Joseph Plunkett’s Easter Rising medal is back on sale

The Easter Rising medal posthumously awarded to Joseph Plunkett, one of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation, is to go on sale with a much-reduced reserve next month. Only that awarded posthumously to Patrick Pearse is in State ownership. In the 1940s, the Irish government awarded medals to the next-of-kin of people who had died in the Rising. Pearse letter A surrender letter written by Patrick Pearse – valued at up to €1.5 million also failed to sell in Dublin earlier this month. Now the unnamed vendor has slashed the price and it will go under the hammer in Whyte’s auctioneers January 27th sale of historical collectibles in Dublin with a median estimate of €50,000. The market peaked a year ago when an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation made a hammer price of £250,000 (€291,000) at auction in London. Dublin-born, Jesuit-educated Plunkett was executed by the British authorities in Dublin on May 4th, 1916, for his role in the Rising. Irish buyer pays €37,000 for Cromwellian porridge bowl Sir William Orpen archive bought by National Gallery of Ireland Going, going, not going: Pearse letter must stay in Ireland for a year But during the last year, three of six further copies of the Proclamation offered for sale have failed to find buyers and the last one to appear at auction made just €150,000. Last spring, just ahead of the centenary commemorations, the medal had been valued at up to €100,000 but failed to sell at auction. ADVERTISEMENT It was retrieved by a friend, Cathal Gannon who she told could keep it. Plunkett’s medal was sent to his widow but, according to Mr Whyte, “she threw the medal into her dustbin” because she was hostile to the government. Mr Gannon later gave the medal as a gift to the current, unnamed owner who is selling it. Auctioneer Ian Whyte said it was “an opportunity to buy a key piece of 1916- memorabilia at half-price”. He was allowed to marry his fiancée Grace Gifford a few hours before his execution in Kilmainham Gaol. The drop in value will alarm collectors who have bought Easter Rising collectibles in recent years. Six of the medals awarded to the next-of-kin of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation are still in private hands. He had fought in the GPO and was one of seven leaders who had signed the Proclamation of the Irish …

U2 earn $55m in 12 months, according to Forbes

They raked in the cash from the tail-end of their On The Road Again tour and endorsement deals with Pepsi and Colgate, Forbes said. The latest male saviour of womankind They comfortably defeated footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who came second on the list with earnings of $88 million and singing superstar Adele, who brought in $80.5 million between June 2015 and June 2016. Tennis proved to be a lucrative sport with Swiss star Roger Federer taking fourth place on the list with $68 million and Serbian champion Novak Djokovic coming in eighth with $56 million. Boy band One Direction topped the list of the highest paid European celebrities, despite spending the year on hiatus. Forbes calculated the ranking based on numbers from Nielsen, Pollstar, Box Office Mojo, Songkick and IMDB, as well as interviews with industry insiders and some of the stars in question. The group, who spent the last 12 months pursuing solo projects, topped the Forbes list after bringing in $110 million over 12 months. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay completed the top 10 with his $54 million. Irish band U2 made $55 million (€52.4m) in 2016, according to Forbes. PA Bono and The Edge invest in Dublin food-tech start-up Nuritas Bono, the most hated woman in Ireland Bono, woman of the year? British musicians dominated the list with the Rolling Stones’ relentless touring contributing to their $66.5 million.DJ Calvin Harris earned in $63 million while Beatles star Sir Paul McCartney picked up $56.5 million.

Here’s what I’m not giving up, what I will continue to to

There are many resolutions a pop writer like muggins here could make at this time of year. Less awful, more awesome. ADVERTISEMENT Much of the pop game has changed (although we still have the album, by the way), but the way of covering the pop game remains stubbornly the same as it was when those OGs from the 1970s were starting out with their notebooks, tape-recorders and access-all-areas passes. Readers don’t want what they can find anywhere else or work out on their own. I could resolve never ever to confidently predict that a gig is not going to sell out when, in fact, 80,000 fans head off and buy a ticket for Guns ’N’ Roses’ forthcoming Irish show within 24 hours of the same items going on sale. Stop writing about ticket touts and the secondary ticketing market, for example. Meanwhile, the rise and rise of the surprise album drop has rendered a lot of our trade null and void. Then again, do you really want another of those anodyne, banal, beige, dull and colourless writers praising every single Irish release which comes his or her way? And it’s those readers who should be our core audience. It’s time for all in the pop-writing business to cop on that the game has changed. Readers want context and colour and smartness and insights. Another resolution which might make life easier would be to stop writing about certain things. So the resolution for 2017 is about adding more contextual width and depth, as opposed to the current additional width and depth from a season of over-eating and feasting on chocolate Kimberleys. Perhaps the resolution for 2017 should really be to stop writing about pop full stop. Less snark, more positivity. That would be a fairly good resolution to make. Stop thinking out loud about how easy it would be to nip this greedy practice in the bud. There’s a resolution which would save me all sorts of aggro and would be a good look in many quarters for 2017, but it’s probably not going to happen. We cover music in a way the hacks of old would recognise: interviews with lads and lasses talking about how and why they make music, reviews of new releases and news stories about stuff which pop stars do. The pop world has changed and it’s up to those of us lucky enough to still make …

Further €500,000 pledged to Russborough House

Plans to sell works by famous artists such as Rubens were met with criticism by some observers last year, with thousands signing a petition which sought to prevent the sales. “Russborough is itself emerging from a difficult financial situation, and I would like to pay tribute to the efforts made by the Alfred Beit Foundation to put the operations of the house on a more sustainable basis,” she added. “This is the first time in a number of years, thanks to the improving economy, that my department has been in a position to provide capital support towards the house,” she said. Now the department has pledged a further €250,000 towards extensive repairs needed for the estate, a figure that will be matched by the Apollo Trust in the UK, according to a statement from Minister for Arts and Heritage Heather Humphreys. The Alfred Beit Foundation, which operates the Co Wicklow attraction, raised the €7 million through the sale of old master paintings from the Beit Collection after concerns were raised over the future of the house. The Alfred Beit Foundation estimates that up to €15 million will be needed to ensure the long-term survival of Russborough House, a property which dates back to the mid-18th century, but said money raised recently will be sufficient to keep it open for the foreseeable future. A further €500,000 has been secured for Russborough House following on from a €7 million fundraising drive by its minders, the Department of Arts and Heritage has confirmed.

Debbie Reynolds: Last surviving star of the great MGM musicals

Debbie Reynolds together again with her daughter Carrie Fisher… pic.twitter.com/PfkgDL7ga1— Michael Fassbender (@Fassbender_Way) December 29, 2016 God speed mama pic.twitter.com/XsO5zqN8w6— Joely Fisher (@MsJoelyFisher) December 28, 2016 Sandwiched between the dynamic Gene Kelly and the irrepressible Donald O’Connor, Reynolds traded moves with the confidence of a veteran, but she was not yet comfortable with stardom. By the time Singin’ in the Rain arrived, the teenager, now renamed Debbie, had already scored a hit record and landed a few supporting roles. Barely 24 hours after Ms Fisher succumbed to a heart attack, Reynolds was admitted to hospital with a severe stroke. At 16 she was named Miss Burbank and walked into a contract with Warner Brothers. Donen’s film remains a near-supernatural marvel. She was the last surviving star of the great MGM musicals that bottled sunshine during the post-war years. The death of Debbie Reynolds was always likely to cause rending of garments among followers of old Hollywood. She died just a few hours later. The news of her passing at the age of 84 is, however, given added poignancy by its following so close on the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. Obituary: Reynolds was prolific, ambitious and resilient Star Wars actor Carrie Fisher dies at age 60 Debbie Reynolds: A life in pictures Ms Reynolds went on to perfect a family-friendly shimmer that still warms the heart. Mary Francis Reynolds, the daughter of a railroad carpenter, entered the world in Texas, but she was raised within spitting distance of Hollywood. Stanley Donen’s Singin’ in the Rain, which propelled her to stardom in 1952, is regularly voted among the greatest of all American films. Famous faces who died in 2016 Debbie Reynolds: A life in pictures Still, I understood that my kind of movie has had its day. The film concerns that time in Hollywood when, during the early days of sound, silent stars were dubbed by more sweetly voiced performers. Her brother Todd followed in 1958. Fisher’s TV show was cancelled in the wake of the scandal. Reynolds married had two further husbands and two further divorces. The social changes of those years nudged Reynolds into veteran status before she’d reached her 40th birthday. “Singin’ in the Rain and childbirth were the two hardest things I ever had to do in my life,” she later said. They ended their lives on good terms. Carrie was born in 1956. She went …

David Kitt: a rare songwriter that prefers to stand in the shadow

“Back then, I was starting to feel like Daniel Johnson; I actually felt that perhaps I was just a bit strange, continuing to make music in my bedroom.” No one was really buying it, he recalls none too cheerfully, and it wasn’t making him a living in any appreciable way. David Kitt is busy. I think I’m a better singer and guitar player than I’ve ever been, so that’s a good feeling. If I was guilty of anything over the years, it was trying to fit too many things into one area. As if to prove this further, he remains the only Irish songwriter we know who has no problem setting up his stall, literally, in Dublin flea markets to sell his wares. It hasn’t always been like that, however. And so he made what he viewed as easy pragmatic decisions to join first Tindersticks and then David Gray’s band as a touring member. I definitely fell out of love with songwriting for a good few years; even singing about your feelings and all of that kind of stuff, which I still find quite strange to do in such a public manner.” There is an argument that releasing Yous on New Year’s Day is a continuation of David Kitt’s stubborn non-engagement with the music industry. We are talking about commerce versus art, and he is referring to his chosen career path, which, he will agree, is as opposite to a following-the-money career route as he can imagine. “Everything that I’ve done from the point I started out has led to being able to figure out what I’ve figured out in the last four years, which is how to separate things. Such time away from his own work gave him much needed creative perspective as well as regular pay cheques. “Following the imagination…” David Kitt says late into our conversation. In truth, Kitt is the rare songwriter that would prefer to stand in the shadows. He is proud, he states, that he stuck at it. David Kitt is in a very good place. Everything is better, Kitt notes, than when he released The Nightsaver (a time he describes as “in many ways, a real scary, S.O.S. Looking back on that period of his life from a safe enough distance, Kitt now views it calmly. Sounds that I’ve been trying to achieve since my first record I’m only really now starting to …

Adam Driver, accidental superstar, on Star Wars, Scorsese and stepping up after 9/11

But you get a little older and your perspective shifts.” As it happened, fate had other ideas for Driver. His religious upbringing proved a useful cornerstone for his role in Silence. He was gutted. Very emotionally available. Always.” – Silence opens January 1st His CV is starting to read like a list of Greatest Living American Directors. “You almost develop an illogical hatred towards civilians because they squander all that free time. The outside world gets more and more distant, the longer you’re in there. You have a faith. I don’t think it’s inaccurate when you say I’ve worked with some of greatest directors. “Yeah,” he says. That wasn’t working out so well for everyone around me. It’s gets harder to relate to those outside.” He pauses. She is not alone in that opinion. It’s weird. Adam Driver hates watching himself so much that he vomited before the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I was not fun to be around, especially on the first month when I tried to do it all on my own. “I ran seven miles a day. Doubting. “Initially, you’re thinking about it. In keeping with his name, he’s driven; words such as “ferocity” and “intense” tend be used by those he works with. Some kind of separation anxiety or something. Wondering: Am I doing this right? “Coming out of the military, you’re very aware of all the things you can fit into a day,” says Driver, who has subsequently founded a non-profit organisation, Arts in the Armed Forces, in order to bring theatre to the troops. “If it had been, I could have asked all I want and I think I would have been shit out of luck. But I can put a project out of my mind as soon as it’s done.” Greatest directors His Girls co-star Lena Dunham noted that even though no one knew him from, well, Adam, everyone was star-struck from his very first audition. And somehow they have. Drank a lot of coffee. ADVERTISEMENT “It was never a formal plan,” he laughs. And the further I get into any shoot, the less I’m able to let go. “A little,” he says. Before being deployed to Iraq, he broke his sternum while riding a mountain bike and, despite frantic attempts at a full physical recovery, he was medically discharged from the army. Growing up in a small-town in Indiana, …

Paper and Ashes, a short story by William Wall

It was a screw-cap. When someone dies they all come pecking. Maybe it was better than I deserved myself. I could see one drifting over the wall. My mum called me after my old dad, didn’t she? I watched him going along the street. It was surprisingly light. ADVERTISEMENT I went to the car park. Chuck it in missus, the tramp said. I looked down over the wall, and the tide was out, and I could just see a shopping trolley in the mud. The tide was coming in. In the midst of life we be in death. It was stupid. It’s just paper isn’t it? Everybody says that about accountants. I’m sorry for your trouble missus, the tramp said. Saddam Hussein. I saw the certs going upriver. So I went down to the river. He had his pyjamas down around his ankles. Now how am I going to prove he’s dead? The sun was shining. He held his hand out low and flat like he was patting a child’s head. Can I call you Saddam? The things were from my handbag. He moved away from the river wall. I’m thinking there was a reason why people used to wear black, like you’re obviously a widow and people show respect. His upper false teeth fell down, and he closed his mouth quickly. Except they don’t know about the death certs, that’s the whole point. He might even drift up some disused sewer and spend the rest of his days hoping nobody would flush. I’m going to be gone for a bit. Or in the fridge with the soups. Even at the funeral they were all laughing behind my back. I don’t remember falling out onto the road, but I remember the sound of a car passing right near me. Or stuck in the bank. That was before he was famous. No. I remember he explained the stock market to me. Those that aren’t owed money. He was still talking. Then I started to think wouldn’t it be even better if I left the urn in a supermarket trolley. I was thinking this was better than he deserved. The tramp pointed up the street, and I saw the boy who hit me. I probably look like just a thirty-five-year-old woman with a handbag full of death certs. I went to the police station first. He cometh up and is cut down …

A digital portrayal of James Joyce’s ‘Portrait’

His debut novel reveals a more complex picture. Joyce’s Dublin has usually been understood as a place of connections, where everyone meets everyone else eventually, either on the streets of the city or in its pubs. At university, he argues even with his closest friend Cranky about nationalism. Like Joyce’s own family, Stephen Dedalus’s family experiences downward social mobility in the novel due to his father’s drinking, general incompetence and neglect. These conflicts around what Joyce would later call “the big words which make us so unhappy” have obscured another isolating force in the novel. Working with acclaimed Irish actor Barry McGovern and his son Sam McGovern and Athena Media they have produced a dynamic multimedia version of the first edition, available free of charge, to celebrate the centenary of its publication on December 29th, 1916 and to illuminate how it speaks to some of the most pressing issues of our time. In the first chapter he is securely rooted within his own family, but through their arguments, even at the Christmas dinner table, politics is intertwined with personal life. ADVERTISEMENT As Stephen grows, like any child, his world changes. As Stephen goes on to school and then university, this pattern of political, religious and eventually aesthetic conflict being deeply imbedded in personal relationships persists. A century after its publication, how can we find new ways of looking at James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man? An unlikely pairing of literature scholars and computer scientists at University College Dublin have come together to map the social networks of Joyce’s characters and have come up with some surprising conclusions. A Portrait of the Artist is full of detailed descriptions of the Dublin of Joyce’s youth, as we follow Stephen Dedalus on his journey of intellectual, emotional and aesthetic transformation. As a schoolboy, he is picked on for liking the poetry of the immoral Byron. Archival photographs from the period give readers a window into the time and place of the novel. It was subsequently released as Joyce’s first novel in New York by BW Huebsch (who also published DH Lawrence and Georges Sorel) on December 29th, 1916, at a time when both nationalism and modernism began to shape a new Ireland. This online, mobile-enabled version invites new readers of Joyce to dip in to his first novel, then read and listen at leisure. In modern parlance Stephen …

‘This story of the young artist and the city which produced and nearly strangled him is as powerful as ever’

What teenage girl would not hate Stephen Dedalus? The veneer of arrogance which had so repulsed me now seems laughably staged, the self-portrait cracked as an aging oil painting and the protagonist achingly vulnerable. ADVERTISEMENT The novel, however, left me cold, and for a few years that word, “cold”, was the one that most readily came to mind when I thought of James Joyce. Published in the same year as the Rising, which would bring independent Ireland into being, Portrait maps very clearly the combination of nationalist naivety, class division, religious repression and social isolation which would shape the following decades and make many young people follow Stephen on the “shortest road to Tara”, via Holyhead. If we’re being honest, I never cared much for Dubliners either. Today is the 100th anniversary of the publication of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I shall try to fly by those nets.” Here was a paradox that Irish culture would struggle with over the next century: to express Ireland might not be the same as serving its most cherished ideas about itself. The book itself probes that uncreated Irish consciousness, asking what a free Irish mind might feel like. Barry McGovern is an actor Gerardine Meaney I really did not like this novel when I first read it in the school library in the 1970s. I played Stephen in Stephen D., Hugh Leonard’s adaptation of Portrait and Stephen Hero at the Abbey, which was Joe Dowling’s first production as artistic director there in 1978. I was a schoolboy at Castleknock at the time, the 1960s. ADVERTISEMENT Much more problematic would be his insistence that he wished to be free not just of king or kaiser but of much of what seemed to constitute that Irish life: “When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. The schoolgirl impatience at the boy who can worship, but not speak to the girl he sees on Dollymount Strand, who “seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird” was followed by anger at the objectification of the girl herself – birdlike, magical, but not really human. So far, so Dedalus. You can find out more at www.nggprojectucd.ie. Gerardine Meaney is professor of cultural theory at the School of …

Challenge is to mark Civil War in same tolerant way as 1916

The national broadcaster understood the public’s appetite for dynamic commemorative events, though even they somewhat underestimated the astonishing numbers wishing to take part. ADVERTISEMENT I have much sympathy with his view that the Proclamation should not be treated uncritically as holy writ, but for all its internal paradoxes and ambiguities, it inarguably became the foundation stone for the 20th-century Independence movement. For the general public, it has provided an opportunity to engage with several strands of 20th-century Irish history, if not with them all. Interestingly, while she visited conflict-torn Cork and Kerry in late summer 1920, Sanger took no pronounced position on the Independence question, although eliciting an acknowledgement from some Catholic priests of a link between family size and poverty. I heard another former politician describing this as “militaristic”. While the geopolitics of the Rising were often referenced – the rebellion took place because of the Great War and was encouraged and limply supported by imperial Germany just as Britain supported Arab insurgency in the Ottoman empire – I felt that the international context did not resonate all that much (although it was an underlying theme in TV3’s Revolution in Colour). 1916 leaders debunk the ‘real man’ myth Patrick Honohan: Ireland’s embrace of globalisation defines us Tom Kettle and the ‘foolish dead’ who perished in foreign wars The various official events were all characterised by a sense of pride but also of reflection. For the State, the year of commemorations has been a triumph of last-minute mobilisation and organisation. Throughout the year, but particularly around the anniversary of the first battle of the Somme, the great powers of 100 years ago were themselves caught up in contemplation and commemoration of what had happened to their own people, not only in terms of the losses experienced and the horrors endured, but in the knowledge that so far from being a “war to end war”, the Great War merely planted the seeds for even more terrible conflicts between 1937 and 1945. Many enlisted out of economic necessity, and many others out of a sense of adventure, not knowing or not caring about what they were letting themselves in for. However, coming centenaries will pose greater challenges than did 1916. It has also been remarkable in terms of tone, of public engagement, of diversity of opinion, of political impact and of a sheer lack of friction. Planned Parenthood’s centenary is also an …

One event enough to mark Civil War, says chairman of advisory group

ADVERTISEMENT Dr Manning said he anticipated that the Oireachtas would have a major role in marking the 1918 British general election, the first under universal suffrage, in which the abstentionist Sinn Féin won a landslide electoral victory. There should be only one State event to mark the Irish Civil War, rather than a series marking every major incident, the chairman of the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations has suggested. The Civil War lasted from June 1922 to May 1923, and its legacy scarred the new State and made it difficult to commemorate without rancour. The group, made up of historians, was set up in 2011 to advise governments on events during the decade of centenaries. He said the principles that informed the Rising commemoration would be retained for the coming years. Events celebrating the foundation of the State would be “by a distance” the biggest remaining commemoration, he said, but it was unclear yet when this would be marked. Dr Manning stressed that no plans have been drawn up yet to commemorate the Civil War, but he will be putting forward to the advisory group the idea that there should be just one major occasion. These principles were historical authenticity, looking at the past in a dispassionate way using original sources, and catering for the diversity of traditions that were in Ireland 100 years ago. Saying that he believed reconciliation should be the hallmark for the years ahead, Maurice Manning said the State should not get involved in multiple commemorations. 1916 leaders debunk the ‘real man’ myth Patrick Honohan: Ireland’s embrace of globalisation defines us Tom Kettle and the ‘foolish dead’ who perished in foreign wars “I think there is a mood for truth and I think the archives should continue to be opened,” Dr Manning said, adding that he believed recently released files from the Military Service Pensions Collection would shed new light on the events of the Civil War. Dr Manning said his preference was for October 1922, when the Free State constitution was adopted by Dáil Éireann. It will come from Iveagh House and will be hosted by Claire Byrne. He said there were no plans to have any further commemorations on the scale of those witnessed this year to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. The 1916 commemoration year will end on New Year’s Eve with a simulcast from Dublin, London and Washington, to be …

Colm Tóibín on that fine writer Anthony Cronin

He allowed his sense of the magic and mystery of words to rub against his refusal to deal in twilights or easy emotions or what is called the natural world. Anthony Cronin was a brilliant thinker and critic and wonderful company. Before he was anything else, however, he was a poet. Rich poetics Sometimes, you could find a poem that seemed the very opposite of what you thought his poems were. A Revenant, for example, deals with the “amazing grief” that the beginning of autumn can bring: “For suddenly summer gloaming Turns into Autumn night, Raindrops spatter the roses And the heart cries out.” But such sharp and simple feeling must be interrogated, treated with suspicion: “How can that identical grief Spring on the heart again, Anthony Cronin: last link to Dublin’s bohemian literary world Eileen Battersby: When Anthony Cronin dismissed me as an idiot Fintan O’Toole: Anthony Cronin, a true man of letters It was clear in his poetry that he loved reason until you went to one of his readings when he showed that he loved language just as much. His journalism was rational, thoughtful; his style as a broadcaster could be wry and funny, as were his novels and his classic memoir Dead as Doornails. His poetry too could have a rational edge, using logic and statement of fact, coming to tentative conclusions as though everything stated had to be tested and proved. His analysis of the world around him was sharp and acute. Anthony Cronin: A life in pictures This is how we live, Anne.” He turned to me, the gaze fiercely amused. “And that’s what the novel should be about too,” he said. .” Anne Haverty began. They weren’t wonderful, he said, smiling his hesitant smile. Tony loved an argument. He was insisting on modernity against our romanticism. ADVERTISEMENT Cronin’s great legacy from those years remains Aosdána, which gave Irish artists an important place in our society, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. When the circumstance such as it was Made it ludicrous even then?” While refusing to deny the original feeling, he seeks to tease out what it means: “What is the meaning of this, That the heart is stabbed with grief, At the onset of Autumn evenings, At memory’s twitch on the leaf? He was a socialist who became an adviser to Charles Haughey because he believed that Haughey in power would …

Embracing and commemorating events of 1916 throughout the year

Reflections on the Easter Rising published by The Irish Times Books. The journalist and broadcaster Olivia O’Leary wrote in The Irish Times after the Easter weekend State commemorations: “We are the show and it was one of those times when people themselves became the occasion.” If we were the show, the stars were the children. “That transmitted to the parents as well.” Most schools in Ireland were involved in the commemorations. Even the Christmas show had an Easter Rising theme this year. Kilmainham Gaol is a dark place. School principal Therese McMonagle said the centenary commemorations had dominated the school year. They put their hearts and souls into it in so many cases,” said Muriel McAuley, the granddaughter of Proclamation signatory Thomas MacDonagh. The children of the Patrician Primary School in Newbridge, Co Kildare, staged a play, Innisfree 1916, which imagines a conversation between the poet WB Yeats and the leaders of the Rising. “I think we have left a really positive legacy for our children and for the next generation,” the Minister with responsibility for the commemorations, Heather Humphreys, said. For many, the most compelling story was the marriage of Joseph Mary Plunkett and Grace Gifford on the night before Plunkett was executed. For the pupils of Stramore National School in Glendowan, Co Donegal, the 500 kilometre round trip to the former prison was an opportunity to connect to the stories about which they had read so much in class. Doing so, he stressed, did not mean ignoring the ways in which the Irish nation had fallen short and failed its citizens. Principal John O’Donovan said that if the purpose of the Rising centenary was to hand on to future generations a pride in Irish identity, then “following on from what I have witnessed in the production of our show, the future of our nation is in safe hands”. Half of the pupils in St Mary’s National School, Saggart, Co Dublin, are from non-Irish backgrounds. “For the first time, we have had an honest and open examination of our history, with all narratives heard.” The commemorations have been one of the biggest exercises in mass participation ever undertaken by the people of Ireland. “Children took ownership of the whole commemoration. Flags for schools was an opportunity for them to coalesce around a common symbol. President Michael D Higgins has been central to many of them. “It really got the …

Eileen Battersby: When Anthony Cronin dismissed me as an idiot

About that time he first met living poets, a competitive tribe of individuals. Initially he was destined for architecture; not out of any passion. According to Cronin, O’Brien was not fun to be with. Had he not been a great writer, he would have been a legendary detective or psychologist. It was a state in which I took no pride; indeed I was acutely ashamed of it.” ADVERTISEMENT He drifted towards McDaid’s pub and the Dublin literary set that also gathered at the Palace bar and a place called The Pearl. “Now, how in hell would you expect me to remember?” ADVERTISEMENT A dangerous pause followed but he softened and said he was far better at tennis. My closest link to him? Cronin was not sentimental about his schooldays, was hilarious on the subject of being a small town lad adrift in a snobby, sports-mad institution, and enjoyed saying that he was not that good a rugby player, yet did win a medal “on some team or other”. His university years at UCD were also recalled with the wittily jaundiced air he applied to most things. He said it displayed an “unforgivable” ignorance of Dublin’s literary geography. Poor, doomed Brendan Behan was another friend. Great racehorses. Cronin’s father had been unaware of what was going on in Dublin until he discovered that the paper’s entire staff had been arrested as insurgents and despatched to Frongoch internment camp in Wales. In all fairness to Cronin, and to his abiding honesty as a writer, he felt his biography of O’Brien was a failure because no one really knew O’Brien, not even Cronin, who did know him and who always felt he was a better friend to O’Brien than the older writer was to him. Competitive tribe A published poet while still a student, with work appearing in David Marcus’s Poetry Ireland and New Irish Writing, Cronin was, briefly, the young poet of the day. Yet again he seemed to be following the footsteps of Flann O’Brien and in common with him, and also one James Joyce, Cronin failed to win the auditorship of the Literary and Historical Society. Through reviewing and freelance journalism, be became involved with The Bell and eventually co-edited the journal with the then editor Peadar O’Donnell. Most impressively though, unlike many ultra-clever people, his intelligence never overpowered his art. By nature anarchic, he had true candour and was …

French writer Michel Déon dies in Galway, aged 97

In 1974, they purchased the Old Rectory in Tynagh. The Déons moved to Ireland from the Greek island of Spetsai in 1968, so their children could attend Irish schools. He spent much of 1952-1953 with the great high fashion designer, then complied with her wish to destroy the sole copy of the manuscript. Their son Alexandre attended Portumna Community School. but Ireland kept me,” are the opening lines of Horseman, Pass By! Déon’s two best-known novels, The Wild Ponies and The Purple Taxi, were partially or totally set in Ireland. Horseman, Pass By! “Greece obsessed me… ADVERTISEMENT Déon joined the 40 “immortal” writers of the Académie française in 1979. When Gallimard published a 1,363-page volume of his works in its prestigious Quarto collection in 2006, Le Figaro newspaper dedicated the cover of its book section to the “Michel Déon generation” and printed two pages of homages from younger French writers. An Aer Lingus pilot told Déon that his romantic vision of Connemara “filled [his] planes for 20 years”. Their daughter Alice was a boarder at Our Lady’s Bower in Athlone. Déon’s tribute to Ireland, Horseman, Pass By!, has just been published by Lilliput Press. The French language was, he said, “an umbilical cord” that tied him to France. The Déons lived between Co Galway and Greece until 1988, when they sold their house in Spetsai. Solitude Déon wrote many of his more than 50 novels, essays and plays in his study at the Old Rectory. Chantal Déon hunted foxes with the Galway Blazers and bred Irish Draught horses. His academician’s sword was engraved with an Irish shamrock, as well as symbols of France and Greece. After co-authoring Salvador Dali’s memoirs, Déon was commissioned by Coco Chanel to write her biography. The Wild Ponies won the Prix Interallié in 1970, while The Purple Taxi was made into a feature film starring Charlotte Rampling, Peter Ustinov, Fred Astaire and Philippe Noiret. “My greatest pleasure was to roam in the forests, along the shores of Lough Derg or Galway Bay, or splash in the bogs, shooting snipes,” he said on accepting an award from the Ireland Fund of France in 1998. The writer briefly emerged from a coma before Christmas in time to see a copy, which had been brought to his bedside; he put on his glasses, looked at the book and smiled, his widow Chantal recounted. Déon urged Julliard publishers to …

Eileen Battersby: Poet Anthony Cronin also wrote superb prose

Among them was Patrick Kavanagh, who could never forgive other people their successes. Within about two minutes of first meeting Anthony Cronin, he dismissed me as an idiot for not knowing the whereabouts of McDaid’s public house. Blackrock College Cronin the younger left Wexford at the age of 12 to become a boarder at Blackrock College, “about 12 or 13 years after Flann O’Brien”. In a couple of sentences he once conjured up O’Brien so vividly it was as if he was standing there before us. By nature anarchic, he had true candour and was justifiably irritated that he was considered a memoirist and biographer, and, most regrettably, as cultural adviser to Charles Haughey, before he was seen as a poet,which is what Anthony Cronin was a poet who not only wrote fine poetry, but also wrote superb prose. From 1950s Soho, Cronin returned to Dublin, commuted for a while before moving to Spain for three years, where he wrote his fiction debut, a comic novel The Life of Riley (1964). Small wonder he would in 1989 publish a biography of Brian O’Nolan/Flann O’Brien – a person he admired yet saw as “taciturn, belligerent and bitter”. If he has a regret as he wanders into eternity it may well be that his second novel Identity Papers (1979) never received due attention. Cronin growled but caught the irony and began telling a great story about how his father started working on the Enniscorthy Echo during Easter Week. He also took a BA in history and economics. Early in life he discovered a flair for facts. As with many Irish writers he also served his time lecturing in the US at universities in Montana and Iowa. He said he liked the American west, but found the midwest “depressing, too puritanical and too Bible-bashing.” A master of many forms, Anthony Cronin, the all-seeing witness was primarily a poet, and even the briefest of sketches will reveal that he was a complete and formidable literary man. Poor, doomed Brendan Behan was another friend. Cronin’s father had been unaware of what was going on in Dublin until he discovered that the paper’s entire staff had been arrested as insurgents and despatched to Frongoch internment camp in Wales. His parents wanted him to have a career. According to Cronin, O’Brien was not fun to be with. About that time he first met living poets, a competitive …

Fintan O’Toole: Anthony Cronin, a true man of letters

He appears in those famous photographs of the inaugural Bloomsday jaunt in 1954, as the younger, more earnest sidekick of the established writers. As an artist, he is somewhat in the shadow of the great writers he knew so well and evoked so vibrantly in his biographical works: Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan. He was not against institutions – he was influential, for example, in the establishment of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. It is, indeed, a recognition of the wasteful and often squalid aspects of this culture that drove Cronin’s great achievements as an arts politician. They are utterly realistic in their exploration of lives drowned in alcohol and frustration. His superb memoir of them, Dead as Doornails (1976), will always stand as the best evocation of the bohemian literary culture in Dublin that centred on McDaid’s pub and the bedsits and dives of Baggotonia. His standing as a public intellectual, meanwhile, will always be coloured by his relationship with Haughey whose egregious corruption he declined to confront. Aesthetically, Cronin had no time for nostalgia either. But he deserves to be appreciated in his own right as an important figure in Irish literary modernism. In another age, the natural description for Anthony Cronin – who has died aged 88 – would have been “man of letters”. ADVERTISEMENT But the very titles of those books should ward off any temptation to nostalgia. His biography of O’Brien, No Laughing Matter: the Life and Times of Flann O’Brien (1989), is a very rare example of a portrait that is both intimate and objective, combining personal knowledge with serious research. It was a title he might well have kept for himself. His reminiscences of Behan in particular have a tragic power: no one has ever caught so brilliantly the life-giving extravagance of this extraordinary personality and thus the dreadful waste of his talent and life. His key role in the establishment of the Aosdána scheme lay in convincing Haughey of the value of making available a modest stipend that could keep distinguished artists from the poverty he had seen up close and, at times, experienced. He was also what might be called an artistic politician: as adviser on the arts to taoiseach Charles Haughey he was a tremendously influential and largely benign figure. But he was always concerned primarily with the life of the individual artist and the need for …

Songs of the week: Lady Gaga is the new sweetheart of the rodeo

This song from its official soundtrack, alas, is merely bad. It’s half Prince, half Gram Parsons and 100 per cent awesome. The film is, by all accounts, hilariously, transcendently, bad. LADY GAGA Million Reasons **** Interscope The second single from Lady Gaga’s Joanne album is a country music power ballad, co-written by Hillary Lindsay (who has previously written for the likes of Taylor Swift and Bon Jovi, and clearly knows the terrain very well.) As excellent as Gaga’s vocal is here, it isn’t nearly as memorable as her outfit: a rockin’ pink jumpsuit and matching cowboy hat combo. ELBOW Magnificent (She Says) ** Fiction The lead single from the Mancunians’ seventh album Little Fictions (due February 3rd) has soaring strings, deadpan vocals and the same “Ah shucks, I’m a regular guy” shtick Guy Garvey has been peddling and suckering music critics with for two decades. They do note, however, that John Travolta was one of the stars of Face/Off. YO GOTTI ft KANYE WEST, BIG SEAN, QUAVO & 2 CHAINZ Castro *** Epic “Cubans on me like I’m Castro.. ONE REPUBLIC Let’s Hurt Tonight ** Interscope For a band most people would struggle to pick out of a police line-up, One Republic can certainly boast some amazing celebrity cameos in their latest video: Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Ed Norton, Helen Mirren… Nothing new to see here, folks. So I guess, one out of four ain’t bad. .” On this new track, American rapper Mario Mims (aka Yo Gotti) and various high-profile accomplices showcase an astounding ignorance of Latin American culture: assuming Fidel Castro was universally loved by the people of Cuba, conflating him with Pablo Escobar and then espousing the idea that J-Lo is Spanish. Wait, wait, sorry. On closer investigation, those are scenes from Collateral Beauty, a bad movie with a title recycled entirely from the discarded titles of other bad movies that came before it. ADVERTISEMENT Move along.

The nine best new Irish artists of 2016

Formerly known as Profound, Jafaris is the most promising of the lot. Catch her at District 8 in Dublin on December 30th. Expect plenty more from this duo in 2017. Their debut single Dance swayed with a electronic funk-pop style and a video shot in LA raised the style of the project. Their music has funk, soul and falsetto; rhythm, style and stomp. Burnt Out  With just two songs and their accompanying black and white visuals, North Dublin band Burnt Out left a lasting impression of lives in a working class neighbourhood with less a band, more of a multimedia art project. Soulé Young Balbriggan singer Soulé debuted this year with a drum and bass-styled R&B song Love No More that immediately grabbed the attention of the industry. As an artist in her own right, there’s a similar fluorescence to her music, with a wider range, taking in R&B, bass music, old-school dance, grime and on recent EP a nod to her roots with a song called Bodhrán. Live, she’s been known to cover Kendrick Lamar and showcase her singing voice accompanied only by a guitarist. Siights Having played with Hozier in a live setting for the last two years, Mia Fitz teamed up with with Scottish songwriter Toni Etherson as Siights this year. Bonzai The Wicklow-raised UK-based singer has found considerable acclaim by teaming up with Jersey producer Mura Masa on his day-glow electronic pop tracks. Lyra A London-based Cork girl, Lyra appeared this year with an impressive debut EP called W.I.L.D. ADVERTISEMENT Bad Bones Sal Stapleton is another Irish artist who considered the whole package before debuting music. This year, his EDM dance pop music sold out venues not just in Dublin but LA, New York, San Fran, London and Toronto and has just completed a 33-date world tour. Joyrider, sung in a thick Dublin accent and its stark abandoned urban scenes reinforce the weight of Burnt Out’s creative aspirations. That consideration is brought into a live setting where two dancers add an extra dimension. Lorcan O’Dwyer and Steven McCann are the main members of this band but they have a gang of people that swells to nine performers in a live setting to do it justice. For the first five months of the year, she released a song a month, each accompanied by a video she made herself. The 20-year-old multi-instrumentalist has built a worldwide fanbase that …