Standing My Ground: The Autobiography
by Brendan Cummins
Brendan Cummins has made more senior hurling championship appearances than any other player in the history of the game. In an era that produced such brilliant goalkeeping talents as Davy Fitzgerald, Donal Óg Cusack and Damien Fitzhenry, many would argue that Cummins has earned the right to be considered the greatest of them all.
Following his League debut for Tipperary in November 1993, Cummins went on to play at the top of the intercounty game for 19 consecutive seasons. He won two senior All Ireland medals, five Munster championships, four League titles and five All Star awards.
From fearless shot-stopping to pinpoint accuracy on his puck-outs, Cummins was unrivalled in the consistency of his performances, a consistency underpinned by a sometimes punishing physical commitment, mental discipline and great attention to detail. He was the rock upon which Tipperary built their team under many managers and changes of personnel.
Brendan Cummins' story is the story of Tipperary hurling over the last two decades. The ups and downs. The dramas. The characters. From his senior championship debut in 1995 under Fr. Tom Fogarty to his final games under Eamon O’Shea, Cummins has seen it all. Standing My Ground is a remarkable account of an extraordinary career.
Nothing On Earth
by Conor O'Callaghan
It was a time when nobody called. Early evening, the hottest August in living memory.
A frightened girl bangs on a door. A man answers. From the moment he invites her in, his world will never be the same again.
She tells him about her family, and their strange life in the show home of an abandoned housing estate. The long, blistering days spent sunbathing; the airless nights filled with inexplicable noises; the words that appear on the windows, written in dust.
Where is her family now? Is she telling the truth? Can the man be trusted? Beautiful and disturbing, her story – retold in his words – reaches towards those frayed edges of reality where each of us, if only once, glimpses something nobody will ever explain.
The Hurley Maker's Son
by Patrick Deeley
Patrick Deeley's train journey home to rural East Galway in autumn 1978 was a pilgrimage of grief: his giant of a father had been felled, the hurley-making workshop silenced.
From this moment, Patrick unfolds his childhood as a series of evocative moments, from the intricate workings of the timber workshop run by his father to the slow taking apart of an old tractor and the physical burial of a steam engine; from his mother’s steady work on an old Singer sewing machine to his father’s vertiginous quickstep on the roof of their house. There are many wonderful descriptions of the natural world and delightful cameos of characters and incidents from a not-so-long-ago country childhood.
In a style reminiscent of John McGahern’s Memoir, Deeley’s beautifully paced prose captures the rhythms, struggles and rough edges of a rural life that was already dying even as he grew. This is an enchanting, beautifully written account of family, love, loss, and the unstoppable march of time.
A Slanting of the Sun: Stories
by Donal Ryan
An old man looks into the fearful eyes of a burglar left to guard him while his brother is beaten; an Irish priest in a war-torn Syrian town teaches its young men the art of hurling; the driver of a car which crashed, killing a teenage girl, forges a connection with the girl’s mother; a squad of broken friends assemble to take revenge on a rapist; a young man sets off on his morning run, reflecting on the ruins of his relationship, but all is not as it seems.
Donal Ryan’s short stories pick up where his acclaimed novels The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December left off, dealing with the human cost of loneliness, isolation and displacement. Sometimes this is present in the ordinary, the mundane; sometimes it is triggered by a fateful encounter or a tragic decision. At the heart of these stories, crucially, is how people are drawn to each other and cling on to love, often in desperate circumstances.
In haunting and often startling prose, Donal Ryan has captured the brutal beauty of the human heart in all its hopes and failings.
Man and Ball: My Autobiography
by Stephen Ferris
'When I came into the Ulster team,' Stephen Ferris says with typical candour, 'we were crap'. It was, however, preferable to his day job of paving driveways, and that day in 2005 saw the start of an incredible journey for Ferris, Ulster and Ireland rugby. A Celtic League title in his very first senior season with Ulster. A Grand Slam in 2009, followed by a sensational Lions breakthrough. A starring role in Ireland's greatest World Cup win, over Australia in 2011, when Ferris famously picked up Will Genia and carried him ten yards. And leading Ulster from nowhere to the Heineken Cup final.
Stephen Ferris had an incredible rugby career, tragically ended by ankle injuries so severe they will never properly heal. He is an inspiration to the population of Ulster, an emblem of the sport that serves as such a positive expression of its culture and identity, and earned the respect and admiration of fans across Ireland for his strength, pace, skill and courage. Fearless, funny and full of an incredible array of stories from behind the scenes of Ulster, Ireland and the Lions, this is the must-have rugby book of the year.