Michael Longley is awarded PEN Pinter Prize

This year’s judges were Maureen Freely, president of English PEN; Antonia Fraser, historian, biographer and widow of Harold Pinter; Tom Gatti, culture editor of the New Statesman; award-winning poet Don Paterson and playwright Polly Stenham. Longley was born in Belfast in 1939 and educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Trinity College Dublin where he read Classics. He was also a fearless and inspired custodian of English PEN’s ideals: personal liberty and freedom of expression. Whether writing as a celebrant, critic, memoirist or elegist, he has precisely the “unswerving gaze” Pinter called for, one often fixed on figures in the margins and shadows whose lives are often left untroubled by literary description, but who, Longley insistently reminds us, have their own heroism, tragedy and nobility, and whose stories reveal the ‘real truth of our lives.’.” Longley said: “Harold Pinter was a great playwright. For decades now his effortlessly lyric and fluent poetry has been wholly suffused with the qualities of humanity, humility and compassion, never shying away from the moral complexity that comes from seeing both sides of an argument.Longley is a war poet and a love poet, a nature poet and a poet of the arts, a poet of social and cultural history. He will receive the award at a public ceremony at the British Library on October 10th, where he will deliver an address. The prize is awarded annually to a writer of outstanding literary merit from Britain, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Pinter’s Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an “unflinching, unswerving” gaze upon the world and shows a “fierce intellectual determination … Collected Poems was published in 2006. Tutul. Paterson said: “Michael Longley is an ideal recipient of the Pinter Prize. The PEN Pinter Prize 2016 was awarded to Margaret Atwood, who shared the prize with Bangladeshi publisher Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury a.k.a. Antonia Fraser said: “Michael Longley is a worthy winner of the PEN Pinter Prize. Former winners of the PEN Pinter Prize are: Margaret Atwood (2016), James Fenton (2015), Salman Rushdie (2014), Tom Stoppard (2013), Carol Ann Duffy (2012), David Hare (2011), Hanif Kureishi (2010) and Tony Harrison (2009). In 2001 he received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and in 2003 he won the Wilfred Owen Award. He was awarded a CBE in 2010. A limited edition booklet of Michael Longley’s British Library address will be …

BAI rejects complaints about broadcasts on sliced pans and Eircode

The nutritional content of white sliced pans and the merits of the Eircode system were among the subjects covered in radio and TV programmes that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland received complaints about in recent months. The committee also noted that the programme makers had invited representatives of the bread-manufacturing industry to participate in the programme but this was declined. The BAI said it did not endorse the conclusions of the programme but recognised there were different legitimate perspectives on the issue. The BAI also rejected a complaint from Wind Aware Ireland about a report on RTÉ’s Nine O’Clock News about contents of a publication from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. At its most recent meeting the BAI’s compliance committee considered and rejected six complaints made against programmes on RTÉ1, RTÉ Radio and Newstalk. It found no evidence to support the contention that the manner in which the interview was arranged or conducted had been unfair, or that the views of the complainant as set out in the extract used were not an accurate reflection of their actual views. The committee found the report was concerned with providing audiences with a summary of the publication and the views of the Sustainable Energy Authority. In response to a complaint that an item on The Marian Finucane Show relating to Gaza and the West Bank had been unbalanced, the BAI stated there was no automatic obligation to balance contributions on a programme with an alternative guest or with alternative perspectives. The item was therefore “not a detailed analysis or examination of the broader issues pertaining to energy in Ireland”. However, the committee was satisfied it was not “a commercial communication”. “While some listeners may not have agreed with the presenter’s comment on the role of secondary-school teachers with respect to literacy and numeracy, a programme presenter has a right to express his/her views,” the committee said. The complaint about a public-service announcement encouraging people to use the Eircode postal-code system was rejected on the basis that the complainant alleged the announcement was actually an advertisement for a commercial company. The BAI also rejected a complaint about coverage on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show of an OECD report on literacy and numeracy, finding that the views of teachers had been “given an extensive airing” and that Kenny’s comments on the subject “were the expression of his personal opinion rather than an articulation of …

Discover the Dean: TCD celebrates Jonathan Swift

Dr Douglas said: “For a long time 18th-century Protestant writers, like Swift, were seen as not-Irish, but in works like the Drapier’s Letters Swift can be seen beginning to speak for the Irish nation. They too became very close. Swift’s writing desk at St Patrick’s Cathedral Stella’s word-book “Gulliver’s Travels belongs not just to Irish literature, but to world literature and its relevance only increases over time. Esther Vanomrigh, whom Swift called Vanessa, met Swift in 1707. Gulliver is always on a voyage, never quite belongs and is in the end totally alienated. Dr Jane Maxwell, principal curator manuscripts & archives research at Trinity, said: “This online collaboration among 21st-century institutions with Swift artifacts permits a reimagining of Dublin city as it was when Swift lived here.” An extract from Swift’s accounts book The international Swift350 conference has been organised by Dr Aileen Douglas and Prof Ian Campbell Ross of Trinity’s School of English in conjunction with UCD’s Professor Andrew Carpenter. In a world of movement and dispossession there is a great deal of resonance there.” Click here for the online exhibition: Discovering the Dean: Jonathan Swift, Trinity College and Dublin City Swift’s death mask Trinity College Dublin in the 17th century. The Swift collection in Trinity College has developed partly through gift and bequest and Stella’s “word-book” was the bequest of American Swiftian AC Elias. Photograph: NLI Among the mysteries of Swift’s life are the details of his intimate relationships. Hester (or Esther) Johnson, whom Swift named Stella, met Swift in 1689; they became lifelong companions, so much so that there were rumours of marriage. Discover the Dean Trinity College Dublin is marking the 350th anniversary of Jonathan Swift’s birth this year with a number of activities. The Royal Irish Academy and the National Library have also collaborated. The record of his final year exam reveals that he was male (bad) in philosophy and negligenter in theology, a subject he never cared for even in later life. Swift’s snuff box To reimagine Swift’s Dublin, the Library of Trinity College Dublin has curated a collaborative online exhibition which draws on artifacts relevant to Swift from Trinity and other Dublin institutions: St Patrick’s Cathedral, where Swift was Dean; Marsh’s Library, the oldest public library in Ireland, and much frequented by Swift at the time; and St Patrick’s Hospital, which was built thanks to a bequest left by Swift. He entered College …

Broken relentlessly maps the landscape of everyday suffering

It would have probably been more interesting (and more believable) if McGovern had eschewed the easy trope of the local priest and the church-going community to express this. There is nothing in Jimmy McGovern’s Broken that audiences haven’t seen before. This is a landscape of everyday suffering – of dealing with the distress of frantically renegotiating direct debits, the shame of damp clothes and the embarrassed faces of her children heading to school without lunches all shown with unflinching directness. There is no sugar-coating, no hollow laughter, no Frank Gallagher can-drinking wisdom. In a piece that prides itself on its resolute authenticity, the clunky segue into the backgrounds of other characters lives as seen through the confessional box may be a dramatic contrivance too far. There may be nothing that original in Broken, but these are stories and images that need to be seen again and again to remind us that nothing much has really changed since the days of Cathy Come Home or Kes, and as Britain goes to the polls, it’s asking the important, timely question (that resonates close to home) – how long can lives remain so broken? Although he has his own fractured psyche to deal with that leaks out in a series of flashbacks to classrooms with paint peeling from the walls and snug family homes that cannot hide their pain. In fact, the only mild diversion comes from Sean Bean’s craggy, kindly priest, Fr Kerrigan, who almost takes on a saintly glow such is his generous involvement in his parishioners lives. This is ‘it’s grim up North’ writ large, even Happy Valley and This is England in their abject misery managed to have more sparky one-liners. It’s there in the shocking realism of early Ken Loach, it’s there in the smoky corners of Mike Leigh films, the social dramas of the Dardenne brothers, a lineage of tired women as piously put upon as the Virgin Mary. The tears, the wringing exhaustion of a woman teetering on the edge, gripping her children’s hands, winding them down the rainy pathways. With the emphasis on faith, as Christina angrily lashes out at Fr Kerrigan, telling him that it was attending her child’s Holy Communion rehearsals that got her fired and beaten and who knows what next, it asks is there room for faith in lives that are absent of hope? Friel is a lost television wonder, an …

How a tweet about Rihanna became a movie starring Rihanna

I'm down if you are @rihanna https://t.co/vwHBWeCbFZ— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) April 21, 2017 I'm in Pit'z https://t.co/Kz0o3lBEmL— Rihanna (@rihanna) April 23, 2017 When it emerged that those films wouldn’t go into French cinemas, the festival banned such entries in future years. Remember how odd it seemed when House of Cards, the company’s first big series, arrived all in one great lump? Rather than buying up existing cities, Netflix is building its own structures in the fertile frontier soil. We assume The Crown – which costs more to run than the real royal family – is doing well because it is scheduled to run until the 23rd century. It was very free. Netflix shrugged and moved on. The California Gold Rush is probably the better example. Stock is up and the company is now valued at more than $70 billion. They had two films in the competition. We assume that Baz Luhrmann’s militantly appalling hip-hop saga The Get Down is doing badly because it just got cancelled. So we don’t know what’s doing well and what’s doing badly. For now, can I interest you in a sitcom based on this tweet featuring my cat in a waistcoat? It was very American. We don’t see ratings. Netflix gave it to us all at once. If I knew what it was, I’d be constructing it myself. When will the gold rush end? Eventually, something still unexpected and unprecedented will cut the digital ground from under Netflix feet. Failure doesn’t mean what it used to. Even before the news about the new film emerged, the company had caused seven layers of havoc in Cannes. Seven layers of havoc Netflix have no respect for existing models. Pedro Almodóvar, president of the Jury, essentially said that he wouldn’t allow either film to win in 2017 (sure enough, no prizes went the way of either The Meyerowitz Stories or Okja). Telly was still expected to be tied to a staggered broadcast schedule. Rihanna looks like she scams rich white men and lupita is the computer smart best friend that helps plan the scans https://t.co/PhWs1xd3nj— kateria 🌸 (@1800SADGAL) April 18, 2017 More than a few proposed Ava DuVernay, the director of Selma, as the ideal person to get behind the camera. In April, a Tumblr user posted a photograph of Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o in the front row of a 2014 fashion show. The OPEC oil boom of …

New horse museum to put Fethard on the tourist map

[We] looked for ways to regenerate the town and with the involvement and support of the local community came up with the idea to establish a museum and position the town as a tourist destination.” The skeleton of multiple horseracing champion sire Sadler’s Wells, on display at the Fethard Horse Country Experience in Co Tipperary The museum includes an interactive exhibition which has, among its many attractions, the skeleton of multiple horseracing champion sire Sadler’s Wells, the horse which did much to elevate Coolmore Stud to where it is today. “Fethard is the most important medieval small walled town in Ireland and this state-of-the-art visitor attraction enhances Fethard’s wonderful tapestry and makes it an unmissable stop on Ireland’s Ancient East,” Mr O’Sullivan said. “The town hall has been lovingly restored and it is the perfect canvas to showcase Fethard’s rich history. Opening hours at Fethard Horse Country Experience are 10am-4pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Housed in a 400-year-old building which has previously been home to a courthouse, a fire station, a scout unit, and even discos and pantomimes, the museum is the product of a €1.6 million investment seeking to bring to life both the local history and the evolution of Ireland’s world-class bloodstock industry. ‘Regenerate’ The idea for the project came from the Fethard Business and Tourism Group, whose chairman Jimmy O’Sullivan said: “Fethard, like many towns across rural Ireland, was hit quite badly by the recession. Long-time resident composer Andrew Lloyd Webber joined with Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe on Tuesday night and hundreds of local people and visitors to officially open the Fethard Horse Country Experience in Co Tipperary. Champion trainer Other attendees at the opening included champion trainer Aidan O’Brien and Alice Leahy, Fethard native and director of the Alice Leahy Trust who has worked with the most vulnerable in society for many years. fhcexperience.ie Fethard is the nearest town to the world-famous Coolmore Stud, and the Magnier family are among the private donors to the museum, while public funding came from Fáilte Ireland, Tipperary County Council and the Leader programme. Through Kiltinan Castle Stud my wife and I feel a close affinity to the horse culture which is an intrinsic part of this area.” When he first arrived in Fethard 25 years ago Lloyd Webber was “blown away” by the town and its people, he said, paying tribute to the dedication and work put in by …

Book Club podcast: EM Reapy on Red Dirt

For a trio of young Irish people emigrating in the wake of the financial crash, Australia represents both a land of opportunity and a vast, unforgiving place where they find they can’t escape themselves. This is the world of working visas, “hellish eternal house parties”, outback farms and guilty freedoms portrayed by EM Reapy in her compelling debut novel Red Dirt. In this podcast, recorded at the Irish Writers Centre, Reapy explains how the award-winning book was partly inspired by the Irish people she met during her own time in Australia. The Mayo writer discusses how Red Dirt, a novel with themes of moral responsibility, self-destruction and generational rage at its heart, evolved as a project and what’s next for her as a writer. Check out the series of articles about Red Dirt here. Book Club podcast

Electric island: Open Ear festival goes back to Sherkin

Last year’s event was received positively by the locals, so Open Ear are looking to expand that relationship by highlighting the history, ecology and biodiversity of the island through tours. The next morning, they talked to the owners Kathy and Mike, and an idea developed for a festival of “experimental, ambient, electronica, neo-classical, hip hop/beats, techno, noise and more”, as the first edition put it. There is so much clutter living in the city, when you reach an island it releases a lot of that tension.” Open Ear takes place this weekend on Sherkin. “Many festivals in Ireland – and this is in no way a criticism, it’s just how things are at the moment – rely on international artists to be the main pull, but we want it to be about the Irish artists. With its official population of 106 as per the 2006 Census, and as one of the most southerly points off the island, Sherkin is an ideal place for music on the fringe, as the Open Ear festival organiser Chris Chapman established with the first edition of the festival on the island last year. “When inviting artists to play at the festival we ask them to stay for the whole weekend. The range of music is wider than its first edition, and all the performers are Irish. If music festivals in the 21st century serve as societal escapism, a music festival on a faraway island can enhance that feeling through its distance, space and time from daily life. We put them up and feed and water them for the whole three days. “There is a unique beauty to the island, the landscapes, the way the festival site looks out onto the sea, facing away from the mainland towards other islands in the area, which is rather special.” Leg of Lamb The idea for Open Ear started when Chapman and his friends were camping on the island. Chapman says that the islanders’ way of life and attitude is a reminder of what many metropolis dwellers lack. Rain ushered a failure to cook a leg of lamb, and, soaked, the friends checked in to the nearby North Shore Island Accommodation. Ireland has nearly 600 islands off its coast, and the larger ones like Valentia, Aran, Rathlin, Clare Island and Arranmore are among the islands which recently hosted music festivals. For every Fyre Festival aimed at affluent influencer-baited lifestyle …

Bank Holiday guide: from Bloom to Forbidden Fruit and more

Irish farmers will pit their sheep shearing skills against competitors from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and France at the second All-Ireland and All-Nations sheep shearing and wool handling competition. JC MUSIC: TRAD Nyah at the Fleadh Kilnaleck Hall, Cavan 7.30m €20 086-8173153 Never a county to think small, Cavan’s irrepressible Nyah shenanigans continue this bank holiday weekend with as impressive a line up as you’ll encounter this summer. This weekend’s top events include Boats and Bites in Cork city, the Whitegate regatta, the Cork Fab Food trail, a youth circus open day, stand-up paddle boarding taster sessions at Lee Fields, kids’ crab fishing, the Spike Island heritage evening, family orienteering, photography safaris and the 40km and 100km Cork Harbour Cycle (see Monday’s events). MD FESTIVAL AVA T13 Belfast 1pm £65/£40 (also Sat) avafestival.com It’s the third time out for AVA and they’ve truly hit new heights this year. Finally, Tony Lattimer makes large clay sculptures using a coiling technique. Cat Dowling  The festival has been located in various areas within Co Louth since its inception in 2010, but this is its second year at Beaulieu House, a fine heritage property located by the banks of the River Boyne. Two hundred competitors will shear 2,200 sheep over the two days at St Brigid’s GAA club in Roscommon. As line-ups go, this is one to relish with Jeff Mills and Guillaume Marmin’s Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind audio-visual show topping the bill. Whirlpool by Tony Lattimer Matthew Lanyon who, sadly, died last year, was a son of the renowned Peter Lanyon of St Ives School fame. When he wasn’t in the studio, he was behind the decks in spots like the Limelight, Studio 54, Stardust Ballroom and other Big Apple staples. Sounds pretty perfect. JC DISCO LEGEND John Morales Pyg Dublin 7pm €10 pyg.ie (also Electric Galway Sunday) John Morales John Morales is one of the founding fathers of the disco re-edit business. The Bronx native started out in the 1970s spinning in local clubs before producing his own extended mixes or edits in a very old-fashioned way using tape and razor blades around 1975. No dogs, no cars, no campervans and children are not allowed after dark. The race starts on Fitzwilliam Street Upper and finishes on Baggot Street. When you go back to Drone Logic, it’s Avery’s talent for joining up techno’s dark energy and experimental electronica’s various plotlines which …

House of Cards: An ‘FU’ to Thatcher gave birth to Frank Underwood

Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart in the original BBC series House of Cards. Dobbs puts this down to the fact that the show is not really about politics at all. Events suddenly happen. All we’re saying is we’re going to make the rules now without being told from Brussels what these rules are.” Come what may We met after the general election campaign had started but before Theresa May’s wobble over the Conservative manifesto and the narrowing of her poll lead. House of Cards returns this week for a fifth season, triggering its annual epidemic of binge-viewing and bleary-eyed mornings for millions around the world. And I actually think right now, that’s probably a good thing.” Dobbs acknowledges that May suffers from a lack of experience beyond the Home Office and from having become prime minister so quickly. And even if she wins the election and the Brexit negotiations go well, May will be vulnerable to the pitfalls that face every politician in power. It’s not about politics. But how can House of Cards come up with anything as dramatic as the reality in Washington, where Donald Trump as president is threatening to tear up the entire world order? The only way we will survive and flourish after Brexit is by opening up and becoming a truly internationalist place with a view about the entire world,” he said. And why should I? “And right now, after we had David Cameron, we had Tony Blair, both of whom were PR operators. So instead of politicians running around after the press, the press is now running around after the politician. When he moved back to London in 1977, Dobbs went to work for the Conservative Party as an adviser to Thatcher when she was leader of the opposition. “In fiction, you know, you require your characters to act reasonably rationally and sanely and in their own best interest. I always say that when you write fiction, what you do is that you take reality and then you water it down. There’s no point in my trying to interfere with them. Who gives a monkey’s about what bill they’re working on? In life, they never do. Initial thoughts A few months later, out of politics and licking his wounds, Dobbs wrote the initials FU on a piece of paper, giving birth to Francis Urquhart and eventually Frank Underwood. He was born in Hertfordshire …

After Manchester, enhanced security will be the new normal at live music events

This should not put people off going to live gigs, nor should it give security firms a free pass to be heavy-handed with audience members. But the attack took place just outside the venue and showed that no amount of venue security procedures and methodology can thwart someone who sees a target with 21,000 people inside. You’ll hear and read many grumbles about the confiscation of umbrellas and water bottles at admission points and how security hold-ups cause long delays. The venue security did their job in preventing the bomber getting inside the building, but he still managed to murder 22 innocent people. What we have to accept is that venue security is now an issue that no one can be complacent about. All talked about how the inevitable increase in costs which will occur because of all of this will be passed onto fans in the form of a hike in ticket prices. Such scrutiny is further heightened when it comes to festivals and big outdoor shows, with security forming a huge part of the pre-event planning and budgeting. There are also examples of over-zealous security behaviour to consider. But, regardless of who’s on the stage, security is now a fact of life when we go out for the night. They had taken the action for defamation, assault, wrongful arrest and false imprisonment after security burst into their tent during the 2015 festival to search their belongings. The Manchester Arena is a very well-run operation and is one of the most popular venues on the circuit for touring acts due to its capacity and location. It will be interesting to see how gig-goers will react to the enhanced security at live-music events, something we’re sure to see in the coming months, especially during the busy summer festival season. As with the murderous attack on the Bataclan venue in Paris during a show by the Eagles of Death Metal in 2014, a show attended by people who simply want to see a band or pop act has proven to be an easy target for terrorists. We’re back to the opening paragraph again. Some of the live-music sources this writer spoke to stressed that the focus will now be on making the perimeter of a venue more secure to prevent incidents like the Manchester attack from taking place again. The horrific events following the Ariana Grande show at the Manchester Arena …

Early music – and earlier start times – for RTÉ NSO’s new season

Other firsts include Thai composer Narong Prangcharoen’s Phenomenon on April 27th; the programme also includes Storm Large – yes, the Pink Martini Storm Large – in Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins. Australian composer and viola player Brett Dean, a former member of the Berlin Philharmonic, is the soloist in his own Viola Concerto on January 19th under Olari Elts. The season brochure cuts some corners, to the point of omitting the actual cost of season tickets (just the amount of the savings is given), and background on music and musicians – a major selling point in most season brochures – is mostly non-existent. The Fifth Symphony is on February 23rd, when German cellist Alban Gerhardt returns to play the Elgar Cello Concerto, and the Choral Symphony is in the season’s closing concert, when the evening opens with a rare opportunity to hear Brahms’s Nänie, a consolatory setting of Schiller. It seems likely that one person’s gain will be another person’s loss, so it will be interesting to see what change, if any, the move has on attendances. Hindson’s work is featuring in the orchestra’s repertoire for the first time. Booking for full season subscriptions is now open at nch.ie; for part-season subscriptions it opens on June 2nd, and for single concerts on June 9th.  mdervan@irishtimes.com Mexican pianist Jorge Federico Osorio tackles two piano concertos, Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain and Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand under Carlos Miguel Prieto on November 10th. The reason given is the desire to “align our concert start time with cultural institutions such as the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and Abbey Theatre”, and although Long says “key stakeholders” were consulted, I have spoken to long-standing season subscribers to whom the development came as a surprise. Stutzmann’s five concerts include more Beethoven. The programme is being given twice, at 7pm and 8.45pm, and all tickets will be free. Brahms’s First Symphony is paired with Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto (soloist not yet announced) on April 20th, and Mozart’s Requiem is coupled with Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration on December 1st. And there’s more doubling up on November 24th when Danish-Israeli violinist Nikolaj Znaider is both soloist and conductor in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.  Only two of the concerts announced will be heard outside of Dublin. Another development is the orchestra’s Culture Night programme on September 22nd, which this year is conducted by Robert Trevino and includes …

Maeve Brennan is feted in her adopted homeland

The evening’s special guest was singer-songwriter Richard Barone, who sang Changes by Phil Ochs, from his latest album Sorrows and Promises: Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Eugene O’Neill was another local, basing his character Hugo Kalmar in his play The Iceman Cometh on local anarchist writer and waiter Hippolyte Havel, who declared that “Greenwich Village is a spiritual zone of mind. Happily, Brennan is now enjoying a renaissance in the US, where she arrived, aged 17, in 1934, after Eamon de Valera appointed her father, Robert Brennan, to the Irish Legation in Washington. Angela Bourke put Brennan’s life in context. An Evening of Words and Music with Maeve Brennan and Friends took place at the Washington Square Hotel, a boutique family business in the heart of Greenwich Village which Brennan – who lived there for two periods in the 1950s and ’60s – knew as the Hotel Earle. He was inspired by the Dublin Writers Museum and the National Library’s Yeats and Joyce exhibitions. Emilie Conway. The project has been welcomed by local business and cultural associations. She spent much of her adult life in that part of the city – perhaps finding in the bohemian streets around Washington Square an echo of Dublin, and even of Ranelagh, where she had spent her childhood. Emilie Conway, Angela Bourke and Cathy Belton feature in a celebration of Maeve Brennan in words and music at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, on September 12th RADA-trained Irish-American actress Kelly Letourneau was surely born to play Brennan. No less a figure than John Updike declared that Brennan “put New York back into the New Yorker” where, in 1949, she was appointed to a coveted staff job by William Shawn, its legendary managing editor. She quoted her statement: “Home is a place in the heart: when it is empty, it frets”, tracing the theme of home all the way from fiction set in Ranelagh Village to Brennan’s lyrical and metaphorical explorations of that idea in Greenwich Village. The Village Trip, of which John Sorensen is artistic director, aims to celebrate the history, culture and counterculture of Greenwich Village, the crucible of American culture where innumerable figures from arts and politics lived and worked, among them Thomas Paine, Edith Wharton, Henry James, Edward Hopper, Edward Albee, Isadora Duncan, John Reed, Merce Cunningham, Allen Ginsberg, Dorothy Day, Pete Seeger and Patti Smith. By the time she died in …

Girls in fiction: not just a fairy princess

Frida Kahlo, for example, looks like a Matryoshka marionette. And when characters were not assigned a gender, parents reading to their children tended to assign one: male. The theme of struggle dominates across the centuries, from Cleopatra to Hillary Clinton. Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls (Penguin, £17.99, 5+) aims to counter this gender bias by providing 100 female role models – from history, from ballerinas to boxers, pirates to politicians, spies to sports stars – in a series of short bedtime tales. Sara Keating reviews children’s books for The Irish Times Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls would be a valuable addition to the bookshelves of any child interested in history, regardless of their gender. Where female characters were the protagonists, meanwhile, the majority of them were princess or fairies. This question is the motivation behind several new books for young readers, which draw from real life and modern history to illustrate the wide array of significant roles that women have played across the fields of the arts, science, exploration and sport. Hancock’s language sings with the cadence of African American idioms, and the vivid colour pallette and varied typographical styles help to make each nightclub set look different. The women’s personal stories are presented in near-fairytale form – it is full of “many years ago” and “there was a time” – and this greatly enlivens the biographical format. The story, meanwhile, reaches beyond feminist empowerment to illuminate a broader appeal to equality, and the final page emphasises the importance of friendship: a refreshingly achievable ideal. In a recent study of more than 5,000 children’s books, 25 per cent had no female characters, while those that were female were found to be silent observers rather than active participants in the story. Favilli and Cavallo’s goal may be the empowerment of young girls, but the key message is perseverance rather than success. The subjects are drawn from the late 19th and 20th centuries, and include Maya Angelou, Agatha Christie, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart and Coco Chanel. Crucially, the book also gives exposure to female illustrators. Children look to books for confirmation of their identity and aspirations. The language and structure is simple enough for young readers, while a biographical timeline at the end of each book offers greater historical complexity. The very youngest perusers of picturebooks, meanwhile, will love the rounded features of Fan Eng’s doll-like characters. …

House of Cards: He’s much better than the actual US president

It is, in many ways, a relic from the olden times, the long-ago, the time before the Trumpening, when people believed that to manipulate your way to the apex of political power, you needed to be a career civil servant who understood the intricacies of America’s institutions, not just a blowhard in a distressed wig who dresses like a president at parties. Anyway, I’m digressing. But maybe that’s missing the point. They had a rocky time last year but during an episode in the new season, where Frank sits conferring with Claire as she lies in bed with her speechwriting lover, there’s a tenderness that’s absent from more conventional television romances. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as Frank and Claire Underwood in the new series of House of Cards: Photograph: Netflix And what a wonderful marriage Frank and Claire Underwood have. Manipulate me Frank! I’ve tried looking off into the distance in the middle of meetings to scheme aloud in the past, but they’ve noticed that). They’re like little children, Claire. Look at Frank and Claire as they scheme their way towards an end to term limits and the ownership of a dying superpower. The joy of House of Cards is the joy of watching clever baddies manipulating naive voters and less amoral underlings. I suspect the most dangerous politicians actually believe that they’re saintly President Josiah Bartlet – even if they’re a bunch of weasels in a rubber man suit. It’s a fantasy of control. In reality, of course, Frank is a schmuck’s idea of what an evil genius looks like. President Underwood certainly makes a contrast with Trump. Underwood tells it like it is. If they are anyone, they’re the Clintons as seen on right-wing conspiracy sites – murderous embodiments of the “deep state” manipulating a nation via fake news. Unlike Trump, who veers from one policy non-sequitur to the next as his fizzing synapses decay, the Underwoods play a Machiavellian long game. My wife and I certainly do, and if you’ve been following my writing you’ll know we’ve been manipulating my nefarious ascent through the hierarchy of The Irish Times for some time now (Don’t worry – none of my colleagues reads this column, I view writing it much like Frank breaking the fourth wall. Presidential overreach So our anti-heroes launch into a vigorous round of plotting, some elements of which are conveniently familiar. The appeal of House …

Paul Ricoeur: The philosopher behind Emmanuel Macron

I think that Abel is right about this. Yet his most famous student Emmanuel Macron is being credited with doing just that, having secured an election victory that has calmed nerves in Brussels and Berlin after the UK’s Brexit vote. It too, utopian thought, is usually spoken of in pejorative terms. I would say that that is very Ricoeurian. Aristotle got it wrong: We have a lot more than five senses French philosopher Paul Ricoeur. “I find it helpful, in answering this question, to think back over some of the things that have been said in Paris recently about that connection. “However, if I am right about this, we may need to think of Macron not as a centrist but rather as some kind of radical, as someone who wants to get to the roots of French social and political life in order to safeguard a fragile shared identity.” ****** Ask a sage: Question: Why get out of bed in the morning? Utopian thought, as Ricoeur understood it, serves an important critical function “He believed that political discourse and political practice contained a second ineliminable element, which had the power to challenge and correct the distorting effects of ideology. point to what is wrong with the current models and allow us to describe what should exist in their place.” “But utopian thought carries its own risks, oscillating as it does between the anarchic destruction of all reliable political practices and the tyranny of a would-be superior wisdom. Precisely what Macron will deliver remains unclear but there’s no doubt he has been heavily influenced by Ricoeur, with whom he worked for two years before leaving academia and becoming an investment banker. And he would certainly see Macron as someone with that skill. “Ricoeur was deeply conscious of the fact that this remarkable dialectic of ideology and utopia made politics inherently fragile.” Does the presidency of Emmanuel Macron – a centrist who wants to overcome the left-right divide – show signs of being influenced by Ricoeur? And yet, there are some interesting passages on ideology in that book. He suggests that the first place to look for a line of influence is in Macron’s political rhetoric. These are going to be distortions of reality. “However, there are still a number of areas where reading Ricoeur could lead a person to find fault with Macron. “Our utopian accounts of family, government, forms of …

Peadar Ó Guilín: waiting for the call

It is a day in their world, but only three minutes in human time – and most do not survive. The Inferior, his first YA novel and the beginning of an unsettling trilogy, was published10 years ago; he’s also written and published various short stories. Several scenes in The Call reference my time in boarding school: the long driveway with the crows in the trees; the way the children cluster around the radiators on cold days He considers himself a speculative fiction writer first and foremost: “If anything drags me out of bed in the morning, it’s the chance to create new worlds. His latest YA novel, The Call, is one of 10 titles shortlisted for the YA Book Prize. That means that for the best part of a year, I’m writing purely to please myself.” Sometimes it doesn’t work out – “more than once I’ve emerged triumphantly clutching a manuscript that nobody else likes,” he recalls. So I know I’ve been lucky.” Lucky may not quite account for its presence on other shortlists, including the 2017 CBI Book of the Year, but Ó Guilín has been at this for a while. “In The Call, the Sídhe are real and are kidnapping our teenagers. It’s a pretty standard technique used by science fiction writers, as well as being an enjoyable mental exercise in its own right.” At the same time, world-building doesn’t mean planning everything out before he begins. “On one hand it’s brilliant that a well-read group of judges have listed The Call in their top ten YA books of the year,” he says. Ó Guilín may well feel himself under pressure to – much like the Eurovision in the 1990s – maintain Ireland’s legacy with the prize. To give them the best possible chance, schools are now places where one learns to fight, although some elements of the traditional boarding school motif remain. I tried to imagine all the ways such a situation might influence Irish society” The threat in question, the mythical Sídhe, “call” each Irish teenager to them in their turn. Her latest YA novel is Like Other Girls (Hot Key Books) Peadar Ó Guilín is a writer of whom there are great expectations. Our customs and language? “On the plus side, my editors and my beta-readers don’t have to waste their time on endless early drafts.” This solitary impulse doesn’t extent to all areas of …

RHA Annual Exhibition 2017: A big, noisy, good-natured show

One of the duties of the annual exhibition is to pay its respects to those who have died during the past year. All this for free, though visitors are invited to make some contribution to the academy. Around 1,400 artists submitted 2,476 works, of which 321 pieces made it through. So this year the percentage commission on sales has been raised to 40 per cent, which is a sensible move especially since early indications are that sales are shaping up to be quite good, despite the subdued state of the Irish art market in recent years. A distinct move towards quasi-photographic portrait paintings in the worst sense. Her project title is Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? It is some surprise, perhaps, to see a leading artist in a decidedly non-representational tradition, Dorothy Cross, become an associate: it’s another indication of how the organisation is evolving. And the ingenuity of Michael Cullen and Liam Belton, who find a place for everything. In the end, you may not warm to any particular surprise, but it’s good to be challenged. All of which fits comfortably enough into the building, so long as you include stairwells, the lobby and any other in-between spaces. Inevitably, as you make your way through this art marathon, you will come upon more than one piece that prompts the question: How on earth did that make it past the selection committee? RHA members, associates and guests don’t run the gauntlet of the open call process, but they exhibit and add them, and the total number of works in the show exceeds 550, edging closer to 600 if you add works shown in tribute to deceased academicians. RHA 187th Annual Exhibition, RHA Gallagher Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin Until August 12th. The academy has never appeared to be as well organised, lively and enterprising as it is now Visit the RHA and you can see close to 600 artworks by people who have worked really hard to get there. That is a good thing. Hyper-real does not mean better. The catalogue includes obituaries of associate council members including the writer Anthony Cronin, the art historian Anne Crookshank and the painter Basil Blackshaw, plus two members who were both fine artists, John Coyle and John Long. It is no surprise to see a leading representational painter, Blaise Smith, elected to the academy. Miranda Blennerhassett’s grid-patterned, site-specific, stairwell installation is probably a departure …

House of Cards: there’s something comforting about this brand of calculating evil

I suspect the most dangerous politicians actually believe that they’re saintly President Josiah Bartlet – even if they’re a bunch of weasels in a rubber man suit. As series five begins, Frank’s power is still under threat from hunky Republican challenger Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman). There’s an immigration ban. Meanwhile, in the “real world”, what we can see in the Trump administration and Brexit is not the clever machinations of a malevolent intelligence, but the meaningless offspring of inequality, ideological decay, bad faith, stupidity and informational chaos. Furthermore, Frank Underwood is played by Kevin Spacey, who seems to know all of his lines, whereas Trump is played by several weasels in a rubber man suit, who prefer shrieking incoherently and can’t remember any policies. And for good or evil (mainly evil), isn’t that some thought at times like these? Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, the fantasy Democratic president of the Trumpocalyse So the political world is, I think, more accurately shown in dramas such as David Simon’s Show Me a Hero, in which policies are a product of messily competing interests, or comedies such as Veep, in which short-term opportunism and incidental idiocy override any long-term vision. Yes, the couple that malevolently schemes together stays together. Conway is a well-meaning, soulful war hero with skeletons in the closet (possibly literal ones), a perfect Penelope Pitstop for Dastardly and Muttley to thwart. Presidential overreach So our anti-heroes launch into a vigorous round of plotting, some elements of which are conveniently familiar. Unlike Trump, who veers from one policy non-sequitur to the next as his fizzing synapses decay, the Underwoods play a Machiavellian long game. I’ve tried looking off into the distance in the middle of meetings to scheme aloud in the past, but they’ve noticed that). There’s some voter repression, some presidential overreach and some false-flag operations in which Frank fakes terrorist incidents in order to dominate the news cycle and threaten polling day. Look at Frank and Claire as they scheme their way towards an end to term limits and the ownership of a dying superpower. It’s a fantasy of control. Also, House of Cards’ stately and reassuring piano and trumpet soundtrack compares starkly with the theme music of the Trump administration, which is, as you know, an oompah-pah tuba, two half-coconut shells and a slide whistle. They stoke fears of the Isis-like terrorists who dominated the finale of season four, …

Death of a debut: the publisher that let Heaney slip away

March 16th, 1998: Letter from Thomas Kinsella to Dillon Johnston : “… there must be some traces of the alleged rejection of Heaney…” October 28th, 2001: Letter from Thomas Kinsella to Dillon Johnston: “… Could I ask again for a photocopy of Liam’s letters rejecting Heaney…” December 28th, 2001: Letter from Dillon Johnston to Thomas Kinsella : “… I have looked through every box that might reasonably contain this letter… I can find no letter…” March 15th, 2002: Letter from Dillon Johnston to Thomas Kinsella: “… I wish I had the answer to your question about the Heaney rejection by Dolmen. Educational and university publishers issued occasional titles, and there was a nationalist and a religious press. Did he discuss the manuscript with you? Miller was glad to add this to the body of new Irish poetry gathering around the press. Photograph: Jack McManus In its early years the Dolmen Press had a family character: young poets in Dublin were warmly welcomed. Austin Clarke, Mervyn Wall, secretary of the Arts Council, and Liam Miller on March 3rd, 1967 at the launch of Clarke’s Old Fashioned Pilgrimage. Was he in touch with Heaney at all? In the poem, The Sounds of Rain: “The eaves a water fringe and steady lash Of summer downpours : You are steeped in luck. But they didn’t, they sent back the poems and I went on to a new track. Can you shed any light on why no offer was made? It has been suggested that Liam Miller may have been somewhat disorganised, and this may have been at the bottom of the failure to make an offer to Heaney to publish his work. Copies would, however, be kept on the sender’s file. We knew we were fortunate to have a publisher in Ireland; creative writers at that time were dependent totally on English publishers. I don’t think he was interested in publication by Dolmen. For more see: Seamus Heaney 1939-2013 Seamus Heaney’s first collection, published by Queen’s University, Belfast in 1965 Seamus Heaney’s debut Faber collection, much of which was in the manuscript sent to Dolmen I was accepted into the workings of the press from our joint beginnings; permitted to set up my own first book; admiring Miller’s great energy and skill, operating from a crude beginning, in a difficult place and at a difficult time. There was no question of payment. And I have a …