Thomas Arthur Comte de Lally, one of the Franco-Hibernians who fought with such “desperate valour” at Fontenoy

Speaking of Belgium, as we were yesterday, it so happens that the “Dympna Days” festival is not the only event with an Irish sub-theme happening there(...)

Peadar O’Donnell: led strike at Monaghan Lunatic Asylum and declared a soviet

Ciarán D’Arcy (An Irishman’s Diary, May 5th) mentioned it only in passing, in connection with the more celebrated version at Limerick. But in fact the(...)

  Orson Welles   in   “The Third Man”.  “There could be a few second- or third-generation Harry Lime lookalikes ghosting around the greater Connemara area even now.”   Photograph: AP

One of the most shameless pieces of name-dropping in the long history of this column was by an unidentified diarist in November 1938. His excuse was a(...)

 “I’m not sure which was the more extraordinary of two recent news stories about rail travel: the report that Japan’s maglev test-trains had set a new world record of 603kph; or the launch of that Irish version of the Orient Express, which will have trips lasting up to six days.” Photograph: Japan Railways

I’m not sure which was the more extraordinary of two recent news stories about rail travel: the report that Japan’s maglev test-trains had set a new (...)

“If there was a world record for the distance between quotability and comprehension, Yeats would have held it since ‘The Second Coming’ was written, 96 years ago.” Photograph: Getty Images

The Paris Review might have overstated it just a little recently when suggesting that WB Yeats’s The Second Coming was “the most thoroughly pillaged p(...)

  “Maybe Cameron did know about 1885 once, and just forgot, as the English are wont to do about Anglo-Irish traumas past. We have the opposite vice here – not being able to forget, even when we should.” Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

I’m not sure which was David Cameron’s worse gaffe of last week – forgetting whether it was Aston Villa or West Ham he supports, or suggesting that th(...)

 “Alas, the dream was not to be. The hired deckchairs disappeared and with them went the hope of an open-air beer.” Photograph: Matthew Fearn/PA

People still complain about on-street car parking charges in Dublin. And, right enough, in the central areas like Merrion Square or Stephen’s Green, t(...)

Robert Altman (sixth from left) in 1906. He has emerged in recent years as a plausible model for one of the most venerated characters in literature, Leopold Bloom

There came to Dublin in the mid-19th century a Hungarian Jewish family called Altman. And I don’t know if theirs was an example of nominative determin(...)

British ambassador Dominick Chilcott at the GPO to launch “Writing the Frontier: Anthony Trollope between Britain and Ireland”, by John McCourt

I don’t know if the British ambassador, Dominick Chilcott, felt the hand of history on his shoulder on Tuesday night, but even if he didn’t, he must h(...)

“The old fusspot absolutely refuses to drink tap-water”

One of the side-effects of the current dry spell is that I’ve had to start buying mineral water for our ancient cat, Jerry. Being a reluctant cat owne(...)