Recent Books in Brief

Painted Butterflies: Memories of a Missionary
by Fr Christopher Fox
MHM (Choice Publishing, €14.95)

The author is a Mill Hill priest who celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of his ordination last month. In this memoir he describes his experiences in Ireland, Britain and the USA; but the heart of the books deals with his very varied and often harrowing experiences in Africa, largely in Uganda, a country that went through years of civil war and social turmoil. But these very great difficulties were balanced by better days. “My own attitude to the many challenges of life has been one of optimism,” he says. “For me the glass is always half full.” A moving addition to the growing body of Irish missionary memoirs, a wonderful record of courage and witness.


Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers

by Anne Lamont

(Hodder & Stoughton, £9.99)

Novelist Anne Lamont, whose earlier writings on faith and prayer have been popular, here reminds all Christians that prayer is not just a form of words, it is a conversation with God, based essentially on asking for assistance, appreciating the good things we encounter and an expression of the awe we all feel before creation. Her insights are a gift from her own experiences as she explains in a lively way. But her entertaining stories are merely a means to an end, to get people talking again to God.


Ethna Carbery: Anna Johnson McManus

by Helen Meehan

(The Benmore Group, £11.99)

The poet Ethna Carbery survives in anthologies with one or two poems, for her Fours Winds of Eirinn was a great success in 1902, the year she died at the age of 32. But as the author of the ballad Roddy McCorley, her words are still on the lips of many today. She married the writer Seamus MacManus, whose novels drawing on the age old story telling traditions of Donegal were once popular. Donegal writer Helen Meehan has devoted a great deal of energy to researching the life of the poet, a once well-know activist in the national movement along with Maud Gonne, Alice Milligan and others. Her book revives the enthusiasms, literary and political, of a generation that saw themselves building a new Ireland. Many were left disillusioned. Ethna Carbery did not live long enough to suffer that.



by Tosh Lavery

(Penguin Ireland, €16.99)

Little thought is given to our public services such as the Garda Sub-Aqua Unit, until there is a tragedy, such as that in Cork recently. Tosh Lavery was involved for much of his career in the police with the unit, being concerned with the Whiddy Island explosion and the aftermath of the Mountbatten murder. 

This book reveals to us all the nature of the work, its dangers, its excitements and its rewards. But he also deals with his personal struggle with drink and the pressures that broke up his family. Yet even in retirement he remains dedicated to assisting in missing person cases. A grim book, but also a very human one and like all accounts of unusual jobs, it makes fascinating reading.