-mation on access and location and habitat type. ------------------------------------- Bill Oddie’s Birding Map of Ireland and Britain (Map; 7.50 Euro / 10.00 USD / 5.00 UK) The only one of its kind, the third edition of this illustrated map is an essential reference tool for locating the top 340 birding sites in Britain and Ireland. ----------------------------------- Winds the Road North by Geraldine O’Connell Cusack (Paperback; 20.00 Euro / 25.00 USD / 15.00 UK, 231 pages) Winds the Road North is the story of an ordinary family from the developed world who make a life in Africa under extraordinary conditions. They live in northern Tanzania and face the same daily struggles as the local population. Thirteen-year old Kaniah attends the village school and shares all the hurts, fears, and magical dreams of her classmates. But Kaniah misses the camaraderie of friends back home and begins to understand what it is like to live among strangers who will never really understand. Winds the Road North is a personal journal and cadidid observation of Africa today. It is honest, funny, and frankly unsentimental and will appeal to all those seeking to understand the racial and religious tensions simmering beneath our global village. ---------------------------------------- The Darkness of Bones by Sam Millar (Trade Paperback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 234 pages) This is a tense tale of murder, betrayal, sexual abuse and revenge, and the corruption at the heart of the respectable establishment. A young boy discovers a bone in a snow-covered forest. Initially, Quigley Maguire thinks it could simply be that of an animal. But, it belongs to a young girl who has been missing for three years. Quigley's father, Frank, an ex-detective who now works as a private investigator, has hidden from his son his responsibility for his wife's death. When he confesses the truth to him, Quigley runs from his home into the worst snowstorm for decades. Frank's search for his son brings him into contact with Jeremiah Grazier and his drug-addicted wife, Judith, a damaged refugee from an orphanage who now sees herself as an avenging angel. Meanwhile, in the derelict orphanage, a tramp discovers a sexually mutilated and decapitated corpse, later identified as that of the head warden of the institute. -------------------------------------- Miss Katie Regrets by Jack Barry (Trade Paperback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 254 pages) From the criminal underbelly of Celtic Tiger Dublin comes a gripping story of guns, drugs, prostitution and corruption. A seemingly humdrum shooting of an ex-paramilitary anti-drugs campaigner leads Detective Thomas Barrett to an online male prostitution service and to hints of a link with a politician appearing at a tribunal into corrupt property speculation. Barrett is given "sick leave" as new forces within the British and Irish centres of power allow him to pursue the sensitive investigation offstage. The plot moves between Dublin and Amsterdam, Manchester and British suburbia. At the centre of an apparent spider's web of intrigue sits the enigmatic figure of Miss Katie, a crabby Dublin transvestite who will, under pressure, kiss and tell. And, perhaps, kill. The dramatic denouement takes place in the German cemetery in the Dublin mountains. Barrett is free to have another crack at his failed marriage, and Miss Katie, finally, is defanged, if not deflowered. --------------------------------------- Dublin Noir: The Celtic Tiger vs. The Ugly American edited by Ken Bruen (Trade Paperback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 230 pages) At first it was straightforward – Dublin authors to write on their city... Then we turned the concept on its head, as you do in noir. The Irish are fascinated by how we appear to the world, so let’s have a look, we thought, at how this city appears from the outside. In addition to a couple of us locals, let’s take a cross section of the very best of today’s crime writers from America, as well as Britain, and those between. – Ken Bruen, from the introduction. Brand new stories by Ray Banks, James O. Born, Ken Bruen, Reed Farrell Coleman, Eoin Colfer, Jim Fusilli, Patrick J. Lambe, Laura Lippman, Craig McDonald, Pat Mullan, Gary Phillips, John Rickards, Peter Spiegelman, Jason Starr, Olen Steinhauer, Charlie Stella, Duane Swierczynski, Sarah Weinman and Kevin Wignall. ------------------------------------- Angels and Rabies: A Journey Through the Americas by Manchan Magan (Large Paperback; 16.00 Euro / 20.00 USD / 11.00 UK; 280 pages) "Angels and Rabies" follows the experiences of Mocha/Manchan on a journey through the Americas, from a primal screaming commune in the Columbian Andes to contracting rabies in the Peruvian rainforest and falling in love with a Hollywood star. "Angels and Rabies" is a true story, which delves into the culture and sociological makeup of the Americas, from its conquistador pioneers to today's Disney Channel aficionados. Mocha, an inquiring and slightly unhinged young man, finds himself amidst the marginalised wherever he is: shamans murdering missionaries; Israeli conscripts seeking absolution; tree-huggers in love with loggers; cannabis growers influencing the CIA with mind-meld techniques; women addicted to menstrual blood; and enema junkies seeking enlightenment. By burrowing beneath the skin of alternative societies from Ecuador to Seattle, Mocha reveals a radiograph of the bones and nerve-endings that make up the Americas. It's a poignant and farcical book, wise and deranged; about adventure, love, transcendence and aspiration. ------------------------------------------ The General & I: The Untold Story of Martin Cahill’s Hotdog Wars by Wolfgang Eulitz (Paperback; 11.00 Euro / 15.00 USD / 8.00 UK; 200 pages) The General and I leaves you in no doubt which version you should believe. This is the gripping and always entertaining story of an ordinary man’s struggle against a criminal psychopath. Wolfgang Eulitz worked hard to set up his business as a hot dog seller on the notorious Leeson Street. After four successful years of witnessing the chaos and characters of Dublin’s nightlife, Martin Cahill appeared and tried to muscle in on Eulitz’s lucrative business. The hot dog wars had begun. "At the end of his outstretched hands he held a gun, which he now aimed directly at my head. These thugs were here for more than just money. These thugs belonged to Martin Cahill, alias ‘The General’." Wolfgang Eulitz reveals that the popular perception that Martin Cahill as an ‘ordinary decent criminal’ is completely wrong, and that he was instead a cruel, sadistic and dangerous thug intent on destroying other peoples’ livelihoods. --------------------------- New in Paperback This Week: --------------------------- The Pope’s Children: Ireland’s New Elite by David McWilliams (13 Euro / 17 USD / 10 UK; 300 pages0 David McWilliams' brilliant survey of Ireland today is a celebration of success. He takes us to Deckland, that suburban state of mind where you'll find the Kells Angels, those out-of-town commuters who are the cutting edge of the new prosperity. He introduces the HiCos - Hiberno-Cosmopolitans - the elite whose distance from Deckland is measured in their cool sophistication, their ability to feel at home equally on the Boulevard Saint-Michel and on Hill 16. The "Pope's Children" is an antidote to the endless pessimism of the Commentariat, official Ireland's gloomy opinion mongers, forever seeing a glass half empty that is in fact three-quarters full. There is a vast surge of ambition, new money, optimism and hope out there. That's the real story: "The Pope's Children" tells it - and tells it with style. -------------------------------------- Memoir by John McGahern (10 Euro / 13 USD / 7 UK; 270 pages) At the heart of the "Memoir" is a son's unembarrassed tribute to his mother. His memory of walks with her through the narrow lanes to the country schools where she taught and his happiness as she named for him the wild flowers on the bank remained conscious and unconscious presences for the rest of his life. A classic family story, told with exceptional restraint and tenderness, "Memoir" cannot fail to move all those who read it. -------------------------------------- Highlights from the Previous Issue: ---------------------------------- Bobby Sands: Nothing But an Unfinished Song by Denis O’Hearn (Large Paperback; 20.00 Euro / 25.00 USD / 14.00 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. ----------------------------------------- The Provisional IRA in England: The Bombing Campaign 1973-1997 by Gary McGladdery (Large Paperback; 30.00 Euro / 36.00 USD / 24.00 UK; 272 pages) In this revealing and fascinating account, the impact of the Provisional IRA's bombing campaign in Britain on both British government policy towards Northern Ireland and the internal politics of the republican movement, are examined in detail. The book highlights the early thinking of the British government and draws on recently released public records from 1939, 1973 and 1974. It makes extensive use of television documentary footage to offer a broader analysis. The book also examines republican rationale behind the campaign, the reasoning behind the use of particular tactics and the thinking behind atrocities, such as the Birmingham bombings. Using a range of new evidence, the book highlights the bankruptcy of republican strategic thinking and challenges the notion that successive British governments appeased republicans because of the threat of bombs in London. The analysis of the campaign is placed within the wider context of the ongoing violence in Northern Ireland as well as the history of republican violence in England dating back to the nineteenth century. -------------------------------------------- The Northern IRA and the Early Years of Partition 1920-1922 by Robert Lynch (Large Paperback; 30.00 Euro / 36.00 USD / 24.00 UK; 246 pages) The years 1920-22 constituted a period of unprecedented conflict and political change in Ireland. It began with the onset of the most brutal phase of the War of Independence and culminated in the effective military defeat of the Republican IRA in the Civil War. Occurring alongside these dramatic changes in the south and west of Ireland was a far more fundamental conflict in the north-east, a period of brutal sectarian violence which marked the early years of partition and the establishment of Northern Ireland. Almost uniquely, the IRA in the six counties were involved in every one of these conflicts and yet, it can be argued, was on the fringe of all of them. The period 1920-22 saw the evolution of the organisation from peripheral curiosity during the War of independence to an idealistic symbol for those wishing to resolve the fundamental divisions within the Sinn Fein movement, which developed in the first six months of 1922. The story of the Northern IRA's collapse in the autumn of that year demonstrated dramatically the true nature of the organisation and how it was their relationship to the various protagonists in these conflicts, rather than their unceasing, but fruitless war against partition, that defined its contribution to the Irish revolution. --------------------------------------- Myths and Memories of the Easter Rising: Cultural and Political Nationalism in Ireland by Jonathan Githens-Mazer (Large Paperback; 30.00 Euro / 36.00 USD / 24.00 UK; 238 pages) This book examines the political transformation and radicalisation of Ireland between the outbreak of the First World War, August, 1914, and Sinn Fein's landslide electoral victory in December, 1918. It argues, through a novel application of theories of ethno-symbolism and social movement theory, that the myths, memories and symbols of the Irish nation formed the basis for interpretation of the events of the Easter Rising, and that this interpretation stimulated members of the Irish nation to support radical nationalism. The book calls this phenomenon the Cultural Trigger Point. Through an examination of a variety of sources, the book traces, in particular, the impact of the Great War on cultural and religious nationalism, and its role in the rise of radical Irish nationalism. ------------------------------------- The GPO and the Easter Rising by Kieth Jeffery (Large Paperback; 25.00 Euro / 30.00 USD / 20.00 UK; 222 pages) All existing accounts of the GPO in 1916 concentrate on the Volunteers who occupied the building on Easter Monday. But what of those Dubliners and others who were working in the Post Office that morning? Their experiences have been largely ignored in all subsequent historiography. While not neglecting the rebels, this book tells their story too, using hitherto unpublished material drawn from the treasure-trove of documents relating to the Rising held in the British Post Office Archives, which has remained unexplored for ninety years and never before exploited by historians. This material complemented with further important unpublished material from the British National Archives, as well as other vivid eyewitness accounts first published shortly after the Rising. This book brings a strikingly fresh perspective to the history of the Rising. ---------------------------------------- A Destiny That Shapes Our Ends: Florence and Josephine O’Donoghue’s War of Independence edited by John Borgonovo (Large Paperback; 30.00 Euro / 36.00 USD / 24.00 UK; 252 pages, with an 8-page black-and-white photo insert) Historian and IRA leader Florence O'Donoghue describes his experiences as head of intelligence in Cork city during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921). He candidly assesses the leaders of this period, including Tomas MacCurtain, Sean O'Hegarty, Terence MacSwiney and Michael Collins, and critically examines the evolution of the Irish Volunteer citizen-soldiers. He also details his wife, Josephine's role as the top IRA spy in Cork's British Army headquarters, working for the rebels in exchange for the return of her eldest son, lost in a bitter custody battle with her in-laws. After O'Donoghue kidnapped the child and reunited him with his mother, the two collaborators eventually fell in love and were secretly married in the spring of 1921. Forty years later, the couple presented their story to their children in order to explain the family secret that had haunted their domestic lives. The first part of the book is O'Donoghue's and his wife's account of their activities in the Anglo-Irish War, written in 1961; the second part is composed of 47 letters in diary form, written by O'Donoghue to his wife, while he was 'on the run' during the last ten weeks of the Anglo-Irish War, from May to July 1921. They provide a rare snapshot of the daily life of fugitive IRA guerrillas. ------------------------------ Last of the Celts by Marcus Tanner (Large Paperback; 20.00 Euro / 25.00 USD / 14.00 UK; 300 pages, with 16 page black-and-white photo insert) 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 us all. -------------------------------------- Dublin’s Lost Heroines: Mammies and Grannies in a Vanished City by Kevin C. Kearns (Large Paperback; 15.00 Euro / 18.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 330 pages) Kevin C. Kearns, the acclaimed author of "Dublin Tenement Life" and other oral histories, has now prepared a masterly work of reminiscence, celebration and dignity. Based on interviews he has conducted during annual visits to Dublin extending over thirty years, he has drawn together a unique picture of women's lives in the old Dublin slums. The slums of Dublin were among the worst in Europe, rivalled only by Glasgow. Tall town houses, originally built as elegant homes for the rich in the eighteenth century, fell into the hands of avaricious and pitiless landlords who filled them to bursting point with the desperate and impoverished urban poor. Conditions were often unspeakably vile, with massive over-crowding and utterly inadequate sanitation. Yet out of these dreadful tenements, families were reared, households kept together and human dignity maintained. As with most impoverished societies, this was overwhelmingly the work of women, the mammies and grannies of the Dublin slums whose voices course through this remarkable book. They tell of how they lived, of the difficulties they faced, of the grinding poverty, the unemployment, the fecklessness of their men folk and always of their heroic struggle to maintain the basic decencies of human life in inhuman conditions. --------------- Available Again: --------------- Dublin Tenement Life: An Oral History by Kevin C. Kearns (Large Paperback; 15.00 Euro / 18.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 237 pages) This book is based on the original oral histories of the survivors of the old Dublin tenements. For nearly 150 years, the wretched, squalid, tenements of Dublin were widely judged to be the worst slums in all of Europe. By the 1930s, 6300 tenements were occupied by almost 112,000 tenants. Some districts had 800 people to the acre, up to 100 occupants in one building and 20 family members crammed into a single tiny room. It was a hard world of hunger, disease, high mortality, unemployment, heavy drinking, prostitution and gang warfare. But despite their hardships, the tenants poor enjoyed an incredibly close-knit community life in which they found great security and, indeed, happiness. As one policeman recalls from 50 years ago, they were "extraordinarily happy for people who were so savagely poor". This book captures their social life, their wit, their rousing wakes and their incredible sense of community solidarity. In their own words, the last of the tenement dwellers bear testimony to the rich human mosaic of a bygone world. Their accounts are sometimes tragic and emotionally wrenching but equally they are an inspiring chronicle of struggle and survival. ----------- New Edition: ----------- Tracing Your Irish Ancestors 3rd edition by John Grenham (Large Paperback; 25.00 Euro / 30.00 USD / 20.00 UK; 525 pages) This third edition of "Tracing Your Irish Ancestors" retains the three-part structure of earlier editions, but updates and improves the material already included while adding new sources which have emerged since publication of the second edition in 1998. The bibliographies - an important element of the book - are more comprehensive than ever before. With the growing use of Internet searches, the number of sources has grown dramatically since the last edition. John Grenham has a specific chapter on the Internet, with detailed references to online transcripts in the source lists. In addition, the invaluable index has been completely revised and updated to take account of the 35 per cent increase in the extent of this new edition over the previous one. 'A book which has already established itself as the standard reference book for genealogical researchers, professional or amateur, who are dealing with Irish sources' - "Ireland of the Welcomes". ' The most authoritative book on the subject' - Cara. 'Books on how to trace your Irish ancestors pour from the presses. Here is a really worthwhile one, comprehensive, clearly laid out and interesting to read.' - "Books Ireland". -------------------------------------------- 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 superseded at least 3 times per month (next update 16 June). 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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