The book is not only the result of very detailed archive research, it shows too the benefit of Pat Sweeney’s skills as a professional photographer in recording so many of the ships while they were still sea-going.
Attractively produced, this is not just a book for the enthusiast, but for anyone at all interested, not just in Dublin’s past, but in a much neglected aspect of our national history.
Over the last few months I have heard three different Government ministers, including Mr Cowen, extolling the importance of ”heritage” to tourism and the creation of those all important ”bed-nights” around which our economy seems to spins.
The ship builders chronicled in these pages are part of that heritage, part of the heritage which the Maritime Institute of Ireland museum was set up to foster, but which central funding has neglected. Let us hope that Pat Sweeny’s excellent book will be a foundation on which a new future for Ireland’s total maritime heritage may be built.
Burren Villages: Tales Of History And Imagination
by Sarah Poyntz
This sense of something beyond the everyday pervades the book, which is a collection of essays about the area and its people. There is a concise, well-put-together account of the history of the area by Poyntz and Jim Hyland, a lyrical description of the personal effect of the beauty of the Burren by Tony Hartnett (“There is something here that pulls at you inside”) and a deeply personal piece by Lelia Doolan, who spent her childhood summers in the Burren.
Bygone Limerick: The City And County In Days Gone By
by Hugh Oram
a lavishly illustrated portrait of the city and county, charting the changes in the historical areas, such as the Georgian Quarter and St John’s Castle, as well as towns and villages such as Adare, Bruree, Kilmallock and Newcastlewest. One of the more fascinating sections is about the building of the Shannon scheme at Ardnacrusha, which put Ireland on the map internationally and helped to raise the profile of the infant Irish Free State abroad.
Always nice to see one of my commissions getting a review, however late after release. Patrick Kavanagh & The Leader is the third book by the very talented Pat Walsh. His previous two were also published by companies I worked with (Nonsuch & Mercier). He has an ability to spot a great story and bring it to life and he does that again with this book.
Kavanagh was perennially poor, thoroughly abrasive and ready to bite all hands that tried to feed him. With no carapace to ease the world’s buffets he used an anonymous profile in a Dublin magazine as a chance to ease his hurt and make a bit of money. The resulting trial in 1954 became the finest piece of theatre ‘the blind and ignorant town’ had experienced for years.
Blood & Thunder: Inside An Ulster Protestant Band was one of the books I commissioned towards the end of my time at Mercier Press. It sounded like it was going to be a cracker and the author Darrach MacDonald was great.
Since release, the book has attracted a lot of attention which I’m really pleased to see. It deserves it.
The allusion to blood and thunder, by the way, refers to the decibel levels and to the zeal of drummers playing until their wrists bleed and their drumsticks are stumps.
MacDonald concludes that marching bands are a vibrant manifestation of 21st Century loyalist culture. The Orange Order’s membership is dwindling in an increasingly secular society (it has fewer than 36,000 members in Ireland compared with more than 93,000 in 1968), but these bands offer an outlet to loyalist youths to celebrate their heritage.
If full reconciliation within the North’s divided society is to happen, MacDonald suggests that respect for loyalist traditions must be part of it. “Choosing to be entertained. . . rather than offended is the secret to a shared future,” he says.
He has really been working himself to the bone the last while and it’s really delivering for him.
he won the best Food & Drink blog for his incredible blog The Good Mood Food Blog at the Irish Blog Awards in Galway. He also let everyone on twitter know that he has had over 1,000,000 hits on that blog!
His book, which I had the pleasure of commissioning while at Mercier Press and launching when it came out in time for Christmas (there’s a video of the launch here), Good Mood Food, has been reprinted and he has been on the afternoon show twice recently.
I’m sure there’s more great stuff to come from Donal and it’s all well deserved because he works so damn hard and above all is a thoroughly decent human being! It’s nice when the good guy gets his just reward.
Well done Donal!