Eastern Europe, History, Literature, Poetry, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized

Literary Voodoo in Czarist Russia

Walking along the aptly-named River Dodder next to where I live I am given to speculation. I notice how, often, a dog’s physiognomy is similar to that of his owner. In making a choice of puppy, or breed, a putative owner seems to be unconsciously guided by an attraction to a dog, embodying characteristics of his own, or perhaps idealised …


Education, History, Ireland, Uncategorized

Boys Do Cry – A Gonzaga Education

Revelations of sex abuse in all-male private schools in past decades have been powerfully conveyed across the Irish media. That barbarism should not, however, deflect from other enduring problems. I believe grave damage is still being done to the development of boys in ostensibly civilised institutions. Moreover, unequal educational provision widens inequality, and underpins a pervasive competitive individualism. I draw …


Unionists are seen as Irish ‘White Trash’

By 1900, when Joyce and Yeats were strutting the streets of Dublin, Belfast had a higher population. Moreover, Ireland is the only country in the world with a lower population now than in the early 1840s. The extensive livestock agriculture that dominated after the Great Famine depends on low labour inputs for profitability, and the Industrial Revolution never took off. …

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’ …

Sport offers mythology for our time.

Across the world, every week, millions of men and women descend on stadia in homage to sporting spectacles. Countless others, of all ages, slouch before TV sets, and even squint into smartphones to satisfy a compulsive appetite, which I know too well. In Ireland we have a particular grá for team sports, as participants but mostly as viewers, or even …