St Brigid in the life of the Nation

The Book of St Brigid by Colm Keane and Una O’Hagan (Capel Island Press, €14.99/£15.00) The names of the author will be well-known to readers, for many of their books have been popular bestsellers. They have a knack, derived perhaps from their days in television, of making what they write accessible, vivid and immediate to a wide…

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St John’s Gospel explored

Divine Diamond: Facets of the Fourth Gospel by Kevin O’Gorman SMA (Messenger Publications, €14.95/£12.95) The writings attributed to St John the Apostle have long stood out in contrast to the synoptic gospels. Indeed there were those who thought that the apocalypse of St John of Patmos attributed to the same author should not be added to…

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The emperor on Elba

The World of Books By the books editor This year France is marking, in various ways and styles, the bicentenary of the death of Napoléon Bonaparte. In the cause of heritage preservation the emperor has joined the Bourbons as part of the great panoply of French culture. The current head of the family, international investment banker Jean-Christophe,…

Seekers after spiritual truth

Voices from the Desert. The Lost Legacy of the Skelligs by Hugh MacMahon (Columba Books. €14.99/£12.99) Skellig Michael is one of the most famous heritage sites in Ireland, which the Office of Public Works has made great effort to render more accessible to visitors. Having appeared in one of the segments of the Star Wars series…

A grim but important century in Irish history

Mission to a Suffering People: Irish Jesuits 1596-1696 by Thomas J. Morrissey SJ (Messenger Publications, €19.95/£18.95) The Jesuit historian T. J. Morrissey is well known for his books on the Irish trade union movement and on modern Church history, especially in Dublin. But he has also written widely about the more distant past. His new book…

A forgotten patriot

A Life of Sir Horace Plunkett by Maurice Colbert (Copies can be purchased directly from the author at: 086 821 9584, or email mcolbert@live.ie Price: €20+postage) This book brings to mind that passage in Gulliver’s Travels, where that hardy sea man is in dialogue with the king of Brobdingnag about the virtues of their respective nations. “And he gave…

‘Saints and Beasts’ IV

Saint Francis of Assisi and the wolf of Gubbio St Francis of Assisi, canonised in 1228, a mere century after his death, must be one of the most universally venerated saints in the world, a man widely respected beyond the Christian community. This is partly due to his special relationship with birds and animals. In…