Read Ireland Book Reviews
Connemara: Listening to the Wind by Tim Robinson
Hardback; 24 Euro / 32 USD / 16 UK; 440 pages
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In its landscape, history and folklore, Connemara is a singular region ill-defined geographically, and yet unmistakably a place apart from the rest of Ireland. Tim Robinson, who established himself as Ireland's most brilliant living non-fiction writer with the two-volume "Stones of Aran", moved from Aran to Connemara nearly twenty years ago. This book is the result of his extraordinary engagement with the mountains, bogs and shorelines of the region, and with its folklore and its often terrible history: a work as beautiful and surprising as the place it attempts to describe.
The Humours of Planxty by Leagues O’Toole
Hardback; 24 Euro / 32 USD / 16 UK; 334 pages with black-and-white photos throughout [Add To Basket]
When Christy Moore, Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine and Liam O'Flynn took to the stage in Vicar Street, Dublin, in January 2004, Ireland was once again treated to a live performance from one of its greatest musical collaborations. Founded in 1972 out of a meeting of minds during the recording of Christy Moore's album Prosperus, Planxty brought the Instruments and harmonles of traditional Irish music to audiences all over the world, popularising and revitallsing a musical tradition that was in decline. In this first official account of the group, Leagues O'Toole talks to the band's members and charts the history of Planxty, relating the highs and lows of the band's glory days through to their reformation in 2003. For over a decade, Planxty supplied the soundtrack to a constantly evolving Ireland, revitalising the relationship between traditional culture and youth culture. Today the music of Planxty is reaching new audiences and the rebellious inspiration of Ireland's first supergroup remains.
Cool Waters, Emerald Seas: Diving in Temperate Waters by John Collins
Hardback; 30 Euro / 37 USD / 20 UK; 180 pages
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John Collins takes us on a marine adventure within the oceans that lap many of our most populated shores, from the north Atlantic around western Europe, to the chilly Pacific of North America and south to the Great White sharks of Africa. His photographic portrait of a little explored part of our ocean world is the culmination of twenty years of diving the seas around Ireland, Scotland, Canada, South Africa and Tasmania. From his voyages he brings us 120 photographs illustrating the colourful and bizarre life below while also conveying the mood of exploration—his photographs are interpretative rather than purely documentary. Of the seven tenths of our blue planet, we have explored but a fraction. Away from coral reefs, the ocean world between the tropics and the poles is the most vibrant and productive of all our seas. Beneath its grey roof lies a bounty of neon-coloured life as well as offering us a time-capsule of our losses at sea—evoked by the sombre mood of a lost ship.
The bizarre underwater world holds a fascination for many: for some it is the natural history of beautiful flower-like anemones and brightly coloured fish. For others, it is the predators we fear most—sharks. And for some, the history of our sea-going losses resonates above ground. While most people are aware of the beauties of our coral reefs, this book differs from most collections of underwater photographs in looking only at our cold seas. The seas on our doorstep are slow to give up their secrets, making this collection of images from our emerald seas something truly out of the ordinary and introducing us to previously unseen marvels.
The Blue Cabin: Living by the Tides on Islandmore by Michael Faulkner
Trade Paperback with Endflaps; 12 Euro / 16 USD / 8 UK; 212 pages [Add To Basket]
'By Christmas we were living to the rhythm of the tides...' In 2002, following the collapse of his business and the loss of a much-loved family home, Mike Faulkner and his artist wife Lynn left Scotland for a cabin on Islandmore, an uninhabited island on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. Familiar to Mike as the holiday haven to which his father, the last Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, had gone with his family during the worst years of the Troubles, moving there to live year-round was a different prospect. With no mains electricity, an erratic water supply and access to the mainland only possible by boat, life on Islandmore is one part catastrophe - storms, broken generators, escaping dinghies - to three parts idyll - long walks on the shore, sunsets from Eagle Hill, year-round picnics, visits from friends. The result is a book imbued with sense of place; an honest, often funny, and moving account of one couple and two dogs living the kind of uncomplicated life that so many of us yearn for.
Mission Improbable by Colin Carroll
Trade Paperback; 13 Euro / 17 USD / 9 UK; 222 pages
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In December 2005 the people of Ireland held their collective breath as six of their countrymen went on a mission to restore a nation’s sporting honour in the jungle of Nepal. Conquering the world in Elephant Polo, Colin Carroll and the team returned as the only world champion team of any description in Ireland and enjoyed the nationwide media coverage befitting their status. Now Colin is heading to Japan to fight in the World Sumo Championships in Osaka, Japan as the only Irish entrant. This is the culmination of a crazy year in which this Kerry based solicitor has been the lead singer of a boy band in Poland, competed in Olympic Bobsleigh and played left back in the Irish National Ice Hockey team competing in Latvia (he can’t even skate!). Life has been one big adventure for Colin and settling down has never been part of the plan, but suddenly the travelling sideshow that his life has become seems unsatisfying. There must be more to life, but what? Halfway through his Mission Improbable – it suddenly hits him what it is….
Firecall: True Stories of Irish Firefighting and Rescue by Ruairi Kavanagh
Trade Paperback; 13 Euro / 17 USD / 9 UK; 197 pages
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This is more than a book about firefighting. This is a book that takes the reader into the closed world of fire and rescue professionals. Today's Irish firefighter is a highly trained, committed and disciplined individual. From fulltime services which provide emergency response in our large cities to dedicated retained personnel in other parts of the country, Ireland has a firefighting and rescue service to be proud of. "Firecall" is filled with stories of men and women who have chosen a career that often puts them into contact with some of the most distressing aspects of society. Daily, they deal with death, danger and tragedy. They are in the front line in humanity's perpetual battle against nature's most volatile, deadly and unpredictable element. "Firecall" follows the fire tenders to the fires, the false alarms, the medical emergencies. It explains how the service works, what it means to be a firefighter, how firefighting is passed through the generations and how tragedy inevitably strikes this close community. Most of all, it follows the dangers, the heartbreak and the bravery of the men and women who form the Irish Fire Service.
The Mun: Growing Up in Ballymun by Lynn Connolly
Trade Paperback; 13 Euro / 17 USD / 9 UK; 218 pages with two 8-page black-and-white photo inserts [Add To Basket]
'Having memories of somewhere that no longer exists is a bit like watching dead actors in old movies.' So begins this brilliant new memoir about growing up in Ballymun in the seventies and eighties. The regeneration of the estate means that Ballymun in its original form has gone forever, but Lynn Connolly who lived there as a child and young adult recalls the place with warmth and affection. Like lots of other people, she looks back fondly on her time in Ballymun - on how she became the person that she couldn't have become living anywhere else. Ballymun had a quality of its own, it had sparkle and wit and an undeniable sense of community - in spite of how the media portrayed it. Neighbours kept an eye out for the children, children who are now adults with magical memories of CB radios, dangerous games and loyal friends. Lynn Connolly writes from the perspective of a Ballymunner, not as someone reporting for the newspapers. The story comes alive as it follows the development of a person - herself - being formed in a context which she recalls with affection, gratitude and warmth. "The Mun" is a unique book, about a unique place now transformed forever.
Saving Grace by Jennifer Banks
Large Format Paperback; 13 Euro / 17 USD / 9 UK; 307 pages [Add To Basket]
Life may have its ups and downs, but journalist Jennifer Banks has had more than most. Having survived childhood verbal bullying, 17 years with a eating disorder and six years trapped in a violent marriage in a foreign country, Jennifer has now been diagnosed with the debilitating illness Multiple Sclerosis. After a childhood bully tormented her for being overweight, Jennifer became bulimic and battled constantly with low self esteem. She ran away to London, hoping to escape the demons of her past. She met and married Ahmet, a Turkish native living in London and they moved to Turkey after the wedding. Jennifer soon found herself trapped in a violent marriage in a foreign country; she couldn’t speak the language and had no friends or family to turn to. She finally escaped, after a vicious beating, which claimed the life of her unborn child, propelled her into action. Back in London, she rebuilt her life and self-esteem and even plucked up the courage to phone ‘Midnight Encounters’, a phone-in dating show on London radio. A month later a bag load of replies turned up at her door, but only one stood out. She and Steve are now happily married and have daughter. Sadly, there is no conventional happy ending for Jennifer, as she has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. However, after years of abuse, both by her own hands and by the hands of others, Jennifer has developed a positive and healthy look on life. With a combination of inner strength and the love of her family, she embraces every day. In her own words, "the show must - and will - go on!" This is Jennifer’s life, told in her own words, and is a story of torment, violence, love, hate, loss, courage and hope. Her story will encourage and inspire everyone who reads it.
Sunday Miscellany: A Selection from 2004 to 2006 edited by Cliodhna Ni Anulain
Large Format Paperback; 18 Euro / 24 USD / 13 UK; 400 pages [Add To Basket]
For thousands of listeners to RTE Radio 1, Sunday morning means "Sunday Miscellany". The programme's mix of 'music and musings' has evoked memories and provoked responses in its listeners for over thirty years. It is a mingling of the professional and the amateur that gives the radio programme its unique appeal. This pattern is maintained by New Island in this enchanting collection of pieces: Sunday Miscellany. Contributors include: Myles Dungan, Theo Dorgan and June Considine, with contributions in both Irish and English ranging from personal reminiscences to the praise of heroes, from sporting highlights to historical events, from humorous interludes to poignant memories. "Sunday Miscellany" is a celebration of the rich fabric of life and culture, the inventiveness of the human voice and the scope of the human mind. Giving the reader a sense of place and past, of humour and of sadness, these vignettes are the essence of "Sunday Miscellany", and of the Sunday mornings it has made its own.
Time Lines: Irish and World History Dates by Penny Clarke
Hardback; 13 Euro / 17 USD / 9 UK; full colour illustrations throughout [Add To Basket]
Spotlights major world history events and the people who made them happen. This work presents an illustrated children's history of the human race - from the earliest people. It contains a time line of Irish events in each section.
James Larkin: Lion of the Fold by Donal Nevin
Trade Paperback; 15 Euro / 19 USD / 10 UK; 560 pages [Add To Basket]
This outstanding compilation of writings by and about the greatest of all Irish labour leaders has been highly praised by reviewers. "At the height of the roar of the Celtic Tiger, this well-written and well-edited book is a timely reminder of the long distance which we have all travelled together." - Ruairi Quinn, "Irish Independent". "A beautifully illustrated book and an extraordinarily well documented compilation of the life of Larkin. It takes in a fantastic range of opinion on Larkin, a lot of history of the early Irish Labour Movement, intertwining a lot of old poetry and song from the time too." - Des Geraghty, "The Irish Times".
Michael Collins: The Lost Leader by Margery Forester
Trade Paperback; 15 Euro / 19 USD / 10 UK [Add To Basket]
Margery Forester's life of Michael Collins has been in print continuously for more than thirty years and is long established as one of the major biographical works on the 'Big Fellow'. Unlike more recent biographers, the author was able to interview Collins' surviving contemporaries. She was offered unrestricted access to personal and family material. "Michael Collins: The Lost Leader" has been praised by authorities such as Robert Kee and Maurice Manning and remains as 'compulsive reading' to this day. 'Illuminating new personal material on Collins ...Miss Forester has researched widely and intelligently' - "The Observer". 'This excellent biography, much the best life of Collins that has appeared. Miss Forester is a first-class historian' - "Times Literary Supplement". 'A full and well-rounded picture ...An engaging, well-written and perceptive study' - "Irish Press". 'It is fair and detached about Irish politics in general, and space is not wasted on speculating uselessly on who actually killed Collins' - "The Irish Times".
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