Another high quality publication from the Royal Irish Academy, ‘to mark a century of creativity in the year of commemorations’. The structure has been to select one writer/artist/intellectual for each year since 1916 to whom a short (500 words) essay is devoted accompanied by a full-page illustration. Thus the sequence starts with James Joyce in 1916 followed by Seán Keating in 1917, Pádraig Ó Conaire in 1918 and so on. The 100 subjects were compiled by the RIA, in partnership with The Irish Times, and the collection is edited by Fintan O’Toole. The essays are contributed by eighteen worthy academics which may explain why Harry Clarke’s Eve of St Agnes was chosen rather than his Geneva Window.
Most of the artists and writers featured in the series have been profiled in the RIA’s Dictionary of National Biography, as was the case in their excellent Portraits and Lives 1916 volume, illustrated by David Rooney, earlier this year. It is another presentation of some of the basic material in the DNB that took so much time and effort to assemble in the first place.
John Mulcahy is the editor of the Irish Arts Review.