The light of other days

Donnybrook: A History (Ireland in Old Photographs) by Beatrice Doran (History Press, €17.99 / £16.99)

Beatrice Doran is a native of the village that lies at the heart of Dublin 4. In this wonderfully illustrated book she draws not only on her own memories, and the work of historians, but on the memories and the family photo-albums of other natives. Those who can recall the place as it was in their infancies will pass through these pages with both delight and dismay. So much is changed and not always for the better. But then her text and pictures bring to mind so many memories and thoughts of early years. It is all here too for the history, from the raucous days of the medieval fair which lingered a little too long in a more respectable Donnybrook, then the merchants of the city removed themselves to mansions on the west side of the Dodder. We used to be told by our teachers that the new Catholic Church was built in reparation for the "sins of the fair".  Covering all the famous residents and the old familiar shops, the author comes right down to the era of the towering TV mast at Montrose through which the nation now lives and sometimes learns. This book truly is a sample of what the poet Thomas Moore might have had in mind when he spoke about "the light of other days".