Category: Archive

Books and music: what’s new

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter


From Erris to Mullaghban

Maire Nic Domhnaill Gairbhi

This small paperback is a vital account of Irish music and preserves some vivid personal memories of moments from the 20th Century that is now receding from our view.

Nic Domhnaill Gairbhi recounts her memories of women keeners at her grandfather’s funeral in 1932, and discusses the impact on Irish music of the first commercial recordings to come from the U.S. Also in focus is the music scene in Dublin, Connaught and South Ulster. For lovers of Irish music, this is indispensable.

Drumlin Publications. 152 pp. $14.95.

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Alan Glynn

What if success came in the shape of a pill? That’s the premise of “The Dark Fields” Alan Glynn’s first novel. Eddie Spinola discovers a new drug, a pill called MDT-48, that turns him into a genius in every respect: stock market wizard, charmer, sweet-talker, creative, focused — and hideously hooked. Zipping up the career ladder from an East Village dive to a midtown penthouse, Eddie’s exterior life seems limitless. Meanwhile, his core, his soul, disintegrates in a whirlwind of blackouts, headaches and, finally, violent outbursts. Glynn’s powerful novel of addiction takes a dark final twist.

Bloomsbury. 336 pp. $24.95.


Who, what, where in Irish names

Bernard Share

Words and names are particularly fascinating to the Irish, who have produced so many great wordsmiths. This book roams across the vast field of proper names, surnames, townlands, in four fascinating chapters. Then, in the last section of the book, author Share has produced a dictionary of names and expressions.

Throughout the book there are other oddities, such as 87 names for Irish cheeses or Irish names that were coined for stage characters and exist only in the world of the theater. And did you know that for every Irish county there’s a popular song with the name in the title? As Ciaran Carson wrote in the Star Factory, “sometimes I am in religious awe of the power of names.” Gill and Macmillan. 243 pp. $31.95.


David M. Bresnahan

Bill Bresnahan was a rescue worker at the World Trade Center on Sept. 1h and was nearly killed. This is his account of the horror that overtook lower Manhattan, co-authored by his brother, David M. Bresnahan. There are over 100 color photos of the downtown devastation, and a free memorial music CD. This book offers an inspired, patriotic response to the day’s events, in the hope, as Bresnahan says, that they will never be forgotten. A unique eyewitness account, but then, all eyewitness accounts are unique. A portion of the profits will be given to the Emerald Society of New York for the World Trade Center orphans. Windsor House; www.911bookforsale.com. 263 pp. $26.95.


The Best of Paul Brady

Paul Brady will rock you with this excellent album of his works over his career. A timely reprise, the CD liner notes also gives Brady fans a short introduction to each song, with Brady’s memories of how it came about. “Paradise is Here” and “The Homes of Donegal” are particularly good, and of course, the classic, “The Island.” Asgrad, www.paulbrady.com.



Denise Kleinrichart

Before there was internment in Northern Ireland there was . . . internment. This important and detailed book sheds light on the story of the SS Argenta, a prison ship anchored in Belfast Lough that was to become a forced home for hundreds of nationalists over a two-year period from May 1922. The story of the Argenta and its reluctant inhabitants sets the stage for all that was to follow in Northern Ireland. The ship itself became a metaphor for the state within a state that was the nationalist population in the Six Counties. The author, who lives in Florida, has done her research here and the result is a most impressive work. Academic Press, Dublin and also c/o ISBS, 5824 NE Hassalo St., Portland OR 97213; www.iap.ie. 384 pp.


Ralph McInerny

Crime fiction writer Ralph McInerny is the author behind the Father Dowling mystery series and also the Knight Brothers series set at the University of Notre Dame. In the latter context, you could call McInerny an example of the writing Irish. He even lives in South Bend. But this latest adventure for the crime-busting Knights is a little off campus, though not that far. The many twists and turns to the plot are this time to be found in Minneapolis. St. Martin’s Minotaur. 288 pp. $23.95.


A Celtic Mystery

Peter Tremayne

Historical mystery writer Peter Tremayne’s work is a richly woven historical tapestry with a bloody seam. Murder most foul in the distant, if not too misty, Celtic past is the source for Tremayne’s inspiration and his stage for his crime-solving heroine, Sister Fidelma. In this, Tremayne’s latest mystery, Sr. Fidelma is called upon to solve a series of mysterious deaths on board a ship full of pilgrims heading for a shrine in Iberia. St. Martin’s Minotaur. 288pp. $23.95.


Memories of Lebanon

Edited Commandant Brendan O’Shea

With the world’s latest peacekeeping mission about to take shape in Afghanistan, anyone with an interest in this always tricky military task will find interesting ideas to ponder in this book compiled from articles and essays in An Cosant=ir, the Irish army’s version of Stars & Stripes. The Irish army only recently wound up its 23-year commitment to the United Nations peacekeeping effort in Lebanon, dubbed UNIFIL. Based in South Lebanon, the Irish troops who served in U.N. blue berets were never less than certain that they were straddling a front line between powerful, mutually-hostile forces. Yet they persevered to a point that a peace of sorts now prevails in a part of the world where peace has been especially elusive. Irish Book and Media ([612] 871-3505; www.IRISHBOOK@aol.com) 160 pp. $15.95.


An Overview and Guide

Darerca Nf Chart_ir

How about learning Irish as a New Year’s resolution. Anyone who takes up the challenge will be off to a quick start with this book on the language’s evolution and its status in the world today. As well as the history of Irish and helpful hints on pronunciation and grammar, this book also includes lists of organizations, publications and websites of use to both the beginner and the more advanced student. Irish Book and Media ([612] 871-3505; www.IRISHBOOK@aol.com) 160 pp. $19.95.


Fully Revised and Updated

Tim Pat Coogan

Tim Pat Coogan’s standard work on the history of the IRA is here presented anew in the context of the Northern Ireland peace process. But, and few would be surprised, it could already do with another revising. This version takes the reader up to the year 2000. Coogan, rarely stuck for a word, will have to revisit this tome again at some point. Palgrave for St. Martin’s Griffin. 808 pp. $24.95.


William Hughes

Baltimore-based Hughes, long an activist in Irish-American affairs, lets his imagination roll in this account of struggle and intrigue involving the first Irish-American president, in his younger years, and a coterie of British spies intent on stifling the American Revolution. The action jumps from London to the high seas of the Atlantic and on to South Carolina. Details of purchasing this book are available at http://iuniverse.com/ or by calling (877) 823-9235. Also available on Amazon.com. The author’s own website is www.geocities.com/liamhughes.geo/.

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