Topic Archives: Books

Celebrating Louis MacNeice in Carrickfergus

macneice flyer

The anniversary of the birth of the poet and playwright Louis MacNeice was marked on 12 September with a celebratory event in Carrickfergus Museum and Civic Centre. The event was titled ‘Beyond the Hawthorn Hedge, the Sound of Bugles,’ and was hosted by local historian and author Philip Orr. It included an engaging lecture by more…

Book Review of The Scarlet Woman and the Red Hand: Evangelical Apocalyptic Belief in the Northern Ireland Troubles by Joshua Searle


Pastor James McConnell’s provocative comments about Islam last month sparked outrage and indignation throughout Northern Ireland – as well as sympathy and defence from some quarters, it must be admitted. But I couldn’t help thinking that what McConnell said about Islam wasn’t all that different from what Rev Ian Paisley had been saying for years more…

Is time the only consistent factor in post-conflict reconciliation?


In the course of a recent conversation, the statement was made that while international studies can point to many policies and initiatives that failed to lead to increased levels of reconciliation, few if any studies cite examples of practices or policies that can be shown to have successfully accelerated reconciliation. Whether on the back of more…

The Democratic Unionist Party: From Protest to Power #dupbook launch

The DUP - From Protest to Power

After much trailing in the Belfast Telegraph, five academics launched their book based around two years of research with DUP members and interviews with DUP elected representatives and staff. The Democratic Unionist Party: From Protest to Power looks at the origins of the DUP and its rise to power, the changing discourses that shifted the more…

“Glory be the day, Mr Yeats!”


As the man said…  It’s tradition! Those of a sensitive disposition are duly warned, again, that James Joyce enjoys the language in all its fecund nuttiness. Enjoy!

‘The Living Spirit of Revolt: the Infrapolitics of Anarchism': Book Review


How can anarchism get beyond marginalized impacts, finicky theorists, and squabbling activists? A Slovenian political scientist, Žiga Vodovnik, offers suggestions forward. This concise survey occupies a space, if pre-Occupy (despite a 2013 copyright for the English translation this offers no updates but the late Howard Zinn, who died in 2010, provides an encouraging introduction), where more…

1916 Rising and how it inspired me 78 years later.


There are a lot of pieces going around today looking back at the Rising and its subsequent impact on the direction of Irish politics. But, I wanted to tell a different story of how the Rising inspired me and impacted on my future direction and beliefs. I don’t claim that this story is indicative of more…

Hunger Strike: Margaret Thatcher’s Battle With the IRA (1980-1981)

Hunger Strike Hennessey thumb

Hunger Strike: Margaret Thatcher’s Battle With the IRA (1980-1981) Thomas Hennessy Irish Academic Press, 488pp, £19.99 A senior member of the royal family is blown up on his yacht together with his 14-year-old grandson, another teenager and an elderly lady. Hours later, 18 soldiers are killed by two roadside bombs in an ambush on British more…

@LMcAtackney on #Archaeology of the Troubles at #PRONI


There is a launch tonight in PRONI’s (under-used!) building this evening for Dr Laura McAtackney‘s new book on The Archaeology of the Troubles/The dark heritage of Long Kesh/Maze prison. There are four speakers at the launch, including Laura and Professor Cahal McLaughlin of Queens’s University Belfast who will set the scene by presenting documented personal narratives of more…

The Last Story of Reverend Robert Bradford

Me at Dublin Web Summit 2013

  In a journalism climate adverse to costly, time-intensive investigations, Belfast writer Lyra McKee is hoping to defy the odds by using the power of the internet to crowdfund her book about the last weeks of murdered South Belfast MP, Rev Robert Bradford. D emocracy depends on good investigative reporting. When society loses its muckrakers, more…

The Belfast Urban Motorway (Wesley Johnston): economic, engineering, political and social drivers that created Belfast’s road network

The Belfast Urban Motorway Wesley Johnston bookcover

Imagine an elevated three-lane motorway encircling Belfast city centre. A mini-M25 taking through-traffic off the inner-city streets, serving all parts of the city equally? Imagine the noise and pollution from an above ground ring-road, jammed full beyond its intended capacity, severing communities with its concrete and tarmac. A monument to the victory of private over more…

“For the celebrity, the interview is thus generally reduced to an exercise in saying as little as possible without confounding the self-love of the journalist on the sofa”

a-week-at-the-airport cover

Alain de Botton spent seven days living in a Heathrow hotel and working from a desk in the newly opened Terminal 5 in order to write a short book A Week at the Airport . He cast his voyeuristic glances in all directions, commentating on the sense of passion and the moment of separation of more…

A is for Activist

A is for Activist cover

From an early age, children are introduced to animals, right and wrong, concepts of fulfilment and disappointment, fear and joy, all through chewed hardback books. Princesses are in need of rescue, dogs misbehave and talk, mice covet strawberries. Wealth is equated with happiness, poverty with sorrow. How do you introduce the concepts of social justice, more…

Book Review: Battle for Britain: Scotland and the Independence Referendum

Battle for Britain and Scotland

The Battle for Britain: Scotland and the Independence Referendum. By David Torrance. London: Biteback Books 2013. pp.xiv + 370. Paperback. The nature of the policies advocated by those seeking a ‘Yes’ vote in the September 2014 referendum on whether Scotland should depart the 306-year union dominate this timely and often insightful book. Perhaps its main more…

Scotland’s Future … an introductory guide (that shouldn’t be ignored by NI)

Scotlands Future cover

The Scottish Government’s 670 page long white paper Scotland’s Future was published today. The document reads like a cross between a party manifesto and a giant FAQ. It’s tone is of modernity and a progressive Scotland. Issues around independence are opportunities not challenges – and derivations of “opportunity” appear four times more often than “challenge”. more…

Beyond Transparency – could NI embrace open data?

Beyond Transparency cover

Open Data initiatives in Northern Ireland have been – to date – relatively stumbling affairs that fall far behind London-led efforts. (The inability to use Translink timetable and bus stop geocode data to build an independent third-party NI travel app was particularly exasperating.) However, there has been some movement and the alignment of planets, keen more…