A New Chapter Begins

A New Chapter Begins

My feature, marking the end of Gerry Adams' term as Sinn Féin President, was published in last Friday's Irish Times (9th February). Here it is: I’m sure that there is a little nervousness within Sinn Féin as Gerry Adams steps down as president of the party,...

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Every Third Thought

Every Third Thought

Apparently, when you hit sixty, every third thought is about death. The actual quote that gives this book its title is from Shakespeare’s The Tempest: ‘Every third thought shall be my grave.’ The literary editor Robert McCrum suffered a stroke in 1995 when he was...

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The Story of Hugh Dorian – Rescued from History

The Story of Hugh Dorian – Rescued from History

After putting up on Twitter a link to the harrowing feature in Saturday’s Irish Times about the famine – a review of The End of Outrage: Post-Famine Adjustment in Rural Ireland by Breandán Mac Suibhne - I remembered another excellent book the author edited and which I...

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Death of Mary Ward

Death of Mary Ward

Mary Ward, whose son Peter was shot dead by the UVF in 1966, died yesterday, aged 97. In an interview two years ago, on the fiftieth anniversary of Peter’s death, his sister Bell spoke about her mother as “a holy woman” who “never missed Mass and always went to...

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Sympathy For The Devil

Sympathy For The Devil

A North Vietnamese spy, ‘the Captain’, who infiltrates the South’s military and security establishment, is so singularly dedicated to his role that he even 'flees' Saigon with his General, government officials and senior military figures, so that he can continue to...

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Why ‘Gangrene’?

Why ‘Gangrene’?

Three weeks ago I reviewed a new novel, Gangrene, about a British army undercover soldier in Ireland in the 1990s. Here, the author, Aly Renwick, explains the background to his writing the book. I was born in 1944 towards the end of the Second World War and, from...

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The Sad Story of Dimitrios Tsafendas

The Sad Story of Dimitrios Tsafendas

Tomorrow is the centenary of the birth of Dimitrios Tsafendas whose name probably means little to most people. But from first hearing and reading about him two decades ago I felt his story to be incredibly sad. When Dimitri was a young boy in Mozambique (he was born...

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The Exemplar Robert Lynd

The Exemplar Robert Lynd

For Christmas, my old friend Tom Hartley gave me an old copy of an old book written in 1919, Ireland A Nation by Robert Lynd, who was born into a Presbyterian household in 1879. In my book All The Dead Voices I devote a chapter to Lynd who was buried in Belfast’s City...

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Brian, Stano and Rudi

Brian, Stano and Rudi

This is about Brian Palm, Stano and Rudi, so stick with the route, however circuitous! A few months ago I finished writing my play Inmates about characters in an old people’s home, present-day Ireland. The play grew out of the final chapters of my novel Rudi and I...

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‘I Am Not Your Negro’

‘I Am Not Your Negro’

It was James Baldwin who wrote: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” This fascinating little book has emerged from Raoul Peck’s eponymous 2016 film based on texts by Baldwin, including thirty pages of letters,...

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