Topic Archives: Books

The Contested Identities of Ulster Protestants, edited by Burgess and Mulvenna – Book Review

contested identities

Edited academic collections are often technical and specialized – appealing to academics, but offering little to other readers interested in the topic. The Contested Identities of Ulster Protestants (Palgrave 2015), edited by Thomas Paul Burgess (UCC) and Gareth Mulvenna (Queen’s) is an exception to this trend, as it draws in an eclectic range of contributors more…

Same-Sex Marriage Referendum in the Republic: Review of ‘Who Owns Marriage?’

who owns marriage

As the date for the Republic’s same-sex marriage referendum draws closer (22 May), various parties have weighed in on the debate. Unsurprisingly, official representatives of the four largest Christian churches are opposed to same-sex marriage, and have urged the faithful to vote ‘no.’ At the same time, Christian activist groups like ‘Faith in Marriage Equality’ more…

Danny Morrison’s “West Belfast”: a coming of age novel set against the backdrop of a city in conflict

West Belfast - Danny Morrison - book cover (square)

I grew up hearing Danny Morrison’s name on the radio at breakfast time as Sinn Féin’s Director of Publicity. More recently I’ve known him as chair of Féile an Phobail and spotted his attendance at many of the festival’s events in St Mary’s and the annual West Belfast Talks Back debate. But I’d never realised more…

Review: From Protest to Pragmatism: The Unionist Government and North-South Relations from 1959-72 (David McCann)

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From Protest to Pragmatism charts the ups and downs in north-south relations as well cross-border cooperation as political capital ebbed and flowed in the Northern Ireland’s unionist government between 1959 and 1972. David McCann [Ed – name sounds familiar?] has worked his way through government archives in Belfast, Cork, Dublin and London, along with newspapers, more…

Paul Burgess’ first novel re-humanises a Belfast still hardened by past and ongoing sacrifices

White Church

So when an academic emails you and asks you to consider reviewing his debut novel, it’s time for a stiff drop of Paddy isn’t it? Either that or carry on wading through the few dozen ‘biteens’ of Twitter outrage that come through each day. When Paul Burgess sent me his email flyer for White Church, Black Mountain, I only bought in more…

Review: Frank Browne: A Life through the Lens

DAVISON David - Frank Browne A Life through the Lens

God can sanctify photography. With a poem by Pope Leo XIII, Colin Ford explains the basis for how Irish Jesuit Frank Browne acquired a camera from his bishop uncle, at the age of 17, and kept making images throughout his priestly life. Browne took his camera everywhere. His early trips to Europe were the apparent more…

On Mary Peters’ Elevation to Companion of Honour

Mary P

Even readers who are especially interested in the New Year’s honours list may have missed the significance of Mary Peters’ elevation to the Order of the Companions of Honour. Peters and Sebastian Coe are the only athletes ever to have received this award. Coverage in the Northern Ireland media has been relatively muted, although the more…

The People’s Referendum: Why Scotland Will Never Be the Same Again (Peter Geoghegan)

Peter Geoghegan - The Peoples Referendum

The last book I completed reading in 2014 also turned out to be my favourite of the year. Peter Geoghegan’s The People’s Referendum has been published recently and tells the story of his journey through Scotland and further afield getting under the skin of the independence campaign in the run up to September’s referendum. In more…

Slugger Seasonal Book Club: Vol 4

Kathleen Coyle1

It’s getting to be the time of year when you have to start thinking about gifts. Bah. For others. Humbug. Or maybe all this talk about wind farms and / or Amazon Anonymous makes you long for a simpler, pre-tech era. Or perhaps you are just a bibliobibuli, c.f. someone who reads too much. Either more…

Slugger Seasonal Book Club: Vol. 3

Man Mountain

It’s getting to be the time of year when you have to start thinking about gifts. Bah. For others. Humbug. Or maybe you are just a bibliobibuli, c.f. someone who reads too much. Maybe Gregory’s extremely mature “joking” around about his curry yogurt lunch combo (err..yum?) in DUP-land this weekend and Gerry’s similarly enlightened response more…

Serial Podcast: What do you think?

serial party

Have you heard of Serial or are you happy over there, living under your rock? For those who fall in the latter camp, let me briefly summarise. Serial is a podcast, first released last month, which seeks to shed light on the real life case of a Baltimore teenage girl, Hae Min Lee, who was more…

Slugger Seasonal Book Club: Vol. 2

Hospital station

It’s getting to be the time of year when you have to start thinking about gifts. Bah. For others. Humbug. Or maybe just because the November weather is giving you the perfect opportunity to explore like in the Great Indoors. Perhaps you are just a bibliobibuli, c.f. someone who reads too much. Or maybe the more…

On Jonathan Powell – a vision is needed for talking to terrorists

I haven’t yet managed to read Jonathan Powell’s new book: Talking to Terrorists: How to End Armed Conflicts”,  but potted  versions like this one in Prospect magazine  delivers his thesis with his usual crispness. “In democracies we cannot kill all the terrorists, so we will have to talk to them at some stage! And just in more…

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…

Marie Keenan: Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church – Book Review

brendan smyth

“The major thesis of my work is that sexual abuse is inevitable given the meaning system that is taught by the Catholic Church and to which many priests adhere. The contradictions force failure and increase shame and a way of living that encourages sexually deviant behaviour.” – Marie Keenan, Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic more…

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

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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…