Archive for May, 2011

Letters to Ireland: I, the tight rope

11 May 2011

My dearest Pue,

As your country now finds itself again brought down into the deepest misery and prostration as a result of that universal character of the Irish—improvidence—I hope that your readers would be obliged to consider, in a series of letters, the suggestions of a concerned friend to the country for its immediate and sustained improvement.

Although not an Irishman, I have forever cherished the virtues and characters of this green and lovely land and I wish to see it swiftly restored to peace, happiness and prosperity.  I propose to travel around the countryside, and to view for myself its present circumstances, gathering in a most impartial and empirical fashion those facts needed for its future growth and regeneration. Read more

Pue is 2: Juliana

9 May 2011

By Juliana Adelman

It’s hard to believe that this little project we started is now two years old.  In celebration we thought we would share a view from ‘behind the scenes’.  Throughout the next few weeks we will each post on our experience of writing for Pue’s and at the end of the month we are going to give a list of the most read Pue’s posts and the strangest search terms that have brought people to the site.  We hope you enjoy it!

I should start by admitting that I have repeatedly wondered if I should keep doing this blog at all or simply pass the baton to a more willing and able newbie.  Do I really have anything interesting to say?  Should I be devoting my precious ‘spare’ time to writing 600 words on why a horse is not a car (or soon to come: how cattle plague is like cholera! I bet you can hardly wait)?  Then I remember that this blog at least serves the purpose of keeping my dad informed of what I do and I probably owe him at least that after the investment he made in my education.  Aside from filial responsibility, however, I get a lot out of writing for Pue’s. Read more

Rathmines Clock Tower

6 May 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

I have just moved to Rathmines and I really love some of the late nineteenth century buildings in the village. Here is one of the views from my balcony of the Rathmines Clock Tower. The tower and town hall (which it is attached to) were designed by Sir Thomas Drew (b. in Belfast 1838, d. in Dublin 1910) and completed in 1899 as the town hall and to be a centrepiece of the town. Today the building houses the Rathmines College of Further Education. Drew also worked in Dublin on the Union Bank (now National Irish Bank), College Green (1864–6) and on Ulster Bank, College Green, 1888–91. His work also brought him to Belfast, Derry and Waterford where he worked on Churches and Cathedrals. If you have access to DIB his entry can be found here.

Dublin UNESCO City of Literature- one year on

4 May 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

  Last week Dublin City Council launched the festival programme for this the Dublin Writer’s Festival 2011. A quick look at the schedule shows that this year’s festival, which takes place 23-29 May, is bigger, brighter and more ambitious than ever before. The festival will include some of Ireland’s finest writer’s including Anne Enright, Dermot Healy, Roddy Doyle, Colm Tobin, John Boyne and Seamus Heaney (I could go on).  The International lineup is also excellent and includes Michal Palin, Paul Theoroux, Paul Harding (Pulitzer winner for Fiction 2010) and Czeslaw Milosz (a Nobel laureate)There will even be a link up with other UNESCO literary cities by a live link-up. The festival will be covered by Sky Arts.

So the festival is maturing and growing up. Quite naturally of course considering that Dublin became a UNESCO City of Literature nearly one year ago (26 July 2010).  This was greeted with great enthusiasm as it has the potential of show-casing further Ireland’s literary talent, encouraging the arts and of course it might bring in a few more tourists! So a year on how is the city faring with its new title? Well on the surface things look good. Read more

When time speeds up? The Irish Volunteers and Political Density

3 May 2011

Contributed by Patrick Walsh

We are often told that we live in historic times. Certainly living in Ireland it is quite possible to believe that we are living through a period that will be written about and analysed every bit as much by future historians as it is currently being written and thought about by
contemporary policy makers. This does seem to be to one of those eras when time speeds up, one of those chaotic and pivotal moments that every reader of history recognises. Examples of such periods in the Irish past might include the 1790s or indeed the period 1913-23; both of these might also be seen as periods when global time sped up, as might the 1520s and 30s when the reformation swept across Western Europe or the late 1960s or even 1989 when revolution was in the air. Understanding the dynamics of such periods, why certain points in the past see rapid and often dramatic changes, has long been a focus of historians. Padhraig Higgins’ fascinating new book A Nation of Politicians: Gender, Patriotism and Political Culture in Late Eighteenth-Century Ireland on the Irish Volunteers of the late eighteenth century offers an interesting insight into this question.

He analyses the period 1778-84 by looking at how the Volunteers were essential to an increasing politicisation of Irish society. Established as an exclusively Protestant (at least to begin with) local militia force to defend Ireland from foreign invasion during the American War of Independence, their impact went far beyond national defence. Instead they helped forge an Irish identity and helped to create a denser political culture that would have long- term implications. This interesting notion of political density lies at the heart of this book. Read more

Pue’s recommendations for May

2 May 2011

Juliana Adelman Since the weather has been just right for reading in the sun, we should all remember to support the last remaining bookshops by buying books locally.  Hodges Figgis in Dublin currently have a 3 for 2 sale of paperback titles from Vintage.  For Christmas my mother gave me a DVD of the series Circus from PBS and I have just gotten round to watching it.  It’s a documentary following the Big Apple Circus for one year. I think the first 3 episodes are the best, but it is a fascinating watch.  The circus is one of those institutions that has changed remarkably little in its essence over the centuries.  You can also see one of Ireland’s oldest circuses by visiting Fossett’s, check here for tour dates.  If you missed hearing Pue’s on The History Show last night, you can find the podcast here.  And finally, I helped to curate the current exhibition at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin called HUMAN+.  I tried to get at least a teeny bit of history in, but mostly there are some amazing takes on what our future might be like.

Lisa Marie Griffith Last Monday ‘Kathleen Lynn: Revolutionary Doctor’ aired on TG4. Once again TG4 have proved they are at the fore of historical documentaries in Ireland. The documentary was a good reminder of how truly extraordinary people at the centre of historic events can be dropped from the established  historical narrative. If you missed it you can catch up on the TG4 website. I have also been enjoying the  BBC 4 series ‘If walls could talk: The History of the Home’ which is  hosted by Lucy Worsley, chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces. I am currently gathering books for my summer holidays and will have to add the book that accompanies the series to the pile that will be coming with me. My blog for the month is the Royal College of Physicians Heritage blog which is written by their Heritage Centre Librarian, Harriet Whelock. The blog uses a lot of college sources and highlights the wealth of material which the RCPI houses. It shows how the institution was at the centre of Irish intellectual life but the blog has really interesting posts on social history like this post on the recipe book of Countess Aldborough.

Christina Morin With my parents heading over to Ireland for a visit this month, I’m full of ideas, many of them selfish, for what to see and do. Although both Mom and Dad have already seen much of Dublin, I think it might be fun to try out Temple Bar Cultural Trust‘s Dublin Culture Trail app. I’m also tempted by a trip to the Abbey Theatre for a Public Reading of John Bull’s Other Island by George Bernard Shaw on Wednesday, 11 May, or else a look in at some of the events planned during the Dublin Writers Festival 2011 (23-29 May). And, as my parents have never ventured up north, it might be worthwhile checking out some of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast (2-31 May). Whatever we end up doing, I’m planning to tote along with me a book that makes such fantastic claims in its title alone that I can’t wait to read it… Judith Flanders’ The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime.

Kevin O’Sullivan I’ve been in a literary kind of mood this month. First I was directed to See Gee’s ‘Record Books’ project on Flickr – take a famous album title and make an imaginary book cover for it – which reminded me of Phil Bradley’s brilliant posters that accompany the ‘Save our Libraries’ campaign in the UK. Then I read Christopher Bray’s fascinating article on how writers write (published in this month’s edition of The Word magazine and aptly titled ‘First apply the seat of the trousers to the surface of the chair’), had a look at these photos of famous authors and their typewriters, and was much taken by Ruadhán MacCormaic’s portrait of French newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné, one of the few remaining bastions of traditional investigative journalism. The message? Quality always wins. And finally, I came across a piece of inspirational thinking from Harvard Book Store, an independent bookseller serving the university community and beyond in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s a bookseller with a twist, of course, because since 2008 the store has been printing on-demand for customers from its Espresso Book Machine – including the four million or so texts on Google Books. $10 for a 200-page book and you can still browse the shelves if you’re not sure what you want? Clever idea. Why isn’t everyone doing this?