Portrait of the Marble City

Hidden Kilkenny: Knaves, Knights and Norman Abbots by John Keane (Mercier Press, €19.99 / £17.50)

John Keane is the son of the Kerry playwright and for many years has been the deputy editor of that famous provincial paper The Kilkenny People. In this entertaining book he provides an excursion through the pages of the townís history, covering not only the landmarks such as St Caniceís Cathedral, Rothe House, and the notorious Alice Kytler and her witchcraft, but also those hidden stories that only the locals know. Among these is his account of Rathbeagh, where Heremon the king of the Milesians is said to be buried, which takes us back into the most obscure legendary depths of our past. One suspects that this lively book would make the ideal Christmas present for all those exiles from the Marble City who recall the place with a fondness John Keane shares.