‘Their interests have been comprehensively ignored by those with power. In all the rhetoric of “tough choices” and “hard decisions”, they have been the soft target, the easy option.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Wonderful as it is, same-sex marriage is not the human rights issue of our generation. The most urgent human rights issue is the same for this generat(...)

On Friday, Ireland stopped being afraid of itself. The No campaign was all about fear — the fear that change could have only one vehicle (the handcart) and one destination (hell). And this time, it didn’t work. 0:37

The overwhelming victory for the Yes side in the marriage equality referendum is not as good as it looks. It’s much better. It looks extrao(...)

Don’t sweat the small stuff: Kate Lydic and Hamish Allan-Headley in The Belle of Belfast, staged by the Irish Repertory Theatre

Does an Irish play have to be written by an Irish playwright? If culture is now globalised, who has national rights on any particular story? Does auth(...)

‘Irish marriage has already changed in far more fundamental ways than is now being proposed. And those changes haven’t destroyed it. They’ve purified it by rooting it, not in systematic discrimination against women, but in the love between equal people.’ Photograph: Getty Images

When I wed in 1983, I was thrilled to be with my wife but not really proud to be married. There were too many shameful things about Irish marriage.As (...)

Hungry hills: Patrick Kavanagh could write with great lyric power about the ordinary life of an ordinary farm. Photograph courtesy of the Wiltshire Collection/National Library of Ireland

The world looks on And talks of the peasant: The peasant has no worries; In his little lyrical fields He ploughs and sows; He eats fresh fo(...)

‘They want to shoot their bad guys – gay men and lesbians – but they end up blasting away at everybody else as well. Kill them all and let God sort them out.’  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Did you ever see those simulation games they use for training police officers in firearms? There’s a realistic urban setting of crowded buildings in w(...)

As well as the Sesame Street characters, the icing was to have the Queerspace logo and the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. The evangelical Christian McArthur family, which owns the bakery, refused the order because it would be “at odds with our beliefs”. Photograph: Getty Images

So, this week’s battlefield in the culture war is a cake decorated with pictures of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. The verdict in the Belfast “gay(...)

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(...)

‘In the Coen Brothers’ The Hudsucker Proxy, Tim Robbins plays a guy who works in the mail room of a big corporation. He keeps trying to get the men in suits to look at his great new design idea. When they finally agree to see it, it is a piece of paper with nothing on it except a large O.’ Above,  Robbins and Paul Newman in a scene from  The Hudsucker Proxy. Photograph: Warner Brothers/Getty Images

The movie that runs on a loop in Official Ireland might be called The Story of O. Or perhaps The Paddysucker Proxy, after the Coen Brothers’ The Hu(...)

Slaughter: a British heavy field gun on a cliff top at Helles Bay, Gallipoli, in 1915, laid over a new photograph of the location, on the Aegean Sea. Photographs: Ernest Brooks/Getty and Sean Gallup/Getty

Could we perhaps declare a cultural moratorium for the rest of the decade of centenaries? A moratorium, that is, on the use of a word and its variatio(...)