Book Heaven

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Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Friday, October 08, 2004

All Things Irish

Well, I'm just about two-thirds of the way through Matthew Hart's The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art (Walker & Company, 2004), an interesting book about one of the world's greatest art heists pulled off by a most unlikely criminal mastermind, a Dublin gangster named Martin Cahill (nickname: The General) who drove the Irish police crazy as they tried in vain to recover the paintings. Of course there are a lot of Irish place names mentioned so I finally got to pull out my copy of The Encyclopedia of Ireland edited by Brian Lalor (Yale University Press, 2003), a 1218 page doorstop which sits on a shelf next to The Encyclopedia of New York which sits next to The Encyclopedia of Surfing (I'll quit while I'm ahead lest you think I'm crazy but I do have a penchant for specialized encyclopedias). One need look no further than some of the familar names of Ireland's counties to be put under a spell -- Limerick, Tipperary, Wicklow, Galway, Kerry (!), Londonderry, Kilkenny, Cork, and so on. Almost makes me want to hop on a plane bound for the Emerald Isle where a week would certainly result in a self renewal. That is, of course if I wasn't so afraid of flying. Paging through the Ireland book made me think of another reference book I purchased recently -- The Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names by A.D. Mills (Oxford University Press, 2003), where one can find enchanting places like Christmas Common and Port Sunlight. On a similar note, I almost bought a book of California place names but hesitated just long enough so that when I came back for it a couple days later it was blessedly gone and I didn't have to try to resist it. P.S. The Irish Game has its own web site --


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