Death, drink and Luke Kelly

For most people Ronnie Drew does not generate awe, more a warmth. People think they know him, they are easy with him. And when the story broke some weeks back that he had cancer, many who never met him in person were shocked. He is part of our cultural furniture. Whenever he dies there will be outpourings not just of appreciation but of affection. There is a raspish quality to his voice, not to his personality. He is gentle, modest, kind.

A restless tyrant, addicted to victory

Sixty five on New Year's Eve, Alex Ferguson has done it all at Manchester United with a reign so epic it demands comparison outside football. And he dismisses any suggestion that he retire as ‘scandalous'. By Ken Early


Turner, the painter of light

In 1900 Henry Vaughan bequeathed a number of pictures to the National Gallery of Ireland. These watercolour paintings and drawings are one of the finest collections of works by JMW Turner ever assembled. Turner belongs to a class of artists whose work grows steadily more significant as each new generation comes to recognise his genius.

McGahern – the jacket of the masquerade

Looking at the year that was, at least in literary terms, I come back again –  as we all will, for generations to come – on what was sung, and what was said, and what was suggested, then brought to life, by the late, great John McGahern. 


Dr John Neill: Singing from a different hymn sheet

Tipped to succeed Robin Eames  as archbishop of Armagh next month, Dr John Neill talks to Justine McCarthy about Protestant liberalism in public health, women priests, the age of consent and why he takes communion in Catholic churches while on the continent

'He loves wine, women, dancing'

In 1952, one of his paintings was denounced in Dublin as ‘satanic' and ‘repulsive'. Now it hangs in the National Gallery, making Louis le Brocquy the first ever living artist to have work acquired by the gallery


After Guantanamo

  • 13 December 2006
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Moazzam Begg was imprisoned for three years in Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, spending most of his time in solitary confinement. He was never charged with any crime. Fionola Meredith attended his Belfast lecture last month


The man of Monte Carlow

  • 13 December 2006
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The Bishop of Cloyne has said that Greencore's failure to implement a redundancy package for its former sugar workers “cannot be morally justified” and Siptu's general secretary accused the company of having “a voracious appetite for greed”. Justine McCarthy profiles Greencore's chief executive, David Dilger


Same sex, different story

  • 6 December 2006
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When Ann Louise Gilligan, a former postulant nun, met Katherine Zappone over 25 years ago, she had never heard the word ‘lesbian'. Now the two await a decision in their law suit against the Revenue Commissioners for failing to recognise their marriage. By Justine McCarthy

Justice and the Irish way

Nicky Kelly skipped the country after he was wrongly charged of involvement in the Sallins mail-train robbery in the 1970s. He tells Justine McCarthy about his time on the run, his abuse at the hands of gardaí, his political ambitions and his severe allergy to Clairol hair dye