Civility as a civic and political virtue goes a lot deeper than mere politeness and has been in rather short supply for the past three years in the politics of Britain and (with few exceptions) in the politics of Northern Ireland since 1921.  It will be interesting to see if the anti-civility pathogen has spread South with an end to the extended Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael handfasting and in the current general election campaign. Photograph: PA

‘Civility costs nothing and is easily carried’, my father used to say. He was talking about ordinary politeness in everyday life, at work, in company (...)

The funeral of Matty Maher, the Kilkenny-born proprietor of McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York City, who died on January 11th, aged 80. The funeral was held at the Holy Trinity church in Whitestone, New York. Photograph: Lauren Crothers

McSorley’s Old Ale House, opened by Irish immigrant John McSorley in 1854, is the oldest Irish pub in New York, where sawdust on the floor provides a (...)

In a country where politicians are mostly respected, Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy would never have been viable. File photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The best line in Steven Spielberg’s otherwise inert biopic of Abraham Lincoln comes from one of the president’s dodgy middlemen. His job is to induce (...)

If your family demand you  consistently come top of your class, you might be wise not to take that demand seriously. But are you sure they are even demanding this?

In separate conversations in Dublin and Belfast recently, high levels of stress among third-level students came up. Some of those I spoke to attribute(...)

Ghosts are usually supposed to come from the past. They are revenants, spiritual leftovers from some trauma that has not been properly reconciled. But(...)

James McGovern, a recently retired teacher who led his school to win a record haul of awards for public speaking competitions. Photograph: Patrick Browne
Secrets of school debating success

As a young teacher in CBS Enniscorthy in the mid-1980s, I took over the coaching of the public speaking and debating teams as an extracurricular activ(...)

British prime minister Boris Johnson ‘is a smirking dilettante who fancies himself an intellectual’. File photograph: Getty

‘Stop treating all this like a game,” a frustrated Ken Clarke, veteran Tory MP, told Boris Johnson on the floor of the House of Commons recently. Cla(...)

Trump announced plans for a major firework display at the Lincoln Memorial. ‘Like no one had ever thought of fireworks on the Mall before’- this photo from 2000. Photograph:  William Philpott Reuters

Halloween is sugary. Thanksgiving is fattening and fraught. Christmas is expensive. New Year’s Eve is annoying. Memorial Day is laced with melancholy.(...)

Members of rebel commander Khalifa Hafter’s Libyan National Army head out of Benghazi to reinforce troops advancing towards Tripoli, on April 7th. Photograph: Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

The UN envoy for Libya has made his strongest attack yet on the military strongman Khalifa Haftar as his forces intensify their assault on the capital(...)

Statue of Robert Emmet on Embassy Row at 24th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, Washington: How Lincoln came to be familiar with Emmet’s speech is not known. Photograph: Carol M Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty

On a leafy corner of northwest Washington stands a statue of Irish nationalist hero Robert Emmet. The bronze statue is one of four scattered around (...)

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