Category: Reviews

Uncertain soul of Catholic literature

The Pen and the Cross: Catholicism and English Literature 1850-2000 By Richard Griffiths (Continuum, €33 / £25) Eamon Maher   Richard Griffiths has probably been best-known up until now for his defining study The Reactionary Revolution: The Catholic Revival in French Literature, 1870-1914 (Constable, 1966). His latest publication deals with English literature’s close relationship with Catholicism…

Up for the match in every way

My Sporting Life By Jimmy Deenihan (Red Hen Publishing, €20 / £16.50) There is a unique link between politics and sport in Ireland. This is nowhere more apparent than in this autobiography by Jimmy Deenihan. Appropriately entitled ‘My Sporting Life’, it charts his successful transition from the playing fields to Leinster House and eventually ministerial office.…

The reassuring sounds of silence

A Sunlit Absence: Silence, Awareness and Contemplation By Martin Laird (Oxford University Press, €15.85 / £11.99) Angela Macnamara     The key to unlocking doorways of prayer is in our own silence. We live in times when ”our attention is riveted to surface noise” and silence is difficult to achieve. Even though some people live alone…

Adventures with a high-jinx heroine

  Haywire (15)   ‘Oh you shouldn’t think of her as being a woman. That would be a mistake.” So says double agent Ewan McGregor to Michael Fassbender about Gina Carano in this amusing spy caper that has the beautiful Carano (a mysterious government operative hired out for unauthorised assignments) gallivanting around the globe on…

A performance of energy and zest

  Fr Michael Collins   Among the greatest of J.S. Bach’s choral works stands out the Christmas Oratorio, a collection of six individual cantatas. Each was composed for a particular day of the Christmas season, concluding with the Feast of the Epiphany. Bach used a libretto by Christian Friedrich Henrici, known by his nickname Picander,…

The iron lady is not for turning

The Iron Lady (12A)   If I could pick a fault with this stupendous film — a ‘biopic’ of Margaret Thatcher — it would be that it exists too much in a continuum. In other words, the scattiness evinced by the octogenarian Baroness (played stunningly by Meryl Streep) in the early scenes doesn’t change hugely…

Recent books in brief

Nature’s Way: A Sense of Beauty By Patrick O’Sullivan (Veritas, €7.99 / £6.80 pb) ”If spring came but once a century instead of once a year….what wonder and expectation there would be in all our hearts.” Longfellow’s words are the author’s inspiration as he awakens us to the beauties of nature which we usually take for…

The politics of a patriot priest in 1848

Father John Kenyon: The Rebel Priest By Tim Boland (Published by the author, ISBN: 9781901370362; €20.00 / £17.50) This is a splendid biography of the mercurial Father John Kenyon, a patriotic priest who should be better known today than he is. Kenyon was born on May Day 1812 in Limerick city. He was educated locally, entered…

Living each day with Thomas Merton

  Precious Thoughts: Daily Readings from Thomas Merton By Fiona Gardner (Darton, Longman &Todd, €13.19 / £10.99 pb) Anthony Redmond   Thomas Merton died in 1968 at the age of 53. He is perhaps more popular and relevant today than ever. He was not alone one of the great spiritual guides and mentors of the 20th…

Musical reflection – Paul Keenan

Fr Liam Lawton’s journey in song reached a milestone in 2011. Paul Keenan reports Within any chosen path, to be able to describe oneself as ”busy” after 20 years can only be what’s called ‘a good complaint’. But busy is exactly what Fr Liam Lawton has continued to be through 2011, the 20th anniversary year…