Rosie (dir. Paddy Breathnach, 2018)

Irish films can often feel constrained or obsessed by their own context. The need to distinguish Ireland from other English-speaking countries, and the desire to assert our own distinctive way of speaking and acting, can put a grey cloud over a narrative, pushing more interesting qualities into the shade. “Rosie” avoids this pitfall, not least because of the skill of its screenwriter, Roddy Doyle. The film follows a mother as she attempts to find housing for her family, and in its simple, natural style, and logical plot development, it is a solid depiction of a…


Despite working in a cinema for over four years, I would never have called myself a film buff. Sure, I always enjoyed movies, but my actual knowledge of great cinema was quite limited. 2020 marked a big improvement on that. Over the course of the year, I watched over one hundred and fifty films: for the non-cineaste, a ridiculous figure, and for the true enthusiast, an entry-level attempt. Either way, it was an informative experience, and one motivation as I began writing my own screenplays in the autumn.

This was a difficult list to choose, and to cut it down…


I passed the early months of 2020 lockdown reading at a considerable rate, though this dropped off somewhat after the initial relaxation of restrictions. Overall, last year I read around forty-five books — for those who read little, this is an unimaginable figure, and for those who are true bookworms, this is a paltry display. In any case, it’s a large enough pool from which to choose ten favourites.

10. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

Ever since reading Calvino’s tiny story “The Black Sheep” in a Junior Certificate English textbook, I’ve wanted to visit the…


Note: Mild spoilers are contained below, though this is not exactly a plot-driven novel

As an occasional, unpaid book reviewer, it is difficult to decide what to write about. My opinions are not of interest to many, if anyone, and of the books I have read recently, there are few upon which I could make original comments. There is already so much content on the Internet that it is not obvious why I should add to it.

However, a book like Sally Rooney’s Normal People attracts comment and inspires discussion. Longlisted for the Man Booker prize, it has been hailed…


“Politics mean nothing to me. I don’t like people who are indifferent to the truth.”

— Boris Pasternak, “Doctor Zhivago”

DISCLAIMER: This is targeted at Irish readers. If you don’t understand the references to specific institutions, please google them, or read something else.

i.

I didn’t sit in a classroom until I was 18, when I took a photography course at my local college. For thirteen years, when others my age were in primary and secondary school, I was homeschooled. …


It may surprise you to hear this, but historians love fads. You may have thought that the guardians of knowledge about the past would be above such frivolities, but historians, just like most academics, are very susceptible to the latest intellectual trends. Whether it be social history, the cultural turn, microhistory, subaltern studies, digital humanities (still not sure what that is), revitalised editions of Marxism, or transnationalism, historical methodologies come in many new and interesting flavours, which in time become standardised options, reliable but slightly stale, just like their predecessors. …


We bemoaned the impersonality of the modern world, but that was a lie, it seemed to him; it had never been impersonal at all. There had always been a massive delicate infrastructure of people, all of them working unnoticed around us, and when people stop going to work, the entire operation grinds to a halt.

(Mandel, p. 178)

The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed, amongst other things, one of the other worlds that exists beyond our range of sight. In the world of last January, a world of neoliberalism and political prevarication, a time when governments would pay nations’ wages while…


The name Jürgen Habermas is familiar to anyone who took a college-level course on the French Revolution, or who read a little academic literature on media studies. Habermas is a German thinker, whose work includes a broad body of material on philosophy with which I shall not pretend to be familiar, and who wrote the seminal work The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962/1989). This text, cited endlessly by academics regardless of whether or not they have actually read it, describes the development of a modern public sphere in the 17th and 18th centuries, followed by its disintegration into…


Yuletide brings the advent of lists. Every conceivable aspect of the year is organised into a list and published online, to be read by bored people who are passing time between drinks. In my experience, the most remarkable feature of these lists is that they vanish from my mind the moment after I finish reading them. Despite this, I am contributing one more list. This one is a little different, in that it is not a ‘best of’ list, but rather a selection of books that, this year, I found particularly interesting.

I had the idea to put together this…


At the age of 16 I decided that, one day, I would write a novel.

I came to this while writing long fanfiction stories, which were of novel-length, albeit not of novel-quality. I would link them here but there is no point in ruining my reputation before I even begin to establish it. What I learned from writing these stories is that I enjoy the task of crafting a long tale, developing characters and charting plots in an arc that cannot be presented in shorter formats. …

Calvin Duffy

English, history, and other things. My first novel THE LAST WORLD is available on Amazon.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store