New books on Mountjoy, conscription and George Bernard Shaw
Dublin, 23 February 1918 - The appetite of publishers and readers for books on history and current events shows little sign of abating.
Among the crop of new titles to emerge in recent months are books on recent Irish prison experience, a history of conscription and a biography of one of the most outspoken current commentators on our public life.
Memories of Mountjoy is a small volume by Seán Milroy that recounts his experiences over four months at Mountjoy Prison in the early summer of 1915, where he was confined at the ‘pressing invitation of dear old General Friend’. Milroy’s fellow prisoners at Mountjoy included Seán McDermott, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, Sean Hegarty and Liam Mellowes, though none of these feature significantly in the pages of his book.
Milroy has taken John Mitchel’s famous Jail Journal as a model, but it is unlikely his account will be held in similar esteem.
As one reviewer has already noted, Mr Milroy is at a disadvantage in that he is ‘neither a master of irony nor even a good hater. On his sternest fits of cold fury cheerfulness comes breaking in, and though he tells himself he does well to be angry he cannot maintain the pose for long.’
Equally topical is The Case for Compulsory Military Service by G.G. Oulten, a much larger volume which traces the history of conscription from the days of the Roman Republic to the present and, given the temperature of our times, his analysis is as certain to gain derision as it is support.
Finally, there is a new biography of the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw. Written by Herbert Skimpole, Bernard Shaw: The Man and His Work seeks, its publishers claim, to depict the writer ‘not as a living legend, but as a very contemporary human being’.
[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]