Begorrathon 2017: William Orpen


For me, though, I will always be drawn to the National Gallery to see The Holy Well, Orpen’s scathing repudiation of a romanticised view of western Ireland and Celticism as ‘pure’ and ‘authentic’ (a notion that was very en vogue at the time; see William Butler Yeats).

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Over the Top


  2016 is the one hundredth anniversary of two of the bloodiest and most notorious battles of the First World War: Verdun and The Somme, as well as the end of the Gallipoli campaign.   Together these long, drawn-out and brutal fights for territory came to epitomise for many the futility of war. Bent double, like […]

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Drawing the Curtain


I reviewed some books for the current issue of Canadian Literature. Regarding Stan Persky’s Post-Communist Stories, I wrote: A thoughtful, warm, and often wryly funny examination of a topic usually given a sober treatment: the state of the former Eastern Bloc after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Perhaps because in his day job Perksy […]

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Diasporational Part Twelve: The Irishman Who Reported the Sinking of the “Laconia”


‘I have serious doubts whether this is a real story. I am not entirely certain that it is not all a dreamand that in a few minutes I will wake up back in stateroom B19 on the promenade deck of the Cunarder “Laconia” and hear my cockney steward informing with an abundance of ‘and sirs’ that it is a fine morning.”

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