Colin Irwin

In Sarch of the Craic.jpg

In Search of the Craic: One Man's Pub Crawl Through Irish Music. British journalist Colin Irwin may have spent much of the seventies and eighties as  assistant editor of Melody Maker and written about singer-songwriters, folk rock, and traditional folk for The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent,  Mojo and fRoots but his real passion, from what I can gather through reading In Search of the Craic lies in the traditional Irish music that might find its way from time to time into concert halls and major venues but is best sampled in the environment from which it emerged. Doing that, at least as far as Irwin is concerned,  involves an extended pub crawl through the back blocks of the Irish countryside with the occasional spell in a major centre and regular encounters with characters who may or may not be legends of the genre (though he tracks down plenty who are).

Late nights, early morning, the black stuff by the bucket load and an abundance of music provide the fuel that powers a book that's part travelogue, part music history, part whimsical observation and high on the Enjoyable Read Index

On the strength of this one I'd be interested in tracking down his In Search of Albion: From Cornwall to Cumbria: A Ride Through England's Hidden Soul though I think I'll be giving his biographies of Dire Straits and Abba the big flick pass.

Tony Moore

Death or Liberty, a history of the political prisoners sent to Australia from England, Scotland, Ireland and North America between the early settlement at Sydney Cove until transportation ended in 1868 focussing on the use of transportation as a punishment for protest, agitation, rebellion, dissent and riot. An interesting read with implications for a couple of my fiction projects.

Peter Trickett 

Beyond Capricorn: How Portuguese adventurers secretly discovered and mapped Australia and New Zealand 250 years before Captain Cook. Over the years there have been a number of theories advanced regarding the pre-Cook (more accurately pre-Dutch) discovery of Australia's east coast. As far back as 1970 I'd seen copies of the sixteenth century Dieppe maps, which show a continent south of Capricorn, with a Costa Dangeroza inscription that seems to match up nicely with the Great Barrier Reef, but the assumption has always been that we'll never know for sure.

Trickett's not the first to suggest something along these lines, but unlike, say Kenneth Macintyre's 1977 The Secret Discovery of Australia, Trickett's background as a journalist has resulted in a book that's easy to read, with most of the cartographic complexities dealt with in language the layman can understand. Trickett also seems to have taken the relatively unorthodox approach of looking at various features along the coastline at deck level from the seaward side. This is an area that has always interested me personally, and Trickett's conclusions reinforce long-held suspicions. Definitely worth a read if this sort of thing floats your boat.

© Ian Hughes 2012