There’s a line in the theme song for the old black and white Robin Hood TV series which goes: “feared by the bad, loved by the good”. It might well be applied to the intrepid journalism of Fintan O’Toole in the Irish Times. His writing is coolly cerebral, rigorously analytical and abrasively engaged. The range and scope of his writing is also startling. He is critic, historian, controversialist and intellectual. He is as capable of writing a monograph on Richard Brinsley Sheridan or George Bernard Shaw as he is of eviscerating the corrupt cowboys of the Celtic Tiger. Latterly his attention has shifted to John Bull’s original island and British (English?) attempts to sever their connection with the European Union. In Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain no charlatan goes unpunished.