Glory years: Alfie Byrne, nicknamed ‘the shaking hand of Dublin’ because of his relentless canvassing

He was elected lord mayor of Dublin a record 10 times. He was also an MP, a TD and a senator. Such was his popularity that he once looked likely to b(...)

Photograph: Courtesy of Redmonds of Roscrea

Never mind the group selfie. The townspeople of Roscrea, Co Tipperary, may set off a whole new trend in communal photography tomorrow when they pose f(...)

Dante’s statue in Florence. Complicated birthday calculations. Photograph: Imagestock

This is a very big month for poetry, what with the impending 150th birthday of WB Yeats (June 13th) and the 750th birthday of Dante (sometime around n(...)

 Laurence Olivier congratulating Orson Welles in Dublin after his stage performance as Falstaff in Chimes at Midnight in 1960. Photograph: Jack McManus

During an orgy of high culture at the weekend, I went from seeing Orson Welles’s Chimes at Midnight in the Irish Film Institute to Tom Murphy’s The Gi(...)

James Graham:  went down in history as the man who bolted the gates shut. National Gallery of Ireland

If the Duke of Wellington is to be believed, the Battle of Waterloo – that “day of unrelenting slaughter” as one historian called it – was decided by (...)

 The classic scythe, with a crooked handle and right-angled blade, was strictly for mowing grass or corn. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

According to the short-lived French revolutionary calendar, today (May 29th, or 10 Prairial, as it was known) would be the day of the “Scythe”. This w(...)

 The more hard-necked critics will speak of wines that have “flavours of slate”, or of “flint”, or “limestone”. Photograph: Daniel J Groshong/Bloomberg

The word “mineral” has undergone dramatic changes in my lifetime. Not in the scientific sense, of course – that has stayed the same. I mean instead th(...)

The problem, the bishops said, was “imported dances of an evil kind”

It’s cheering to see that the Down With Jazz festival ( has become an established fixture in the Irish calendar. The 2015 instalment t(...)

The ‘Dad Bod’ is apparently now the male physique of choice for discerning young women

I’m too old for it to matter now, really. But even so, I can’t help feeling a little cheated by the news that the “Dad Bod” is now the male physique o(...)

“Unsavoury” has replaced Micheál O’Hehir’s beloved “schemozzle” as the GAA’s favourite euphemism

It’s a funny thing, but whenever you hear the word “savoury” on TV or radio, you can be fairly certain that the subject under discussion is food. Wher(...)