Colm Toibin: ‘I was editor of Magill at 27. I wrote my first novel as a way of keeping the daily business of Garret Fitzgerald and Charlie Haughey and all those stories at bay.’ Photograph: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for BFI 2:37

Colm Tóibín is not just famous; he has a public persona. The red-framed spectacles that hang round the writer’s neck are not quite so well known as(...)

William James: pragmatism is a way to tackle ordinary and intellectual issues

Society is full of moralisers: people who love to tell other people where they’re going wrong. Priests, pundits and even philosophers get in on the(...)

Creative power: WB Yeats as a young poet. Photograph: Bain/Library of Congress

Many years ago I gave a lecture at Queen’s University Belfast on a theme I have long since forgotten. After the lecture Prof Singh of the Italian d(...)

Irish outlook: George Bernard Shaw. Photograph: Ullstein Bild via Getty

In June 1915 WB Yeats wrote to his American friend and patron John Quinn about the Great War then raging across Europe. It was, he said, “merely th(...)

Ashley Judd: supporters of a basketball team posted tweets calling Judd a ‘whore’ and threatening her with sexual violence. Photograph: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Should we worry about Ashley Judd setting the cops on a bunch of Twitter-happy knuckleheads? There are certainly greater threats to the global communi(...)

JP O’Malley: ‘My hope, with this new event, is to bring the Irish expatriate community together for a regular night of culture and conversation.’

I interviewed the Irish novelist and journalist Colm Tóibín a few years ago about a book of essays he had just published, New Ways To Kill Your Mot(...)

Michael Hordern in a BBC adaptation of MR James’s Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad

1. The Rider on the White Horse by Theodor Storm One of the finest short novels in the German language, it has everything: ambition, passion, r(...)

Henry James: may well have been saying the same thing as contemporary teenagers, though he took longer to get it out. Photograph: Getty

Writing in the New Yorker recently, essayist Adam Gopnik made a strong defence of the teenage habit of punctuating every sentence with such terms as “(...)

Playful: Someone and Someone by Eva Rothschild from the exhibition Vestibule in Merrion Square Park, Dublin. Photograph: Evan Buggle.

If you venture into the park on Merrion Square in Dublin through the summer months, you’ll find some temporary additions to the usual sculptural tenan(...)

Victim of war: James Joyce around 1918. Photograph: C Ruf/Archive/Getty

Joyce finished the first chapter of Ulysses on June 16th, 1915, and it could not have been easy. The Berlitz school where he was teaching closed indef(...)