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Through Her Eyes: A New History of Ire­land in 21 Women

By Clodagh Finn

Gill, ¤19.99

This well-re­searched book looks at Ir­ish history from the Ne­olithic to the dig­i­tal era through the lives of 21 women. From ob­scure, pre­his­toric fig­ures such as the old­est wo­man in Ire­land whose bones were found un­der the Poulnabron­e dol­men, the Celtic god­dess Macha and the sixth-cen­tury St Dahlin, it moves on to the his­tor­i­cal Gorm­laith, who was mar­ried to Olaf, Norse king of Dublin, and later to Brian Boru; Aoife, daugh­ter of Der­mot MacMur­rough and wife of Strong­bow, and so on up to modern times. Stand­out fig­ures in­clude Lady Sligo, Hester Catherine Browne, who did much to help her ten­ants dur­ing the Great Famine, Leti­tia and Naomi Ov­erend, who left their Air­field farm to the State, and Jemma Red­mond , a biotech­nol­o­gist who 3D-printed hu­man tis­sue.

Above Av­er­age at Games By PG Wode­house Pen­guin Books, £25

Above Av­er­age at Games brings to­gether cel­e­brated comic nov­el­ist PG Wode­house’s writ­ings on sport. Th­ese are in the form of short sto­ries and brief dis­cur­sive es­says on cricket, golf, foot­ball, rugby and base­ball. Wode­house him­self ex­celled at some and was hope­less at oth­ers. He nev­er­the­less writes of them all with great acu­ity. The golf sto­ries in par­tic­u­lar are both hi­lar­i­ous and in­ci­sive; Wode­house bril­liantly sends up his own in­ep­ti­tude (he was an 18 hand­i­cap), while man­ag­ing to write of the sport with keen­ness of in­sight. It isn’t sur­pris­ing that Wode­house, to whom se­ri­ous­ness was anath­ema, wrote about sports: like life, they are mere games we take too se­ri­ously. –

The Man­ager’s Tale: New Ir­ish Cham­ber Or­ches­tra 1970-1980

By Lind­say Arm­strong

Somerville Press, ¤20/£18

Lind­say Arm­strong’s ac­count of the cre­ation of the New Ir­ish Cham­ber Or­ches­tra is a chron­i­cle of artis­tic vi­sion and an in­dis­pens­able record of con­cert-giv­ing. For any­one who wit­nessed it, it evokes vivid mem­o­ries, al­most en­tirely joy­ful. For those who didn’t – look what you missed. John Beck­ett’s Bach can­tata se­ries was an un­par­al­leled achieve­ment, while the or­ches­tra’s tours to China, the then USSR, the US, Bri­tain and Europe put Ir­ish clas­si­cal mu­sic on the in­ter­na­tional map. This was mu­sic-mak­ing at the very high­est level by soloists such as James Gal­way, Victor Malirsh and Mícéal O’Rourke, and the su­perb or­ches­tra con­ducted by An­dré Prieur and led im­pec­ca­bly by Mary Gal­lagher.

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