Christmas: A Very Peculiar History by Fiona McDonald (Book House, 2010) (Children’s)
Just when you thought it was safe to take a sneak peek into your stocking, it's 'Christmas: A Very Peculiar History'. Taking an unbiased view of the myth and mystery surrounding the origins of the yuletide season, this book introduces mindbending facts about the holiday season and shatters the myths surrounding some of Christmas' most treasured and well-known facets: When exactly was Jesus born? Why is Santa's outfit red and white? Where do we get Christmas trees from? What's the snow in a snowglobe made of? What's Boxing Day all about?
'Christmas: A Very Peculiar History' takes a sideways look at bizarre yuletide customs and stories from around the world, such as Santa's evil sidekick, the terrifying Krampus, and the Scandinavian celebration of Saint Lucy. So leave the mince pies on the mantlepiece if you've been good and block up your chimneys if you've been bad, because 'Christmas: A Very Peculiar History' is here.
Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction by Tracy Borman (Jonathan Cape, 2013)
In Belvoir Castle, the heir of one of England's great noble families falls suddenly and dangerously ill. His body is 'tormented' with violent convulsions. Within a few short weeks he will suffer an excruciating death. Soon the whole family will be stricken with the same terrifying symptoms. The second son, the last male of the line, will not survive.
It is said witches are to blame. And so the Earl of Rutland's sons will not be the last to die.
Witches traces the dramatic events which unfolded at one of England's oldest and most spectacular castles four hundred years ago. The case is among those which constitute the European witch craze of the 15th-18th centuries, when suspected witches were burned, hanged, or tortured by the thousand. Like those other cases, it is a tale of superstition, the darkest limits of the human imagination and, ultimately, injustice - a reminder of how paranoia and hysteria can create an environment in which nonconformism spells death. But as Tracy Borman reveals here, it is not quite typical. The most powerful and Machiavellian figure of the Jacobean court had a vested interest in events at Belvoir.He would mastermind a conspiracy that has remained hidden for centuries.
Earth Voices Whispering: An Anthology of Irish War Poetry 1914-1945 by Gerald Dawe (The Blackstaff Press, 2013)
In the first half of the twentieth century, the men and women of Ireland experienced the brutal realities of a succession of wars - from the unrelenting casualties of the First World War, to the domestic upheavals of the 1916 Easter Rising and the Irish Civil War; from the romantic idealism of the Spanish Civil War, to the unimaginable horrors of the Second World War.
Earth Voices Whispering gathers together, for the very first time, a wide range of poetic voices that chart the human experiences of these wars. Featuring over two hundred and fifty poems by celebrated poets such as Francis Ledwidge, W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney, and including new poems by Derek Mahon and Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, the anthology records the thoughts and experiences of poets as soldiers, patriots, observers, protestors, medics and mourners. From patriotism to anger, passion to compassion, hope to regret, this groundbreaking new anthology embraces the complex reality of a rich, unique and historically overlooked period in Irish poetry.
Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women by Carol Dyhouse(Zed books, 2013)
Horror, scandal and moral panic! Obsession with the conduct of young women has permeated society for over a hundred years. Be it over flappers, beat girls, dolly birds or ladettes, public outrage at girls' perceived misbehaviour has been a mass-media staple with each changing generation. Eminent social historian Carol Dyhouse examines what it really meant to be a girl growing up in the swirl of twentieth-century social change in this detailed and empathetic history. She draws from a dazzling array of sources to piece together the story of girlhood, clearly demonstrating the value of feminism and other liberating cultural shifts in expanding girls' aspirations and opportunities, in spite of the controversy that has accompanied these freedoms. This is a sparkling, panoramic account of the ever-evolving opportunities and challenges for girls, the new ways they have able to present and speak up for themselves, and the popular hysteria that has frequently accompanied their progress.
Empires of the Dead: How one man’s vision led to the creation of WWI’s war graves by David Crane (William Collins)
Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction; the extraordinary and forgotten story behind the building of the First World War cemeteries, due to the efforts of one remarkable and visionary man, Fabian Ware.
Before WWI, little provision was made for the burial of the war dead. Soldiers were often unceremoniously dumped in a mass grave; officers shipped home for burial.
The great cemeteries of WWI came about as a result of the efforts of one inspired visionary. In 1914, Fabian Ware joined the Red Cross, working on the frontline in France. Horrified by the hasty burials, he recorded the identity and position of the graves. His work was officially recognised, with a Graves Registration Commission being set up. As reports of their work became public, the Commission was flooded with letters from grieving relatives around the world.
Critically acclaimed author David Crane gives a profoundly moving account of the creation of the great citadels to the dead, which involved leading figures of the day, including Rudyard Kipling. It is the story of cynical politicking, as governments sought to justify the sacrifice, as well as the grief of nations, following the ‘war to end all wars’.
Vintage Values - Classic Pamphlet Cover Design from 20th Century Ireland By Lir MacCarthaig ( Veritas, 2013)
This selection of cover art from the Veritas archive of Catholic Truth Society (CTS) pamphlets is nothing short of a revelation. This gift book showcases over one hundred high-quality pamphlet covers from the archives of the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland.
The collection unearths striking designs and illustrations by some of Ireland’s most inventive commercial artists from the 1920s to the 1960s, and offers a unique insight into Irish culture in the middle years of the twentieth century. Featuring works by artists such as George Altendorf, Karl Uhlemann and George Monks, this 128 page book is packed with eye-popping design. Titles featured include Don t Marry a Catholic!, Shall I Be a Nun?, Shall I Start to Drink?, Sister Felicitas Wins a Bicycle and many more.
Folktales of Waterford by Anne Farrell (Irish History Press, 2013)
Irish History Press have a fantastic folktales series that focuses on the folk stories of particular counties. They have about 12 counties covered including Waterford and Dublin.
The mountains and spectacular coastline of County Waterford are rich in traditional stories. Even in the modern world, old legends dating as far back as the days of the ancient Gaelic tribes, the carvers of the ogham stones, retain their power and resonance, and in this book they are gathered together in a collection of tales from across the county. Included are the tales of the legendary figures of Aoife and Strongbow, St Declan and the three river goddesses, together with stories of some of the less well-known characters such as Petticoat Loose, whose ghost is said to still roam the county, and the Republican Pig, who was unfortunate enough to become caught up in the siege of Waterford. In this vivid journey through Waterfords folklore, local storyteller Anne Farrell takes the reader to a place where legend and landscape intertwine.