Magdalene laundries

A cursed place: Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan, reviewed

Claire Keegan’s tiny, cataclysmic novel takes us into the heart of small-town Ireland a few decades ago, creating a world that feels in certain respects dead and buried but whose legacy the country is still processing. This is Ireland before the boom and bust of the Celtic Tiger; before the insidious, everyday power of the Catholic church began to be eroded by the exposure of multiple abuse scandals; before its population voted overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality and access to abortion. Yet in other respects the life it describes is familiar, and the Wexford town of New Ross, dominated by the River Barrow and governed by the rhythms of

A funny time to be Irish: The Rules of Revelation, by Lisa McInerney, reviewed

Lisa McInerney likes the rule of three. Three novels set in Cork structured around sex, drugs and rock’n’roll and, within that, ‘smoke, coke and yokes [ecstasy], St Paddy’s modern trinity’. The Rules of Revelation follows her debut, The Glorious Heresies (winner of the 2016 Women’s Prize; in its focus on the relationship between teenagers Ryan and Karine, it represents the sex component) and its sequel, The Blood Miracles (drugs, 2017). It reprises Glorious Heresies’ movement between multiple characters, Ryan Cusack (centre of Blood Miracles) seen through them. Ryan has returned to Cork, where bad blood waits for him, barely congealed and threatening, darkly, to ooze out at any moment. Ostensibly