The Wind That Shakes The Barley , by Paul Laverty

bookshelves: film-only, autumn-2014, britain-ireland, skoolzy-stuff, published-2006

Read on September 01, 2014

 

Watch Here

Description: The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a 2006 Irish war drama film directed by Ken Loach, set during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922) and the Irish Civil War (1922–1923). Written by long-time Loach collaborator Paul Laverty, this drama tells the fictional story of two County Cork brothers, Damien O’Donovan (Cillian Murphy) and Teddy O’Donovan (Pádraic Delaney), who join the Irish Republican Army to fight for Irish independence from the United Kingdom. It takes its title from the Robert Dwyer Joyce song “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” a song set during the 1798 rebellion in Ireland and featured early in the film.

Widely praised, the film won the Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Loach’s biggest box office success to date, the film did well around the world and set a record in Ireland as the highest-grossing Irish-made independent film ever.

The plot (wiki sourced): County Cork, Ireland, 1920. Dr. Damien O’Donovan is about to leave his native village to practise medicine in a London hospital. Meanwhile, his brother Teddy commands the local flying column of the Irish Republican Army. After a hurling match, Damien witnesses the summary execution of his friend, Micheál Ó Súilleabháin, by British Black and Tans. Although shaken, Damien rebuffs his friends’ entreaties to stay in Ireland and join the IRA, saying that the war is unwinnable. As he is leaving town, Damien witnesses the British Army vainly trying to intimidate a railway guard and the train driver for refusing to permit the troops to board. In response, Damien decides to stay and is sworn into Teddy’s IRA brigade.

Powerful, gruelling and very sad in parts. Of course it is, it’s war.

Listen to the Rebel Ballad that gave rise to the title:

I sat within a valley green,
I sat me with my true love,
My sad heart strove the two between,
The old love and the new love, –
The old for her, the new that made
Me think on Ireland dearly,
While soft the wind blew down the glade
And shook the golden barley.
Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
Twas harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, “The mountain glen
I’ll seek next morning early
And join the brave United Men!”
While soft winds shook the barley.
While sad I kissed away her tears,
My fond arms ’round her flinging,
The foeman’s shot burst on our ears,
From out the wildwood ringing, –
A bullet pierced my true love’s side,
In life’s young spring so early,
And on my breast in blood she died
While soft winds shook the barley!
I bore her to the wildwood screen,
And many a summer blossom
I placed with branches thick and green
Above her gore-stain’d bosom:-
I wept and kissed her pale, pale cheek,
Then rushed o’er vale and far lea,
My vengeance on the foe to wreak,
While soft winds shook the barley!
But blood for blood without remorse,
I’ve ta’en at Oulart Hollow
And placed my true love’s clay-cold corpse
Where I full soon will follow;
And round her grave I wander drear,
Noon, night and morning early,
With breaking heart whene’er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley.

The Spinning Heart

 

Description: In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.

Dedication:

to the memory of Dan Murphy

Opening: MY FATHER STILL lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn’t yet missed a day of letting me down. He smiles at me; that terrible smile. He knows I’m coming to check is he dead. He knows I know he knows. He laughs his crooked laugh. I ask is he okay for everything and he only laughs. We look at each other for a while and when I can no longer stand the stench off of him, I go away. Good luck, I say, I’ll see you tomorrow. You will, he says back. I know I will.

Rashomon effect at play in a small town after the Celtic Tiger died, the local employer went to the wall, and rotting canker was all that was left of where hearts used to be.

‘There’s a red metal heart in the centre of the low front gate, skewered on a rotating hinge. It’s flaking now; the red is nearly gone. It needs to be scraped and sanded and painted and oiled. It still spins in the wind, though. I can hear it creak, creak, creak as I walk away. A flaking, creaking, spinning heart.’

Bobby, the main-stay of these linked stories: ‘I had that King Lear’s number from the start, well before the teacher started to break things down slowly for the thick lads: he was a stupid prick.’

The Ballroom of Romance

 

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, britain-ireland, lifestyles-deathstyles, families, love, published-1972, summer-2014, under-50-ratings

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read on August 30, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f8nxx

Description: Niamh Cusack reads one of William Trevor’s greatest short stories, set in an isolated dance hall in Ireland.
Each Saturday night, 36-year-old Bridie leaves her ailing father, and cycles to the Ballroom of Romance, a wayside dance-hall where the local men and women meet to dance, talk and perhaps find love. For twenty years Bridie has cycled the seven miles there and back again; now, no longer a girl, she knows her chances of romance are fading but still there is Dano Ryan.

Reader: Niamh Cusack
Producer: Justine Willett
Writer: William Trevor – born in 1928, William Trevor is widely regarded as one of the greatest contemporary writers of short stories in the English language. He has won the Whitbread Prize three times and has been nominated five times for the Booker Prize, most recently for his novel Love and Summer. Last year he was awarded the inaugral Charleston/Chichester Award for a Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction

As you can tell, I am very partial to an atmospheric penned by William Trevor:

3* Love and Summer
3* The Collected Stories
3* Cheating at Canasta
3* A Bit on the Side
4* Death in Summer
4* The Hill Bachelors
WL The Children of Dynmouth
3* My House in Umbria
3* Reading Turgenev
3* The Ballroom of Romance
3* Angels at the Ritz
3* The Distant Past

The Winship Family by Michael J. McCarthy

 

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Description: From his humble beginnings in 1851, as the son of a native Irish gardener, Seamus Tobin endures a terrible tragedy that leaves him orphaned in early childhood. His fortunes change when he is adopted by his father’s employer, the lord of an ancient Anglo-Irish estate in County Cork and a leading member of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy in Ireland.

As James Winship, the young man lives the life of a privileged aristocrat, as the young master in the Great House and in school at Eton College and Oxford University. But he squanders the opportunities in a series of misjudgments and mishaps. A final chance at redemption is afforded him as a cavalry officer in British India, where he learns to play polo, hunts wild game, befriends the local rajah, and, most dramatically, leads his troops in a series of pitched battles against the Empire’s enemies.

Returning home to Ireland, James Winship becomes involved in the Irish independence movement, which dominated British politics for nearly forty years, working with Charles Stewart Parnell and William Ewart Gladstone.

A duel at Dieppe

Opening:THE FATHER, William Winship, The Eighth Lord Milleston. London April 1850: Lord Milleston’s Choice.

The Carleton Club, one in the morning: Entering his rooms, William Winship felt a little light-headed. Stetching out on the couch, replaying the day in his mind, he thought, What the hell is going on?

Hmm, that was not exactly an attention grabbing start and as it turned out the whole caboodle was dry and lacklustre. A lot was told not shown, and the episodic nature drove me mad. So, not what you could call a bad encounter, yet I have no urge to read the next two books when I have Trinity in the TBR. Two Irish tricolours:

I thought I would get into the swing of things. FutureLearn course: ‘Irish Lives in War and Revolution, Trinity College Dublin’ starts next Monday.

Firefly Summer by Maeve Binchy

bookshelves: britain-ireland, lifestyles-deathstyles, summer-2014, published-1987, play-dramatisation, radio-4x, flufferoonies, gambling, filthy-lucre, fradio, period-piece

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 12 to 22, 2014


Description: Kate and John Ryan have four children, of whom the eldest are Michael and Dara. Their small town is peaceful and friendly, an unchanging background for a golden childhood. In long, hot summers Michael and Dara and their friends fish and swim or play in the ivy-clad ruins of Fernscourt, the great house burned down during the Troubles…

No one in Mountfern has the slightest inkling of what it will mean when the ruins are bought by Patrick O’Neill, an Irish American with a dream in his heart and a great deal of money in his pocket. It is not until the very end of this drama, with its interlocking stories of love lost and won, ambitions nurtured and secrets betrayed, that Patrick O’Neill will understand the irony and the significance of his great dream for Mountfern.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007jnq4

1/6 Mountfern is a quiet Irish village, until the arrival of ambitious American Patrick O’Neil. Stars David Soul and Anna Healy.

2/6 Can American Patrick O’Neil win support for his plans for the Irish village of Mountfern?

3/6 Patrick O’Neil’s plans for a new hotel in the village of Mountfern face a terrible setback

4/6 Patrick O’Neil’s plans for a new hotel in Mountfern turn sour after Kate’s terrible accident.

5/6 Patrick O’Neill’s new hotel in Mountfern is nearly finished but the legacy of Kate’s accident lingers.

6/6 O’Neill’s new hotel is due to open, but his son’s recklessness may ruin everything.

3* Tara Road
3* Firefly Summer
4* No Nightingales, No Snakes

Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín

bookshelves: lit-richer, britain-ireland, published-2014, wexford, period-piece, net-galley, e-book, summer-2014, bellybutton-mining, aga-saga, families, lifestyles-deathstyles, politics, newtome-author

Read from July 15 to 18, 2014

 

Description: It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She is fiercely intelligent, at times difficult and impatient, at times kind, but she is trapped by her circumstances, and waiting for any chance which will lift her beyond them.

Colm Tóibín’s Nora is a character as resonant as Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary and Nora Webster is a novel that illuminates our own lives in a way that is rare in literature. Its humanity and compassion forge an unforgettable reading experience.

Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy in 1955. He is the author of seven other novels, including The Blackwater Lightship, The Master and The Testament of Mary, all three of which were nominated for the Booker Prize, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.

Opening: ‘You must be fed up of them. Will they never stop coming?’ Tom O’Connor, her neighbour, stood at his front door and looked at her.
‘I know,’ she said.
‘Just don’t answer the door. That’s what I’d do.’
Nora closed the garden gate.

A quiet and intense character study, beautifully written and utterly compelling as I sit in my ‘Babette’s Feast’ of a rented cottage far from civilisation, with the Danish mist swirling in the twilight; close by, the swish and babble of small waves on the shore. However, not everyone will have the pleasure of being in such an evocative atmosphere when they crack this one open and, right there at that point, they will ask for more of a story than is offered here.

No need go into the storyline, there is enough of that in the description, yet I can tell you the atmosphere built up over even the smallest of encounters is deliciously unsettling, claustrophobic and brittle, and you will want to hug those two boys to your chest until they relax their pent up worries within the safety of encircling arms. Preposterous as it sounds in this Wexford slice of life on the tragic side of the track, there are some amusing parts where you find yourself smiling along with the schadenfreude and oneupmanship on display: no one here is unflawed, and that includes the titular persona.

By the end and against the back drop of the troubles there is real character growth in all the players involved, and some of these transitions leave their marks, which is the way of life; things have a way of working out. Three and a half reduced-price shop-display turntables, upped to four because I was thoroughly anxious for the wellbeing of the family.

Today, 18th July 2014, ‘Nora Webster’ is number thirty three on the listopia Man Booker Prize Eligible 2014 and doesn’t look the strongest Irish contender. We shall see next week, 23rd July, just which make it onto the longlist.

The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry

bookshelves: summer-2014, published-2014, radio-4, gambling, britain-ireland, afr-ghana, under-500-ratings, mental-health, wwii

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 07 to 22, 2014

 

BABT R4

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b045z7sg

Description: Jack McNulty is a ‘temporary gentleman’, an Irishman whose commission in the British army in the Second World War was never permanent. In 1957, sitting in his lodgings in Accra, he urgently sets out to write his story recounting his strange and tumultuous marriage to the elusive great beauty of Sligo, Mai Kirwan, and the inevitable fate that he now feels compelled to reconcile himself with. He feels he cannot take one step further, or even hardly a breath, without looking back at all that has befallen him. He is an ordinary man, both petty and heroic, but he has seen extraordinary things.

The Temporary Gentleman is, ultimately, a story about a man’s last bid for freedom, from the savage realities of the past and from himself.

Ciarán Hinds is one of Ireland’s most prolific and esteemed actors. His many television and film credits include: Game of Thrones, Munich, The Sea, Road to Perdition, There Will Be Blood, Frozen, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Woman in Black and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Read by Ciarán Hinds
Abridged by Neville Teller
Producer Gemma McMullan.

1/10: Jack McNulty recounts his past hoping he can at last find the freedom he desperately needs

2/10: Mai invites Jack home to Grattan House to meet her father.

3/10: In Accra, Jack receives a surprising visit from the Ghana Police Force.

4/10: Is Jack and Mai’s wedding day a sign of things to come?

5/10: Mai’s happiness at returning to Grattan House is short-lived.

6/10: Mai and Jack receive some startling news which could be their saving grace.

7/10: On a trip home, Jack is horrified to discover how bad things have become at home.

8/10: An inspector from the Ghana Police Force warns Jack to watch his back.

9/10: Can Jack and Mai ever regain the love they once had for each other?

10/10: Returning with Tom to his village, Jack witnesses a remarkable life-changing event.

I wallowed in this misery with the same delight that any Thomas Hardy potboiler by torchlight under the covers often shivered me to awestruck admiration.

CR The Secret Scripture
4* The Temporary Gentleman
2.5* On Canaan’s Side

The Sensitive: Underground Man by Alastair Jessiman

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-2006, radio-4, play-dramatisation, glasgow, ghosties-ghoulies, britain-ireland

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read on May 12, 2014

 

Afternoon drama in two parts

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042l782

Description: In this two part thriller, partly set in Glasgow’s disused underground tunnels, psychic detective Thomas Soutar searches for an ex soldier who may have killed two men. Then Kat, Thomas’s girlfriend, disappears….

Episode 1: Glasgow’s disused underground tunnels are the hunting ground for an injured ex-soldier who threatens to kill three men he holds responsible for cheating him out of an inheritance. When one of the men under threat goes missing, Glasgow psychic, Thomas Soutar, helps police in their search – but Thomas and his girlfriend, Kat, soon find there’s danger much closer to home.

Episode 2: Two men are dead and the police are searching Glasgow’s disused underground tunnels for their prime suspect, an injured ex-soldier. Psychic Thomas Soutar senses that danger is imminent – but the realisation comes too late to prevent his girlfriend, Kat, from disappearing. By Alastair Jessiman.
Thomas……………………….. Robin Laing
Kat……………………………….Julie Duncanson
Brodie…………………………. Simon Donaldson
George…………………………Finlay Welsh
DI Crawford…………………..Stevie Hannan
Paul……………………………. Finlay McLean
WPC…………………………….Sharon Young

The Guts by Roddy Doyle

bookshelves: radio-4, britain-ireland, dublin, series, fradio, amusing, music, families, published-2013, spring-2014, midlife-crisis, medical-eew, religion, roman-catholic, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-richer

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from January 31 to April 28, 2014

 

R4

Description: Twenty six years on and we are back in Dublin with Jimmy Rabbitte, the ex-manager of The Commitments. Jimmy is now 47, married to Aoife and has 4 kids. Life has been rather good since we last met him, keeping a foot in the music industry and doing well during the boom. However, life is about to change for them all as Jimmy has just discovered he is ill. This is a story about friendship and family, about facing death and opting for life and maybe, just maybe, realising you can still live the dream.

Who needs an excuse to play van Morrison anyway! And this one. My significant other and I loved listening to this.

Going To Hell was performed by More Than Conquerors.
Adapted by Peter Sheridan
Producer: Gemma McMullan
Directed by: Eoin O’Callaghan.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b041v063

4* The Commitments
3* The Snapper
3* The Guts
WL The Van
1* Bullfighting: Stories

History of the Rain by Niall Williams

bookshelves: published-2014, spring-2014, newtome-author, library-in-norway, fradio, britain-ireland, radio-4, amusing, books-about-books-and-book-shops, families

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from April 09 to 26, 2014

 

BABT – Looks delicious!

Description: We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or to keep alive those who only live now in the telling.

Nineteen year old Ruth Swain is lying in her childhood home in the small Irish village of Faha in the attic room at the top of the stairs in the bed which her father had to construct in situ and which turned out to be as much boat as bed. She has Something Wrong with her, having collapsed during her fresher year at Trinity in Dublin, and finds herself bedbound in the attic room beneath the rain, in the margins between this world and the next.

Ruth is in search of her father. To understand the father she has lost. To find him Ruth journeys through the ancestry of the curious Swain family – from the Reverend Swain her great-grandfather, to her grandfather Abraham to her father Virgil – and in doing so discovers an enchanting story of pole-vaulting, soldiering, stubbornness, leaping salmon, poetry, the pursuit of the Impossible Standard, and the wild rain-sodden history of fourteen acres of the worst farming land in Ireland. Above all, Ruth embarks on a journey through books. Three thousand, nine hundred and fifty-eight books to be precise, which are piled high and line the walls of her attic room. As Ruth searches for her father in their pages, her story becomes a vital, witty and poignant celebration of imagination, books, love and the healing power of storytelling.

History of the Rain is the latest novel from Niall Williams, the author of bestselling novels including As It is In Heaven, The Fall of the Light, Only Say the Word and Four Letters of Love which is currently being adapted into a film.

Abridged by Doreen Estall
Read by Ailish Symons
Producer Heather Larmour.

Episode 1: Witty and poignant story of a woman’s search for her deceased father.

Episode 2: Ruth has Something Wrong with her, having collapsed during her fresher year at Trinity in Dublin, and finds herself bedbound in the attic room beneath the rain, in the margins between this world and the next.

Episode 3:Ruth tells of her father’s education and recalls a significant moment in her own.”

Episode 4: Ruth follows the course of her father’s story as it leads to the sea.

Episode 5: Ruth relates the curious circumstances in which Virgil first met her mother.

Episode 6: Virgil must find some work in Faha, whilst Ruth undergoes more tests.

Episode 7: Ruth recounts the arrival of her and her twin Aeney into her father’s life.

Episode 8: Ruth relates the events that led to a devastating family tragedy

Episode 9: When Virgil stops writing poetry Ruth and her mother devise a scheme to help

Episode 10: As Ruth nears the end of Virgil’s story, is she any closer to finding her father?

Listen here