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A Mad and Wonderful Thing

by Mark Mulholland

Cora is the love of Johnny’s life but Johnny is also passionate about the landscape and ancient legends of Irish folklore. Set in the Irish border town of Dundalk during the troubles of the 1990s, this novel explores the moral paradox that makes a gifted young man chose terrorism as a way of life. The lyrical charm of the Irish vernacular and romanticism of the writing lifts it from the usual searing, relentless nature of war stories.

Extract

... 'Can you imagine what's here, Johnny? Under our feet? This was the home of the king of Dundalk - a great chieftain, a chief among chieftains.'
'He wasn't called Bulla-Wolla, was he?'
'Shut up, Donnelly.' ...
'And over there," she points to the south-west, that's where he held his ground and challenged the invaders, and one by one the greatest warriors of the attacking army took him on, and one by one he killed them. And then Medb sent Fer Diad - his foster brother - down to fight him. Cuchulainn begged him not to fight, but Fer Diad had too much pride; he refused to retreat. Cuchulainn had to kill him, too.'
'Brother against brother. It's the curse of the Irish,' I interrupt, still holding her.

Parallels

The Dead Republic by Roddy Doyle
The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty
Amongst Women by John McGahern
 

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