Tag Archives: ireland

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

19 Jun

Say Nothing
Growing up in the 1990s, I had a vague awareness that there was a conflict in Northern Ireland between the Irish Catholic and British Protestant populations, but my understanding of what is called “The Troubles” didn’t go much deeper than that. It was hard for me to understand why Belfast was one of the most dangerous cities in the world when the rest of western Europe had entered a sustained period of peace following World War II. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe is not just a great true crime story about the unsolved crime of a mother who was abducted and murdered during this time period. It is also a great introduction to a history of the brutal violence that rocked Northern Ireland for decades and the complex historical reasons why that violence was so intractable for so long.

Most of the main characters in Say Nothing are members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), a group who became known for their violent tactics after a peaceful civil rights movement in Northern Ireland had failed to bring about change. Many IRA members weren’t even out of their teens when they joined paramilitary gangs and helped carry out bombing campaigns against the British. Although they faced ruthless discrimination by the British, there is no doubt that the IRA was responsible for a wave of terror that killed civilians. While they were seen as folk heroes to some and terrorists to others, Keefe is less interested in condemning or praising the IRA than in exploring how people turn to violence, how we justify continuous cycles of violence, and how people reckon with their violent pasts.

The Troubles is very recent history and many of the people who participated in the violence are still alive and active in public life. Although the violence in Northern Ireland has decreased tremendously since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the country continues to cope with its past. The death of Jean McConville in 1972, whose unsolved murder is woven in throughout Keefe’s history of the Troubles, presents a compelling example of how extreme violence from the past can continue to effect a society decades into the future. What does truth and reconciliation look like in a country recovering from a history of deep sectarianism and paranoia?

Besides being available in print you can also borrow Say Anything as an ebook and digital audiobook from eLibraryNJ.

Interested in learning more about Ireland?  You can find documentaries with a variety of perspectives on Irish history on Kanopy including Together in Pieces: Street Art & Politics in an Evolving Northern Ireland and Collusion: The IRA Against the British Army.

Written by:
Karl Schwartz
Young Adult Librarian

Take a Virtual Vacation with these Travel Shows on Hoopla Digital

7 Mar

After a stressful day, sometimes I find it can be hard to shut off my brain, at those times I often find it comforting to read a book, but another favorite way to unwind is by watching a travel show and drifting off to sleep imagining my own virtual vacation.  Here are a couple shows that Hoboken Library Resident Card Holders can check out from Hoopla and take a relaxing virtual trip, no passport required.

The Kimchi Chronicles

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The Kimchi Chronicles stars Marja Vongerichten who was the daughter of a Korean woman and an American GI who was adopted by Americans, but returned to Korea to find her birth mother.  The Kimchi Chronicles moves between showing Marja sampling mouthwatering food and experiencing Korean culture while exploring Korea with friends and relatives, and her and her talented French husband Jean Georges creating Korean-inspired dishes back home.  Several of their celebrity friends, including Hugh Jackman and Heather Graham, make appearances in some episodes.  I enjoyed how each episode focused on a different ingredient such as pork or areas such as Seoul.  If you are like me and can’t get enough of Korean delicacies check out a previous post were I discussed Edward Lee’s Korean/Southern Fusion Cookbook/Memoir, Smoke and Pickles.

Café SecretsSeason 1 and Season 2


Café Secrets is a charming series about the Café culture in New Zealand with popular Kiwi food writer and former café owner, Julie Le Clerc.  Each episode features recipes from the café owners as well as some of Julie’s own café classic recipes.  The series is a bit heavy on product placement, but this didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the show.  I appreciated that the series explored not just the cafés, but also the local communities, with Julie taking part in local events from participating in a fashion show to helping out in a community garden.  Those looking for more New Zealand travel/cooking shows may want to check out New Zealand with Nadia Lim (the Masterchef New Zealand winner travels and cooks her way around her native country) and Cook the Books (featuring a variety of New Zealand Cookbook authors, including Julie Le Clerc in one episode).

The Shelbourne HotelSeason 1 and Season 2


The Shelbourne Hotel is a Dublin landmark which recently celebrated its 190th birthday.  The TV series gives a behind-the-scenes looks of the running of the hotel as it celebrates holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, has special events like a historic tasting menu, and hosts celebrities like a Rugby team.  From living through my own renovations at the library and at home it was interesting to see how the hotel coped with their own restoration of their historic structure.  The show portrays the hotel in a very positive light so don’t expect juicy gossip, but it is perfect for those looking for a quaint virtual trip.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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