Getting to know Gilmore

He may be the second-most powerful politician in Ireland but it’s surprising how little most of us still know about Eamon Gilmore. In a surprising new book Leading Lights, the Labour leader reveals the people who have inspired him, setting out his vision for a better Ireland in the process. By Ed O’Hare.

Kerry's family way

A notable feature of election 2011 was the fate of numerous Irish political dynasties - Lemass-Haughey, Hanafin, Andrews, the narrow escape for the Lenihan and Cowen names. Owen O’Shea’s new book, Heirs to the Kingdom, examines how a handful of families have kept control of political power in Kerry since the War of Independence, and asks if this really serves the interest of the Irish people. Edward O'Hare has read it.

Living the life of Riley

Unavailable for years, Anthony Cronin's The Life of Riley is a first-rate comic novel, about life in the bohemian Irish cultural scene of the 1960's, that also manages to pack a serious punch. Ed O'Hare pays tribute.

On the stage and on the rocks

Unnatural Pursuits and How's That For Telling 'Em, Fat Lady?, playwright Simon Gray's painfully funny account of two shambolic productions of his works in London the 1980's, are the most amusing and eye-opening theatrical memoirs yet written. By Edward O'Hare.

Looking back: Charles Dickens, the wisdom of the heart

Charles Dicken's novels like A Christmas Carol may be much-loved classics but today's readers should not ignore the ingenuity of their social commentary nor forget that their anger at injustice was born of Dickens' own childhood deprivation. By Edward O'Hare

The Ice-Men Cometh

Of the multitude of Irish books published this Christmas Great Endeavour, Michael Smith's superb celebration of Irish Antarctic explorers, is the one that deserves a place beneath the tree. By Ed O'Hare

Trapped in the net

For all its benefits the internet might not be the universal friend we believe. In his new book The Shallows Nicholas Carr argues that it has a serious drawback: it is turning us into superficial minds addicted to information highs and endangering our ability to contemplate deeper questions of existence. By Ed O'Hare.

The sense of an ending

Veteran American author Don DeLillo's latest novel Point Omega may be his shortest but it is a distillation of all the themes that make him a unique figure in modern literature. By Edward O'Hare.

America, September 2006.

New exhibition offers healing for our wounds

A whirlwind tour of the cream of Irish visual art, The Moderns, is an outstanding exhibition which offers too much for a single visit. By Edward O'Hare

It's a misconception that for the first two thirds of the 20th century Ireland existed in a kind of self-contained cultural bubble, safely removed from the artistic developments unfolding at a dizzying rate elsewhere.

Conservative MP writing for environmental change

The environment is in terrible danger but Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith sees the fight against global warming as an opportunity to re-start civilization. The Constant Economy, his new book, is a convincing programme for change which shows how each individual can do their part. Review by Ed O'Hare

Of the many commentators who have examined the global economic collapse few have looked outside the business sector at the wider forces which have brought it about.