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The Butchers

***WINNER of the 2021 RSL Ondaatje Prize***

‘I binged it like a Netflix show
… It’s stunningLuke Kennard, author of The Transition
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A photograph is hung on a gallery wall for the very first time since it was taken two decades before. It shows a slaughter house in rural Ireland, a painting of the Virgin Mary on the wall, a meat hook suspended from the ceiling – and, from its sharp point, the lifeless body of a man hanging by his feet.

The story of who he is and how he got there casts back into Irish folklore, of widows cursing the land and of the men who slaughter its cattle by hand. But modern Ireland is distrustful of ancient traditions, and as the BSE crisis in England presents get-rich opportunities in Ireland, few care about The Butchers, the eight men who roam the country, slaughtering the cows of those who still have faith in the old ways. Few care, that is, except for Fionn, the husband of a dying woman who still believes; their son Davey, who has fallen in love with the youngest of the Butchers; Gra, the lonely wife of one of the eight; and her 12-year-old daughter, Una, a girl who will grow up to carry a knife like her father, and who will be the one finally to avenge the man in the photograph.

Mary Lou McDonald

Mary Lou McDonald is the bookies’ favourite to be Ireland’s next Taoiseach. She would be the first woman to reach the office, and the first Sinn Féin leader ever to enter government in the Republic of Ireland. But how did a quintessentially bourgeois woman end up as the leader of a political party with such a recent terrorist past? And was her change of allegiance from Fianna Fáil to Sinn Féin ideological or opportunistic?

Shane Ross’s scrupulously fair and balanced biography illuminates McDonald’s political awakening, her relationship with the hard men of the IRA, and the evolution and future of Sinn Féin.

Ireland

A fascinating cornucopia of facts about Ireland and the Irish, covering its history, culture, land and people.

In this enthralling celebration of the places and people that make the country unique, Richard Killeen takes the reader on a tour of Ireland that reveals its rich and surprising history, including its heroes and villains, legends and folklore.

As well as exploring the nation’s rich literary and sporting heritage, Ireland: 1,001 Things You Need to Know also reveals the best of the country for those visiting today, from Dublin pubs to the nation’s finest beaches.

This captivating miscellany holds a treasure trove of information that tells the story of this alluring and bewitching country anew.

Unnatural

From the Irish bestselling author of Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan comes a short story about modern love, old-fashioned values and a new-born calf.
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While the country gears up for a referendum, a man sits waiting with a ring in his pocket…

He has known his girlfriend since they were children, though they have become quite different adults. He lives in the city, she works on a farm. She’s voting YES, he doesn’t know what he’s doing; what exactly it is he believes.

But he does know that he makes her laugh and that their connection feels natural, most of the time. So surely there’s a decent chance she will say YES to him too?