“GK Chesterton was certainly no ascetic, enjoying cigars and alcohol as well as food. Unlike most saints, he was also happily married.”

An Irishman’s Diary on the English novelist who was a ‘friendly enemy’ to Shaw

George Orwell: his novel 1984, published 70 years ago today, contains what has been dubbed “one of the strangest coincidences in literature”. Photograph: Getty Images

Orwell's 1947 essay 'Towards European Unity' is still relevant today

Peter Doyle and Walt Whitman, circa 1869. Photograph: Courtesy of William R. Perkins Library, Duke University, Trent Collection.

Irishman's Diary: Born 200 years ago, Peter Doyle was poet's lifelong companion

Yumi Katsura: ‘When I met Grace Kelly (above), I understood the real meaning of “elegant”  as a verb.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Antimeria sounds like a female relative of a certain age who bosses everyone around

Exiled in Paris, Joseph Roth  foresaw the grim future, writing to his friend and benefactor Stefan Zweig: ‘It will have become clear to you now that we are drifting towards a great catastrophe.’ Photograph: Getty Images 

An Irishman’s Diary: Geneva Convention and Radetsky March are part of its legacy

Jamie Dornan (right) in the  war drama, The Siege of Jadotville.

Sister of 16-year-old solider tells Trinity audience how her brother never fully recovered

Crack/craic: William Shakespeare would have put a K in it. Image: Painting known as the ‘Chandos portrait’/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

An Irishman’s Diary: The bard’s ‘cracker’ was somebody who talked big

In his book on the life of V V Giri (above), Irish Days, Indian Memories, Conor Mulvagh notes that the cafe on Dublin’s Henry Street was watched closely by police and their agents. Photograph from the cover of the book, published by Irish Academic Press

An Irishman’s Diary on a historic Henry Street premises

The sign over Dublin’s Lord Edward Pub (a fine old establishment itself, by the way), opposite Christchurch, is considered by Paddy Cullivan considered to be a crime against art. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

An Irishman’s Diary takes a sideways look at 1798 commemorations

As for the general pandemic of I-word abuse, its effect on us allergy sufferers is grievous, even in the context of a story like the one from Paris, where the adjective would ordinarily have been useful. Above, a damaged section of Notre-Dame Cathedral after Monday’s fire. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

‘It didn’t help that the Notre Dame fire was an event unusually worthy of the word’

If there is any consolation in this week’s disaster, it’s that much of what was destroyed, including the spire, dated only from the reconstruction that started in 1841. Photograph: Yoan Valat/ EPA

I watched the sad TV pictures as if from the bookstore Shakespeare & Co, on the Seine’s left bank

If any songbird deserves a joint writing credit for Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the ortolan bunting is the one. Photograph: Getty Images

The Brexit Yellowhammer connection and a bird of a different feather

 Sean Cox’s wife Martina meets Mick McCarthy, Robbie Keane and President Michael D Higgins at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Liverpool and Ireland heroes of yesteryear in united display of solidarity at fundraiser

Members of the Odorikko dance group enjoy a walk on the grounds of Farmleigh House ahead of their show at the Japanese Hanami festival in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Ritual of Senkotsu requires the family to reassemble, disinter the body, and wash the bones

None of the reconstruction team asked for any payment, only a regular supply of tea

An Irishman's Diary by Frank McNally on a community’s good deed

The Chicago River as it winds its way through downtown after being dyed green. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Picture yourself floating in a boat on a river, rendered bright green by a tangerine dye

The important people eat, the press simply look on.  Photograph:  Press Eye

Historical humiliation leads to tradition of press starvation during St Patrick’s week

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and  US president Donald Trump in the White House on March 14th. Photograph: Department of the Taoiseach/Government Press Office

US president has previously said he intends to come to Ireland ‘at some point this year’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and US president Donald Trump in the Oval Office on  March 14th:  When Varadkar got a word in edgeways, it came as a surprise he was still there.  Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

US president praises Taoiseach’s popularity with céad míle fáilte in Oval Office

Congressman Richard Neal and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the American Ireland Gala Fund dinner at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Varadkar and partner having breakfast with Pence before talking Brexit with Trump

The Emperor Diocletian chose this date in 303AD to launch his great persecution of the Christians. Photograph:  CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images

Frank McNally: Termons were places of sanctuary too, even for those fleeing justice

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne: speaking at the Islands of the Mind conference in June.   Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

An Irishman’s Diary: Getting a taste for Robinsonade, a 300-year-old literary genre

By dropping the apostrophe, James Joyce turned Finnegans Wake into a statement: commanding Finnegans everywhere to rise from the dead. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images By dropping the apostrophe, James Joyce turned Finnegans Wake into a statement: commanding Finnegans everywhere to rise from the dead. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images By dropping the apostrophe, James Joyce  turned Finnegans Wake into a statement: commanding Finnegans everywhere to rise from the dead. Photograph:  Hulton Archive/Getty Images By dropping the apostrophe, James Joyce  turned Finnegans Wake into a statement: commanding Finnegans everywhere to rise from the dead. Photograph:  Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Frank McNally on some of the literary inspirations of James Joyce’s Dublin

 Former British Labour party MP Chuka Umunna  at the Independent Group Party launch and press conference in London, on  February 18th, 2019, where seven MPs announced their resignation from the Labour Party, and the formation of a new independent group of MPs.  Photograph: Vickie Flores/EPA

An Irishman’s Diary: How the Milmo name revealed a varied past

  Dan Hogan had all the confidence of a new generation rising to power. Photograph: Courtesy of Monaghan County Museum

An Irishman's Diary on General Dan Hogan who raised the Tricolour in Dublin Castle after handover from British rule

 The “Super Blood Wolf Moon” over Marseille. Photograph: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

The guilt and Fomo had returned. That light cloud could easily have cleared

 ‘A separate category, which depends on the celebrity of the recipient, is to send a letter to, say, “Pat Spillane” and include one or more expletives in place of an address.’ Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

An Irishman’s Diary on the magic of An Post at Christmastime

What would George Bernard Shaw have made of Tom Waits’s voice, howling like a drunken hobo? Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Yulenight serenade – Frank McNally on a mixed blessing of Christmases past

John Steinbeck: The writer’s maternal grandfather had indeed been a Samuel Hamilton, who left Ireland in the dark year of 1847, and later married Elizabeth Fagan, also from the old country. Photograph:  Keystone/Getty Images

Frank McNally digs deep into the author’s Irish ancestral connections

‘Like me, the lad from England had a big interest in both Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien (above)’.

Frank McNally: When he said, ‘You look younger than the picture’, there was only one possible reply

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