Browsers: A fascinating read about the three men behind Ireland's 'second revival'

Published date18 March 2023
Publication titleIrish Times: Web Edition Articles (Dublin, Ireland)
The author argues that Ireland experienced a "second revival" in 1958-63, similar to the late-19th/early-20th century "Celtic Revival", which stimulated the country's economic, social and cultural expansion. Beginning at a time of deep economic and cultural depression, it was spearheaded by "mandarin" TK Whitaker, "musician" Seán Ó Riada and "mage" Thomas Kinsella. Whitaker, the young secretary of the department of finance, masterminded the "First Programme of Economic Expansion"; Ó Riada's (assistant director of music at Radio Éireann) Mise Éire revolutionised Irish music, and emerging poet Kinsella was private secretary to Whitaker and close friend of Ó Riada. Self-confident, intellectually gifted and internationally minded, they opened Ireland up to the wider world. How much they consciously and consistently co-operated is debatable but the book is no less fascinating for that. Brian Maye

Between the Chalk and The Sea by Gail Simmons (Headline, £22)

Curiosity about red lines on a 14th-century map and a desire to explore the role of pilgrimage in 21st-century life led travel journalist Gail Simmons to walk The Old Way. This rediscovered medieval pilgrimage route traverses chalk uplands parallel to the coastline between Southampton and Canterbury. Simmons imagined Alice of Southwick, a 14th-century merchant's wife, as her companion on this 250-mile adventure, a choice which allowed her to "travel vertically, delving deep into the landscape, journeying through time rather than space". We too are compelled to slow down...

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