‘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

The Donnelly headstone in Lucan, Ontario. Photograph: Gerard Walsh

Frank McNally on an Irish feud that escalated in 19th-century Canada

Although there appear to have been three different Patrick Sheehans wounded during the Siege of Sebastopol, the one in the ballad was probably from Ennistymon, Co Clare. Lithograph of the Siege of Sebastopol/Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images Lithograph of the Siege of Sebastopol. The sans Pareil and The Agamemnon engaging Fort Constantine. Lithograph by A. L. Morel-Fatio. Dated 1854. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

Frank McNally: ‘As printed a week later, the song fitted Sheehan with a classic Irish backstory of eviction, parents dying in the (...)

Ireland celebrate victory over New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

‘The Fields of Athenry’ rang out at the Aviva as Ireland neared historic win

The memorial gardens at Islandbridge. The new bridge will not reach as far as Phoenix Park but a new pedestrian crossing is expected to be introduced, linking bridge and park via existing cycleways. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Lutyens’s design as part of his Irish National War Memorial Gardens has March deadline

A frame from the documentary film ‘The Battle of the Somme’. The soldier carrying a wounded comrade through trenches at the Battle of the Somme may have been Charlie Brennan from Finglas.

An Irishman’s Diary for 'They Shall Not Grow Old' and the missing voices

 Actor Noel Purcell in 1980. File photograph: Kevin McMahon/The Irish Times

Frank McNally rewrites the classic tune, ‘A Dublin Saunter’, for today’s capital city

Soldier and war poet Wilfred Owen, in uniform, with a young boy, circa 1917. Photograph:  Evening Standard/Getty Images

An Irishman’s Diary: WB Yeats was notoriously unimpressed by Owen’s poetry

Fr Joseph Foy’s grave in Ballina.

Fr Joseph Foy was as much feared for his curses as he was sought for his blessings, which could assure favoured families they woul(...)

Frank De Groot raises his sword to cut the ribbon

An Irishman’s Diary: Frank De Groot was dragged off his horse and faced charges including malicious damage to the ribbon  

Re-enacting support for the 1798 rebellion: The group includes French ambassador, Stéphane Crouzat. Photograph: Henry Wills

Vive la République (de Connacht): Frank McNally joins French tourists on a very special re-enactment

GK Chesterton: rallied to his country’s side

Frank McNally – An Irishman’s Diary

 Maud Gonne. Photograph: Courtesy of the Yeats Society of Sligo

Frank McNally: An Irishman’s Diary

President Michael D Higgins and Sabina admire the Big Tom statue in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Bronze statue of beloved singer unveiled in Castleblayney at climax of inaugural festival

David Power: world premiere at the National Concert Hall of a new work inspired by his version of a very old Irish tune, ‘Gol na mBán san Ár’

An Irishman's Diary on a resurfacing victim of the 'Beast from the East'

The Rocks of Bawn were famously unploughable. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

An Irishman’s Diary on the Rocks of Bawn

A frame from the documentary film ‘The Battle of the Somme’. The soldier carrying a wounded comrade through trenches at the Battle of the Somme may have been a Dubliner.

Frank McNally – An Irishman’s Diary

Europe’s bread basket – southern Russia and Ukraine – was cut off by the Crimean conflict

Frank McNally: An Irishman’s Diary

Peter Kay: Lancashire comedian has the old country on his mother’s side

Frank McNally: An Irishman’s Diary

 Michael Fitzsimons of Dublin and Peter Harte  of Tyrone in action on Sunday’s All-Ireland final. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

An Irishman’s Diary: We despair about Gaelic football and romanticise hurling. It's a national sport

The Monaghan Way, near the border with south Armagh. Ninety-five of the Border’s 208 crossings are between Monaghan and its three northern neighbours, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh.

History inescapable on sinuous boundary between Monaghan and neighbours in North

 Targets with only a moustache or beard were addressed as ‘walrus’ or ‘beaver’. A man with both was called ‘Royal Beaver’. Photograph: iStock 

Frank McNally: An Irishman’s Diary

Sligo Rose Julie Patterson, Galway Rose Deirdre O’Sullivan and Carlow Rose Shauna Ray Lacey. Photograph: Collins

Frank McNally: An Irishman’s Diary

Paddy Jaques was to George Orwell (above) typical of all the vagrants he met during his own, self-imposed period in the gutter. Photograph: Getty Images

‘Orwell agreed with the dictum: you are what you eat. And he thought poor Paddy had eaten badly, when at all, for too long’

Juan Manuel de Rosas and his daughter boarding Centaur, February 4th, 1852, Rio de la Plata, South America, illustration from L’Illustration, Journal Universel, No 474, Volume XIX, March 27th, 1852

Camila, the Argentinian-born granddaughter of a Co Clare man, eloped with a Jesuit priest

Aisling Fionnuala Considine was the full name of a veteran crossword compiler who died last month, aged 90, after 72 years on the job and, according to one account  setting more puzzles than anyone else in history

An Irishman’s Diary: ‘Her mother was Delia Murphy, the singer, her father Thomas J Kiernan, one of our first and most distinguishe(...)

Delighted Monaghan fans at Pearse Park, Salthill celebrate the  victory over Galway which earned the county a semi-final place against Tyrone. Photograph:  Laszlo/Geczo

Frank McNally on the trials and tribulations –and rare ecstasy – of being a life-long Farney supporter

Karl MacDermott: comic writer juggles anarchic humour with wise insights to yield universal truths.

Karl MacDermott’s imagination and instinct display wit and wisdom on human condition

‘And every creek a banker ran,/And dams filled overtop;/We’ll all be rooned, said Hanrahan,/If this rain doesn’t stop.’ Photograph: Getty Images

An Irishman’s Diary: ‘As the poem progresses, the prayed-for deluge arrives, in Biblical quantities, until that too becomes a prob(...)

James Patrick Craig’s preference, revolutionary in its own way, was that rules and spelling should be founded on the language as it still lived, wherever that was. But since he spoke the Donegal version himself, he thought that the best place to start.  Photograph: David Sleator/THE IRISH TIMES

An Irishman’s Diary: James Patrick Craig may be largely forgotten, but his songs live on

Remembering Gen Humbert (centre in big hat) and troops in a re-enactment at his home in Saint-Nabord last month.

An Irishman’s Diary on a weekend in Lorraine

Portrait of Brian O’Nolan, by his brother Mícheál Ó Nuallain

An Irishman’s Diary about Arthur McBride and Flann O’Brien errors

An Irishman’s Diary on why Irish bogs sometimes cough up hairballs

Antony Gormley’s ‘Tree  for Waiting for Godot’ will be exhibited in the Grand Yard at Castle Coole in Enniskillen as part of the Happy Days Festival. Photograph: antonygormley.com

Soft Border, Hard Beckett: An Irishman’s Diary

Kinnegad – A warm welcome. Photograph:  Bryan O’Brien

Flat but unflattered – An Irishman’s Diary

Playing the blues in Heuston Station in Dublin

An Irishman’s Diary on the music of trains

Aloys Fleischmann (left) playing chess in Oldcastle Camp, Co Meath. He was interned as an “enemy alien” during the first World War.

Guests of the Nation – An Irishman’s Diary

Square hay bales in Carrick-on-Shannon

An Irishman’s Diary: Square bales in a round hole

If the Costello Memorial Chapel has any claim to architectural fame, it is as the smallest of its kind in Europe

Magaluf of the Midlands or Irish Taj Mahal?

‘I told my youngest, Daniel, that I might tag along on the way to his last day in sixth class, seeing how nice the weather was.’ Photograph: Frank McNally

An Irishman’s Diary: For the past 15 years I got to walk the kids around the Royal Hospital Kilmainham

‘A squadron of Dublin gurrier seagulls swooped low overhead, two of them dropping ordinance within metres of where I stood.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

An Irishman’s Diary: Birdies, ducks and the outer plumage of the Ouzel Galley Society

‘Depressing as this spectacle was, it also had the strange effect of bringing Behan even more alive than his sculptor, John Coll, had.’ Photograph: Frank McNally

Brendan Behan gazes forever at a blackbird singing beside him. But on Monday, he seemed to be surveying the rubbish

‘It may be that, as experts suggest, their mating period has already passed, and that while human wedding season is only starting, the ducks have moved on, in every sense.’

The ducks were still wild animals, even after weeks of turning up for breakfast, dinner, and tea, with an ever-increasing air of e(...)

Republic of Ireland fans at the European Championships in 1988. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

In six days in Germany in 1988, Ireland learned we could do a little better as a country

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