Issue 4-2022 small

5 November 1998 Edition

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New in print

Writing for non-readers

Two Birds/One Stoned
By Neville Thompson
Published by Poolbeg
Price £6.99

Neville Thompson's second book is the sequel to Jackie Loves Johnser OK?.

Described as ``Roddy Doyle with knobs on'' by The Sunday Times, Thompson's ability to, by his own admission. write for non readers, make both his books unputdownable.

Two Birds/One Stoned follows life after Johnser for Jackie Clarke who, when he was shot by a hitman in her sitting room, lost the love of her life. She's one of the ``two birds''. The ``one stoned'' happens to be Johnser's wife Tara. The women, needless to say, are long time rivals.

The book pulls no punches in its gritty realism and black humour as it takes you not only through the emotionally charged lives of Jackie and Tara, but on a guided tour of the Ballyfermot underworld of crime, drugs and violence.

Neville Thompson grew up in `Ballyer' and obviously, like any good writer, writes about what he knows. That's not to say he's a crimelord or anywhere near it, he's just listened to people along the way, and maybe coaxed a tale or two out of them.

And it works. Who knows, maybe someone with sense will snap it up and put it on the screen.

In the literary world Neville Thompson's Two Birds/One Stoned is not on par with Roddy Doyle, it's better. Anyone who has already read his books are waiting with bated breath for the next one. And if you haven't read this one, to quote the RTE Guide on Jackie Loves Johnser OK?, ``Read it now, you're going to sooner or later - deadly''. Same goes for Two Birds/One Stoned.

By Tara O'Liaith

Rare old times

From Patriots to Unionists - Dublin Civil Politics and Irish Protestant Patriotism 1660 to 1840
By Jacqueline Hill
Published by Oxford University Press
Price £50 hardback

One of the most annoying habits we Dubliners display is our never ending desire to pin down our fellow citizens lineage as true denizens of Dublin. `Scratch any Dub and you find a culchie' is a common rejoiner from those who obviously can't trace back any capital-born ancestors.

However, the notion that somehow you can produce the criteria for a true Dub is a strange one given the chequered role some of the city's inhabitants have played in not only the struggle for Irish freedom but also the parallel struggles of labour and gender. Where were the true Dubs in 1798? What role did they play in the so-called `Glorious Revolution' in 1688 or the Act of Union in 1801?

Dublin is an historical enigma. What were the political beliefs and policies of those who constructed the Georgian squares, the wide streets, the classical architecture of the Customs House, City Hall and the parliament building?

Jacqueline Hill's book provides a remarkable insight into this period. It shows a Dublin civic political elite who over a 180 year period transformed themselves into Irish patriots and then in the aftermath of the Act of Union re-emerged as unionists.

It also covers a period when Dublin was growing rapidly. It changed from a 70% Protestant city in 1660 to one where Protestants were reduced to one third of the population by the 1800s because of substantial population growth.

Perhaps the most important conclusion a reader could draw from this book is that religion was not the determining issue of political ideology during this period. Rather it was the pursuit of economic self interest combined with how the British administration in Ireland help further those interests.

This is not a book about mass politics in Dublin. It is a book that goes into considerable detail about the political development of a self-appointed elite. An example of this would be the opposition of Protestant tradesmen and merchants to the Act of Union - Orange lodges across the city condemned the proposals.

From Patriots to Unionists is a worthwhile book. It is at some levels difficult to read as it deals with an ever increasing array of names, bodies and groups. It is excellent for dipping into and reading about a particular issue or a set time period. At £50 for a hardback copy it is an expensive text but a must have for any Irish library.


An Clochan explores the Celtic world

Celtic History and Literature Review
The Two Hughs and the Battle of Yellow Ford

Both published by An Clochan

Two recent publications by one of Belfast's newest publishers, An Clochan, are the second edition of the magazine Celtic History and Literature Review (CH&LR) and the booklet ``The Two Hughs and the Battle of Yellow Ford''.

Written by Diarmuid O'Breaslain the 20 page bilingual booklet contends that the Battle of the Yellow Ford, which was fought four hundred years ago this year, was something of a watershed in Irish history. In comparison with other major events in Irish history, however, not much is known about the battle.

Of course this may have something to do with the fact that the Irish, under the two Hughs, O'Neill and O'Donnell, inflicted a heavy defeat on the English.

The booklet is full of information and puts the battle and subsequent events such as the Battle of Kinsale and the flight of the Earls into context. That the booklet is also as Gaeilge is also to be commended as it will, I am sure, encourage readers in their use and practice of the Gaeilge.

Celtic History and Literature Review is I suppose the Celtic languages' equivalent of the now defunct Irish Reporter. It features articles and reviews about the languages of the Celtic nations.

The central literature theme is an interview with Bobi Jones, one of Wales most respected poets, while other articles about Scotland, Brittany and Isle of Man are included.

For this reviewer the articles about the Ladies Land League by Eve Morrison and the 1798 rebellion were the most relevant.

Where the value of this magazine lies is in the connections it makes between the Celtic languages. It establishes their pedigree as the languages of these nations setting them apart and distinct from the mass of Europe or, in the case of Ireland, separate from England.

This is not about being anti-English. It is an important point to make when establishing the integrity of the nation and its language especially if that nation and language has suffered hundreds of years of repression.

By Daithi O Donghaile

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1