The Dead Republic by Roddy Doyle - review by Simon Baker

Simon Baker

Blarney & Baloney

The Dead Republic


Jonathan Cape 329pp £17.99

The Dead Republic concludes The Last Roundup, a trilogy of novels about the fictional Irish Republican Henry Smart, which began with A Star Called Henry (1999) and continued with Oh, Play That Thing (2004). In the excellent first book, Henry grows up alone, barefoot and half-starved in the damp Dublin slums. He becomes a hero of the 1916 uprising while in his mid-teens, and later spends three years killing enemies of Republicanism and sleeping with innumerable women. In the second, and less effective, book, Henry is in America, where among other things he burgles houses with a young Louis Armstrong. He loses a leg in an accident (his own father also had one leg) and crawls to the desert to die, but is discovered by the director John Ford.

In this novel we initially find him assisting Ford in the making of Henry’s life story. The joke is that the result is The Quiet Man, that archetype of toe-curling ‘Oirishness’, in which John Wayne bejaysuses his way around a perfect town unspoilt by political strife, in pursuit

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