Paeonia officinalis (1873), watercolour on paper by Lydia Shackleton, courtesy of the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.

I have never been able to grow peonies. They are, apparently, among the easiest and most reliable flowering plants, so I can only conclude that I lack(...)

The MV Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt, last month. Photograph: ©Maxar Technologies via AP

Who was not gripped by the unexpected drama of the Suez Canal? One very large ship and a big gust of wind and all of a sudden international shipping w(...)

As US first lady, Michelle Obama advocated for modernisation of the nutrition label. Under President Donald Trump, the FDA rolled back the new regulation. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

It’s January and I suspect most of you have spent some time thinking about a c word. No, I don’t mean Covid. I mean “calorie”. Despite the efforts of (...)

Prize Dogs at the Dublin Dog Show, an image of the first dog show in 1864, from the Illustrated London News. Image courtesy of the Board of Trinity College Dublin

In the spring of 1864, Dubliners gathered at a new entertainment. They paid one shilling to enter an inauspicious wooden building behind the Rotunda H(...)

Interior of a peasant family’s hut during the Great Famine, 1845-1849.  Illustration from The Life and Times of Queen Victoria, by Robert Wilson. Photograph:  The Print Collector/Getty Images

‘Are not all manly appeals lost upon on a scoundrel who lives with his pig, like his pig; and every but the way he should live – ON his pig.” So wrot(...)

Charles Darwin, who published On the Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals in 1872,  dismissed the use of paintings and sculpture for studying emotion. Photograph: The Natural History Museum/PA

If you had even dipped a toe into certain circles of Twitter last week you couldn’t have missed the outrage frothing around a recent paper in Nature b(...)

Simon Harris at the launch of the public awareness campaign about Covid-19 at Dublin Airport. File photograph: Alan Betson

The colour yellow will never feel the same. No longer just the colour of jaunty raincoats and the giant Ikea sign, yellow is now the reminder that we (...)

Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co Cork, where the tops of the walls are home to flowering grasses, mosses and heathers. File photograph: Paddy Whelan

At a distance Charles Fort in Kinsale looms up from the landscape in shades of grey stone but once you get closer you can see that its surface is actu(...)

A farmers’ market in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China. How we manage livestock may have a direct bearing on whether we can avoid future pandemics of zoonotic diseases.  Photograph: EPA/Alex Plavevski

There has been an understandable rush to see the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to rethink aspects of modern life. Working from home has been touted(...)

A toast to ‘sweethearts and wives’ on board the Endurance, during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-17, led by Ernest Shackleton. Photograph: Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty

As the pandemic drags on, a lot of people have been looking to history for insights. Much focus has been on the parallels between coronavirus and past(...)

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