The Palestrina Choir’s Christmas rehearsals in St Mary’s Pro Cathedral. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

"Don’t mess with them now boys. Just hold them . . .” Choirboys and candles. It’s a combination guaranteed to melt even the most cynical o(...)

Crowds at O’Connell Street, Dublin, doing their Christmas shopping in  1959. Photograph: Dermot Barry

The ‘C’ word has been slouching towards the front of everyone’s mind for a while now, given that the festive season begins these days at, or before(...)

‘Famine Folios’ authors Robert Smart (‘Black Roads’), L Perry Curtis jnr (‘Notice to Quit’), Michael Foley (‘Death in Every Paragraph’) and Gearoid Ó Tuathaigh (‘I mBeal an Bhais’). Photograph: Dave Meehan

A young mother faces the viewer, her hair untidy on her shoulders, her bony body wrapped in what looks like a man’s oversized dressing-gown. Her th(...)

Aleksandar Hemon: “The damage [of the Bush years] just immeasurable. The destruction is enormous.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

It’s not every day you read a novel that moves effortlessly between references to the philosopher Baruch Spinoza, eruptions of the crazed undead, a(...)

 Donal Ryan:  “I spent 10 years thinking more than writing, and then thinking what I was writing. Deleting every sentence and writing it over and over again . . .” Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

How do you know when you’ve made it as a writer? For Donal Ryan, who produced his first two novels, The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December(...)

Hopscotch opens with Fannin in Low Babies with her four-year-old peers at school in Howth, learning to sing There’s a Hole in My Bucket, and worrying about not being able to purl, and whether God can see her in the toilet. Photograph: Alan Betson

‘I was kind of scared of the word ‘memoir’,” says Hilary Fannin, whose memoir – Hopscotch – is published this week. “But then somebody said to me, ‘It(...)

Patricia Bardon: “I love all music. I like jazz in the background when I’m making dinner, or whatever. I love Nina Simone. I love Adele and Amy Winehouse.” Photograph: Frances Marshall

In the world of classical music, the performance of a Mahler symphony is like . . . well, imagine a live gig that has Bruce Springsteen, Prince and(...)

Trees and sky near Lough Ennell, Mullingar, Co Westmeath. Photograph: Paddy Whelan

When I came across this image in the archive, buried deep in a stack of quirky news shots, forgotten celebrities and standard-issue handshakes, it (...)

Dancehall Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin *** How, Yeats wondered, can we know the dancer from the dance? It’s a good line, and an even better question(...)

Justin Cartwright: “That’s South Africa for you. On the one hand, it is this idyllic place; and on the other, there is this terrible risk.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Justin Cartwright’s new novel, Up Against the Night, opens with two contrasting quotes. One, from nature writer Robert Macfarlane, suggests we read(...)