SHOOTING TO KILL
Filmmaking and the
Troubles shooting: the Northern Ireland conflict portrayed on the silver screen has not always been a success. In this recently updated book, Brian McIlroy gives a trenchant overview of the highs and lows. Of particular interest is the changing attitudes of Hollywood to the Irish conflict, where the author suggests that are the ways directors have portrayed the Protestant community — if at all — versus the ease with which they have focused on the Nationalist community. McIlroy closes his book with the thought that perhaps now is the time for filmmakers to strike out in new directions, away from Troubles-related topics. Steveston Press. 224 pp. $19.95.
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AGAINST LOVE POETRY
The latest collection of poetry from one of Ireland’s leading female poets is an attempt to understand love in the context of marriage. In the title poem, Boland writes, “It is to mark the contradictions of a daily love that I have written this,” and the poems look at husbands and wives in various settings — at work, at home, in bed, or en route to America from Ireland, as well as at various stages of a marriage. “Quarantine” recalls a couple found dead in a field during the Famine, locked in a final embrace. Intimate and frank, this collection takes the concept of love poetry in a new direction, having reached back in time to examine the many forms of love poetry over the centuries. W.W. Norton. 53 pp. $21.
A GHOST WATCHER’S
GUIDE TO IRELAND
Perhaps he was so enticed by the world of spirits, he went to join them: the author of this short guide to the ghosts of the Gaels is now deceased. Dunne was a writer, journalist and broadcaster whose hobby was collecting tales of the supernatural from around Ireland. There was no short supply. These 47 short stories come from every corner of the island, and deal with everything from the haunted Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin to the Foxes of Gormanston. Of course, the banshee is well represented. With appropriately moody images from Ireland by Simon Marsden.
Pelican. 128 pp. $18.95.
BETWEEN INNOCENCE AND PEACE
Kennelly has selected his favorite poems by other Irish poets for this anthology. It is a highly personal selection, but broad enough that everyone will find something in here for themselves, although many of the poems are well known already. Kennelly does not shy away from throwing in traditional poems and ” The Wearing o’ the Green.” Mercier. 214 pp. $15.95.
BRADLEY’S BAGPIPE CHRISTMAS
New Jersey’s John Bradley has taken the bagpiping art, and business, to a new level. The full-time member of the New York Celtic rock band Gael Force and bagpipe teacher is now, additionally, a bagpiping “consultant” to the Passaic County Emerald Society Pipe Band. No surprise really as Bradley, who appeared with his pipes in the academy award-winning movie “Dead Poets Society,” is fast becoming a master on the fabled instrument. His latest CD is a collection of Christmas, Irish and Scottish favorites and also includes a rendition of “God Bless America,” a salute to a friend who was killed on 9/11. Details at www.nycbagpipe.com or John10012@aol.com
FULL OF GRACE
An Oral Biography of
John Cardinal O’Connor
The late Cardinal O’Connor accepted his passing from this life with courage and grace. But those who knew him would doubtless agree that the Philadelphia-born O’Connor would have wanted a little more time on this earth for no other reason that he could be with his fellow New Yorkers on and after Sept. 11. “Full of Grace,” authored by veteran journalist Terry Golway, is a timely and tasteful tribute to the late archbishop of New York rendered in the words of those who knew Cardinal O’Connor as both a prince of the church and as an ordinary man. Pocket Books. 236 pp. $22.
IRISH ON THE INSIDE
In Search of the
Soul of Irish-America
Tom Hayden grew of age in America during the civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, but it was the civil rights struggle in Northern Ireland that drew him to a sense of Irishness that his family had all but eradicated in its search for “respectability” in Anglo-dominated America. Hayden has always been passionate about his causes and he is no less so in this book, as he argues that Irish America must develop and retain a sense of self that is both specific and inclusive. Hayden’s story of personal and ethnic discovery makes for a fascinating read. Verso. 312 pp. $25.
ECHOES OF A SAVAGE LAND
Though he spent many of his younger years in America and served with the U.S. Army during the Cuban Missile Crisis and at the start of America’s involvement in Vietnam, McGowan’s savage land is a place where he began his life: County Sligo. More specifically, he writes lovingly about that part of the county that stretches from the Bun Drowes to Knocknarea. It is a part of Ireland rich in legend and folklore and where, in the shadow of Ben Bulben, W.B. Yeats penned some of his greatest poetry. McGowan’s book is a story of 50 years of change and, in some respects, no changes at all. Irish Books and Media (1433 Franklin Ave. East, Minneapolis MN 55404; www.irishbook.com; (612) 871-3505). 400 pp. $20.95.
A Biography of Jack Lynch
T. Ryle Dwyer
When it came to down to earth popularity with Irish voters, no politician of the 20th Century could match the onetime hurling star and pipe-smoking Jack Lynch. Lynch died in 1999, so the debate on his legacy has been gathering pace in the past couple of years. Dwyer’s well-researched book tackles the question as to whether Lynch’s popular appeal was a true reflection of his effectiveness as a leader. Kerry-resident Dwyer is a well-known newspaper columnist in Ireland who studied for his doctorate on this side of the Atlantic, at the University of North Texas. Irish Books and Media (1433 Franklin Ave. East, Minneapolis MN 55404; www.irishbook.com; (612) 871-3505). 416 pp. $31.95.
WEATHER & WARFARE
A Climatic history of
the 1798 Rebellion
Bad weather almost led to no D-Day on June 6. The Declaration of Independence was passed by Congress in a Philadelphia heat wave and the war in Afghanistan will undoubtedly be affected to one degree or another by the Afghan winter we’ve all been hearing about. Weather and war are indeed a dependent pair. No less so than in the rebellious Irish summer of 1798, when the land in some parts of the country became so parched that opposing armies couldn’t see each other because of smoke from brush fires. Tyrrell’s book presents a fascinating angle for an old story. Dufour Editions (Chester Spring PA 19425; (610) 458-5005). 208 pp. $18.95.
My Life ’til Now
Irish Tenor Tynan was working extra hours in the aftermath of Sept. 11 and more than once founding himself singing “God Bless America,” as he did at Yankee Stadium. But as he reveals in the epilogue of this half-life autobiography, Tynan’s voice was already accompanying New York firefighters to their final resting place. Tynan, a Dublin native, sang at the funerals of the three firefighters killed in the Father’s Day inferno three months before the attack on America. Having lost his legs to amputation at 20, Tynan, of course, was no stranger to adversity. Indeed it has given even more power to his voice. Scribner. 240 pp. $24.
Leaves from the Diary
of a Hyphenated Jew
There are famous Irish Jews, fictional and real life. There is, of course, James Joyce’s Leopold Bloom. Dublin has had father and son Jewish mayors named Briscoe. The late Chaim Herzog, onetime president of Isr’l, was born in Belfast and raised in Dublin. David Marcus is from Cork and befitting a native of the Rebel County he spent the best of his years in journalism as literary editor of the Irish Press, where it was his encouragement and attention that nurtured an entire generation of Irish writers during the 1980s. Marcus is a novelist and short story writer of considerable note in Ireland, but here he writes a memoir. It is a tale of what it is like being that rather rare kind of Irishman, a Jewish Irishman. It is an intriguing tale and one brilliantly told. Irish Books and Media (1433 Franklin Ave. East, Minneapolis MN 55404; www.irishbook.com; (612) 871-3505). 224 pp. $24.95.
THE HUMBLE SPUD
The potato was once believed to be a cure for impotence. At one point it was thought to be an aphrodisiac. But whatever its powers, real or supposed, we all know that the humble spud has been anything but. Indeed, it has been something of a gastronomical tour de force down the centuries, albeit a lumpy one. The potato has given life and, when it has itself failed, taken life away. This fascinating book explores the many ways that the numerous varieties of potato on the market today can be presented as both staple and haute cuisine. It is a cookbook, yes, but like its subject, rather more than first meets the eye. Published by Hamlyn and distributed by Sterling Publishing Co., New York. 144pp. $14.95.
REPUBLICAN INTERNMENT AND
THE PRISON SHIP ARGENTA 1922
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.
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.
ACT OF MERCY
A Celtic Mystery
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.