Bookshop Window

DE VALERA by Tim Pat Coogan, Hutchinson, pounds 20

This is a large, imposing and provocative biography of the senior political figure in modern Irish history. De Valera was the inspiring figurehead of Ireland's nationalist emotions: he was one of the leaders of the Easter 1916 uprising, and later founded Fianna Fail. American- born, he secured Ireland's neutrality during the Second World War. But he also emerges, in Tim Pat Coogan's compelling account, as a harsh political realist driven by a 'lust for power', whose rule has had unfortunate consequences. 'De Valera,' he concludes, 'did little that was useful and much that was harmful.' He promoted a fierce, intolerant brand of Catholicism and allowed violence and censorship to infiltrate the body politic. Those to whom he remains a legendary hero will hate the book; but few will fail to by impressed by Coogan's cool, deep handling of the material.

VIVE MOI] by Sean O'Faolain, Sinclair Stevenson, pounds 20

Ireland's master short story writer revised his autobiography shortly before he died in 1991. And here it is, with added love life: 'Good reader] I admit, in schoolboy language, I had a crush . . .' (on Elizabeth Bowen, but it might be others). The old stuff remains: holidays in places no other man came to; lonely childhood in the household of an officer in the Royal Irish Constabulary; bomb-making for the IRA. There's some great writing. Clearest in the clear, romantic air of Ireland's West, the prose thickens on contact with Yeats and Joyce and old Henry James. But O'Faolain's style is wonderfully vivid, and always persuasively humorous.

HERESY: The Battle of Ideas in Modern Ireland by Desmond Fennell, The Blackstaff Press, pounds 25

'Irish Socialist Thought', 'The Independence of Ireland in The 1990s': an odd republican-socialism runs through these essays. There's also a lament for the Gaeltacht, Ireland's Irish-speaking population (25,000 left); and a long, sceptical essay on Seamus Heaney ('intellectually poor' because conveying no 'worldview'). One long essay in self-defence sounds almost paranoid: are Fennell's ideas truly 'ranked as thought-crime' in Dublin? Are the capital's media really all 'apparatchiks'? And at least one piece seems dated: Labour surely no longer survives on 'crumbs left over by the two big parties'. But this is strong, expert writing. Just beware: polemicist at work.

THE CONSEQUENCE by Colbert Kearney, The Blackstaff Press, pounds 8.95

When Fintan Kearney's novel becomes a best-seller his problems are only just beginning: he doesn't even remember writing the book. Intriguing situations follow (how to talk on TV about a novel you never wrote, how to behave at your launch party . . .) But the heavy hand of the Academy smacks things out of shape (the 'Death of the Author' and 'Derridean prose' both force entry) and even real people popping in for a chat (Brendan Behan, 'dark and loud and merry') don't set things right. And hang on, isn't the protagonist's surname the same as the author's? And aren't they both lecturers at University College, Cork? It's that kind of book.

FATHER RALPH by Gerald O'Donovan, Brandon, pounds 6.95

Celtic revivalist, founder of working men's clubs, Gerald O'Donovan was also a 'very distinguished ecclesiastic' who left the priesthood in anger - as does Father Ralph in this novel of 1913. It's hardly surprising: Ireland's poor starve as the bishops guzzle and Ralph's crusade to help them is thwarted by the Church. In the end the battling cleric is forced to throw off his collar and join the ranks of the oppressed. It's good drama, if not great art. The simple folk may be see-through ('Sure, 'tis Miss Evans the fine girl, now'), but they make their point. And the novel's passion and commitment are stirring.

ERRISLANNAN by Alannah Heather. The Lilliput Press, pounds 14.99

Chapter 11: 'Picnics'; Chapter 12: 'Alcock and Brown; Sundays at Home'. The scope of this often charming family memoir isn't large. Yeats stayed 'nearby'; Ranjitsinhji owned a castle where the family went for fetes. The house at Errislannan in other words, is solid nostalgia. 'We were totally ignorant of what was going on in Ireland,' writes the author, a former art mistress at Benenden School. And it's true. Events rarely impinge; 'Donald always carried a loaded revolver' is generally how they do. Then it's back to Uncle Walter and his splendid tomatoes.

WALKING THROUGH IRELAND by Robin Neillands, Little, Brown, pounds 14.99.

Robin Neillands took months to plan his 500-mile walk across Ireland from north to south. He consulted maps, bought some exciting kit and was no novice, but 'didn't actually notice the absence of footpaths in Ireland until I was about three days into the walk . . . when it finally dawned on me the discovery came as something of a shock'. He keeps going, dipping in and out of Irish history and in and out of bogs. Jolly old fellows sipping Guinness and venting their ire at the English in picturesque pubs make their inevitable appearance, but the book is funny and informative and full of love for this untamed and almost unwalkable country.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links