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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Read Ireland

Read Ireland Book Reviews – Issue 348 ------------------------------------- The Moves: An Illustrated History of Dance and Physical Theatre in Ireland by Deirdre Mulrooney (Large Paperback; 25 Euro / 30 USD / 20 UK; 292 pages, with black-and-white photos throughout) "Irish Moves" is a historical book with a difference. From Ninette de Valois to Jean Butler and Tom Hickey, it showcases - and in some cases salvages - the stories of Ireland's unsung movers: actors, dancers, choreographers, playwrights, directors, and the few academics who dare to go where no words have gone before. Focussing on people who value what's in between the words as much as the words themselves, it features stories of the creative journeys taken by artists who have devoted their lives to physical expression, despite the fact that their medium was ignored, or even erased from memory. An in-depth introductory essay points up how the zeitgeist finds expression in this new history of dance and theatre in Ireland through the eyes of practitioners, historians, and sociologists, and the as yet unpublished "lost chapter" of "Modern Dance in Ireland" in the 1940's. The Abbey School of Ballet is also salvaged from obscurity with a memoir and unpublished images from the 1920's, '30's and '40's. "Irish Moves" not only provides a map of dance and physical theatre in Ireland, but is also a meditation on our complicated attitude to the body as a nation. It offers surprising and sometimes disconcerting revelations about Irish society. But this is no dry history: this is a beautiful book, full of pictures and highly visual, in keeping with the usually word-less subject matter. "Irish Moves" will be of interest to the ever-increasing audience for dance and physical theatre; the world-wide Riverdance audience (there are interviews with Riverdancers Colin Dunne, Jean Butler, Brendan de Gallai, and Moya Doherty on their aesthetic journeys); the Abbey Theatre audience (as well as salvaging the Abbey School of Ballet from obscurity, the book features key Abbey Theatre movers from the 1980's and 1990's such as Tom MacIntyre, Tom Hickey, and Conall Morrison); and all readers interested in Irish social and cultural history. ---------------------------------- Ireland by Gustave de Beaumont (Hardback; 34 Euro / 40 USD / 23 UK; 420 pages) Paralleling his friend Alexis de Tocqueville's visit to America, Gustave de Beaumont traveled through Ireland in the mid-1830s to observe its people and society. In Ireland, he chronicles the history of the Irish and offers up a national portrait on the eve of the Great Famine. Published to acclaim in France, Ireland remained in print there until 1914. The English edition, translated by William Cooke Taylor and published in 1839, was not reprinted. In a devastating critique of British policy in Ireland, Beaumont questioned why a government with such enlightened institutions tolerated such oppression. He was scathing in his depiction of the ruinous state of Ireland, noting the desperation of the Catholics, the misery of repeated famines, the unfair landlord system, and the faults of the aristocracy. It was not surprising the Irish were seen as loafers, drunks, and brutes when they had been reduced to living like beasts. Yet Beaumont held out hope that British liberal reforms could heal Ireland's wounds. This rediscovered masterpiece, in a single volume for the first time, reproduces the nineteenth-century Taylor translation and includes an introduction on Beaumont and his world. This volume also presents Beaumont's impassioned preface to the 1863 French edition in which he portrays the appalling effects of the Great Famine. A classic of nineteenth-century political and social commentary, Beaumont's singular portrait offers the compelling immediacy of an eyewitness to history. ------------------------------------- Nature Guide to the Aran Islands by Con O’Rourke (Trade Paperback; 15 Euro / 18 USD / 11 UK; 170 pages, with full colour illustrations throughout) This is a comprehensive account of the wildlife of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay by an author intimately familiar with the landscape. It summarizes the key facts from the writings on Aran, illustrates them copiously with over a hundred colour photographs, and condenses the whole into a single, handy source for exploring the diverse and abundant wildlife of the islands. The chapters are organized as follows: In the Beginning - The Geology of Aran, Climate, Flora, Fauna, Seashore, and Farming in Aran. "The Nature Guide to the Aran Islands" throws open a window onto one of the environmental treasure troves of Europe's western seaboard. The outcome of lifelong study and observation by an expert in his field, it will become an invaluable and enduring reference work for locals and tourists alike. ----------------------------------- The Lighthouses of Ireland by Richard Taylor (Trade Paperback; 15 Euro / 18 USD / 11 UK; 178 pages, with black-and-white photos throughout) Lighthouses can be romantic, mystical and tragic. Most people know of the Fastnet and Loop Head, but may not have heard of Rotten Island, Maidens or Straw Island or that there are 86 lighthouses on or off the coast of Ireland. The story behind this remarkable system of lighting our coast is virtually unknown. Richard Taylor was a lighthouse technician for 44 years, worked on all 86 lighthouses and is uniquely qualified to write this personal history-cum-guide. Describing the lighthouses and their history, he captures the unique way of life of the lighthouse keepers and their families, largely ignored and, with automation, no longer extant. Often waiting weeks at places like Blacksod or Valentia for the weather to abate, Richard got to know lighthouse keepers and their families intimately. The result is a book embellished with anecdotes and hair-raising tales of getting on to lighthouses, time spent there, often weeks on end, and getting off. A notable inclusion is a strongly worded letter dated 9 August, 1950 from the Principal Keeper, St John's Lighthouse, Co. Down, to head office urging the dismissal of one Brendan Behan from the position of painter. ------------------------------------ The Celts by Daithi O Hogain (Large Paperback; 15 Euro / 18 USD / 11 UK; 296 pages, with an 8-page black-and-white photo insert) Lighthouses can be romantic, mystical and tragic. Most people know of the Fastnet and Loop Head, but may not have heard of Rotten Island, Maidens or Straw Island or that there are 86 lighthouses on or off the coast of Ireland. The story behind this remarkable system of lighting our coast is virtually unknown. Richard Taylor was a lighthouse technician for 44 years, worked on all 86 lighthouses and is uniquely qualified to write this personal history-cum-guide. Describing the lighthouses and their history, he captures the unique way of life of the lighthouse keepers and their families, largely ignored and, with automation, no longer extant. Often waiting weeks at places like Blacksod or Valentia for the weather to abate, Richard got to know lighthouse keepers and their families intimately. The result is a book embellished with anecdotes and hair-raising tales of getting on to lighthouses, time spent there, often weeks on end, and getting off. A notable inclusion is a strongly worded letter dated 9 August, 1950 from the Principal Keeper, St John's Lighthouse, Co. Down, to head office urging the dismissal of one Brendan Behan from the position of painter. ----------------------------------- Celtic Fortifications by Ian Ralston (Trade Paperback; 30 Euro / 36 USD / 24 UK; 220 pages) From northern Scotland to southern Iberia the enclosures around hill- and promontory-forts are the most conspicuous component of the Iron Age archaeological record. Ian Ralston looks at their construction and reconstruction and at the architecture of banks, walls, ramparts and ditches, gateways and ancillary features. He examines the placing of these fortifications in the landscape and their effectiveness as hill-fort defences in war. He also considers these enclosures as signs and symbols. The work is completed with a selective gazetteer. ---------------------------------- The Great Calamity: Irish Famine 1845-1852 by Christine Kinealy (Large Paperback; 18 Euro / 23 USD / 14 UK; 460 pages) The Great Famine of 1845-52 was the most decisive event in the history of modern Ireland. In a country of eight million people, the Famine caused the death of approximately one million, while a similar number were forced to emigrate. The Irish population fell to just over four million by the beginning of the twentieth century. Christine Kinealy's survey is long established as the most complete, scholarly survey of the Great Famine yet produced. The unravelling of fact from opinion, the interpretation of motives behind the London governments' responses, and the confrontation of stereotypes are at the heart of this extensive work. "This Great Calamity" is an exceptional book, now available for the first time in pocket format. 'This book is mandatory reading for anyone who wishes to be informed about Irish history' - "Irish Post". 'This is not the last word on the Famine, but it is the best so far' - "Irish Independent". ----------------------------------- The Burren Wall by Gordon D’Arcy (Paperback; 12 Euro / 15 USD / 9 UK; 64 pages, with full colour photos and illustrations throughout) The Burren and the Aran Islands have some of the most distinctive stone walls to be found anywhere. Visitors are invariably intrigued while locals, having lived with them for generations, pass little comment. The walls, in their use of local stone and economical design, nevertheless stand as linear monuments to local skill and hard won endeavour. This book deals with their social history, from the earliest prehistoric examples to the most modern, indicating how different styles may be attributed to specific periods of construction. Celebrating the aesthetic qualities of the Burren wall in photographs, illustrations and quotations, this book also informs about natural history, presenting the wall as a habitat for myriad flora and fauna. ----------------------------------- Granuaile: Sea Queen of Ireland by Anne Chambers (Paperback; 7 Euro / 10 USD / 5 UK; 114 pages) Granuaile ruled on land and sea in the province of Connaught over 400 years ago. A Pirate Queen and Irish Chieftain, she became a legend. We first meet Granuaile or Grace O'Malley, a young girl, on Ireland's west coast in a world of bards, brehons, chieftains and gallowglasses, rebellion and intrigue, very different to today's. Ireland is divided into 'kingdoms' ruled by chieftains. Granuaile's father is chieftain of Umhall. A strong chieftain, he protects and provides for his clan. Living in a castle on the coast, Granuaile loves the sea and wants to be like her father, to know all about sailing and navigation, and to sail the clan's ships to Spain and Scotland to trade. But she is a girl, her parents don't think it suitable for her. Granuaile becomes a better sailor than any of her father's crew and reluctantly they agree. And so the adventure and legend of the Sea Queen begins. Following her adventures, we sail on her galley to Spain where war with England affects Granuaile and Ireland. We meet her husbands, Donal of the Battles and Richard in Iron, and are on board her ship when her youngest son is born and when North African pirates attack. After many adventures and escapades we finally sail with Granuaile to London for her famous meeting with Queen Elizabeth 1 and see how they got on. And we are with Granuaile in her castle at Rockfleet where she dies in 1603. (for Teenagers) --------------------------------- The Magic of Pagan Ireland by Rob Vance (Gift Hardback; 8 Euro / 11 USD / 6 UK; 60 pages with full colour photos and illustrations throughout) What makes a place magical? Visiting ancient sites can be unsettling to the modern ego, awakening something primitive - a vestige of ancient, primal life, awaiting ignition through contact. And then it is a call, perhaps something like a love affair - a promise, a glimpse of something different, an intimation of ecstasy...and it may last. Visit the magical site of Ireland and prepare to be moved. ------------------------------- Celtic Spirituality by Rob Vance (Gift Hardback; 8 Euro / 11 USD / 6 UK; 60 pages with full colour photos and illustrations throughout) Celtic Spirituality is many things: a time frame, a mode of spiritual understanding, and perhaps a personal encounter in a place of ancient wisdom. This book is about places in Ireland that facilitate that encounter. -------------------------------- Uncertain Ireland: A Sociological Chronicle, 2003-4 edited by Mary Corcoran and Michel Peillon (Paperback; 30 Euro / 36 USD / 24 UK; 256 pages) The Irish Sociological Chronicles present sociological accounts of particular events and phenomena in the social world. The contributors to this volume engage with a variety of happenings and events that occurred during the years 2003 and 2004. A number of the contributions are attuned to the anxieties that have been recently generated about the provenance of the food we eat, about the quality of daily life and about changing value systems and their impact on the wider social fabric. Others raise questions concerning the wholesale encouragement of economic development that may threaten the integrity of an ancient landscape and way of life, the folly of a new consumerism that produces a waste mountain for which nobody accepts responsibility and the love affair with motorways that have singularly failed to regulate traffic flows. The demise of Bewley's cafés, the citizenship referendum, the Club Anabel case and the genesis of the Rossport Five campaign are just some of the topical events chronicled in Uncertain Ireland. What unites the accounts in this book is a curiosity about how to reconcile Ireland's new found prosperity and economic self-confidence with its accompanying and pervasive sense of uncertainty and contingency. These qualities present challenges, in terms of learning to manage and deal with risks, and opportunities as Irish society adopts creative and innovative means of finding its way in an Uncertain Ireland. ------------------------------------- Highlights from the Previous Issue: ---------------------------------- Michael Flatley: Lord of the Dance by Michael Flatley (Hardback; 24.00 Euro / 29.00 USD / 18.00 UK; 320 pages with two 16-page colour inserts) From the international star of "Riverdance", "Lord of the Dance" and, now, "Celtic Tiger", comes a no-holds-barred autobiography that reveals the person, the passion and the drama behind Michael Flatley's astonishing career. Michael describes growing up as the son of Irish immigrants in a tough Chicago neighbourhood and the many years he struggled to make real his dream of becoming a professional Irish dancer. He was in his mid-thirties when he was asked to create "Riverdance" for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, bursting onto our television screens with a dazzling dance sequence. Just as his dreams were being realised, Michael was shattered when he and "Riverdance" parted company. Now Michael explains what really happened backstage and describes how he went on to create the enormously successful "Lord of the Dance". Michael also deals openly with the controversies that have surrounded his success, such as the 2003 rape charge, his turbulent love life and the illness and injuries that have threatened his career. Filled with commentary from family, friends and colleagues and brimming with Michael's Irish charm and good humour, this book is the very personal story of a man who has lived life to the fullest according to his own credo: nothing is impossible. ------------------------------- In Full Flood: A Memoir by Finbarr Flood (Paperback; 14.00 Euro / 18.00 USD / 9.00 UK; 230 pages) 'In Full, Flood' is a warm, honest and reflective book which chronicles the four main phases of Finbarr Flood.s life. His initial infatuation and fledgling career in football, his rise to the very top of Guinness in Ireland, his period chairing the Labour Court and his role as chairman of Shelbourne Football Club. From his roots in inner city Dublin through to his contacts with many of the principle players in Irish public life, Finbarr Flood has garnered and retained great respect in his many fields of activity. His book recounts his many roles and the pleasures and difficulties that he sometimes encountered. ----------------------------------- The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed by Brian Kennaway (Hardback; 25.00 Euro / 30.00 USD / 20.00 UK; 280 pages) As Orangemen marched in west Belfast in September of 2005, Protestant paramilitaries fired on army and police in the worst street riots seen in Belfast for 10 years and Northern Ireland's Chief Constable squarely blamed the Orange Order. Now, with publication timed to coincide with the start of the 2006 marching season, an extraordinary book opens the lid on this secretive, powerful and beleaguered organisation whose future is inextricably tied to that of the United Kingdom itself. Established in Ireland in 1795, the Orange Order aimed to promote Protestantism and celebrate the memory of William of Orange. But religious and political allegiances became inseparable. Today, the Order is reduced to around 30,000 active members, increasingly publicly identified with an unyielding, bigoted Unionism expressed in the thousands of marches it stages each year, all too often the flashpoint for violence. For Orangeism, like Unionism, is at a crossroads, and a long way from the peaceful tolerance it preaches. ------------------------------------ The Wearing of the Green: A History of St. Patrick’s Day by Mike Cronin and Daryl Adair (Large Paperback; 17.00 Euro / 20.00 USD / 11.00 UK; 330 pages) Every year, all over the world, millions of Irish people, both native and by descent, together with their non-Irish friends, celebrate the life of a man who died over 1500 years ago. St Patrick's Day is a boisterous festival of parading and revelry, dancing and drinking, emblazoned with shamrocks and harps, and all in emerald green. The fascinating story of how the celebration of 17 March was transformed from a stuffy dinner for Ireland's elite to one of the world's most public festivals is captured for the first time in The Wearing of the Green: A History of St Patrick's Day. Long celebrated with more fanfare in New York than in Dublin, the holiday has been criticized for its loss of religious meaning, ever-increasing commercialism and embarrassing displays of drunkenness. More recently, it has become a flashpoint between political divides within the Irish community. At the same time, however, it has served to unite Irish emigrants worldwide, whether they be in America, Australia or Canada. ------------------------------------- The Lost Houses of Ireland: A Chronicle of Great Houses and the Families Who Lived There by Randal MacDOnnell (Hardback; 20.00 Euro / 25.00 USD / 15.00 UK; 230 pages with black-and-white photos throughout) There is a growing fascination with Irish houses. This important pictorial record, made available for the first time by modern photographic technology, shows 25 houses and castles at the time when the original families were still in residence and their interiors and contents were intact, just before they sank into oblivion, burdened by debt and decay. The text tells the story of the families who owned these wonderful houses, their sometimes ruthless beginnings, their extravagant and often eccentric ends. ------------------------------------- Death on a Country Road by Desmond Fahy (Paperback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 9.00 UK; 188 pages) On the way home that night through south Armagh Sean Farmer and Colm McCartney were stopped at what later transpired to be a bogus security forces checkpoint. Less than an hour later, their bodies were found at the side of the road in the townland of Altnamackin, a few miles outside Newtownhamilton. This book is the first attempt to tell the men's story. It is a vividly imagined re-creation of the time and circumstances of the murders coupled with an examination of their factual background. The murders were particularly significant because they represented the first time that the GAA had found itself targeted by terrorists in such a public and blatant way. Many more attacks on its members would follow in the next two decades. At its core this book reveals both the human stories of loss behind the headlines that the murders generated and the inadequate official investigation which followed. But above everything else this is the story of the lives and deaths on a country road in rural Armagh of Sean and Colm, two friends on their way home from a football match. ------------------------------------ Monday at Gaj’s: The Story of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement by Anne Stopper (Large Format Paperback; 17.00 Euro / 21.00 USD / 12.50 UK; 243 pages) "Monday's at Gaj's" traces the lives of a fascinating group of women who founded Ireland's first radical women's rights organisation - the Irish Women's Liberation Movement. Gaj's was the Baggot Street restaurant, now closed, where the IWLM, as well as other activists, poets other people on the margins, met every Monday night. When the group formed in 1970, the marriage bar was in place, contraception was illegal and women's issues were just beginning to be debated publicly. The women who formed the IWLM - Mairin de Burca, Mary Maher, Nell McCafferty, Rosita Sweetman and Mary Kenny, to name but a few - were some of the most dynamic, controversial and exciting public figures of their time. Many were well-known journalists and political activists and they were able to grab the public's attention as no women ever had because they were fearless, charismatic and trained in skilful communication. The IWLM's main accomplishments included the publication of a charter of demands, appearance on a special "Late Late Show" devoted to women's issues and organising the Contraceptive Train to Belfast, which was the first public challenge to the ban on contraceptives. What sets "Monday's at Gaj's" apart from other histories of the women's rights movement is that it is based on a series of personal interviews with the activists themselves, allowing the IWLM founders to tell their own stories in their own words. Learning about their early lives and the motivations behind their brave activism makes it easier to understand the nature of the women's liberation movement at that particular time. It also personalises the story, inviting readers to become engaged with the struggle to bring about change, and allows the women to reflect on how their perspectives on women's rights have changed in the 35 years since the group's disintegration. With numerous photographs and additional interviews with well known observers, "Monday's at Gaj's" paints a fascinating portrait of an exciting period in Ireland's cultural history. -------------------------------- Take the Kids: Ireland by Amy Corzine (Trade Paperback; 19.00 Euro / 24.00 USD / 13.00 UK; 306 pages) Visits Dublin with its museums, castle and zoo - goes picnicking in the beautiful countryside of County Cork - cheers on a game of hurling - expends some energy beachcombing, hill trekking, horse-riding and dolphin watching - listens in wonder to Ireland's myths and legends. Natural History Museum: This wonderful unchanged Victorian museum is part of the National Museum of Ireland network and is called Dublin's 'Dead Zoo' because it is stuffed full of stuffed animals. Children of a scientific bent will love its musty old atmosphere where its ground floor (the Irish Room) contains Irish insects, strange-looking earth and sea-creatures in jars, and mammals, including skeletons of the extinct giant deer known as the Irish Elk, and the skeleton of a basking shark. ----------------------------------- Tales from Old Ireland by Malachy Doyle with illustrations by Niamh Sharkey (Large Format Paperback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 100 pages, with colour illustrations throughout) This enchanting collection of favourite 'Irish folk' tales, deserves to be read aloud at every hearth. The larger-than-life characters, dramatic landscapes and magical happenings are sure to keep listeners and readers absorbed for many happy hours. Brand new gift edition now comes packaged with two free audio CDs. ------------------------------------ Introduction to Celtic Mythology by David Bellingham (Large Format Paperback; 8.00 Euro / 10.00 USD / 6.00 UK; 130 pages with full-colour photos throughout) Recounts the stories of CuChulain, Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, Tristan and Isolt, and other Irish and Welsh myths, and discusses their role in ancient Celtic society and their survival in literature, art, and folklore. --------------------------------- Celtic Borders and Motifs by Lesley Davies (Large Format Paperback; 7.00 Euro / 9.00 USD / 5.50 UK; ) Featuring decorative borders and motifs incorporating the elements of Celtic design, this design book is of interest to craftspeople, artists, needleworkers, and those interested in creating various projects. ---------------------------------- Celtic Knots for Beaded Jewellery by Suzan Millodot (Large Format Paperback; 13.00 Euro / 16.00 USD / 10.00 UK; 80 pages) Learn how to make beautiful necklaces, bracelets, rings, brooches and earrings using real, three-dimensional Celtic knots combined with beads and pendants. Eighteen projects using step-by-step photographs show how to create stylish designs. ----------------------------------- Celtic Calligraphy: Getting Started by Fiona Graham-Flynn (Spiral Hardback; 10.00 Euro / 14 USD / 7.00 UK; ) Using the Celtic lettering style, this book shows how to hold and use a calligraphy pen, the basic shapes and strokes of the letters, the elements of design, and layout of the page. It is designed in full colour, with a box built into the spine containing a calligraphy pen with thick and thin nibs. ----------------------------------- The Penguin Ireland Guide to Championship 2006 by Damian Cullen (Paperback; 10 Euro / 14.00 USD / 7.00 UK; 230 pages) "The Penguin Ireland Guide to Championship 2006" is the second annual edition of the only authoritative guide to the All-Ireland hurling and Gaelic football championships. ------------------------------------------ Thank you for your continued support. It is vital for the continuation of this service! If you appreciate receiving these regular emails, I respectfully request that if you are considering ordering any of these books that you do so through Read Ireland. Using these emails to order books from other suppliers does NOT support Read Ireland nor the continuation of the service. 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 (most recent update 8 August). 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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