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April 26 , 2008

Pale Green Light Orange

A Portrait of Bourgeois Ireland, 1930-1950


The only child of a middle-class Methodist couple in suburban Clontarf, Niall Rudd attended High School, Dublin, 1936-9, Methodist College, Belfast, 1939-46 (its ground floor sand-bagged, its windows permanently blacked out), and completed his studies at Trinity College, Dublin, 1946-50. Suspended between several worlds-a Protestant in north Dublin; sole Southerner among Ulster-Scots in wartime Belfast; holiday-maker in Ballymoney, Wexford, where the emergency' and petrol-rationing preserves an idyll of repose; and member of a College transformed by the unexpected cosmopolitanism of Allied-forces veterans-the author's astringent eye informs and illuminates throughout this delightful memoir. These worlds provide the background to a number of humorous, affectionate, and satiric, pen-sketches relations, school-masters, rugby-players, academics and others who people a carefully lit canvas. This young Irish scholar and sportman's rite-of-passage from adolescence to maturity is rendered in a work of delicate scrupulosity which recreates the unhurried atmosphere of mid-century Ireland, and reflects the self-interrogation of its citizenry.

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