Sunday, October 12, 2008


I was taken by the cover , the blurb and the first page (usually my gauge of whether I will read a novel) of James Bradley’s “The Ressurectionist” (Faber and Faber: paperback: 10.00 euro) It has a darkly gothic feel to it, set in the atmospheric landscape of eighteenth century London and revolving around an eminent pathologist and his team. The plot revolves around a junior member of the anatomical crew whose role as apprentice involves preparing bodies for study- yes I know it sounds gory, but as I said the sub-plot, sold in the blurb definitely hooked me in! Unfortunately, although the book started well in terms of plot and characterisation, it soon drifted away from being like Defoe’s “Moll Flanders” and became more like the Rocky Horror Show. The depictions of the autopsies and the procurement of cadavers for the work gradually took over the writing until they became repetitious and even gratuitous. I stopped reading just under half way through, and it’s a pity because Bradley is a good writer, but sadly he missed an opportunity with this particular novel.

In order to satisfy my need to read something gothic I actually went back to the bookcase and pulled out a novel I had first read about 25 years ago “The Woman in White “ by William Wilkie Collins (Paperback – World Classics, no idea how much it is now, but it’s more that £1.50!) I was not disappointed. The novel was originally published in serial form in the 1860’s, just as his contemporary, Charles Dickens’ work first came to public attention. Again set initially in London, the sinister tale tells the story of Anne Catherick, the enigmatic “Woman in White”, who was actually based on an encounter that Collins had with a woman who was later to become his partner. The story is told in an interesting way in that it is divided into a series of narratives, told from the perspective of different characters in the book. The plot twist an and turns and is a classic gothic mystery tale, peppered with a cast of quirky and larger than life characters, including a superbly hateful villain- Count Fosco. If Bradley’s novel was more style than substance then Collins’ superb storytelling skills deliver on every front. It’s quite a long book, so give yourself time to reads it- it took me most of the summer. His other novels are also recommended, again from readings many years ago. “The Moonstone” is particularly good- having the distinction of being one of the first ever detective novels.

On a completely different note I also read “Hateship, friendship,courtship, loveship, marriage” by Alice Munro (Paperback: Vintage:10.80 euro)I have been a fan of Munro’s since I read another of her collections of short stories “Runaway” a few years ago. She really has mastered the art of the short story genre. Her tales are like small worlds unto themselves, typically featuring a very normal, sometimes careworn heroine. They are stories that I’m sure most women find it easy to identify with and her brand of wisdom is engaging and touching. All of them have a very distinctive Canadian feel and she describes her homeland with a mixture of fondness and irony, which I liked. It is a super collection and the form of the short story is great for picking up and putting down if you are busy.

On the listening front I was back up at Russborough in August for the Celine Byrne concert- again in the fabulous surroundings of the saloon. As the evening grew darker the candlelight really lent itself to the many beautiful arias she sang for us. Accompanied by an excellent pianist and also by her male colleague Eugene Ginty, it really was a treat for the ears and eyes. The two singers performed lots of favourites such as “Oh! My beloved father” and “Nessun Dorma” as well as several songs from one of my favourite musicals – “West Side Story”. Rathangan born Celine has a magnificent voice as well as a lovely natural way with an audience, I would certainly go to see her again, especially if it was in the perfect setting of Russborough.



The results of the 2008 Tidy Towns competition were announced just as the Bugle was going to press. Ballymore Eustace achieved a massive nineteen point increase over last year’s score - an even larger increase than last year – and, again, putting us second in our category in Kildare.

A summary of the Adjudication Report appears below:

A big thank you to everybody who contributed to this success:
· The Tidy Towns Group (including Tommy Deegan, Gary Deegan, Catherine Fisher, Mary & Eric Firth, Maeve Cummins, and Mary Deegan. )
· Our marvellous FÁS Team - Frankie Burke and Ian Furlong – who are out in all weathers (including the summer that was in it) keeping the village and the River Walk pristine.
· Our faithful “Monday Night Clean‑Up Team” - members of the Tidy Towns Group, and Geraldine Lawlor - who collect the litter that other people so kindly donate.
· The many people who worked quietly, modestly and consistently behind the scenes – including Jimmy Pearse, and Martin Deegan.
· The KCC Street Cleaning Team - under the auspices of Joe Boland (Director of Services, Environment & Water Services, KCC), Dara Wyer (Environment Education Officer, KCC) and the supervision of John Fallon (Environmental Crew Leader, KCC) - who have worked so well. Thanks to them our drains and culverts are clean, clear, and rubbish free. Weeds have been eradicated from the walkways and pavements. In all our dealings with them we have received full, willing, and motivated cooperation.
· Last, but not least, all the householders who keep their homes and surrounds so beautiful, colourful, tidy, and clear of litter and weeds.

We hope to include a more detailed analysis, highlighting the good and bad points from the Adjudication Report, in next month’s Bugle. This year’s result will be a hard act to follow.

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