* Being Various edited by Lucy Caldwell * Her Kind by Niamh Boyce * My Coney Island Baby by Billy O'Callaghan * Notions by John Kelly By Hilary A White Welcome to Ireland, land of saints, scholars and exceptional essayists. Yes, it seems that this little island in the Atlantic is becoming a habitat for finely calibrated, lyrical and scorchingly perceptive non-fiction musings about all corners of the human condition. This year sees two titles continue to make the case following last year's now-canonical Notes to Self by Emilie Pine. The nursery of music journalism has gone on to produce many fine writers and Ian Maleney and Sinéad Gleeson are the latest examples. The former moulded the disintegration of memory, the peaty midlands and the realm of sonic manipulation into a thing called Minor Monuments (Tramp Press), a sensual collection if ever there was one. Gleeson, meanwhile, gifted Constellations (Picador) to the world, her compendium of gold-leafed riffs, rhymes and mini epics … [Read more...] about 50 books for summer holidays
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Up to six million people are visiting the capital every year. Many throng the pubs of Temple Bar, mill around Trinity College and visit the Guinness Storehouse as tourist buses line up, bumper to bumper, along Nassau Street. In other European cities, tourists pay a tax to cover the costs of some of the services they use when they are visiting - and many of these charges are increasing. So, is it time to impose a similar charge here? As one tourism commentator puts it, destinations around the world are now raising more tourist taxes than a medieval king preparing to go to war. Where once tourists were considered a blessing, now in some places they are considered a curse who should be forced to cough up some of their hard-earned holiday money almost as soon as they unpack their bags. Dublin may not have reached that stage yet, but at times the crowds can become overbearing. Visitors may bring in welcome revenue to a city, but the hordes of visitors can also come with costs. Their … [Read more...] about Duty bound: Is it time to tax Ireland’s tourists?
The Dublin-born, Berlin-based opera director has been listing off why The Magic Flute is among the most daunting of productions to take on. I'm starting to think she may be the bravest person I've met in a long time. "It's famously difficult to get right," she continues happily. "It's grammatically chaotic, the stop-start element in the text is problematic, and even if you're a fluent German speaker, the construction is particular to its time. Casting is also extremely difficult because of the vocal range needed. Mozart arias always sound glorious but almost none of them are easy to sing, mostly because he had such a sophisticated musical ear. The singer has to keep thinking and working through an aria, it's never just 'listen to me sing'." That's just the technical side, she explains. If she was going to accept Irish National Opera's invitation to travel back to her homeland and put on a nationwide touring production of Mozart's convoluted and best-known work, what would she bring to … [Read more...] about ‘It’s an opera with a lot of baggage’
Commentators did their best. One pointed out that at the peak of the last cycle, ECB rates were more than 4pc. Imagine what that would do to a big variable mortgage. It did not seem to have much effect. Interest rates have been low for a long time. Like the boy who cried wolf too often, the warnings have lost their force. Instead, a more familiar situation is developing. Last week the rate on German government debt went negative, meaning banks and other investors are willing to pay a small percentage for the privilege of holding Berlin's bonds. After more than a decade - perhaps two - the pattern remains intact. Central banks think first of avoiding recession. But the possibility of recession also raises the possibility of real problems with our debt. On the face of it, this should be no surprise. Household debt amounts on average to 15 months' disposable income - what is left to be spent after tax. That is a lot better than the 25 months' reached in 2003, but it is still a large … [Read more...] about Brendan Keenan: ‘Can we stop worrying and learn to live with our debt mountain?’