Small and beautiful


Our late friend Máire Uí Mhaicín had a wonderful collection of her photographs here. Here is one to tempt you to investigate:


Máire took all the photographs in Portraidi (accents missing here also), the collection of Portraits of Irish-Language Authors (2016).

Persephone Books. This is a small and wonderful publishing house, based in London. I came to know of them when I heard of Etty Hillesum's An Interrupted Life, which Persephone have republished. I downloaded the following photograph of Etty Hillesum from the web; it also appears in An Interrupted Life:


Panem. One of my favourite place in Dublin (or indeed anywhere) to have a coffee, a beautiful biscuit, a lovely cake, to read or have a chat. It is owned by the wonderful Ann Murphy and her Sicilian husband Raffaele Cavallo, and they produce Italian breads (focaccia ... ), cornetti, brioches, cakes, biscuits, chocolates, beautiful hot chocolate drinks, real coffee,... . The staff are fantastic, are always ready to have a chat or to leave you alone if that's what you want. It's simply heaven (though it can be a bit crowded around lunchtime). Oh! I almost forgot to tell you where it is (perhaps an unconcious urge to keep it a secret?)... It's at 21 Lower Ormond Quay, just where the new bridge crosses the river Liffey.

Note added March 2017. I have been going now to Panem since 1999 and the standard is as high as ever (and Ann looks younger now than when I first discovered her wonderful place). A little story from 1999: I first heard of Panem after I read a review by Tom Dooley, the food writer (as I recall he wrote something like this: I had been passing Panem for months, always meaning to pop in as it looked so good, and finally I did go in ... "). Of course I tried it, and it was a great find, to the extent that I started going there regularly. ... Then, there came a period of about three weeks when I didn't get to visit - it was the end of July, early August '99 - as I had just discovered the (then) "largest known composite Fermat number" (I have written about this discovery here) and it made a bit of a stir amongst people interested in such things. About three weeks after this discovery I went to Panem to make up for lost time... Ann remarked that she hadn't seen me for a while, and I blabbed out that the previous weeks had been quite eventful... discovered ... . Later, when I went to settle my bill (two coffees, one of her mouth-watering chocolate salamis, a couple of her delicious almond ... ), she said it was on the house. Of course I protested - " no, no, Ann, you can't do that ... " - she wouldn't have it, saying - and this is what she said - "John, it's on the house, it's not every day of the week that someone discovers the largest known composite Fermat number".

How could one not love a place like this?

Many years ago (but in this century) our friends Bob (the mathematician, and see photos #30 and #33 at photos page) and Judy Sandling (Judith Sandling, the L.S. Lowry expert; see Judy's book Lowry's City: A Painter and His Locale (illustrated) were visiting us here in Dublin. One day Bob said he'd like to take us to some place in town for a treat... Where? He said we'd see when we got there. Bob, I said, how could you possibly know anywhere here in Dublin? So, we all got on the bus, got off in the city centre, started going down Bachelor's Walk - wondering all the while where we could be going ... - and the next thing was we stopped outside Panem. This is it, Bob announced. Bob, how could you possibly know about Panem?! He really bowled me over by telling me he'd read about it on - this - my web site!! So, as any mathematician would conclude: at least one person had read here!

Folding Landscapes. The small, but wonderful publishing house of Tim and Máiréad Robinson. They published my A Prime For The Millennium, and I am honoured it is the only book - not one of Tim's - published by them. The following photograph of the Connemara mountains is the view from Folding Landscapes:

View from Folding Landscapes.jpg

Contact details. jbcosgrave at