20 NOVEMBER 1920, Page 18



THERE are very few writers capable of extracting humour from the present situation in Ireland ; and if George Birmingham has succeeded it is due in great measure to his choice of a scene the conditions of which are exceptional. In Carrigahooly the great majority of the inhabitants are avowed Sinn Feiners, but outrages and reprisals are unknown ; the are treated with suspicion, not unmingled with respect, and the Protestant rector, the narrator, is so popular that the fishermen are anxious to secure him as a mascot when they go out with their not& The motive of the story is the visit of a learned antiquarian, anxious to explore an outlying island for Celtic relies. Dr. Floyd is suspected by the District Inspector as a Sinn Feiner and revolutionary ; the natives suspect him as a revenue officer in disguise, for the island of Innis' heeny is the headquarteni of an illicit distillery of whisky, the products of which are supplied to the local publicans. It remains to be added that the anti- quarian has a lovely daughter, and that the rector, who has the only sailing boat available for transit to the island, is beguiled into lending it to the Floyds by the persuasive charms of Miss Molly, and himself accompanies them on their quest. Readers of Spanish, Gold and The Search Party can guess in general terms the use which George Birmingham is likely to make of these materials, and they will not be disappointed. The author is concerned more with the topsy-turveydom than the tragedy of Ireland, a country in which, as he tells us, lakes and pools are generally to be found on the tops of hills, not, as elsewhere in the world, in valleys and hollows, adding, "There is nothing really surprising about this to anyone who knows Ireland. It 6 simply an illustration of the truth that nothing im Ireland obeys ordinary laws." This is the keynote of a story in which the imbroglio is ultimately peacefully settled, after the failure of diplomatic means, by a collusive burglary in which the District Inspector of Police is an accomplice. Those who read the boat carefully will not fail to notice that beneath the veil of extravs, gams, there Bi a good deal of impartial and subacid satire directed against all parties. It is full of good things and shrewd °kW dicta, but events have moved rapidly since it was written : the exceptional conditions on which it is based are those of the • Reminiscences of Daniel Mtn. Edited and Supplemented by Ole Eldest Boa London and Now York Ravel. Innisatesp. By George A. Birmingham. London Methuen. Via. 6d.

Ireland not of to-day but of yesterday, and the acute contrast between urgent realities and this witty toter de force inevitably detracts from the enjoyment of its perusal.