Members of  King of Scots Robert the Bruce Society, hold the Scottish flags as they prepare to vote in the Scottish independence referendum   in Loch Lomond. “The Scots have already sent a message: the current political settlement of strong oligarchies and weak democracies cannot stand.”   (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

I never thought I’d find myself defending nationalism. As a political ideology, the proposition that an Irish crook should be closer to me than an Eng(...)

Jaw-dropping: Lisa Dwan interprets Beckett

Samuel Beckett wrote significant works for Irish male voices: Krapp’s Last Tape specifically for Patrick Magee; Eh Joe for Jack McGowran. But Beckett (...)

Ian Paisley at a rally on Royal Avenue outside Belfast City Hall in 1974. “Paisley the politician defeated Paisley the preacher.” Photograph: Trevor McBride 2:19

In 2006, about a year before Ian Paisley stunned the world by going into government with Sinn Féin, I was talking to a clearly troubled senior memb(...)

‘This kind of national pride is hard work. You have to decide what are the things your nation should be proud of and how it is going to achieve them in reality.’  Above, Yes supporters’ flags are displayed besides a block of flats on Leith Walk in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

What does it mean to be a free country? No one is naive enough to believe that it means acquiring the capacity to do whatever you want. For government(...)

‘The French have a real Pantheon (above) into which they place the bodies of national heroes. But they at least wait some decades for the judgment of history before they declare such memories sacred. The instant Pantheon of Irish political memorialisation is a way of making the judgment of history redundant.’ Photograph: Getty Images

I have waited a decent interval to write this and it is tempting not to bother. But there is a question that needs to be addressed. It is posed becaus(...)

Borstal boy: Brendan Behan. Photograph: Hulton/Getty

In the radio ads for the new production of Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, Behan is trumpeted as a “legendary author and (...)

‘Electric Picnic is now a bucolic frolic for those on the verge of middle age — which makes it a microcosm of austerity Ireland.’ Above, the crowd at the main stage at Electric Picnic. Photograph: Dave Meehan

So Electric Picnic is now a bucolic frolic for those on the verge of middle age — which makes it a microcosm of austerity Ireland. A century on fro(...)

Strange creation: Lisa Dwyer Hogg, Barbara Brennan, Marcus Lamb, Nick Dunning, Mark Lambert (seated), Chris McHallem, Kathy Kiera Clarke, Aislín McGuckin and Don Wycherley in Róisín McBrinn’s production. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

In Babbitt, a novel by Sinclair Lewis, a bumptious English visitor complains to some Americans about their image of Bernard Shaw. “How do you Yankees (...)

Counting  votes for the Dublin area in the abortion referendum in 2002. Photograph: Frank Miller

The most successful single issue movement in the history of the State, the Pro-Life Amendment Campaign (PLAC), was established in January 1981 by 13 o(...)

Glittering: the theatre on its opening night, in March 2010. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

It is now all but certain that the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, the best-appointed performance space on the island, will be sold off by Nama-appointed re(...)