Category: Books

St Mary’s Abbey and its library

Mainly about books by the books editor St Mary’s Abbey in Dublin was founded, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, in 846. Over the coming centuries it in grew in size into an important ecclesiastical institution, eventually holding the country’s largest library. The nature of such places began to change with the arrival…

A throwback to times before relativism

Irish Catholic readers should be able to wallow in a bit of nostalgia! On Wednesday of last week I happened upon The Dick Powell Theatre on satellite movie channel Talking Pictures TV (TPTV). It was an innovative TV drama show in its day (early 1960s) – a TV series of one-off dramas. This particular episode…

Recent books in brief

Defending Trinity College Dublin, Easter 1916: Anzacs and the Rising by Rory Sweetman (Four Courts Press, €19.99) Dr Rory Sweetman is a Kildare-born New Zealander who studied at Trinity College Dublin and Cambridge University, and has has written extensively on aspects of the Irish abroad. He is the author of Bishop in the Dock: the…

Newman’s long life in brief

A Perfect Peace: Newman Saint for Our Time by Bishop Fintan Monahan (Veritas, €7.99) Newman: A short Biography by Michael Collins(Messenger Publications, €9.95) The canonisation of John Henry Newman last Sunday had brought his life and spirituality before a great many people who were perhaps only vaguely aware of their true complexity. Many of these…

The making of a saint – in her own words

The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila: 
A Biography by Carlos Eire (Princeton University Press, £21.00) The Autobiography of Teresa of Avila is a rightly famous book, and remains widely read. But the title is slightly misleading, for the text was composed not at the free volition of the saint herself, but at the insistence…

Behind the door of No. 10: a satiric view of Brexit

The Cockroach by Ian McEwan (Jonathan Cape, £7.99/€11.00) Felix
 M.
 Larkin Since the Brexit referendum in 2016, it often seems that events have overtaken satire – indeed, have made satire redundant. However, the distinguished author of such contemporary masterpieces as Atonement and Amsterdam, Ian McEwan has produced a novella which will stand as the definitive…

Sr Wendy and the spirit of art

Sister Wendy’s 100 Best-loved Paintings compiled by Sr Wendy Beckett (SPCK, £25.00) This is both the latest and the last book of the celebrated TV art critic, Sr Wendy Beckett, who died last Christmastide at the age of 88, on the feast of St Stephen. She was not, as many seemed to think, a nun…

The PEN book…mightier than the sword?

A Personal Perspective on Irish PEN by J Anthony Gaughan (Kingdom Books, €15.00) PEN was an international association of writers founded in London in 1921 – the initials stood for ‘Poets, Essayists and Novelists’, but in fact many kinds of writers are now members. The club, as its members thought of it, was intended to…