Economy, History, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized, United Kingdom

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. …


Ireland, Literature, Poetry, Politics, Uncategorized, United Kingdom, Vegetarianism

Shelley, Corbyn and Ireland

The Irish political establishment looks askance at the apparent rise of Jeremy Corbyn. An historically warm relationship with Sinn Fein, lukewarm opposition to Brexit, and a stubborn commitment to socialism all receive a cool reception in government buildings. Corbyn’s approach to Ireland is conditioned by an anti-colonial, English republican and Chartist outlook, a cast of mind he would have shared …


Jeremy Corbyn Unfairly Treated in the UK and Irish Media

Walking up the driveway on my first day of secondary school I felt an added sense of trepidation on account of the dandyish slip-on shoes I was wearing. As I entered the school buildings I ran the gauntlet of a rowdy phalanx of students, giddy with first-day nerves. They smelt fear. A piercing cry rang out: “check out the shoes …

BrOxfordexit

(Published in Village Magazine, October, 2016) North Oxford is a heartland of academia where leafy halls of residence mingle with stately homes and rarefied hostelries. Bang in the middle of England a pervading windlessness favours scholarly reflection removed from the fugue of modernity. Only here do scholars walk the streets with books aloft. Even the traffic is orderly with streams …

Confronting the great men of history

(Published in Village Magazine, June 2016) That there was something altogether more disturbing about Hitler’s Germany than Stalin’s Russia is often assumed. Perhaps it comes from the idea of Germany, the most intellectually and industrially-advanced country of its time, being led by an individual whose core belief was the annihilation of a substantial ethno-religious minority. By comparison the aspirational ends …

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 …

Large scale immigration requires ‘the nation’ to be redefined

(Published in Metro Eireann, 2007) ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’ (Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784) Provisional census figures indicate that the there are approximately 400,000 non-nationals living in this country. Coping with such a level of diversity is a new challenge for the indigenous population of a peripheral island historically removed from the European mainstream, une isle derriere une isle …

The Thin End of a Hamburger-Shaped Wedge

(London Magazine, October/November, 2011) While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth? – George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) The appearance in men’s lives of domestic animals as a reserve of meat and energy, proved to be a continuing originality of the West – Fernand Braudel (1902-1985) Last year I …

Elizabeth David and the British Gastronomic Enlightenment

Published in The London Magazine April/May 2010 The landscape of British cuisine would be unrecognisable without the influence of Elizabeth David, whose French Provincial Cookery has been fifty years in print. Not least, the sophistication of her prose – up to this point no British writer had brought a literary sensibility to bear on food writing – created a climate …