Dermot was a fascinating and interesting man who talked with passion about his subject, in this case the intriguing and bizarre murder of Nurse Catherine Cooper by Michael Manning in Limerick city in 1950s.
For me he encapsulated much of what it is to be an author of a book on a specific topic. He was like many of his peers, gripped by a subject and unable to let it go until he had dug as deeply into it as he could. The resulting book, Beneath Cannock’s Clock, is here and is well worth a read.
I’ve no doubt he will be missed terribly by those he leaves behind and I hope they can find some comfort in the days and months ahead.
I’ve mentioned Blood & Thunder on this site before, it was one of the commissions I made at mercier Press. Well it got a full review this weekend from The Irish Times. And a favourable one at that!
Loyalists tend to be cautious about opening up to journalists, but the former Castlederg bandmaster and former Ulster Unionist assembly member Derek Hussey paved the way for MacDonald to get to know the band and its workings. But he said pointedly to MacDonald, “Pity it’s a Taig who’ll be [writing the book]”, a warning against any stitch-up – again a long-standing fear among many loyalists when dealing with the fourth estate.
But it’s the generous and different-footed perspective that makes this book. With objectivity, perception and a strong degree of empathy MacDonald tells the story of the band, interweaving through the narrative the political, religious, cultural and social impulses that drive its members and in a broader sense drive unionism, loyalism and Protestantism.
Nice review in The Irish Catholic for Pat Sweeney’s Liffey Ships & Ship Building, one of my commissions while at Mercier Press.
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.
What a week for books I’ve commissioned it is turning out to be! Laurence Fenton’s The Young Ireland Rebellion and Limerick was featured in the Irish Examiner at the weekend. I’m delighted, it’s a fine book on a fascinating topic:
LAURENCE FENTON has written a tantalising introduction to the events leading to the Young Ireland rebellion of 1848.
The author’s goal was to “explore the manner in which the men and women of Limerick reacted to the tumultuous year of revolutions”.
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.
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.