Bookworm

Published in Book Reviews, Issue 2(March/April 2012), Reviews, Volume 20

Bookworm 1The governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, recently said that the bank wasn’t inclined to press for the removal of the ‘Occupy’ protest that has been camped outside it for a number of months. At the very least, the camp adds a bit of colour to the unlovely edifice that is the Central Bank. But banks weren’t always like that. Honohan was speaking at the launch of Michael O’Neill’s Bank architecture in Dublin: a history to c. 1940 (Dublin City Council/Four Courts Press, 110pp, €17.50 pb, ISBN 9781902703381). Arising from a survey conducted as part of the Dublin City Heritage Plan, O’Neill’s book offers a fascinating catalogue of an overlooked but often beautiful aspect of Dublin’s architectural heritage. Finance is at the heart of Michael Keyes’s Funding the nation: money and nationalist politics in nineteenth-century Ireland (Gill & Macmillan, 288pp, €24.99 hb, ISBN 9780717150007), which provides a detailed account of how Daniel O’Connell and Parnell paid for their unprecedented political machines in a new era of mass politics. Given the current unpopularity of bankers, politicians and developers, cynical readers might take heart from the tale of a tenant who has to seek a rent receipt from his deceased landlord, because he has to visit hell to collect it. The story is told in Seán Ó Súilleabháin’s Miraculous plenty: Bookworm 2Irish religious folktales and legends (Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann/Four Courts Press, 308pp, €24.99 pb, ISBN 9780956562821). The tales are drawn from the National Folklore Collection, now housed in UCD, and were originally published as Scéalta Cráibhtheaca in 1948. This handsome but scholarly new edition, translated into English by William Caulfield, makes available a rich selection of stories from one of the largest folklore archives in the world. There are plenty more where these came from.The National Folklore Collection also provides the source material for a fascinating contribution to the ongoing Maynooth Studies in Local History. Erin Kraus examines the traditions relating to one possibly apocryphal figure in Wise-woman of Kildare: Moll Anthony and popular tradition in the east of Ireland (64pp, €9.95 pb, ISBN 9781846822926). Other current titles in the series are Music and dancing at Castletown, County Kildare, 1759–1821 (64pp, €9.95 pb, ISBN 9781846822964), by Karol Mullaney-Dignam; The Land Commission and the making of Ráth Cairn: the first Gaeltacht colony (64pp, €9.95 pb, ISBN 9781846822971), by Suzanne M. Pegley; Bookworm 3Matters of deceit: breach of promise to marry cases in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Limerick (64pp, €9.95 pb, ISBN 9781846822940), by Maria Luddy; Clanricarde’s planters and land agitation in east Galway, 1886–1916 (64pp, €9.95 pb, ISBN 9781846822957), by Miriam Moffitt; and Galway: politics and society, 1910–23 (64pp, €9.95 pb, ISBN 9781846822933), by Tomás Kenny.Speaking of Galway, Clifden—the ‘capital of Connemara’—celebrates its bicentenary this year. To this end, the Clifden 2012 Committee have published Clifden: a reflection on 200 years (no publication details), a commemorative booklet with essays on a range of topics about the town and its locality, such as Daniel O’Connell’s ‘monster meeting’ of 1843 and the crash-landing of Alcock and Brown after their pioneering transatlantic flight in 1919. It also contains a calendar of the wide range of commemorative events scheduled throughout the year, and Bookworm can’t help singling out the next History Ireland Hedge School, to be held in the Station House Theatre, Clifden, on 16 March. The subject is the War of Independence in the west of Ireland, and judging by the massive turnout for the last Hedge School on the same topic in the National Library on 11 January you should get there early!The production standards for local history seem to be constantly improving. Dublin 1911 (Royal Irish Academy, 2011, 246pp, €20 pb, ISBN 9781904890799), edited by Catriona Crowe, arises from the enormously successful digitisation of the 1901 and 1911 censuses by the National Archives, and offers a beautifully produced Bookworm 4and richly detailed portrait of the capital in the second decade of the twentieth century. More ominous events in the north of the country around the same time are the subject of Philip Orr’s impressive New perspectives: politics, religion and conflict in mid-Antrim, 1911–1914 (Mid-Antrim Museum, 147pp, £9.99 pb, ISBN 9780956858603), which deals with unionist resistance to Home Rule (and a great deal else besides) in one part of Ulster on the eve of the First World War. And a bizarre footnote to Ulster history is the fact that there is a member of the UVF buried in the Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery! This is just one of the many nuggets to be found in Dead interesting: stories from the graveyards of Dublin (Mercier Press, 190pp, €12.99 pb, ISBN 9781856358057) by Shane MacThomáis of the Glasnevin Trust.This brings us to the forthcoming decade of centenaries. But the first of these centenaries might seem out of place amidst the big issues of independence and partition: the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912. The tragic tale of its maiden voyage has prompted a raft (no pun intended!) of publications. In Titanic: behind the legend (National Museums Northern Ireland, 123pp, ISBN 97809007615553) William Blair provides us with a magnificently illustrated account of how the most Bookworm 5famous product of Belfast’s legendary Harland & Wolff shipyard was conceived and constructed. The cause of labour in 2012 also benefits from the republication of Emmet O’Connor’s A labour history of Ireland, 1824–2000 (UCD Press, 329pp, Ä28 pb, ISBN 9781906359560). Originally published in 1992, this new and expanded edition brings its story up to the era of ‘social partnership’. Mention should also be made of the current (2011) issue of Saothar (Irish Labour History Society, 144 pp, ISBN 03321169), which is a special issue on women and Irish labour history, arising from a collaboration with the Women’s History Association of Ireland.Finally, the current issue of History Ireland comes out with three of Ireland’s Six Nations matches yet to be played. Rugby fans might be tempted by Liam O’Callaghan’s eye-opening Rugby in Munster: a social and cultural history (Cork University Press, 286pp, €39 hb, ISBN 9781859184806), which offers an overdue corrective to some of the myth-making that surrounds the men in red.  HI

 

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