Agriculture, Book Review, History, Literature, Politics, Science, Uncategorized

The Technological Savage

(Published in the Dublin Review of Books, December 2017) In 1983 the world came within a whisker of nuclear Armageddon when Soviet satellite photos mistakenly revealed NATO missiles in the sky. Only the impulsive refusal of Russian officer Stanislav Petrov to believe his eyes prevented mutually assured destruction being set in train. Now a US President threatens to ‘totally destroy’ …


Book Review, Ireland, Literature, Poetry, Religion, Uncategorized

‘Immanent in the Landscape’

The highest compliment I can pay Mark Williams is that after reading his ‘Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth’, I have an appetite to learn the Irish language. He exposes to the light a literary inheritance that has barely flickered in the Irish national consciousness since independence in 1922. It allows this nation to consider its …


The Evil That Men Do

Published in the Dublin Review of Books: (http://www.drb.ie/essays/the-evil-that-men-do) The unconscious of a whole continent and age has made of itself poetry in the nightmare of a single prophetic dreamer Herman Hesse Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov casts a shadow over European literature. Sigmund Freud described it as ‘The most magnificent novel ever written’; while Friedrich Nietzsche acknowledged his Russian contemporary …

The origins of Likud Ideology

(Published in Village Magazine, December, 2014) It has been said that there are two possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: one realistic the other miraculous. The realistic solution involves divine intervention; the miraculous, a voluntary agreement between the parties. The latest round of conflict is, mercifully, largely over. On August 26th, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) accepted a …

An Enduring Legacy – Lessons from the Great Famine

(Published in Village Magazine, November 2012) Who was to blame for the Great Famine? This thorny question rears its head with the recent publication of the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine by Cork University Press. We may accept the detached assessment of the American economic historian Joel Mokyr expressed some years ago that ‘Ireland was considered by Britain as …

The Body and Shame

Review of The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism and the Socially Shaped body by Luna Dolezal. Lexington Book, Lenham, 2015 (Village Magazine, July 2015) In Ireland philosophy rarely features in mainstream discourses. We seem more comfortable in either the narrow empiricism inherited from our former colonial overlords or the lyrical engagement found in poetry. The unflinching analysis of concepts found …

You Can’t Dukan

(Published in the London Magazine, March 2012) For Citizen-paparazzo, that is anyone in possession of a mobile phone, the photographic Middletons represent fair game. Statuesque Kate is less the object of coarse desire than polite admiration. Ideal marriage material it was said. She has the prim, faintly virginal appeal we expect of an English queen, starting with the original Virgin …

Inhuman Folly: The Argument for Veganism

(Published in Village Magazine, September, 2013) David A. Nibert delivers an impassioned, well-researched and idealistic argument for why humanity should shift to a vegan, or plant-based diet in Animal Domestication & Human Violence: Domescration, Capitalism and Global Conflict (Columbia University Press, 2013). He surveys the impact of meat, dairy and egg consumption through human history and links it to some of our worst …

Bad Pharma and Farming

(Published in Village Magazine October, 2014) Review of Missing Microbes: How Killing Bacteria Creates Modern Plagues by Martin Blaser Oneworld Publications 2014 The overuse of antibiotics in humans and other animals combined with other medical interventions such as Caesarian sections is threatening disastrous consequences according to a new book by Martin Blaser, Professor of Translational Medicine and Director of the …

Between Music and Prose

(Published in Village Magazine, April 2015) In her recent Michael Littleton lecture for RTE ‘Has Poetry a Future?’ Eavan Boland identifies the ‘vertical’ audience it has enjoyed through history. Many hallowed poets, such as Keats, did not find a public in their own time but their words may echo across the ages unlike other forms of culture which may have …