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n Opti ional course e for 2nd  year r stude ents of f English 

      Ioana a Moh hor‐Ivan 
2014 2

1. The Celtic Paradigm and Modern Irish Writing  a) Beginnings in the Celtic World  i. The Celts  ii. Celtic society and religion  iii. Early Irish literature: tales and cycles.  b) The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Re‐workings  i. The mythic invasions  ii. The Celtic pantheon   iii. The world of the sidh  iv. Mythological masks and the sidh in W.B. Yeats’s early poetry  v. Feminist Revisions of the sidh: EAVAN BOLAND and NUALA NI DHOMNAILL  c) The Cycle Of Ulster and The Celtic Hero   i. Main tales of the cycle   ii. Constructing the Celtic Hero: W.B. Yeats and the Cuchulain cycle of plays:  iii. De‐constructing “heroism”: Nuala Ni Dhumnaill’s “Cuchulain I”   d) The Cycle of Munster. Fenian Themes and Heroes in Metamorphosis  i. Fiánna, Fenian heroes and tales  ii. Celtic connections: from Fenian to Aruthurian myth  iii. Re‐writing the ancient avatar’s stories: Ossianism; W.B. Yeats, “The Wanderings of  Oisin”; James Joyce, “Finnegans Wake”; Mike Newell, “Into the West”  e) The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales. The Buile Motif in Irish Literature   i. BUILE SUIBHNE (The Madness of Sweeney)  ii. The “buile” motif in  literature: Flann O’Brien, At Swim‐Two Birds ; Seamus Heaney,  Sweeney Astray   2. Conquests   a) Anglo‐Norman traditions and the Irish writer:  i. chansons des geste: The Song of Dermot and the Earl  ii. goliardic poems: The Land of Cockayne; The Vision of MacConglinne  iii. the danta gradha: O Woman Full of Wile  b) English Narratives of Ireland  i. Civilians and barbarians: Edmund Spenser, A View on the Present State of Ireland;   ii. The Stage Irishman: William Shakespeare, Henry V.  b) Rearticulating the colonialist paradigm:  i. The Irish melodrama: Dion Boucicault  ii. Contemporary revisions: Brian Friel’s “history‐play”, Seamus Heaney’s “history‐ poem”  3. Colonial Literatures  a) Nationalist tropes of Ireland   i. The Spear – Bhan and the 18th‐century aislinge 

The Shan Bhan Bhocht and the popular ballad  The “Double Woman” Trope: W. B Yeats, Kathleen ni Houlihan.   Revisions of the Shan Bhan Bhocht literary trope: James Joyce, A Mother, Samuel  Beckett, Murphy; Tom Murphy, Bailengangaire  b) The “Big House” theme in Irish Literature  i. The Anglo‐Irish novel: Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent, Somerville and Ross, The  Real Charlotte, Elizabeth Bowen, The Last September;  ii. The Anglo‐Irish play: W. B. Yeats, Purgatory, Lennox Robinson, The Big House,  Killygregs in Twilight;  iii. The Catholic Northern play: Brian Friel, Aristocrats.  iv. The “Big House” in the farcical mode: Neil Jordan’s “High Spirits”  4. “Space” and Irish Literary Politics  a) The Pastoral and the Anti‐pastoral   i. Celticism and The Irish Literary Revival  ii. J.M. Synge: between pastoral and anti‐pastoral. Riders to the Sea vs. The Playboy of  the Western World.  iii. The Abbey peasant play: J.B. Keane, The Field  iv. Patrick McCabe’s ‘black’ pastoral: The Butcher Boy.  b) An Urban Space Divided  i. Dublin and the ‘heroic’ city: mythologies of 1916 and W. B. Yeats’s Easter 1916.  ii. Post‐revolutionary theatrical revisionism: Sean O’Casey, The Dublin Trilogy, Denis  Johnston, The Old Lady Says ‘No!’, Brendan Behan, The Hostage  The Northern city and the Troubles: Brian Friel, The Freedom of the City, Bernard  iii. MacLaverty, Cal.  c) Re‐mapping the Irish spaces  i. Rody Doyle’s Dublin: “The Commitments”; “When Brendan Met Trudy”  ii. Beyond the tropes of the Northern City: Martin McDonagh’s “In Bruges”; “Seven  Psychopaths” 

ii. iii. iv.


1. The Mythic Invasions 2.3. Oísin in the Land of Youth 4.Beginnings in the Celtic World 1.4. Táin Bó Cuailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) 3. 2. Munster) 4. 4. Ossianism 4. The Ulster (Red Branch ) Cycle 3. The Historical (King) Cycle: 5.3. The “Suibhne” Motif in Irish Literature 5.3. 3. Literary Treatments of Fenian Tales and Heroes 4.6.2. 4.2. Celtic Myth in the Theatre of Yeats: 3.3. Yeats.3.2. W.The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero 3.4.3.) 5.1. Main Tales of the Cycle Celtic Literature Chapter 2 . Tematica Chapter 1 . Seamus Heaney (1939 . The Celtic Pantheon 2.5.2. Táin Bó Fraoch (The Cattle Raid of Fraoch) 3.2. The World of the Sidhe 2.3. At Swim-Two Birds (1939) 5. B. The Exile of the Sons of Uísneach 3. Yeats’s Early Poems 2. 4. Finn Maccool.1.6. Buile Suibhne (Frenzy of Sweeney) 5. Early Irish Poetry 5.2. Celtic Society 1. Celtic Tribes 1.2. The Fionn Cycle (Fenian.1.1. Ossianic. De-Constructing Heroism: Nuala Ni Dhumnaill’s Chapter 4 . The Sidhe with Contemporary Women Poets Chapter 3 .The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales 5. 1. The Sidhe in W. Fenian Heroes and Tales 4. The Cuchulain Cycle of Plays 3.1.4.The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings 2. Flann O’Brien (Brian Ó Núalláin) (1911-66): 5. from “Finnegan’s Wake” to Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” Chapter 5 .2.5. Sweeney Astray (1983) Minimal Bibliography 4 5 5 6 6 7 8 8 8 12 13 14 18 22 22 22 24 24 24 26 29 30 30 35 37 37 37 38 42 43 43 43 46 46 46 48 49 49 49 51 54 57 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 3 .1. Main Characters of the Cycle 3.4. “The Wanderings of Oisin” 4. Celtic Religion 1.Cuprins Cuprins Obiective. Emáin Macha 3.B.The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) 4. The Milesians

The myth of Deirdre and Naoise in Brian Friel’s plays. • The Cycle of Ulster. Tipuri si modalitati de activitate didactica: • • • • prelegere teoretica analiza de text discutie eseu. Oisin in Yeats’s vs. The Mythological Cycle.B. dezvoltarea deprinderilor cercetare individuala concretizata prin personalizarea informatiei teoretice si modelelor de analiza de text oferite in eseu. • 4 Early Irish Lyrics. The Dinnseanachas and the Irish poet. • The Cycle of Munster. Mythological masks in W. • Early Irish Literature. The Sweeney figure in Irish literature. Cuchulain and the Yeatsian theatre. from Flann O’Brien to Seamus Heaney. Yeats’s early poems.Obiective. Tematică Obiective: • • • • familiarizarea studentilor cu particularitatile istorico-culturale ale spatiului irlandez. Paul Vincent Carroll’s vision. evidentierea specificului celtic al traditiei literare irlandeze. Tematica: • Beginnings in the Celtic world: Celtic society and culture. depistarea traiectului temelor si motivelor literare celtice in literatura irlandeza moderna si contemporana. From Fion to Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. • The King Cycle of tales. The Madness of Sweeney. The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing .

Connacht (Connachta). In ancient Irish religion and mythology Tara was the sacred place of 6 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . In Éirinn old there dwelt a mighty race. in the middle. Celtic Tribes The Celts are a grouping of Indo-European peoples recognized as speaking one or another dialect of a common Celtic language. the Gaels.1. With winds and waves they made their settling-place.. Taller than Roman spears. in the south of Ireland. ("The Celts". who spread through the whole island. Ireland was settled by a Q-Celtic people. With feet as fleet as deers'. in the west of Ireland. In the course of the next centuries.. the residence of Ireland’s High Kings.Chapter 1 – Beginnings in the Celtic World Chapter 1 . Correspondingly. Like oaks and towers They had a giant grace. a number of historical provinces came into being: a) b) c) d) e) Ulster (Ulaid). was once the ancient seat of power in Ireland – 142 kings are said to have reigned here in prehistoric and historic times. in the north of Ireland. in the east of Ireland. beyond the misty space Of twice a thousand years. the classification of the Celtic peoples takes into consideration the linguistic factor: • Continental Celtic • Gaullish (unknown number of dialects) • Celto-Iberian • Lepontic • Insular Celtic – P-Celtic(Brythonic) • Welsh • Cornish • Breton – Q-Celtic(Goidelic) • Irish Gaelic • Scottish Gaelic • Manx Around 800 B. Leinster (Laigin). The Hill of Tara.C. known as "Teamhair".Beginnings in the Celtic World Long. Meath (Mide). long ago. Munster (Mumu). with Tara as its capital.. by Thomas d'Arcy McGee) 1.

1. fílí. while farming was relegated to the plebs. • 1.Chapter 1 – Beginnings in the Celtic World dwelling for the gods.3. smiths. Celtic Religion The religion of the Celts exhibits the following characteristics: The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 7 . Saint Patrick is said to have come to Tara to confront the ancient religion of the pagans at its most powerful site. breitheamb. seanchadh) – Plebs: the body of freemen.2. their hill-forts were of primarily military significance. led by a king (rí) Familiar: kinship groups form the basis of the tribe Hierarchical (Celtic society is divided into three main classes): – Equites: warrior aristocracy – Druides: the learned class (draoi. Cattle-raising was regarded as a superior form of social activity. leeches and small farmers Pastoral: the Celts had no towns in the modern understanding of the term. Celtic Society The following attributes characteristic of the Celtic social organisation point to the Celts as being an archetypal Indo-European people: • • • Tribal: the greatest political unit is the tribe (tuath).

Tír-na-n-og).• • • Chapter 1 – Beginnings in the Celtic World Pantheism: the Celts believed in the consciousness of all things. the tales are collected and incorporated into four main cycles. stones (Lía Fáil). This explains their worship of trees. fish. 1. bulls. Munster) King (historical) Task: Write a 4000-word essay on “Cultural Landmarks of the Celtic World”. they could migrate from the human world to the Otherworld (e. are transmitted by means of an oral tradition. Celtic gods and goddesses belong to a particular tribe. 8 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . namely: • • • • Mythological Ulster (The Red Branch) Finn (Fenian. water. they could dwell within other creatures and objects (shape-changing) Polytheism: divine organisation mirrors that of the Celtic society. which. Celtic Literature The learned class of the Celtic society are the creators of the early Irish literary texts. until the coming of Christianity in the 5th century.4.g. This oral character of Irish literature is reflected in the division of the whole corpus of early Irish literary texts according to the tale-type to which they belong (as evidenced in their titles): • Togla (destructions) • Tána (cattle-raids) • Tochmarca (wooings) • Fessa (feasts) • Aislinga (visions) • Aitheda (elopments • Serca (loves) • Aided (violent deaths) • Catha (battles) • Immrama (voyages) • Dinnseanchas (tales of place names) After the arrival of Christianity and the adaptation of the Latin alphabet to the Irish language.) Metempsychosis: the souls were immortal. which is based on kinship relations. or the various animal cults (boars. birds etc.

previous to the arrival of the Gaels. by a process of exclusion the mythological cycle includes only those stories that intend to provide a mythical history of the occupation of Ireland. the main settlers of Ireland are: • • Cesair (granddaughter of Noah) and Fintan Mac Bochra. misshapen giants. who lived on Tory Island).2. • • • 2. Most of these texts are preserved in a 12th century manuscript known as Lebor Gabála Érenn (Book of Invasions of Ireland). Here follows an extract from Mary Heaney’s Over Nine Waves. They were the first to invade Ireland at the time of the Flood. and the few survivors fled to Greece. The Mythic Invasions Though all the tales included in the existing corpus of early Irish literary texts display a strong mythological component. The Celtic Pantheon The Tuatha Dé Danann is the tribe of the Irish gods who conquer and settle Ireland. The Nemedians (followers of Nemed. They were attacked by the Fomorians. The Firbolgs (descendants of the Nemedians) returned to Ireland 230 years later. in which their arrival is described: The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 9 . but their power in Ireland only lasted for 37 years before the Tuatha Dé Danann arrived.1. The Partholanians (named after their leader Partholan. a descendant of Japheth) arrived from Spain 30 years after the extinction of the Partholonians from pestilence.The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings 2. whom they managed to defeat. According to this manuscript. They encountered the Fomorians (a race of ugly.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings Chapter 2 . who was the king of Greece) arrived 312 years after Cesair and her followers. son of Sera.

The invaders brought with them the four great treasures of their tribe. and their king.) 10 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . Though they had defeated the Fir Bolgs. and among them their king. No one could escape it once it was unsheathed. No one ever left it hungry. they set fire to their boats so that there would be no turning back. From Findias they brought Nuada’s irresistible sword. a hundred thousand in all. London. the first one the Tuatha De Danaan fought in a pace of that name. and the Fir Bolgs thought the Tuatha De Danaan had arrived in a magic mist. When the Fir Bolgs had fled. Nuada. Thousands of the Fir Bolgs were killed. Gorias. They were accomplished in the various arts of druidry. When they reached Ireland and landed on the western shore. (from Marie Heaney. From Falias they brought Lia Fail. Eochai Mac Erc. the Tuatha De Danaan took over the country and went with their treasures to Tara to establish themselves as masters of the island. namely magic. the four cities of the northern islands. These newcomers were the People of the Goddess Danu and their men of learning possessed great powers and were revered as if they were gods. They had learnt their druidic skills in Falias. the Stone of Destiny. 1994. The smoke from the burning boats darkened the sun and filled the land for three days. prophesy and occult lore. Anyone who held it was invincible in battle. a more powerful enemy awaited them. Findias and Murias. These survivors boarded their ships and set sail to the far-scattered islands around Ireland. had his arm severed from his body in the fight. In the end the Tuatha De Danaan overcame the Fir Bolgs and routed them until only a handful of them survived. a demon-like race who lived in the islands to which the Fir Bolgs had fled. Nuada was the king of the Tuatha De Danaan and he led them against the Fir Bolgs. These were the Formorians. From Gorias they brought Lugh’s spear. But another struggle lay ahead.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings THE TUATHA DE DANAAN LONG AGO the Tuatha De Danaan came to Ireland in a great fleet of ships to take the land from the Fir Bolgs who lived there. They fought a fierce battle on the Plain of Moytura. Over Nine Waves. From Murias they brought the Dagda’s cauldron. They brought it to Tara and it screamed when a rightful king of Ireland sat on it. Many of the Tuatha De Danaan died too. Faber and Faber.

clothed in garb. This is the first manifested world. described in the following terms by the Irish poet A. . he is often pictured as a rustic old man. a love changing into desire.E. Stories of rebirth and the Otherworld are associated with him. This story. whose name is translated as “The Pearl of Beauty”. Through the goddess Boann (whose spirit lives within the Boyne river and is goddess of poetic inspiration and powerful spiritual insight) the Dagda fathered Aengus (Oengus) Og. a harp that plays by itself. Her three aspects are (1) Fire of Inspiration as patroness of poetry. married to the god Bile (or Belenos). an eternal joy becoming love. as patroness of smithcraft and martial arts. and leading on to earthly passion and forgetfulness of its own divinity. (2) Fire of the Hearth. who lives in Tír-na-n-og (The Land of Eternal Youth) and is married to the beautiful goddess Fand. Manannán’s father. who prompts a quest that will take years until he will find her shape-changed in a bird. the “good God” in the Celtic sense of “good at anything”. And. One story in the cycle (“The Story of the Children of Lir”) recounts the tribulations of his other four children who were transformed into swans by an evil step-mother. The Dagda is the father of Ogma (the Irish god of eloquence). as it lays hold of the earthly symbol of its desire it becomes on Earth that passion which is spiritual death . were translated in English by Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932) in a collection of Irish myths entitled Gods and Fighting Men: The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 11 . a cauldron that never gets exhausted. in a dream. . “Aislinge Oengusa” (The Vision of Aengus) recounts how Aengus. and this desire builds up the Mid-world or World of the Waters. and Brigid (or the "Fiery Arrow or Power". a mother-goddess signifying fertility and plenty. An energy or love or eternal desire has gone forth which seeks through a myriad forms of illusion for the infinite being it has left. while his name is commemorated in that of the Isle of Man. . was an Irish god who dwelt on the cliffs of Antrim. A figure of immense power.: ". the Tír nan Óg or World of Immortal Youth. Manannán MacLir is the god of the oceans. She is mother to the craftsmen.” One of the most beautiful lyrical tales in the cycle. the Celtic god of youth and love. The father to most of the gods of the tribe is the Dagda. The eternal joy becomes love when it has first merged itself in form and images of a divine beauty that dance before it and lure it from afar.) Brigid is a Celtic three-fold goddess. It is Angus the Young. among others. . has the vision of a beautiful girl. Lir. and possessing three magical objects: a gigantic club (with which he can both kill enemies and cure friends). as patroness of healing and fertility. and (3) Fire of the Forge. lastly. The love is changed into desire as it is drawn deeper into nature. and endured cruel hardship for many centuries until restored to their human shape.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings The Tuatha Dé Danann are the tribe of the Goddess Dana (or Danu). a sky-centred deity.

and their reason. and their Irish.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings The Fate of the Children of Lir Then Lir came to the edge of the lake. “I would think worst of being a witch of the air. that put them in the shape of four swans on Loch Dairbhreach. from the border of the harbour where you are.” said Fionnuala.” said Fionnuala. I do not sleep though I am in my lying down. and he gave a very sharp reproach to Aoife. “We are your own four children. it was Aoife there beyond. and she went away on the wind in that shape. O Aodh. to the house.” “Is there any way to put you into your own shapes again?” said Lir. and he knew what Lir said was true. “to live with any person at all from this time. “O Fionnuala. 12 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . daughter of Oilell of Aran. “Is there a mind with you.” said Lir.” Then Lir went on to the palace of Bodb Dearg. your own foster-child and the sister of their mother.” she said. bringing Aoife. And Lir rose up early on the morning of the morrow and he made this complaint: — “It is time to go from this place. and they slept there quietly that night.” she said. “till the end of nine hundred years.” When Lir and his people heard that. O Fiachra of the beautiful arms.” Bodb Dearg gave a great start when he heard that. than to the children of Lir. and that will not be. and will be in it to the end of life and time. “It is not I that would not bring my children along with me. they gave out three great heavy shouts of grief and sorrow and crying. “there is no way. Aoife. but they have their sense with them yet. that are after being destroyed by your wife and by the sister of our own mother. the Irish. And let you stop here tonight. and he said: “This treachery will be worse for yourself in the end.” So Lir and his people stopped there listening to the music of the swans. and she is in it yet. through the dint of her jealousy. “It is a bad net I put over you. Lir. And with that he struck her with a Druid wand. “I will tell you that. To be parted from my dear children. and there was a welcome before him there. “to come to us on the land. “for all the men of the world could not help us till we have gone through our time. and he asked them why was it they had that voice. since you have your own sense and your memory yet?” “We have not the power. but we have our language. and comely Conn. and it is enough to satisfy the whole race of men to be listening to that music. in the sight of the whole of the men of Ireland. “My grief!” said Lir.” she said. and she was turned into a witch of the air there and then. and their voice. and he took notice of the swans having the voice of living people. it is that is tormenting my heart. and he got a reproach from Bodb Dearg for not bringing his children along with him. it is not ready I am to go away from you.” said Fionnuala. “It is into that shape I will put you now.” said Bodb. And what shape would you yourself think worst of being in?” he said. “and we will be making music for you. and we have the power to sing sweet music. I would never have followed that advice if I had known what it would bring upon me.

was a fire festival sacred to the god Belenos. the Shining One. represented as three sisters. Another triad is formed by the goddesses identified with the sovranty and spirit of Ireland. The Irish female deities usually indicate sexuality and fertility. Cattle were let out of winter quarters and driven between two fires in a ritual cleansing ceremony that may have had practical purposes too. with powerful magical and warlike connotations. • Lughnasadh was a summer festival lasting for two weeks that fell around 31 July. who overthrew the power of the Celtic gods. but had then settled in Spain. It was said to have been introduced to Ireland by the god Lugh. There are five goddesses identified with war.especially poets were able to enter the Otherworld through the doorways of the sidhe. • Beltain. The God Lugh assumes the leadership of the tutha and leads them to victory after he himself kills Balor of the Evil Eye. and inspiring battle madness. Banba and Fotla. around 31 January. sometime appearing in the form of a carrion crow. while he is also the Samildánach (“the many-gifted one”). including horse-racing (perhaps this is why the festival was also linked to the goddess Macha) 2. Dea (the hateful one) Nemain (frenzy). celebrated around 1 May. Lugh becomes thus a divine archetype of kingship.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings “Cath Maige Tuired” (“The Battle of the Plain of Tuired”) is the best-known tale of the cycle.3. Women met to celebrate the return of the maiden aspect of the Goddess Brigid. it marked the beginning of the end of winter. Some of these deities attracted singular worship. whose ancestors had originally come from Scythia. it began the Celtic year. • Imbolc (or Oimelc) celebrated at lambing time. such as that at the Hill of Tara in Ireland. Eire. This festival was celebrated with competitions of skill. were the Milesians. while Macha (who is also goddess of the horses) is also included here. being associated with war and death on the battlefield. His first words upon landing were the poem that is known today as the "Song of Amergin": The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 13 . dealing specifically with the climactic battle between the Tuatha and the Fomori. It was a time when the veil between this world and the Otherworld was thought to be so thin that the dead could return to warm themselves at the hearths of the living. The Milesians The last invaders of Ireland. and some of the living . It was a time for feasts and fairs and for the mating of animals. whom many view as the forefathers of the Gaels. Amergin (a warrior and a bard) was the leader of the invasion. The Morrígan ("terror" or "phantom queen") is the greatest of them. associated with the festivals that marked the Celtic year: • Samhain: celebrated around 31 October. the Milesians were the sons of Míl Espáine (Miled). moving between all the activities of society and be patron of each one. mastering all the arts and the crafts. According to the “Book of Invasions”. and so was sacred to this god. the most formidable of the fomori. Other goddesses of war are the Badb (fury).

asked the Milesians to name Ireland after one of them. tumuli. She had the function of keening like a mortal woman when a family member died. The places were called Sidh or Sidhe. with their conquerors. This new habitat led to another name for the Danaan. hills. The Tuatha Dé Danann. Banba. I am a hill: where poets walk. The Tuatha Dé Danann became spirit people. I am a boar: ruthless and red. I am a wind: on a deep lake. 2. The World of the Sídhe After their being defeated by the Milesians. I am a salmon: in a pool. Some important figures emerging in Irish fairy lore are: • The Bean Sídhe (“woman of the hills”): a female fairy attached to a particular family.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings The Song of Amergin I am a stag: of seven times. mounds.4. Ireland became known as Erin or Erinn. magical palaces were hidden under the mound. which was associated with barrows. I am an infant: who but I Peeps from the unhewn dolmen arch? I am the womb: of every holt. (Transl. though defeated. I am the grave: of every hope. did not leave Erin. I am a hawk: above the hill. inhabiting the sídhe (another name for the Otherworld). It was Eriu who won the honour. aes sídhe (people of the Sídh) or fairy people. I am a breaker: threatening doom. the Danaan were allotted spiritual Ireland. I am a tear: the Sun lets fall. 14 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . the Dagda) placed a powerful spell of invisibility over the many parts of Ireland. by Robert Graves) The three sister goddesses of the Dé Danann. They became spirit people. or fairies. Fodla and Eriu. I am a tide: that drags to death. Manannan (in other accounts. but continued to live there. I am a flood: across a plain. I am the blaze: on every hill I am the queen: of every hive I am the shield: for every head. I am a wizard: who but I Sets the cool head aflame with smoke? I am a spear: that rears for blood. I am a thorn: beneath the nail I am a wonder: among flowers. I am a lure: from paradise.

– Collections: • The Wanderings of Oísin and Other Poems (1889) • The Countess Kathleen and Other Legends and Lyrics (1892) • The Wind Among the Reeds (1899) • In the Seven Woods (1903) • The poetry of Yeats’s mid-career is dominated by his commitment to Irish nationalism. Yeats was also co-founder of the Abbey Theatre. – Collections: • The Tower (1928) • The Winding Star (1933) 15 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing .Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings • Leprechaun: a diminutive guardian of a hidden treasure (origin: Lughchromain – little stooping Lugh) • Puca (Puck):a supernatural animal who took people for nightmarish rides. They are more public and concerned with the politics of the modern Irish state. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923 for what the Nobel Committee described as "his always inspired poetry. 2. The Sidhe in W. – Collections: • The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910) • Responsibilities (1914) • The Wilde Swans at Coole (1919) • Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921) • Yeats’s later poetry is less public and more personal. B. another great symbol of the literary revival. which served as the stage for many new Irish writers and playwrights of the time. as distinct from English culture. and are known to 'take' mortals with them on their journeys. Yeats’s Early Poems Poet. Yeats (1865-1939) was born to an Anglo-Irish Protestant family. • Slua Sídhe: the fairy host who travel through the air at night. becoming thus the primary driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival – a movement which stimulated new appreciation of traditional Irish literature. This allowed Yeats. With regard to his poetic output. Hence the poems employ a simpler and more accessible style. mystic and public figure. which inform Yeats’s theories of contraries and of the progression which can result from reconciling them. between sensuality and rationalism. B. After the establishment of the Irish Free State. this corresponds to three main phases: • The first phase is associated with the Irish Revival of the 1890s which brought about an upsurge of interest in Celtic myth and legend. to bring mythical motifs and figures into their works as symbols and expressions of Irishness past and present. but turned into a committed Irish nationalist. between turbulence and calm. encouraging the creation of works written in the spirit of Irish culture. which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation". as well as other writers.5. exploring contrasts between the physical and spiritual dimensions of life. dramatist. The poems are characterised by a mature lyricism. Yeats was appointed to the first Irish Senate Seanad Éireann in 1922 and re-appointed in 1925. a mischievous spirit who led travellers astray. W.

On the basis of these. manifestation) as opposed to the ‘supernatural’ (that which is beyond manifestation).Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings • Parnell’s Funeral and Other Poems (1935) • Last Poems and Two Plays (1939) It is the early poems that Yeats draws heavily on Irish myth. lakes. islands • Twilight. • The exile. the voyage: symbols of the spirit’s journey from life to death. dawn • Dreams. Yeats constructs his own system of opposites. the quest.) Though dissimilar at a first glance. the two areas bear comparison in several aspects: • The ‘natural’ (world in time. which may be seen to inform his poetry: The Sídhe Spirit Imagination Eternal Immortal Id Water & air Night The natural world Matter Reason Ephemeral Mortal Ego Earth Day Though opposed. employing mythological figures and mythic motifs alongside with theories drawn from occult writings (in which he was also interested. points of contact may be established between the two realms. which are associated with states that may be labelled as “inbetween”: • Shores. The Stolen Child Where dips the rocky highland Of Sleuth Wood in the lake. There lies a leafy island Where flappy herons wake 16 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . visions In “The Stolen Child” (a poem based on Irish legend) the faeries beguile a child (presumably in a dream) to come away with them. • Metaphysical content.

For a world more full of weeping than he can understand. this involves a great cost: the dreamers (like the one in “The Man Who Dreamed of Fairyland”) remain caught in-between the two. able to produce artistic creation. But. It seemed they raised their little silver heads. the human child. hand in hand. hand in hand. for their thoughts are constantly turned to the world of the imagination.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings The drowsy water-rats. O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery.] Away with us he’s going. Such points of contact between the two worlds allow for visionary states. hand in hand. To the waters and the wild With a faery. His heart hung all upon a silken dress. [. The Man who Dreamed of Faeryland He stood among a crowd at Drumahair. Far off by furthest Rosses We foot it all the night. But when a man poured fish into a pile. For he comes. Or see the brown mice bob Round and round the oatmeal-chest. O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery. Where the wave of moonlight glosses The dim grey sands with light. And sang what gold morning or evening sheds Upon a woven world-forgotten isle The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 17 . While the world is full of troubles And is anxious in its sleep. There we’ve hid our faery vats. For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand. or spirit. Come away. Come away. For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand. Weaving olden dances. usually. To and fro we leap And chase the frothy bubbles. Full of berries And of reddest stolen cherries. never allowed to find comfort in this life. . The solemn-eyed: He’ll hear no more the lowing Of the calves on the warm hillside Or the kettle on the hob Sing peace into his breast. And he had known at last some tenderness. Before earth took him to her stony care. . Mingling hands and mingling glances Till the moon has taken flight.

Whatever ravelled waters rise and fall Or stormy silver fret the gold of day. When earthly night had drunk his body in. And might have known at last unhaunted sleep Under that cold and vapour-turbaned steep.unnecessary cruel voice Old silence bids its chosen race rejoice. His mind ran all on money cares and fears. In “The Song of the Wandering Aengus” Yeats re-works “Aislinge Oengusa”. 18 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . And midnight there enfold them like a fleece And lover there by lover be at peace. That Time can never mar a lover’s vows Under that woven changeless roof of boughs: The singing shook him out of his new ease. He mused beside the well of Scanavin. He wandered by the sands of Lissadell. That if a dancer stayed his hungry foot It seemed the sun and moon were in the fruit: And at that singing he was no more wise. who has a vision of the sidhe in the form of a beautiful girl. Adopting the mythological mask of the Irish god of love and youth. from those fingers. He slept under the hill of Lugnagall. A lug-worm with its grey and muddy mouth Sang that somewhere to north or west or south There dwelt a gay. a symbol of the perfection of the imaginative world. Now that the earth had taken man and all: Did not the worms that spired about his bones Proclaim with that unwearied. the poet expresses the same predicament of the dreamer. But one small knot-grass growing by the pool Sang where . exulting. The tale drove his angry mood away. reedy cry That God has laid His fingers on the sky.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings Where people love beside the ravelled seas. glittering summer runs Upon the dancer by the dreamless wave. That. And he had known at last some prudent years Before they heaped his grave under the hill. Why should those lovers that no lovers miss Dream. He mused upon his mockers: without fail His sudden vengeance were a country tale. gentle race Under the golden or the silver skies. until God burn Nature with a kiss? The man has found no comfort in the grave. But while he passed before a plashy place.

Mother Ireland – Literary tradition (dominated by male poets. Medb McGuckian) are committed to the 3 “R”s of Irish feminist writing: – to resist and revise reductive images and perceptions of women and The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 19 . And hooked a berry to a thread.) Contemporary women poets (Eavan Boland. such as: – Proverbs and formulaic expressions (e. The Sidhe with Contemporary Women Poets If Irish ancestral culture allowed room for the exercise of an autonomous female creative potential.) – Religious constructs: the Virgin (Mother of God). When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire aflame. But something rustled on the floor.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings The Song of the Wandering Aengus I went out to the hazel wood. Proof may be found in different areas. being relegated to the domestic sphere. Because a fire was in my head. Eithne Strong. And cut and peeled a hazel wand. a heavy sower and a woman poet. such as evidenced in – Myth: Dana. Eillen Ni Chuilleanain. I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout. And walk among long dappled grass. And when white moths were on the wing. Eire – Folklore: Cailleach Beare (the Hag of Beare) – Society: bean fíle (woman poet) through the medieval to modern periods women are gradually excluded from the social. And pluck till time and times are done The silver apples of the moon. the three worst curses that can befall a village are: to have a wet thatcher. And kiss her lips and take her hands.g. denying them their complexity. political and cultural spheres. Brigid. who employ women simply as symbols or motifs in their texts.6. The golden apples of the sun. And some one called me by my name: It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air. 2. I will find out where she has gone. Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands. Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill. And moth-like stars were flickering out.

Mind you. and of course you are. sexuality. fertility and self-sufficiency which some connect to the Celtic ideals of womanhood.” Her collections include An Dealg Droighin (1981). the fairy woman becomes the carrier of a powerful female energy. and culture. combined with contemporary themes of femininity. In “Swept Away”. eat. but never mind: stay. She didn’t close the door. When my husband came home for his tea. She got up and started doing housework. 1988. But I’m in the fairy field in everlasting dark. She didn’t ask. with only the mist to cover me. he didn’t notice she wasn’t me. Rogha Dánta/Selected Poems (1986. washed the dishes. Pharoh's Daughter (1990). I was too polite to throw her out so I decided to act all nice: Stay. Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill (1952-) is one of the most popular of contemporary Irish poets. Féar Suaithinseach (1984). able to subvert and transform the traditional representations of the feminine: SWEPT AWAY (FUADACH) The fairy woman marched right into my poem. Sit up to the fire. She made the beds. have a drink. Put the dirty clothes in the machine. As she herself confesses: “Irish is a language of enormous elasticity and emotional sensitivity. it is an instrument of imaginative depth and scope. Writing in Irish her work draws upon themes of ancient Irish folklore and mythology. and Feis (1991). 1990). which has been tempered by the community for generations until it can pick up and sing out every hint of emotional modulation that can occur between people. if I were in your house the way you’re in mine I’d go home right away. of quick and hilarious banter and a welter of references both historical and mythological.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings – to revive /re-posses energies related to creativity. And if he wants me back The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 20 . if you’re in a hurry. So she did. I/m freezing.

In a Time of Violence (1994). burn her and scorch her. then make it red-hot in the fire. I’ll be coming. Outside History (1990).” In Boland’s view “… we all [women] exist in a mesh.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings here’s what he must do: get a fine big ploughshare and butter it well. In “The Woman Turns herself Into A Fish”. Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time (1995). All the time she’s going. As she herself has stated. a pale The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 21 . they are truths. Night Feed (1982). and all the time she’s going. web. labyrinth of associations … we ourselves are constructed by the construct … images are not ornaments. re-writing the mermaid image: The Woman Turns Herself into a Fish it’s done: I turn. You didn’t have a thriving sense of the witness of the lived life of women poets. I’ll be coming. There were none in the 19th century or early part of the 20th century. One of Ireland's few recognized women poets. Boland engages directly with Yeats’s “The Song of the Wondering Aengus”. I flab upward blub-lipped. hipless and I am sexless shed of ecstasy. “As an Irish woman poet I have very little precedent.” The daughter of an Irish diplomat Eavan Boland (1944-) spent much of her youth living in London and New York City. and what you did have was a very compelling and at time oppressive relationship between Irish poetry and the national tradition. Then go to the bed where that bitch is lying and let her have it! “Push it into her face.” Her collections of poems include In Her Own Image (1980). She has also written a prose memoir. Boland addresses broad issues of Irish national identity as well as the specific issues confronting women and mothers in a culture that has traditionally ignored their experiences.

Yeats and Nuala NiDhumnaill. 3. a light and how in my loomy cold. The Dreamer’s Mermaid or the Mermaid’s Dream? (The Song of the Wandering Aengus vs. The Woman Turns Herself Into a Fish) 22 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . a light. 2. my greens still she moons in me.Chapter 2 – The Mythological Cycle and Its Modern Reworkings swimmer sequin-skinned. Yet ruddering and muscling in the sunless tons of new freedoms still I feel a chill pull. Task: Choose one of the following topics to develop into a 4000-word essay of the argumentative type: 1. The Celtic Pantheon in its Indo-European Context. It’s what I set my heart on.B. pealing eggs screamlessly in seaweed. The World of the Sidhe with W. a brightening.

the boastfulness and courage of the warriors. The language of the earliest form of the story is dated to the eighth century. The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 23 . such as asserted in one tale of the dinnseachas type. but some of the verse passages may be two centuries older and it is held by most Celtic scholars that the Ulster cycle. must have had a long oral existence before it received a literary shape. Emain Macha means "The Twins of Macha". in the “Introduction” to his translation of “The Cattle Raid of Cooley”. with the rest of early Irish literature. The Ulaid Cycle is supposed to be contemporary to Christ (1st century BC) since Conchobar's death coincides with the day of Christ’s crucifixion. at the hands of the monastic scribes. so the name Emain Macha could mean the "Brooch of Macha".’ 3.The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero 3. The Tain and certain descriptions of Gaulish society by Classical authors have many details in common: in warfare alone. Cú Chulainn (Cu Chulainn or Cuchulain). This might seem to be supported by the similarity between the barbaric world of the stories. The Ulster (Red Branch ) Cycle The cycle of Ulster contains a group of heroic tales relating to the Ulaid and their military order known as the House of the Red Branch. Emain Macha is the seat of power in Ulaid (Ulster). war and of horses. In this version. chariot-fighting and beheading. Thomas Kinsella. being one of the aspects of Morrígan.1. The dun (hill-fort) was named after the Red Queen Macha. 2.Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero Chapter 3 . Macha was identified as the Irish goddess of fertility. She was portrayed as red goddess. situated near modern Armagh. The main part of the Ulaid Cycle is set during the reigns of Conchobar in Ulaid (Ulster) and Queen Medb in Connacht (Connaught). and a few traces of Christian colour. The cycle centers on the greatest hero in Celtic myths. either because she was dressed in red or that she had red hair. Macha had used her brooch to mark the boundary of her capital. As to the background of the Tain the Ulster cycle was traditionally believed to refer to the time of Christ. the practices of cattle-raiding. said to be its founder. entitled the “Pangs of Ulster”. and the La Tene Iron age civilisation of Gaul and Britain. the individual weapons. She reappeared in the Ulaid Cycle as wife of Crunnchu and was associated with the curse placed upon the men of Ulster. uninfluenced by Greece or Rome. asserts the following: “The origins of the Tain are far more ancient than these manuscripts [8th –century manuscripts in which it was preserved].

comes from this.’ she said. she gave birth alongside it.’ she said. as he was alone in the house. seized all the men of Ulster who were there that day. Only three classes of people were free from the pangs of Ulster: the young boys of Ulster. The fair was held. For nine generations any Ulsterman in those pangs had no more strength than a woman on the bed of labour. He was taken immediately before the king and the woman was sent for. or five nights and four days the pangs lasted. ‘He will die unless you come. the women. and she was a fine woman in his eyes.’ But she couldn’t move them. the Twins of Macha. She called out to the crowd: ‘A mother bore each one of you! Help me! Wait till my child is born.’ ‘Burden?’ the messenger said. boys and girs. I am Macha. She settled down and began working at once. She bore twins. ‘It would be as well not to grow too boastful or careless in anything you say.’ the woman said to him. Once. in his best clothes and in great vigour. and the name of my offspring. Crunniuc set out for the fair with the rest. Then she slept with Crunniuc. and her pangs gripped her. the king’s chariot was bought onto the field. At the end of the days. as though she were well used to the house. He lived in a lonely place in the mountains with all his sons. The name Emain Macha. ‘My wife is faster. went to the fair. She stayed with him for along while afterward. a son a nd a daughter. he saw a woman coming toward him there. and nine generations after them.Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero THE PANGS OF ULSTER There was a very rich landlord in Ulster. and Cuchulainn. His chariot and horses won. daughter of Sainrith mac Imbaith. ‘Very well. Everyone in Ulster. Crunniuc mac Agnomain. Soon a fair was held in Ulster. She said to the messenger: ‘It would be a heavy burden for me to go and free him now.’ he said. I am full with child. ‘/that isn’t likely. she put everything in order without being asked. and there was never a lack of food or clothes or anything else under her care.’ She went to the fair. ‘A long lasting evil will come out of this on the whole of Ulster. 24 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . The crowd said that nothing could beat those horses. ‘will be given to this place. His wife was dead. ‘My name.’ ‘What is your name?’ the king asked. When night came.’ Crunniuc said. As she gave birth she creamed out that all who heard that scream would suffer from the same pangs for five days and four nights in their times of greatest difficulty. Five days and four nights. This affliction ever afterward. As the chariot reached the end of the field. men and women.’ Then she raced the chariot.

after his stepfather. king of Tara. who each became king of the province. all of them with the name Maine. Though Lugh was his father. Main Tales of the Cycle 3. who fleed to Connacht to become his mortal enemy. king of Ulster. This romance of a love triangle was to influence other tales. In a more popular version. Cú Chulainn (Cuchulain) is the greatest hero of the Ulster Cycle. and with his teaching. including Medb (Maeve). Her father was Eochaid Feidlech. During his reign. Cuchulain was called Sétanta at birth. Conchobar established a military order of elite warriors called the Red Branch. Medb represents the Sovereignity of Connacht. [Her name is to be Deirdre. His name was to change to Cú Chulainn ("Hound of Culann“) when. Medb (Maeve) had actually come from the province of Leinster. Cuchulain was also grandson of the great druid Cathbad. Cormac. Main characters of the Cycle Conchobar MacNessa was the son of Ness. Conchobar’s master-smith. Medb had many lovers. Fachtna was either the brother or halfbrother of Fergus Mac Roich. Ulster prospered. THE EXILE OF THE SONS OF USNACH The Ulaid feasted one day in the house of Fedlimid. to Ulster's traditional enemy – Connacht. the ard-druid (high druid) of Ulster. She left Conchobar and became Conchobar's chief enemy throughout the rest of her life. 3. In Connacht she had three different husbands. It also holds Conchobar responsible for the defection of Fergus and 3000 other warriors. The Exile of the Sons of Uìsneach The tale of Deirdre and Naoísi. Like her three sisters. who later became Conchobar's adviser. she was at one time married to Conchobar Mac Nessa. Fergus served as captain of the Red Branch. Conchobar had many wives. His uncle. Conall Cernach and Cu Chulainn. a girl-child was born to the wife of Fedlimid. and a druid prophesied about her future. such as The Pursuit of Diarmait and Grainne of the Fenian Cycle and the legend of Tristan. including his own son. The child will grow to be a woman of The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 25 . Apart from her Finnabair and several other daughters. The best known of her husbands was Ailill Mac Mata. Conchobar's father was Cathbad.4. or Nessa and Fachtna Fáthach. he killed a great hound belonging to Culann. who was the brother of Fergus Mac Roich. As such. he called himself Cú Chulainn Mac Sualtam. when he had the sons of Uisnech put to death. she also had seven sons.Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero 3. the chronicler of King Conchobar. a giant and king of Ulster. but Fergus Mac Rioch was the best known and was seen as her most frequent lover. Lugh Lamfada. Cuchulain was the son of Deichtine and the sun god. 1. is the most famous Irish romance. and as the feast came to an end. he produced the greatest warriors of Ulster. son of Uisnech.3. most of them by Ailill. still a boy. Medb had many children. 4.

” “No! said he. And they took service with the king of Scotland and built a house around Deirdre so that they should not be killed on account of her. soon she went out to him.” “I would choose between you. For every man who heard it. Naoisi and his followers were killed.” said she.” said she. hidden from men’s eyes. but when they came to Emain. A wise woman. But Conchobar ordered that she be spared and reared apart. Then she said to Leborcham.” That night they set out with 150 warriors and 150 women and 150 hounds. and the sons of Usnach had to flee and take refuge on an island in the sea. and did not recognise him. And sweet was the cry of the sons of Usnach. and the sons of Usnach. Leborcham. “Heifers must grow big where there are no bulls. his two brothers. and Emain was burnt by Fergus. “He is not far from you. Though the whole province of the Ulaid should be around them in one place. Once the girl’s foster-father was flaying a calf outside in the snow in winter to cook it for her.” said he. Then she sprang toward him and caught his ears.” said she. Conchobar pursued them with plots and treachery. and his body like the snow. and Deirdre was with them. and women were killed. and they fled to Scotland. Many will die on account of her.” said she. When Fergus and Cormac heard of this treachery.” “Grace and prosperity to you!” said leborcham. When Naoisi was there outside. they came and did great deed: three hundred of the Ulaid were killed. “We shall go into another country.Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero wonderful beauty and will cause enmity and trouble and will depart out of the kingdom.” Once that same Naoisi was on the rampart of the fort sounding his cry. Then Conchobar invited them back and sent Fergus as a surety. “until I see him. and the Ulstermen sprang up as they heard it. And Fergus and Cormac went 26 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . and her hands were bound behind her back. for the excellence of their defence. “Fair would be man upon whom those three colours should be: his hair like the raven. “You have the bull of the province. “There is not a king in Ireland that will not make us welcome. so that he demanded her for wife. was the only other person allowed to see her. and she saw a raven drinking the blood in the snow.” said he.” Naoisi sounded his cry. One day the steward saw her and told the king of her beauty. they would not overcome them. and his cheek like the blood. “Here are two ears of shame and mockery. But his honour was challenged. if the three of them stood back to back. “Fair is the heifer that goes past me. So Deirdre was entrusted to foster-parents and was reared in a dwelling apart. it was enough of peace and entertainment. “unless you take me with you. as though to go past him. and Deirdre was brought to Conchobar. Every cow and every beast that would hear it used to give two-thirds excess of milk. and that he himself would take her for his wife. inside close by: Naoisi the son of Usnach. “the king of the Ulaid. They were as swift as hounds at the hunt.” “I shall not be well. They used to kill deer by their speed. Good was their valour too. “and I would take a young bull like you.” said he.] The Ulaid proposed to kill the child at once and so avoid the curse. went out to restrain and warn him.

2. As long as I live.a great wrong . She was behind Eogan in the chariot. and she never smiled or raised her head from her knee. “for my father. Do not break my heart. Though the Brown Bull is captured and sent to Cruachain. I shall not love you. he kills the White Bull of Connacht but dies of exhaustion after galloping back to Ulster with his rival on his back. She thrust her head against the rock. “It is a true saying. Conchobar. What was dearest to me under heaven. so that it shattered her head. .[. and the exile of Fergus and the Tragic Death of the sons of Usnach and of that I shall not see him till I die.” said Conchobar. and she died. There follows a summary of this tale: TAIN BO CUAILNGE Once when their royal bed had been made ready for Ailill and Maeve they conversed as they lay on the pillows.” said Ailill.” “you shall be a year with Eogan. you have taken from me. As the Ulsterman are debilitated by the curse of Macha. That is the exile of the Sons of Usnach. “I had not heard or known it. Grief is stronger than the sea.” said Conchobar. Two bright cheeks. She had prophesied that she would not see two husbands on earth together.” said Ailill. “but that you were an heiress and that your nearest neighbours were robbing and plundering you.” she said. Summary by Myles Dillon 3.) Main plot concerns the invasion of Ulster by the army of Connacht led by Medb who wants to capture the Brown Bull of Cooley. if you could understand it. But Deirdre was for a year with Conchobar. Eochu Feidlech son of The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 27 . “You. . Finit. He gave her to Eogan.” “I was well off without you. “Why do you say so?” “Because. “You look like a sheep between two rams. “Well. Amen. between Eogan and me. red lips. pearly teeth bright with the noble colour of snow.” “It is true. “What do you hate most of what you see?” said Conchobar.Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero to the court of Ailill and Maeve. Cuchulain (who is exempt from it) defeats Medb’s army single-handed.” said Maeve.” There was a big rock in front of her.] And when Conchobar was comforting her she used to say: Conchobar. “you are better off today than the day I wed you. eyebrows black as a chafer.” said Maeve. Finit. Táin Bó Cuailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) Táin Bó Cuailnge is the best known and longest tale of the cycle (closest to an Old Irish epic. “and Eogan son of Dubhthach.” said Ailill. what are you doing? You have caused me sorrows and tears. Deirdre. They went next day to the assembly of Macha.” said the girl. . Soon I shall die.” “That was not so. girl. “that the wife of a good man is well off. and what was most beloved. and for sixteen years the Ulaid had no peace. 4.

If the reward was not enough. But he felt a pang of longing for Ulster and led the army astray northward and southward while he sent warnings to the Ulstermen. The woman answered. The tent of Fergus was next. wrote an ogam on it. one leg. and it appeared that Maeve had possessions equal to those of Ailill.] Fergus was appointed to guide the army. Ailill’s tent was on the right wing of the army. There 28 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . “I see crimson upon them. and. Then he departed to keep a tryst with a girl south of Tara.” And she went on to boast of her riches. unless he made a hoop in the same way. Any man who advanced farther that night.. but each time the answer was the same. was high king of Ireland. “There is no need to smooth over difficulties. On the first day the army advanced from Cruachan as far as Cuil Silinni. The messengers returned without the bull and reported the owner’s refusal. a fairy whom they had wronged. She learned that there was one as good in the province of Ulster in the cantred of Cuailnge. and so it will be taken. and the prophetess then chanted a poem in which she foretold the deeds of Cuchulainn. and she asked her to prophesy. and Cuchulainn told his father to go back and warn the Ulstermen to depart from the open plains into the woods and valleys. Sualtam. son of Conchobar. I see red. He had been King of Ulster for seven years and had gone into exile when the sons of Usnach were killed in violation of his guaranty and protection. To the left of Ailill was the tent of Maeve and next to hers that of Findabair. she consulted her druid for a prophesy. and they set out to oppose the enemy. They arrived at Ard Cuillenn. Whitehorn. Ailill decided to turn aside into the forest for the night. But the Ulstermen had been stricken with a mysterious sickness which afflicted them in times of danger. save for a splendid bull. Fergus interpreted it for them. and beside it was the tent of Cormac. And so he marched in front. He told her that she at least would return alive. for the expedition was a revenge for him. He cut an oak sapling with a single stroke.” said Maeve.” Four times Maeve appealed against this oracle. who were in exile from Ulster at the time. The Connacht army reached Ard Cuillenn and saw the ogam. the result of a curse laid upon them by Macha. which had belonged to Maeve’s herd but had wandered into the herd of Ailill because it would not remain in a woman’s possession. [. All her wealth seemed to Maeve not worth a penny. Their treasures were brought before them. Cuchulainn and his father. and fixed it around a stone pillar. “for I knew that it would not be given freely until it was taken by force. north of Cnogba na Rig.” Maeve summoned the armies of Connacht and Cormac son of Conchobar and Fergus son of Roech.. using one arm. weaving a fringe with a gold staff. promising a rich reward. her daughter. were exempt from the curse.Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero Finn. and she sent messengers to ask a loan of it for a year. since she had no bull equal to that of Ailill. she would even grant the owner the enjoyment of her love. and the tents were pitched. and one eye. Then she met a mysterious prophetess who rode on the shaft of a chariot. would be slain by Cuchulainn before morning. and he of his. he made it into a hoop. In the morning Cuchulainn returned from his tryst and found the army at Turloch Caille Moire. Before the expedition started. and set out to carry off the precious bull.

not I!” said each one from where he stood. but he would accept no conditions. [. ‘Yes. He came upon two Connaught warriors and beheaded them and their charioteers. if the army would advance only while the combat lasted and would halt when the warrior had been killed until another was found. the chariots bearing the headless bodies of the men. ‘In his fifth year he went to study the arts and the crafts of War with Scathach. There was one condition that he would accept. and he killed a hundred men. ‘ Fergus said. no raven more flesh-ravenous. for swiftness.’ Fergus said.none like Cuchulainn. horror or eloquence. and killed the four as swiftly as they were killed. ] “The Man who did this deed. The army advanced and devastated the plains of Bregia and Muirthemne. courage or blows in battle. . no barrier in battle.’ ‘Is he the hardest they have in Ulster?’ Maeve said. no hinderer of hosts. and he refused all that were proposed. and if one were owing I would not go against Cuchulainn.” That night a hundred warriors died of fright at the sound of Cuchulainn’s weapons. “My people owe no victim. for apparel.’ On the next day the army moved eastward. and the next day he killed three more with their charioteers. for it is not easy to fight with him. for stalking. Cuchulainn followed hard upon them seeking battle.’ ‘What sort of man. and courted Emer. ‘is this Hound of Ulster we hear tell of? How old is this remarkable person?’ ‘It is soon told. You’ll find no one there to measure him . more fine. no fighter more fierce.’ Aillil said.Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero he cut off the fork of a tree with a single stroke and cast it into the earth from his chariot. no lion more ferocious. and who came to the border with only his charioteer. for splendour. At present he is in his seventeenth year. point more sharp. no hard hammer. and Fergus warned them to beware of Cuchulainn’s vengeance. no one of his own age one third as good. for voice or strength or sternness. ‘is Cuchulainn.’ Fergus said. no soldiers’ doom. more swift. but he would not himself declare it. doom. so that two-thirds of the stem was buried in the earth. and Cuchulainn killed a hundred men each night. Fergus was able to tell that Cuchulainn would agree to single combat with a warrior each day. Maeve sent a messenger to summon Cuchulainn to a parley with her and Fergus. Maeve The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 29 . scheming or slaughter in the hunt. no hand more daft. “Not I. more slashing. They went on into Cuailnge and reached the river Glaiss Cruind. Maeve called upon her own people to oppose him in equal combat. and no one with the battlefeat ‘nine men on each point’ . no gate of battle. and Cuchulainn went to meet them. . fame or form. for cleverness. or turmoil. the hardest of all. The messenger was sent again to ask for terms. for fire or gury. alertness or wilderness. It is he who struck the branch from its base with a single stroke. He set their heads upon the branches of the tree-fork and turned their horses back toward the camp. ‘You’ll find no harder warrior against you . He surprised Orlam son of Ailill and Maeve and killed him. A hundred chariots were swept into the sea. In his eight year he took up the arms. but it rose against them so that they could not cross.for youth or vigour. and for the next three days the army lay without pitching their tents and without feasting or music.

so that only Ailill and Maeve and their sons with nine battalions remained in the field. All who had returned from the battle came to watch the bull-fight. But. .4. Three times the Men of Ireland broke through northward and each time they were driven back. Meanwhile. [. and the Whitehorned Bull heard that and came to fight him. Maeve had sent the Brown Bull of Cuailnge to Cruachan. scattering fragments of the dead bull’s flesh from his horns on the way. and of his chariot there remained a few ribs of the body and a few spokes of the wheels. and three hills were shorn of their tops by his sword. and that was the greatest grief and dismay and confusion that Cuchulainn suffered on that hosting. Cuchulainn challenged Buide and killed him. At sunset he had defeated the last battalion. driving the Brown Bull of Cuailnge. When Cuchulainn now came against him. . and when he came to the border of Cuailnge. to wield against the enemy.] Meanwhile Maeve turned northward to Dun Sobairche. They fought shield to shield. he turned his anger against the hills. He turned back to protect his own territory and found Buide son of Ban Blai.] When the Brown Bull came to Cruachan. because it would be better to lose one man every day than a hundred every night. and he died. body and wheels. and in the morning the Brown Bull was seen going past Cruachan with the Whitehorned Bull on his horns. and found Fergus opposed to him. [. The bulls travelled all over Ireland during the night. [. while they were exchanging casts of their spears. he uttered three mighty bellows. he led his company out of the fight. when the sun was up. . 30 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . whoever else might fail to come. He rose up in heroic frenzy and seized no mere weapons but his war-chariot. and when night fell they could only listen to the great noise of the fight.] In the morning. Maeve plundered Dun Sobairche. and the Leinstermen and Munstermen followed them.Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero decided to accept the proposal. if ever he and Cuchulainn should meet in the battle. The Conchobar himself went into the field. the Ulstermen attacked. . and he consented. his heart broke. which they had found in Glenn na Samisce in Sliab Cuilinn. Then she appealed the Cuchulainn to spare her army until it should go westward past Ath Mor. Táin Bó Fraoch (The Cattle Raid of Fraoch) Táin Bó Fraoch is the second most popular cattle raid tale in Old Irish literature. At noon Cuchulainn came into the battle. remembering that he was an Ulsterman. He galloped back to Ulster. . but. the great bull was driven off. so that he at least should come there. where the enemy had been advancing. and the men of Ireland [the Connaught army] came to meet them. and Cuchulainn followed her. that he would retreat before him. and then after six weeks the four provinces of Ireland with Ailill and Maeve and those who had captured the bull came into camp together. Fergus had promised. Summary by Myles Dillon 3. The bull was accompanied by twenty-four of his cows. They watched until night fell. Cuchulainn heard the scream of Conchobar’s magic shield where he lay prostrate from his wounds. .3. with twenty-four followers. and Fergus struck three mighty blows upon the shield of Conchobar so that it screamed aloud.

the Cuchulain plays are: 3.5. a giant or demon. The Green Helmet (1910) 3. and Lady Augusta Gregory’s Cuchulain of Muirthemne (1902).Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero Its first part. invites the warriors of Ireland to a feast.1. Cuchulain overhears from Cathbad that the youth who take up arms that day would become the greatest warrior in Ireland.3.5. Cuchulain. with his personal symbolism that carries forward the oppositions between the real and the spirit world evolved in his poems. Play: Cuchulain makes a sacrificial gesture in offering himself to the Red Man from the sea (Manannan in disguise) to kill.1. The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 31 .1.5.1. The Only Jealousy of Emer (1916) 3. as a Young Man. Connla. On Baile’s Strand (1904) 3. Yeats 3. At the Hawk’s Well (1916) 3. narrated by Fergus in the Taín.1. whose waters are said to give immortality. While in Scotland. Conall Cernach and Laegaire Buadach claim the title in turn. Only Cuchulain accepts the challenge and beheads the giant. The Cuchulain Cycle of Plays Cuchulain appears as the main hero in 5 plays written by William Butler Yeats from 1902 to 1938. a famous warrior woman from the Land of Shadow (island of Skye).5. a mischief-maker. The Green Helmet Source: Fledd Bricrenn (Bricriu’s Feast) Bricriu.1. he begets Aife a son.5. Celtic Myth in the Theatre of W. arrives at a Well. In their chronological order. Cuchulain receives his training first under Fergus and then under Scathach.1. Aife. An Old Man.5. who has spent 50 years waiting for the chance of drinking from its waters. After killing the monster. Fraoch marries Finnabair. Play: Cuchulain. The Death of Cuchulain (1938) At the Hawk’s Well Sources: Macgnìmartha/boyhood deeds. and the second part of the tale recounts how both she and his cattle herds are kidnapped and carried off from Connacht. whom he finally manages to defeat. to be then proclaimed by Uath the greatest champion in Ireland.4. Becoming her lover. named Uath (Horror) appears and challenges them into a beheading game. Cuchulain decides to pursue the Hawk guardian of the well. but short. has echoes in the anglo-saxon poem of Beowulf. he has to fight Scathach’s sister. and in doing so he embraces his heroic destiny. where he maliciously exploits the contention that the choicest portion of meat is given to the greatest hero. He makes his choice immediately and asks the king to let him take up arms like a man. his life would be most glorious. In these plays Yeats blends elements of Irish myth made available to him through the translations of the Taín. 3.5. urges him to join him. To decide which of these warriors is the greatest. Tochmarc Emire (the Courtship of Emer). for else his life will be spent in ceaseless warfare.2.5. in which Medb plots the death of Fraoch (a young Connach warrior who has fallen in love with Finnabair) forcing him fight a monster who dwells in a lake.B.

and I can go out and run races with the witches at the edge of the waves and get an appetite. Finally Conchobar send Cuchulain against the boy.ah FOOL: Why do you say ‘Ah . 32 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . he was to fight any man who impeded his path. Cuchulain placed a geis upon him: Connla was to never reveal his name to any man. FOOL: He must be a great man to be Cuchulain’s master. That’s wide enough. give a kiss. and you put it into the big pot at the fire there. It is that he’s coming for. but refused to give each warrior his name. and when I’ve got it. there’s the hen waiting inside for me. O shouldn’t have closed the door. and. But we won’t give them any of the fowl.1904) FOOL: What a clever man you are though you are blind! There’s nobody with two eyes in his head that is as clever as you are. There are some that look for me. I’ll be praising you while you’re eating it. in a louder voice as he feels the back of it]. It is to-day the High King Conchubar is coming. BLIND MAN [feeling legs of big chair with his hand] Ah! [Then. come. mistaken their foam for Conchobar’s crown. his duty to his king forced him fight and kill Connla. Play: Reluctantly. Cuchulain dies fighting the waves. Come. Ah . and they come by in the wind. Let them go back to the sea. I’ll have a leg and you’ll have a leg. All the witches can come in now. framing the main action of the play. Witches they are. He is going to be Cuchulain’s master in earnest from this day out. let them go back to the sea. Fool.Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero On Baile’s Strand Source: Aided Oenfhir Aife (Violent Death of Aife’s Son) Before the birth of his son. And what a good cook you are! You take the fowl out of my hands after I have stolen it and plucked it. After learning that the youth he killed was his own son. and they cry. Cuchulain swears loyalty to Conchobar and is forbidden by him to befriend an unknown young man sent by Aife. Blind Man. I wouldn’t have them beat at the door and say. There’s nobody in the world like you. and we’ll draw lots for the wish-bone. he set out for Emain Macha in search of his father. for your good plans and for your good cooking. “Where is the Fool? Why has he put a lock on the door?” Maybe they’ll hear the bubbling of the pot and come in and sit on the ground.’ that’s what they cry. Who but you could have though that the henwife sleeps every day a little at noon? I would never be able to steal anything if you didn’t tell me where to look for it. and I wouldn’t like them not to find me. though warned by Emer that the young man was possibly his son by Aife. There he encountered many warriors of the Red Branch. done to the turn. Boann herself out of the river and Fand out of the deep sea. and he either wounded or killed them. They have brought out this chair. FOOL [putting his arm round Blind Man’s neck]: Come now. ON BAILE’S STRAND (1901. Wait a minute. P. When Connla grew into a young man.ah’? BLIND MAN: I know the big chair. BLIND MAN [who is feeling about with his stick]: Done to the turn. ‘Give a kiss. A Blind Man and a Fool act as chorus.

I want my dinner. I tell you. You’d lay this oath upon me . Cuchulain. so he did. [The Blind Man has got into the chair]. hush! It is not done yet. and others had run away. I wish it was as big as a goose. FOOL: Who is that? Who is he coming to kill? BLIND MAN: Wait. and a ship and a queen’s son that has his mind set on killing somebody that you and I know. FOOL: How will he do that? BLIND MAN: You have no wits to understand such things. and now . and Conchubar is coming to-day to put an oath upon him that will stop his rambling and make him as biddable as a housedog and keep him always at his hand. But he ran too wild. He is a great man. till you hear. BLIND MAN: Did I. Fool. FOOL: That’s enough. believe me. I know who that young man is. and I heard three men coming with a shuffling sort of noise. FOOL: My teeth are growing long with the hunger. I was lying in a hole in the sand. and he had refused to tell it. FOOL: Cuchulain’s master! I thought Cuchulain could do anything he liked. I’ll take no oath. II. He is over all the rest of the kings of Ireland. BLIND MAN: I’ll tell you a story .Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero BLIND MAN: So he is. Do as I tell you. and not done. that he had come from Aoife’s country. and he had killed one. CUCHULAIN: Because I have killed men without your bidding And have rewarded others at my own leisure. Tell me about the fight. it might be done.and now The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 33 . BLIND MAN: There had been a fight. it will be well done before you put your teeth in it. What are your wits compared with mine.the kings have story-tellers while they are waiting for their dinner . He will sit up in this chair and he’ll say: ‘Take the oath. and what are your riches compared with mine? And what sons have you to pay your debts and to put a stone over you when you die? Take the oath. the guardians of the shore had asked his name. Because of half a score of trifling thing. now? Well. BLIND MAN: Hush. FOOL: Go on. a tremendous great fight. a great fight. but the legs might be red. that he was going to kill Cuchulain. I heard the men who were running away say he had red hair. BLIND MAN: So he did. A youg man had landed on the shore. But. now. Take a strong oath. I wish it was bigger. BLIND MAN: Hush! I haven’t told you all.’ FOOL [crumpling himself up and whining]: I will not. a story with a champion in it. The flesh might stick hard to the bones and not come away in the teeth. The wings might be white. They were wounded and groaning. FOOL: You said it was done to a turn. When you were stealing the fowl. I bid you take the oath.I will tell you a story with a fight in it. Come on now to the fowl. He will sit in this chair and put the oath upon him.

Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero you add another pebble to the heap, And I must be your man, wellnigh your bondsman, Because a youngster out of Aoife’s country Has found the shore ill-guarded. CONCHUBAR: He came to land While you were somewhere out of sight and hearing, Hunting or dancing with your wild companions. CUCHULAIN: He can be driven out. I’ll not be bound. I’ll dance or hunt, or quarrel or make love, Wherever and whenever I’ve a mind to. If time had not put water in your blood, You never would have thought it. CONCHUBAR:I would leave A strong and settle country to my children. CUCHULAIN: And I must be obedient in all things; Give up my will to yours; go where you please; Come when you call; sit at the council board Among the unshapely bodies of old men; I whose mere name has kept this country safe, I that in early days have driven out Maeve of Cruachan and the northern pirates, The hundred kings of Sorcha, and the kings Out of the Garden in the East of the World. Must I, that held you on the throne when all Had pulled you from it, swear obedience As if I were some cattle-raising king? Are my shins specked with the heat of the fire, Or have my hands not skill but to make figures Upon the ashes with a stick? Am I So slack and idle and I need a whip Before I serve you? CONCHUBAR: No, no whip, Cuchulain, But every day my children come and say: ‘This man is growing harder to endure. How can we be at safety with this man That nobody can buy or bid or bind? We shall be at his mercy when you are gone; He burns the earth as if he were a fire, And time can never touch him.’ CUCHULAIN: And so the tale Grows finer yet; and I am to obey Whatever child you set upon the throne, As if it were yourself! CONCHUBAR: Most certainly. I am High King, my son shall be High King; And you for all the wildness of your blood, And though your father came out of the sun, Are but a little king and weigh but light In anything that touches government, If put in balance with my children. CUCHULAIN: It’s well that we should speak out minds out plainly, For when we die we shall be spoken of In many countries. We in our young days 34 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing

Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero Have seen the heavens like a burning cloud Brooding upon the world, and being more Than men can be now that cloud’s lifted up, We should be the more truthful. Conchubar, I do not like your children - they have no pith, No marrow in their bones, and will lie soft Where you and I lie hard. [ . . . ] IV. FOOL: He is going up to King Conchubar. They are all about the young man. No, no, he is standing still. There is a great wave going to break, and he is looking at it. Ah! Now he is running down to the sea, but he is holding up his sword as if he were going into a fight. [pause]. Well struck! Well struck! BLIND MAN: What is he doing now? FOOL: O! he is fighting the waves! BLIND MAN: He sees kind Conchubar’s crown on every one of them. FOOL: There, he has struck at a big one! He has struck the crown off it; he has made the foam fly. There again, another big one! BLIN MAN: Where are the kings? What are the kings doing? FOOL: They are shouting and running down to the shore, and the people are running out of the houses. They are all running. BLIND MAN: You say they are running out of the houses? There will be nobody left in the houses. Listen, Fool! FOOL: There, he is down! He is up again. He is going out in the deep water. There is a big wave. It has gone over him. I cannot see him now. He has killed kings and giants, but the waves have mastered him, the waves have mastered him! BLIND MAN: Come here, Fool! Fool: The waves have mastered him. BLIND MAN: Come here! FOOL: The waves have mastered him. BLIND MAN: Come here, I say. FOOL [coming towards him, but looking backwards towards the door]: What is it? BLIND MAN: There will be nobody in the houses. Come this way; come quickly! The ovens will be full. We will put our hands into the ovens. [They go out]. The Only Jealousy Of Emer Sources: Serglige con Chulainn (Cuchulain’s Illness) and Oenet Emire (The Jealousy of Emer) When cuchulain tries to kill two magical birds, he is horsewhipped in a dream by two women of the sídh. He spends a year in a coma at Emain Macha, until , in a further vision, he is told that Fand needs him to fight off three demons who besieged her palace. Cuchulain enters the Otherworld, defeats the demons, and spends a month in Fand’s loving arms. When he returns to the surface, he promises to meet Fand again. Emer plans to kill Fand at the meeting-place, but instead each woman offers to surrender her love. Fand leaves, but all three are distraught until Manannan uses his magic cloak to cast a spell of oblivion upon them. The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 35

Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero Play: Yeats exploits the dramatic potential of the love triangle, adding a new character, Eithne Inguba, Cuchulain’s young mistress. While Emer renounces Cuchulain in order to save him from Fand (who wants to take him to the Otherworld), Eithne seemingly wins him back to life and to herself. The Death Of Cuchulain Source: Aided Chon Culainn (The Violent Death Of Cuchulain) Cuchulain meets his death on the plain of Mag Muirthemne, as ordained by Morrigan. As in the Taín, he contends alone against the enemies of Ulster. Pierced by a spear in the fighting, he fastens himself to a pillar-stone, so that he may die standing up. When a raven settles on his shoulder, it is taken as a sign he is dead, and his enemies behead him. Play: Though in legend Cuchulain is said to die young, here he has aged with the poet. The Morrigan gets Eithne Inguba to falsify a message from Emer, so that Cuchulain leaves to fight against Medb’s army, who has attacked Ulster again. He is wounded six times in battle. Aife appears and ties him to a stake, ready to avenge upon him the death of Connla. But it is not her, but the Blind Man (from On Baile’s Strand) who beheads the hero, having been promised 12 pennies by a “big man”. Cuchulain’s mode of dying becomes an indictment of the modern materialist society which no longer treasures heroes and artists alike.

3.6. De-Constructing Heroism: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
Cú Chulainn I from Selected Poems, 1988

Small dark rigid man Cú Chulainn who still lacks a lump on your shoulder who spent your first nine months in a cave swimming in your mother’s fluid. Grave hunter who’d satisfy no woman saying your father never went to a small seaside town like Ballybuion never made arms and instruments of war to give you so you could leap from the womb three minutes after the conception your hand full of spears holding five shields it is not we who injured you. 36 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing

Yeats’s “Cuchulain plays” and Nuala NiDhumnaill’s Chuchulain I. W.Chapter 3 – The Ulster Cycle and the Celtic Hero We also came my ladies. out of wombs and the danger yet remains morning noon and evening that the ground will open and opened to us all will be Brufon na hAlmhaine Brú na Bóinne or Teach Da Deige with its seven doors and hot cauldrons. Task Choose from one of the following topics to develop into a 4000-word essay of the argumentative type: 1. 2. Don’t threat us again with your youth again small poor dark man Cú Chulainn. Constructing and De-constructing Mythic Heroism: representations of Cuchulain in Tain Bo Cualgne . The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 37 . Tain Bo Cualgne and the Celtic Framework. B.

His famous hounds. Fionn appears as a vindictive and jealous older man. which also brings him the gift of poetry. 38 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . Muirne (Muireann) was the daughter of the druid Tadg. collectively known as the Fianna. while his mother. This set of literary conventions reflects a feature of early Irish society in that such bands of warriors did live outside the structures of that society while retaining links with it. Thereafter he finds himself inspired with imbas (great knowledge). and.Chapter 4 – The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) Chapter 4 . his finger was injured when a fairy woman caught it in the door of the fairy-fort at Femun. conduct raids. in early Ireland.1. Cumhall. According to one account of his origin. said to be descending from the Danann. his druid teacher. diviner. and other famous members of the fian (warrior-band) of Fionn. where he spends 300 years until returning to Ireland. his parentage combined warrior and visionary elements. Another characteristic is its frequent celebration of the beauty of nature. the most famous is the one with the goddess Sadb.2. who hunt. the Tara fian. In folklore the injury is caused by Fionn’s burning his thumb on the Salmon of Knowledge from the Boyne.D. institutional attributes. his son Oisín. who came to him in the form of a deer. fight. initially threatened by the youthful lover. Afterwards. in his turn.) Among his romances. Manannan’s daughter. yet he was also a poet. but eventually getting his bride back. Oísin is lured away to Tir-na-nOg by Niamh. Bran and Sceolang. Fionn was to some extent an outlaw. had led. In “The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne”. Most stories centre on the exploits of the mythical hero Fionn mac Cumhaill. and sage. evoked in vivid language. Oscar (Fionn’s grandson) and many of the Fianna are killed. he declares war on the Fianna. The Fionn Cycle (Fenian. Ossianic. Fionn possesses a gift of special insight which he can summon by biting his finger.The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) 4. the mother of Oísin. When Cormac’s son succeeds to the thrown. His father. Fenian Heroes and Tales Fionn mac Cumhaill is the leader of the Fianna under the High King Cormac mac Airt. As well as being endowed with physical courage. are said to be his cousins (Muirne’s sister having been turned into an animal during her pregnancy. and. 4. therefore. At the battle of Gabhra (Cath Gabhra). which he is cooking for Finnegas. and live an open-air nomadic life. As such. endowed with traditional. Munster) The Fionn Cycle contains a group of tales developed in Munster and Leinster and dating to the 3rd century A.

golden loops down over her shoulders. “I’ve travelled a great distance to find you. Finn and a handful of survivors went south to Lough Lene in Kerry. Oisin’s own son. Patrick preached the new doctrines to him but the old warrior scorned the newcomers and their rituals and in defiant response sand the praises of the Fianna. Many of their companions had been killed at Gowra. When Finn. hung down over the silk trapping of her horse. lustrous cloak. Her long. last of the Fianna. among them the bravest warrior of the Fianna. Her eyes were as clear and blue as the May sky above the forest and they sparkled like dew on the morning grass. The beauty of the countryside and the prospect of the chase revived their spirits a little as they followed the hounds through the woods. but this last battle had brought them total defeat and bitter losses. Around Lough Lene the woods were fresh and green and the early mists of a May morning were beginning to lift when Finn and his followers set out with their dogs to hunt. and Finn found his voice. Oisin. No one had seen a better animal. the last battle the Fianna fought. Suddenly a young hornless deer broke cover and bounded through the forest with the dogs in full cry at its heels. After the battle of Gowra. glinting with gold-embroidered stars. He had heard many stories about the adventures of the Fianna and he was interested in these old heroes whom the people spoke about as if they were gods. told his story. The Fianna followed them. They had all fought many battles in their time.” “I am called Niamh of the Golden Hair and my father is the king of Tir na n-Og. Oisin in the Land of Youth (From the Finn Cycle) Hundreds of years after Finn and his companions had died. They were stopped in their tracks by the sight of a lovely young woman galloping towards them on a supple. One day a feeble. Patrick doubted the old man’s word since Finn had been dead for longer than the span of any human life. Their story was written into the very landscape of Ireland. their code of honour and their way of life.3.Chapter 4 – The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) 4. His body was weak and wasted but his spirit was strong.” she said. “Who are you and where have you come from?” he asked. dozens marked their graves. Only once before had the Fianna seen their leader cry and that was at the death of his staghound Bran. So to convince the saint that his claim was true.” the girl replied. blind old man was brought to Patrick. They were dispirited because they knew their day was over. He said he was Oisin. had seen his favourite grandson lying dead on the field. Her horse was saddled and shod with gold and there was a silver wreath around his head. the son of Finn himself. nimble white horse. the Land of Youth. Oscar. She was so beautiful she seemed like a vision. a favourite haunt of theirs in happier times. The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 39 . hills and woods resounded with their legends. She wore a crown and her hair hung in shining. rejuvenated by the familiar excitement of the chase. rivers and valleys bore their names. he had turned his back to his troops and wept. “Tell us your name and the name of your kingdom. Saint Patrick came to Ireland bringing the Christian religion with him. the baule-hardened old veteran. moon-struck and silent. Her skin glowed white and pink and her mouth seemed as sweet as honeyed wine. The woman reined in her horse and came up to where Finn stood. Oisin.

” he cried out. Princess Niamh. You’re leaving me here heartbroken for I know we’ll never meet again!” Oisin stopped and embraced his father and said goodbye to all his friends. As they travelled across the sea. strength and power. a hundred swift bay horses. You will never fall ill or grow old there. plunging into the sea.” Oisin had been silent all this time. In my country you will never die. A young fawn rushed past. as much as you could ever want. A beautiful young woman on a bay horse galloped by on the crests of the waves. sorrowful shots. “You love one of my sons? Which of my sons do you love. The land thaws with honey and wine.Chapter 4 – The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) “Then tell us. So I decided to come and find him. “Reports of his handsome looks and sweet nature reached as far as the Land of Youth. He saw the defeat and sorrow on his father’s face and the sadness of his friends. And me for your wife. he let out three loud. and it will protect you from every danger. dazzled by the beautiful girl and when he heard her name him as the man she loved he trembled from head to toe. Oisin. “You are the most beautiful woman in the world and I would choose you above all others. my son. Niamh. “why are you leaving me? I will never see you again. “for I’ve never had a husband. You will get a hundred cows. A hundred young women will sing to you and a hundred of the bravest. “Go slowly. I will gladly marry you!” “Come away with me. And a hundred swords. “Oh. It is the most beautiful country under the sun. With tears streaming down his face he took a last look at them as they stood on the shore. a hundred keen hunting dogs.” she answered. “Come back with me to the Land of Youth. and a hundred sheep with golden wool. till we reach the shore!” Niamh said. painted summerhouses and stately palaces. a hundred calves.” “Oh. a crown that he has never given to anyone else. As well as all of this. In Tir na n-Og you will sit at feasts and games with plenty of music for you. Oisin!” Niamh whispered. Then the white horse shook its mane. “Oisin is the champion I’m talking about. You will get gold and jewels. but I wouldn’t look at any of them because I loved your son. I could never refuse you anything you ask and I will gladly go with you to the Land of Youth!” Oisin cried and he jumped up on the horse behind her. white-washed bawns and forts. courts and castles. gave three shrill neighs and leapt forward. They passed cities. He remembered his days together with them all in the excitement of the hunt and the heat of battle. you will get beauty. Oisin. plenty of wine. When Finn saw his son being borne away from him. why have you left a country like that and crossed the sea to come to us? Has your husband forsaken you or has some other tragedy brought you here?” “My husband didn’t leave me. a hundred silk tunics.” replied Niamh. Many men in my own country wanted to marry me. You will get a hundred of the most beautiful jewels you’ve ever seen and a hundred arrows. But he recovered himself and went over to the princess and took her hand in his. young warriors will obey your command. a white dog with scarlet ears racing after it. carrying a golden apple in 40 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . more than you could imagine. Niamh? And tell me why your mind settled on him?” he asked.” Finn started in surprise. With Niamh cradled between his arms he took the reins in his hands and the horse started forwards. wonderful sight appeared to them on every side. Trees grow tall there and treed bend low with fruit. The King of the Ever Young will place a crown on your head. The waves opened before Niamh and Oisin and dosed behind them as they passed.

handsome and richly dressed with a gold-bladed sword in his hand. I’m not afraid of him! Either I’ll kill him or I’ll fight till he kills me. mounted on a white horse. a shining palace came into view. Then. the story you’ve told me is sad. she replied that they were insignificant compared to the inhabitants of the Land of Youth. When the feast was over. “The daughter of the king of the Land of Life is the queen. He was huge and ugly and he carried a load of deerskins on his back and an iron bar in his hand. The two women gave three triumphant cheers when they saw the giant felled. He looked into the face of his prisoner and straight away he knew that she had told her story to the visitors. What country are we in now and who is the king?” “This is the Land of Virtue and that is the palace of Fomor.” They turned the horse towards the white palace and when they arrived there they were welcomed by a woman almost as beautiful as Niamh herself. Oisin overpowered him in the end and cut off his head. as powerful as Fomor was. looking up at the pillars of clouds blotting out the sun until the wind dropped and the storm died down. Set amid the smooth rich plains was a majestic fortress that shone like a prism in the sun. so they said goodbye to her and that was the last they saw of her. The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 41 . Niamh and Oisin rode steadily through the tempest. bathed in sunshine. Ahead of them and visible from afar. With a loud. The queen of the Land of Virtue was sad to see them go. Suddenly the sky darkened. “I’ll go to the fortress and try to overcome the giant and set the queen free. When they saw that Oisin was badly injured and too exhausted to walk unaided. Oisin looked in awe at this handsome couple but when he asked Niamh who they were. But a prisoner she remains for no one wants to fight the giant. Behind her. spread out in all its splendour. “Dry your eyes.” “Niamh. The queen put ointments and herbs on his wounds and in a very short time Oisin had recovered his health and spirits. the wind rose and the sea was lit up by angry flashes of light. but she was free now to return home.” Oisin told her.” Niamh replied. even though your voice is music in my ears. She brought them to a room where thy sat on golden chairs and ate and drank of the best. For three days and three nights they struggled and fought but. and indeed they were sad to leave her. ahead of them. They buried the giant and raised his flag over the grave and caned his name in ogham script in stone. the queen told the story of her captivity and as tears coursed down her cheeks she told them that until the giant was overcome she could never return home. They mounted the white horse and he galloped away as boisterously as a March wind roaring across a mountain summit. “I’ll challenge the giant. She has put a geis on him that he may not marry her until a champion has challenged him to single combat.Chapter 4 – The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) her right hand. a giant. Then they feasted till they were full and slept till dawn in the feather beds that were prepared for them. He saw Oisin and Niamh but did not acknowledge their presence. angry shout he challenged Oisin to fight.” At that moment Fomor approached the castle. “That’s the most beautiful palace I have ever see!” Oisin exclaimed. marble facade shone in the sun. they took him gently between them and helped him back to the fortress. She was abducted from her own country by Fomor and he keeps her a prisoner here. they saw the most delightful country. rode a young prince.” Oisin said. Its delicate. The morning sun awoke them and Niamh told Oisin they must continue on their journey to Tir na n-Og.

“listen to me well. He began to get homesick for Ireland and longed to see Finn and his friends. who is to be married to my beloved daughter. This is Tir na n_og. The festivities lasted for ten days and ten nights. Everything you ever dreamt of is waiting for you here. and set out at once to find the Fianna. Oisin!” she said. “Our white horse knows the way. set out for Ireland. you will find only a crowd of monks and holy men. “and remember what I’m saying. You will not see Finn or the Fianna. he named her Plur na mBan. Oisin gave his daughter a name that suited her loving nature and her lovely face. He said goodbye to his children and as he stood by the white horse Niamh came up to him and kissed him. you will receive. Three hundred years went by. you will be lost for ever to the Land of Youth. “I told you the truth when I told you how beautiful it was. Niamh and Oisin lived happily in the Land of Youth and had three children.” Then Niamh began to sob and wail in great distress. “I can’t refuse you though I wish you had never asked.” Oisin thanked the king and queen and a wedding feast was prepared for Oisin and Niamh. Oisin! Here you will have a long and happy life and you will never grow old.” Oisin tried to console her but Niamh was inconsolable and pulled and clutched at her long hair in her distress. I tell you again.” Oisin mounted his horse and turning his back on the Land of Youth. Oisin. but she gave Oisin a most solemn warning. “This land is the most beautiful place I have ever see!” Oisin exclaimed. who crossed the sea to find you and bring you back here so that you could be together for ever. “You’re welcome to this happy country. the king took Oisin by the hand and welcomed him. The king consented but Niamh was perturbed by his request. if your foot as much as touches the ground. This is my queen and this is my daughter Niamh. “Oisin. so he asked Niamh and her father to allow his to return home. here is a last kiss for you! You will never come back to me or to the Land of Youth. Oisin arrived in Ireland in high spirits. If you dismount from the horse you will not be able to return to this happy country. “Oh. and they welcomed the couple to Tir na n-Og. Everything I promised you. Finn’s son.Chapter 4 – The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) Surrounding it were airy halls and summerhouses built with great artistry and inlaid with precious stones.” He turned to Oisin. Niamh!” he said.” Niamh replied. Oisin. The horse took him away from Tir na n_og as swiftly as it had brought Niamh and him there three hundred years before. Niamh named the boys Finn and Oscar after Oisin’s father and son. for the third time I warn you: do not set foot on the soil of Ireland or you can never come back to me again! Everything is changed there. I promise you that all I say is true for I am the king of Tir na n-Og. He’ll bring me back safely!” So Niamh consented. As Niamh and Oisin approached the fortress a troop of a hundred of the most famous champions came out to meet them. though to Oisin they seemed as short as three. Then he turned towards the crowd and said. “Have we arrived at the Land of Youth?” “Indeed we have.” she implored him. “I’m afraid that if you go you’ll never return. “This is Oisin. He 42 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing .” Oisin tried to comfort his wife. A huge glittering crowd then approached with the king and queen at their head. as strong and powerful a champion as he had ever been. When Oisin and Niamh met the royal party. the Golden-haired.” As Niamh spoke a hundred beautiful young women came to meet them. “Don’t be distressed. Niamh of the Golden Hair. the Flower of Women. dressed in silk and heavy gold brocade.

1994) Accounts of Fionn’s death vary. “The stories about him say that there never was anyone to match him in character. taking the marble slab in his hands. His powerful body withered and shrank. Oisin stood upright for a moment. chickweed and nettles. Again the leader shouted desperately to Oisin. Instead he saw a crowd of men and women approaching from the west. Some were down already. Oisin and Oscar have inspired many generation of writers. the tall young warrior. But the slab was so heavy and the exertion so great that the golden girth round the horse’s belly snapped and Oisin was pulled out of the saddle. OVER NINE WAVES. but they kept on staring at him. The cycle has been Christianized. When they saw Oisin approach on his horse one of them shouted out. his skin sagged into wrinkles and folds and the sight left his clouded eyes. But when he got there. They addressed him courteously. He had to jump to the ground to save himself and the horse bolted the instant its rider’s feet touched the ground. There was only a bare hill overgrown with ragwort. he raised it with all his strength and flung it away and the men underneath it were freed. Faber and Faber. astonished at his appearance and his great size. the crowd stopped too. the headquarters of the Fianna in the plains of Leinster. Oisin was heartbroken at the sight of that desolate place. the warriors lamenting the abeyance of heroic conduct in Christian Ireland. but in folk tradition he is still alive (sleeping in a cave). as the horrified crowd watched. “Come over here and help us! You are much stronger than we are!” Oisin came closer and saw that the men were trying to lift a vast marble flagstone. through Glenasmole. he lay at their feet. Then.4. The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 43 . the Valley of the Thrushes. He went from one of Finn’s haunts to another but they were all deserted. As he passed through Wicklow. and some stories present the meeting of Oísin and other survivors of the Fianna with St. He scoured the countryside but there was no trace of his companions anywhere. “We’ve heard of Finn and the Fianna. When Oisin told them he was looking for Finn MacCumhaill and asked of his whereabouts the people were even more surprised. Hopeless and helpless. Literary Treatments of Fenian Tales and Heroes The stories included in the Fionn Cycle as well as the Fenian heroes like Fionn. There are so many stories that we could not even start to tell them to you!” When Oisin heard this a tide of weariness and sadness washed over him and he realized that Finn and his companions were dead. He drew in his horse and. a bewildered blind old man. Straight away he set out for Almu. towering over the gathering.” they told him. “Come quickly and help us to lift the slab or all these men will be crushed to death!” Oisin looked down in disbelief at the crowd of men beneath him who were so puny and weak that they were unable to lift the flagstone. there was no trace of the strong. (from Marie Heaney. at the sight of Oisin. behaviour or build. ready to help Ireland in times of need. Patrick. 4.Chapter 4 – The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) travelled over the familiar terrain but saw no trace of any of his friends. The weight of the stone was so great that the men underneath could not support it and were being crushed by the load. he saw three hundred or more people crowding the glen. He leaned out of the saddle and. who had been stronger than all of them. shining white fort. sank slowly to the ground.

Chapter 4 – The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) 4. The title is taken from a popular ballad about Tim Finnegan. the fairy daughter of the seagod Manannan. Goethe translated parts of it. the poem relates Oisin’s threehundred years sojourn in the immortal islands of the Sidhe. dance to your partner Welt the flure yer trotters shake Wasn’t it the truth I told you. Patrick. Lot’s of fun at Finnegan’s wake. 3. Napoleon carried a copy into battle. Finn Maccool. with the love of the liquor he was born. the Dream of Ossian was based on it. from “Finnegan’s Wake” to Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” Nevertheless. who dies in a fall from a ladder and is revived with a splash of whiskey at his wake. and one of Ingres' most romantic and moody paintings. the most famous literary treatment of Fionn himself is found in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1939) Finnegans Wake is a modernist novel. an ancient Caledonian bard. 4. held traditionally to have converted Ireland to Christianity. Collected in the Highlands of Scotland. Yeats reworked the tale of “Oisin in the Land of Youth” in his first long narrative poem entitled The Wanderings of Oísin (1889). an’ to rise in the world he carried a hod. and Translated from the Gaelic or Erse Language (1760). dancing. 4. He had a tongue both rich and sweet. W. “The Wanderings of Oisin” W. whose poems he claimed to have discovered and then translated into English with the publication of: • Fragments of Ancient Poetry. 1. Ossianism The Scott James MacPherson is among the first to have revived the figure of Oisin under the guise of Ossian. 4. an Ancient Epic Poem. B. Yeats. Written in the form of a dialogue between the aged fenian hero and St. a drunken hodcarrier. • Fingal. 4. 4. and feasting in the company of Niamh. Now Tim had a sort of a tipplin’ way. One morning Tim was rather full. 44 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing .B. An’ to help him on with his work each day he’d a drop of the craythur ev’ry morn. FINNEGAN’S WAKE Tim Finnegan liv’d in Walkin Street a gentleman Irish mighty odd. written in a highly innovative ‘dream language’ combining multilingual puns with the stream of consciousness developed in Ulysses. spent hunting. Chorus: Whack fol de dah. in Six Books (1762) • Temora (1763) Ossianism had a massive cultural impact during the 18th and 19th centuries. 2.

see how he rises. “Whirl your liquor round like blazes. will inevitably return (‘Mister Finn. It also systematically reflects Giordano Bruno’s theory that everything in nature is realized through interaction with its opposite.Chapter 4 – The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) His head fell heavy which made him shake. I’m sure. Bedad he revives. It also connects to modern psychology. to which Joyce added a section called the ‘Ricorso’.” But Biddy gave her a belt in the gob. Shillelagh law did all engage.” said Paddy McGee. He fell from the ladder and broke his skull. did you ever see. Then Micky Maloney raised his head. orra whyi deed ye diie?’). then the war did soon enrage. And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch. “Biddy. His friends assembled at the wake. Thanam o’n dhoul. Tim avourneen. When a noggin of whiskey flew at him. And a barrel of porter at his head. ‘Twas woman to woman and man to man. They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet And laid him out upon the bed. Then Biddy O’Connor took up the job. The pipes. the novel enacting the processes of the sleeping mind in keeping with Joyce’s description of it as the dream of Fionn lying in death beside the Liffey. And a row and a ruction soon began. you’re going to be Mister Finnagain!’ Its structure is governed by Giambattista Vico’s division of human history into three ages (divine. Arrah. heroic. “Such a neat clean corpse. Oh. emphasizing the Neapolitan philosopher’s cyclical conception. and human). do ye think I’m dead?” It further relates to Fionn mac Cumhaill who. and whiskey punch. First they brought in tay and cake.” says she. So they carried him home his corpse to wake. Miss Biddy O’Brien began to cry. And left her sprawling on the floor. Macool. Says. It missed and falling on the bed. why did you die?” “Ah. having passed away (‘Macool. tobacco. “you’re wrong. And Timothy rising from the bed. hould your gab. The main characters of the novel are: • Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE) (Father) • Ana Livia Plurabelle (ALP) (Mother) • Shem the Penman and Shaun the Post (Sons) The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 45 . The liquor scattered over Tim. With a gallon of whiskey at his feet.

The fall (bababadalgharagharaghtakmminorronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhhounawskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is related early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy.] A way a lone a last a loved a long the Task Consider one of the following topics to develop into a full-length essay: 1. . Aged ALP prepares to return as her daughter Issy to catch his eye again. HCE perpetrates a sexual misdemeanour in the Phoenix Park. nor had topsawyer’s rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens Country’s gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time. Not a peck of pa’s malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by archlight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface. Sir Tristram. The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan. [. Celtic Connections: from the Finn to the Arthurian cycle of tales. were sosie sesters wroth with thone nathandjoe. past Eve and Adam’s. fr’over the short sea. that the humptyhillhead of himself prumptly sends an unquiring one well to the west quest of his tumptytumtoes: and their upturnpikepoindandplace is at the knock out in the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since devlinsfirst loved livvy. had a kidscad buttened a bland old isaac. though vennissoon after. Tim Finnegan and Finnegans Wake 46 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . had passencore rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe minor to wielderfight his penisolate war. is buried and revives. nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to tauf-tauf thuartpeatrick. 2. The narrative line consists of a series of situations primarily relating to the sexual life of the Earwicker family. violer d’amores. In testimony of this cyclic conception. HCE grows old and impotent. from swerve of shore to bend of bay. not yet. . They appear under different personal and impersonal forms throughout the text. erse solid man. brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. and becomes the victim of a scadalmongering. ALP defends him in a letter written by Shem and carried by Shaun. Irish Heroes in Joycean Metamorphosis: Fion MacCumhail. though all’s fair in vanessy. the novel starts in the middle of a sentence and ends with its beginning: Finnegans Wake (1939) riverrun. also serving as underlying symbols for male and female in a world of flux. not yet.Chapter 4 – The Cycle of Munster (the Finn Cycle) • Issy (Daughter) These are not so much members of a particular family. but representatives of a kinship system repeating itself afresh in all times and places. The boys endlessly contend for Issy’s favours.

originally a vigorous ruler and a great warrior. and the king seized the psalter and threw it into the lake.1. having travelled much of Ireland. he slew one of the clerics with a spear and made a second cast at Ronan himself. bemoaning his fate. 5. Ronan went to Moira to make peace between Domnall and Congal Claen.The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales 5. Suibne. and at last he The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 47 . They are often concerned with kingship. He then laid hands on the saint and was dragging him away. Next day an otter from the lake restored the psalter to the saint unharmed. wishing that he might fly through the air like the shaft of his spear and that he might die of a spar cast like the cleric whom he had slain. BUILE SUIBHNE [THE MADNESS/FRENZY OF SWEENEY] Suibhne son of Colman was king of Dal nAraide. but he rushed naked from the house. The second spear broke against the saint’s bell. living in tree-tops. His weapons fell from his hands. They deal with persons and events of the early historical period from the 6th to the 8th centuries. is drive mad by the sound of battle. Thereafter. Then his people told him that the saint was establishing a church in his territory. He was seized with trembling and fled in a frenzy like a bird of the air.1. wishing that he might wander naked through the world as he had come naked into his presence. and the shaft flew into the air. mythology and magic continue to play an important part. and celebrating nature in haunting lyrical verse. dynastic conflicts and battles. where he spends may years naked or very sparsely clothed. Ronan was chanting the Office when Suibhne came up. He takes to the wilderness. he set out in anger to expel the cleric. after Suibne is killed by one of the servants. buries the madman in consecrated ground. Suibhne was terrified by the clamour. Moling welcomes him and. when the battle was joined. but without success. Ronan cursed Suibhne. Ronan was marking the boundaries of a church in that country. he arrives at a small religious community. His feet rarely touched the ground in his flight. Though history is present in the background of all stories. Buile Suibhne (Frenzy of Sweeney) The most famous tale in the cycle is “Buile Suibhne”. but when they sprinkled in on Suibhne. as consequence of a curse imposed on him by a cleric named Rónán.Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales Chapter 5 . which recounts the tribulations of the Mad King Sweeney. Ronan gave thanks to God and cursed the king. when a messenger arrived from Congal Claen to summon him to the battle of Moira. He and his clerics sprinkled holy water on the armies. the armies on both sides raised three mighty shouts. romance. His wife Eorann sought to restrain him and caught the border of his cloak. One day St. Finally. Suibhne departed with the messenger. The Historical (King) Cycle The Historical Cycle includes a group of early Irish tales composed between the 9th and 12th centuries. and Suibhne heard the sound of his bell. leaving Ronan sorrowful. leaving the cloak in her hands.1. where St.

. . for that valley is always a place of great delight to madmen. who had fled the field after the victory of Domnall. he would return at night. There Loingsechan came to seek him and found the footprints of Suibhne near the river where he came to eat watercress. Suibhne fled again and was for a long time travelling through Ireland till he came to Glenn Bolcain. For seven years. I do not smile. Mo Ling bade his cook give supper to Suibhne. It was there that the madmen used to abide when their year of frenzy was over. but Suibhne flew away like a bird and came to Tir Conaill. Mo Ling and Mongan the herdsman is recorded in a poem of twenty-six quatrains.] [. Domnall recognised him and lamented his misfortune. Sweeter to me once was the cry of wolves than the voice of a cleric within bleating and whining. I would rather drink water from my hand taken from the well by stealth. and then he returned to Glenn Bolcain. .]At last Suibhne came to the monastery of St. sweeter to me the noble chant of the hounds of Glenn Bolcain.] Green cress and a drink of clear water is my fare. and Suibhne would lie down to drink. [. Mo Ling made him welcome and bade him return from his wanderings every evening so that his history might be written.] Though I live from hill to hill on the mountain above the valley of yews. [. This is not the fate of the man by the wall. [. . For seven years since that Tuesday at Moira I have not slept for a moment. [The conversation of Suibhne. alas! That I was not left to lie with Congal Claen. and a sandy stream of clear water with green cress and long waving brooklime on its surface. Though sweet to you yonder in the church the smooth words of your students. Glenn Bolcain has four gaps to the wind and a lovely fragrant wood and clean-bordered wells and cool springs. grew jealous of this attention by his wife. And he uttered a lay: The man by the wall snores: I dare not sleep like that. Before his death he confessed his sins and received the body of Christ and was anointed. Though you like to drink your ale in taverns with honour. Suibhne wandered throughout Ireland. It happened that the victorious army of Domnall had encamped there after the battle. Mo ling. The cook would thrust her foot into some cowdung and fill the hole with milk. wherever he travelled during the day. for it was destined that his story should be written there and that he should receive a Christian burial. . .Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales settled upon a yew tree far from the battle field. where he perched on a tree near the church called Cill Riagain. .] 48 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . . There he was discovered by a kinsman. [. Sweeter to me once than the voice of a lovely woman beside me was the voice of the mountain grouse at dawn. He slept one night in a hut and Suibhne came near and heard him snore. in which Suibhne says: Sweeter to me once that the sound of a bell beside me was the song of a blackbird on the mountain and the belling of the stag in a storm. and. . My face betrays it. Aongus sought to persuade Suibhne to join him. Aongus the Fat. and he slew Suibhne with a spear as he lay drinking the milk one evening. who was a herdsman. Truly I am Suibhne the Madman.] The cress of the well of Druim Cirb is my meal at terce. . But the cook’s husband.

49 . “ THE BLACKBIRD BY BELFAST LOCH The small bird hang lets a trill son. [. dear each well of clear water. and they went together to the door of the church. the half-said thing to them is dearest.Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales Then Suibhne swooned. in his Introduction to the Ancient Irish Poetry. Suibhne arose out of his swoon. and Mo Ling said: Here is the tomb of Suibhne. Like the Japanese.2. these poems occupy a unique position in the literature of the world. was given to no people so early and so fully as to the Celt. calls up before us by light and skilful touches. Give me. from bright tip of yellow bill The shrill chord by Loch Lee of blackbird goodness from yellow tree. The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing THE SCRIBE IN THE WOODS Over me green branches A blackbird leads the loud Above my pen-lined booklet I hear a fluting bird-throng The cuckoo pipes a clear call Its dun cloak hid in deep dell: Praise to God for this That in woodland I write well. Early Irish Poetry The lyrical passages contained in the story and attributed to the mad King display similar characteristics with early Irish poems. the Celts were always quick to take an artistic hint. . If the King of the stars allows it. I pray to the chaste King of heaven over his grave and tomb. but rather a succession of pictures and images which the poet. arise and go with me. And Suibhne leaned against the doorpost and gave a great sigh. Summary by Miles Dillon 5. To seek out and watch and love Nature. and Mo Ling and his cleric brought each a stone for his monument.] Dear to me each cool stream on which the green cress grew. Many hundreds of Gaelic and Welsh poems testify to this fact. O heart. Indeed. and Mo Ling took him by the hand. in the following terms: “In nature poetry the Gaelic muse may vie with that of any other nation. for Suibhne used to visit them. like an impressionist. It is a characteristic of these poems that in none of them do we get an elaborate or sustained description of any scene or scenery. and his spirit went to heaven. in its tiniest phenomena as in its grandest. which are characterised by Kuno Meyer. thy hand. and he was buried with honour by Mo Ling. Sweet to me was the conversation of Suibhne: long shall I remember it. . and come from the tomb. Dear to me for the love of him is every place the holy madman frequented. His memory grieves my heart. they avoid the obvious and the commonplace.

A huge old tree encompasses it .Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales THE SHIELDING IN THE WOOD I have a shielding in the wood None knows it safe my God: An ash-tree on the higher side. culture. the note of the swan. and Peggy. Instead. Dermot Trellis. summons her to his room and seduces her. . tradition vs. .) The Suibne story continues to inspire Irish writers.1. little musicians of the wood. and figures of Irish legend like Finn MacCool and the mad King Sweeney. Along with these characters there is a more banal cast. A gentle chorus: Wild geese and ducks. shortly before summer’s end.1. Trellis falls in love with Sheila Lamont. Brian O'Nolan (Brian Ó Núalláin) (1911 –66) Brian O’Nolan is best known for his novels An Béal Bocht. he spends his time carousing with friends and smoking cigarettes (in bed. The “Suibhne” Motif in Irish Literature Through the story of his wanderings – physical and mental – Suibhne became the principal Irish exponent of the legend of the Wild Man. 5. 5. while wearing a single suit of clothes). notably Flan O’Brien in AtSwim-Two-Birds (1939) and Seamus Heaney in Sweeney Astray (1982) 5. The voice of the wind against the branchy wood Upon the deep-blue sky: Falls of the river.1.3. .3. and the Great Count O'Blather. . Swarms of bees and chafers. Through its overt religious symbolism. At Swim-TwoBirds and The Third Policeman written under the nom de plume Flann O'Brien.present. the story is historically rooted in the clash between pre-Christian and Christian customs and values. The student begins to write a novel about an Irish novelist. . The music of the dark torrent . past vs. Other pseudonyms he used were: John James Doe. the individual and the state. namely Antony and Sheila Lamont. The 50 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . This seduction results in the birth of a child. John Furriskey. by extrapolation. who has a limited imagination and borrows characters from the existing pool of literary stereotypes: cowboys from American westerns. Delicious music . At Swim-Two Birds (1939) The novel is narrated by a college student who never goes to class.3. nature vs. . He also wrote many satirical columns in the Irish Times under the name Myles na gCopaleen. Another motif relates to the state of frenzy and the world of vision entailed by it (the frenzy unlocks the gifts of poetry ad seership. Many of the motifs attached to him are associated with rites of passage and the transition from one state to another. Paul Shanahan. Brother Barnabas. a Good Fairy and a pookah. modernity. and. a hazel-bush beyond. George Knowall. whose upbringing is controlled by the pookah.

its daemon. Nature of chuckles: Quiet. He then brought from his own pocket a box of the twenty denomination. The God-big Finn. yes. I said. Each should be allowed a private life. lighting one for each of us. It was undemocratic to compel characters to be uniformly good or bad or poor or rich. to write a book or to make a book. I said. I then tendered an explanation spontaneous and unsolicited concerning my own work. you’re the queer bloody man. dislike their narrative and convince Trellis’s child to write a novel about his novelist. self-determination and a decent standard of The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 51 . depending for their utility on a knowledge of the French language as spoken in medieval times. There are two ways to make big money. the novel was self-administered in private. he said. its sorrow and its joy. Psycho-analysis was mentioned . in which the author is to be tortured to death. in the hands of un unscrupulous writer. I took out my ‘butt’ or half-spent cigarette and showed it in the hollow of my hand. affording an insight as to its aesthetic. Witticisms were canvassed. In reply to an inquiry. meanwhile. What are you laughing at? I said. Nature of explanation offered: It was stated that while the novel and the play were both pleasing intellectual exercises. Under the cover of the bed-clothes I poked idly with a pencil at my navel. the predilections of publishers and the importance of being at all times occupied with literary activities of a spare-time or recreative character. its darkness. affecting a pathos in my voice. from AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS (1939) I withdrew my elbow and fell back again as if exhausted by my effort.great authors living and dead. Brinsley was at the window. The novel. that stuff I gave you? Oh. that was the pig’s whiskers. You and your book and your porter. however. he said. By God. private. Just at this point.with. My dim room rang with the iron of fine words and the names of great Russian masters were articulated with fastidious intonation. Did you read that stuff about Finn. giving chuckles out. could be despotic. frequently inducing the reader to be outwitted in a shabby fashion and caused to experience a real concern for the fortunes of illusory characters. Brinsley turned from the window and asked me for a cigarette. That is all I have. and character of modern poetry. averted. a somewhat little touch. That was funny all right.Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales characters in the author’s proposed novel. My talk had been forced. he said. the novel was inferior to the play inasmuch as it lacked the outward accidents of illusion. The play was consumed in wholesome fashion by large masses in places of public resort. This I found a pleasing eulogy. couched in the accent of the lower or working-classes. its sun-twinkle clearness. It happened that this remark provoked between us a discussion on the subject of Literature . and At Swim-Two-Birds ends. the college student passes his exams. its argument. it was explained that a satisfactory novel should be a self-evident sham to which the reader could regulate at will the degree of his credulity. he said.

said Lamont. A wealth of references to existing works would acquaint the reader instantaneously with the nature of each character. contentment and better service. said Furriskey. It is bad living without a house. running with the red stag through fields. If the evil hag had not invoked Christ against me that I should perform leaps for her amusement. what’s this about jumps? Hopping around. Seamus Heaney (1939-) Heaney was born into a nationalist Irish Catholic family at Mossbawn. . That is all my bum. upstarts. . 5.3. It snowed on his tree that night. said Lamont. in a rural area thirty miles to the north-west of Belfast. It would be incorrect to say that it would lead to chaos. and he was constrained to the recital of these following verses.2. I would not have relapsed into madness. [direct speech and indirect speech] [. The modern novel should be largely a work of reference. you is truth wolves for company. said reading.put down in the book against him. it is my due. thimbleriggers and persons of inferior education from understanding contemporary literature. the snow being the worst of all the other snows he had endured since the feather grew on his body. Peerless Christ. The upshot is that your man becomes a bloody bird. it is a piteous life! A filling of green-tufted fine cresses a drink of cold water from a clear rile Stumbling out of the withered tree-tops walking the furze . I see. Sweeny arrived at nightfall at the shore of the widespread Loch Ree his resting-place being the fork of the tree of Tiobradan for that night. Terrible is my plight this night the pure air has pierced my body. This would make for self-respect. my cheek is green O Mighty God. said Sweeny. Conclusion of explanation. is about this fellow Sweeny that argued the toss with the clergy and came off second-best at the wind-up.usually said much better. Come here.Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales living. 52 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing . Characters should be interchangeable as between one book and another. said learned Shanahan in a learned explanatory manner. I explained to him my literary intentions in considerable detail . The entire corpus of existing literature should be regarded as a limbo from which discerning authors could draw their characters as required. now discoursing. would obviate tiresome explanations and would effectively preclude mountebanks. ] After a prolonged travel and a searching in the skies. lacerated feet. But taking precise typescript from beneath the book that was at my side. There was a curse .a malediction . Most authors spend their time saying what has been said before . man-shunning. creating only when they failed to find a suitable existing puppet. The story. oratio recta and oratio obliqua.

The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 53 . Heaney's work is deeply associated with the lessons of history. many of which seemed to have been ritually sacrificed to earth deities. 1975) I can feel the tug of the halter at the nape of her neck. Heaney evolved the “bog myth” to distance the sectarian killings in modern Ulster through their analogues of 2000 years ago. brain-firkin: her shaved head like a stubble of black corn. Glob’s “The Bog People” – which dealt with the discovery of well-preserved Iron Age bodies in the Danish bogs. her blindfold a soiled bandage. It blows her nipples to amber beads. the body of a young Danish woman accused of adultery and sacrificed to the land in an ancient fertility ritual prompts him meditate on tribal revenge and justice. I can see her drowned body in the bog. sometimes even prehistory. PUNISHMENT (from North.Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales His main collections of poetry are: Death of a Naturalist (1966) Door into the Dark (1969) Wintering Out (1972) North (1975) Field Work (1979) Sweeney Astray: A Version From the Irish (1983) Station Island (1984) The Haw Lantern (1987) Seeing Things (1991) The Midnight Verdict (1993) The Spirit Level (1996) Heaney's work is often set in rural Londonderry. the weighing stone. for example. the floating rods and boughs.V. finding its modern counterpart in the shaved and tarred heads of young Irish women humiliated by the I. Under the influence of P.R. the county of his childhood. Hints of sectarian violence can be found in many of his poems. In “Punishment”.A. even works that on the surface appear to deal with something else. the wind on her naked front. for fraternizing with British soldiers. Under which at first she was a barked sapling that is dug up oak-bone. Like the Troubles themselves. it shakes the frail rigging of her ribs.

Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales her noose a ring to store the memories of love. Little adulteress, before they punish you you were flaxen-haired, undernourished, and your tar-black face was beautiful. My poor scapegoat, I almost love you but would have cast, I know, the stones of silence. I am the artful voyeur of your brain’s exposed and darkened combs, your muscles’ webbing and all your numbered bones: I who have stood dumb when your betraying sisters, cauled in tar, wept by the railings, who would connive in civilized outrage yet understand the exact and tribal, intimate revenge. Nevertheless, if the bog myth distances contemporary violence through an objective correlative, it also aestheticises it through Heaney’s art. Being accused of having become an “anthropologist of ritual violence”, Heaney decided that investing poetry with the burden of political meaning meant to frustrate its flight. While he himself withdrew from the politically embittered North to Wicklow, in the Republic, his subsequent poems revel in the condition of “exile” as a necessary one for a poet who acknowledges the priority of his artistic vocation over the constraints of the political world. In “Exposure” the speaker is an “inner émigré”, who has given up history as a bad job: EXPOSURE It is December in Wicklow: Alders dripping, birches Inheriting the last light, The ash tree cold to look at. A comet that was lost Should be visible at sunset, Those million tons of light 54 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing

Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales Like a glimmer of haws and rose-hips, And I sometimes see a falling star. If I could come on meteorite! Instead I walk through damp leaves, Husks, the spent flukes of autumn, Imagining a hero On some muddy compound, His gift like a slingstone Whirled for the desperate. How did I end up like this? I often think of my friends’ Beautiful prismatic counselling And the anvil brains of some who hate me As I sit weighing and weighing My responsible tristia. For what? For the ear? For the people? For what is said behind-backs? Rain comes down through the alders, its low conductive voices Mutter about let-downs and erosions And yet each drop recalls The diamond absolutes. I am neither internee nor informer; An inner émigré, grown long-haired And thoughtful; a wood-kerne Escaped from the massacre, Taking protective colouring From bole and bark, feeling Every wind that blows; Who, blowing up these sparks For their meagre heat, have missed The once-in-a-lifetime portent, The comet’s pulsing rose. Sweeney Astray (1983) In 1983 Heaney undertook a full-scale translation of “Buile Suibhne” as “Sweeney Astray”, finding in the figure of the ancient king an analogue for himself as an artist who has chosen to flee from the constraints of the tribe in order to find release into imaginative freedom. SWEENEY ASTRAY God of heaven! Why did I go battling out that famous Tuesday to end up changes into Mad Sweeney, The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 55

Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales roosting alone up in the ivy? From the well of Drum Cirb, watercress supplies my bite and sup at terce; its juices that have greened my chin are Sweeney’s markings and birth-stain. And the manhunt is an expiation. Mad Sweeney is on the run and sleeps curled beneath a rag under the shadow of Slieve leaguelong cut off from the happy time when I lived apart, an honoured name; long exiled from those rushy hillsides, far from my home among the reeds. I give thanks to the King above whose harshness only proves His love which was outraged by my offence and shaped my new shape for my sins a shape that flutters from the ivy to shiver under a winter sky, to go drenched in teems of rain and crouch under thunderstorms. Though I still have life, haunting deep in the yew glen, climbing mountain slopes, I would swoop places with Congal Claon, stretched on his back among the slain. My life is steady lamentation that the roof over my head has gone, that I go in rags, starved and mad, brought to this by the power of God. It was sheer madness to imagine any life outside Glen BolcainGlen Bolcain, my pillow and heart’s ease my Eden thick with apple trees. What does he know, the man at the wall, how Sweeney survived his downfall? Going stooped through the long grass. A sup of water. Watercress. Summering where herons stalk. Wintering out among wolf-packs. Plumed in twigs that green and fall. What does he know, the man at the wall? I who once camped among mad friends 56 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing

The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing 57 . In 1995 Seamus Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Task Consider one of the following topics to develop into a full-length critical essay: 1. Exposure. that happy glen of winds and wind-borne echoes. “The Matter of Ireland” and Heaney’s Ars Poetica: Punishment vs.Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales in Bolcain. 3. At-Swim-Two-Birds and Sweeney Astray: Two Versions of Buile Sweeney. “Mad King Sweeney” and the “Buile” Motif in Irish Literature 2. live miserable Beyond the dreams of the man at the wall..

Berresford-Ellis. Welch. 2004. Mohor-Ivan. Kiberd. Declan. INVENTING IRELAND: The Literature of the Modern Nation. 4. (ed. 2. 3. 1994. DICTIONARY OF CELTIC MYTHOLOGY. Oxford UP. Robert (ed. LANDMARKS OF IRISH DRAMA.) MODERN IRISH POETRY. Mercier Press. EDP. Moody. 1993. Methuen. Constable.) THE OXFORD COMPANION TO IRISH LITERATURE. THEATRE AND BRIAN FRIEL’S REVISIONIST STAGE. 1998. AN ANTHOLOGY.Chapter 5 – The King (Historical) Cycle of Tales Minimal Bibliography: 1.) THE COURSE OF IRISH HISTORY. 1996. 7.W. Crotty. T. Vintage. Peter. Ioana REPRESENTATIONS OF IRISHNESS: CULTURE. Patrick (ed. 1996. 5. 1991. 6. Lagan Press. 58 The Celtic Paradigm in Modern Irish Writing .


Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature TOPICS Introduction: The Matter of Ireland Part One: Colonial themes and the politics of representation  Conquests (1): The Anglo-Norman Legacy in Irish Culture  Conquests (2): England’s “Other”. Inscribing and Re-inscribing Ireland’s Story  Colonialism and the Nationalist Imaginary Part Two: Space and nation in literary representation  The ‘Big House’ Theme in Irish Literature  The ‘Pastoral’ in Irish Literature.  The ‘City’ in Irish Literature Minimal Bibliography Annexes 2 .

throughout the Middle Ages. Penguin. M. Editura didactica si pedagogica. Yet. but a possible security threat as the Irish could be now used by the Catholic powers of the day (the Spaniards in particular) to attack England. M. they chose to remain within the Catholic Church. the Pale. Ireland was attacked with great brutality and colonised in the same way that America was at the time. Trevelyan. Trevelyan notes. Bucuresti. Within the new religious discourse. being called “Old English” in order to differentiate them from the fresher waves of Protestant conquerors. ruled by their Irish chiefs). at times. the exiled king of Leinster. Yet. sovereignity over it. The following is extracted from Ioana Mohor-Ivan. These first colonists and their descendants were largely absorbed in the Celtic atmosphere around them. once in Ireland. of equal importance and attraction. Later. asked the Norman lords of South Wales to help him regain his kingdom. even if the English captured and massacred them at Smerwick. As G. 1979. Ireland itself remained independent of English royal control. As a result of this first wave of English colonists. as both represented two new fields. The policy of real conquest and colonisation was undertaken by the English state during Elizabeth I’s and James I’s reigns. and tracts of mixed control in-between (with Anglo-Irish barons ruling over the native population). though the English kings called themselves ‘Lords of Ireland’ and claimed. the Normans turned into conquistadors. consisting in: the Pale (that region where English law was administered as in an English shire). many intermarrying with the native populations and adopting the local customs. 2004. and was largely prompted by England’s turn to Protestantism during the 16th century. where private fortunes could be made. public service rendered to the Queen. prompting the Queen to undertake its conquest. 2 G. Catholic Ireland was no longer a place to be ignored. and the cause of true religion upheld against the Pope and the Spaniards 2 . when Dermot. a three-fold division of the island was established. and subsequently trying to advance westwards. in practice no troops were effectively sent there to actually conquer and govern the island. 62-3 1 3 . A Short History of England. for. occupying and colonising a region around Dublin. the West (an area peopled by purely Celtic tribes. The fact that Ireland was becoming the danger point in Elizabeth’s dominions was confirmed in 1588 when the Pope himself planned to attack England by sending armed troops bearing his commission to Ireland. pp. after the Reformation.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature INTRODUCTION – THE MATTER OF IRELAND1 The first contacts established between the English state and Ireland occurred at the end of the 12th century. Glimpses of Britain: a cultural studies perspective.

the Protestants in the north proclaimed William king and fortified Derry. This event has come to be called The Flight of the Earls. eventually only the landlords suffered this fate. It was rendered easier for Cromwell and his army because the Protestants over there. carrying with them their extreme version of Protestantism. when the Catholic King James II was deposed by the English Parliament in favour of the Protestant William of Orange. earl of Ulster. 6 Although the idea of driving the whole Catholic population beyond the Shannon was entertained. sending his troops to reconquer Ireland as the first step in the reconstitution of the British Empire. aiming to fulfil a three-fold objective: to pay off in Irish land the soldiers who had fought. aided by French money. in an atrocious way. 5 In 1641 Sir Phelim O’Neill led an insurrection against the Ulster Plantation. the largest part of the colonists establishing James I’s Plantation of Ulster in 1608 were Scots from the neighbouring coast. tended to rally round him as the champion of their race and creed 4 . at the end of the war Cromwell took full revenge on them. Another key-date in the history of Ireland’s colonisation is the year 1689. that confirmed once again for the English that Ireland did represent a security threat for their state. by trying to push the whole indigenous population to the west of the river Shannon. 4 G. Antrim and Derry. The British Isles. signifying the moment when the Gaelic rule comes to an end in Ireland. now styling themselves as ‘Old Protestants’ 7 to distinguish themselves from the Baptists and Quakers (the ‘New Protestants’) of the Cromwellian army. op. The real beneficiaries were the ‘New English’ planters of pre-1641. despite the efforts undertaken by the English state in order to persuade people to emigrate to Ireland. As the Catholic Irish registered their support on the King’s side. mainly in Ulster. exiling himself in Italy. leaving the rest of the army carry on. enduring In 1607 the last of the Northern earls. Hugh O’Neill. departed from Ireland. whatever their political allegiance. The Cromwellian conquest also led to the downfall of the ‘Old English’ interest in Ireland. troops and generals. 1989.Trevelyan. 7 Hugh Kearney. trying to complete the conquest of a land where already three-fourth of its population obeyed him. but is economically very poor 6 . as the best land the country possessed. In response to this action. A History of Four Nations. Cambridge UP. after the defeat of the rising of the Northern earls 3 . But. the guerrilla war in the West. to render the English hold secure against another rebellion like that of 1641 5 . and.. James II landed in Ireland. while the Irish resistance became racial and Catholic instead of Royalist.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature The island was first subjugated military. The next important moment within the history of Anglo-Irish relationships occurred during the 17th century Civil Wars in England. 3 4 . cit. Ireland was colonised. The most important outcome of the Cromwellian policy was the fact that Ulster had now to face its own set of problems deriving from the large-scale settlements of Scots in Down. to Cannaught. and lastly to extirpate Catholicism. pp. a region that invokes a deep primitive Gaelic feeling. Cromwell went home. After the fall of Drogheda had broken the back of resistance in the East. 79-81. The subsequent land settlement completed the transference of the soil from Irish to British proprietors. A year later.M.

the defence of Limerick and its defeat has also been turned into a celebratory event by the Nationalist rhetoric. while. but it also saved Protestantism in Europe and enabled the British Empire to launch forth on its career of expansion overseas. op.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature the famous Catholic siege of 169o until William landed in Ireland and released the town. It was the struggle of the Anglo-Scots against the Catholic Irish for the leadership of Ireland. cit. the hero of the Limerick siege. The penal code placed the Catholics in Ireland under every political and social disadvantage and pursued and persecuted their leaders. was forced to withstand a Protestant siege and finally surrender in 1691. 10 Hugh Kearney. and for some time even religious freedom. G.M. 8 9 5 . but enjoying the greatest political power and closely involved with affairs in England). of regiments from the continent represented the international issues at stake. At the same time. The outcome of that battle decided the future of Ireland for the next two centuries. in its turn. bringing the defeat of the native Irish and the final eclipse of the culture of the ‘Old English’. the decrees of the English Parliament were ruining the Irish Trade. while the Battle of Boyne is celebrated on the 12 July by Protestant Orange Lodge marches that commemorate the defeat of James II. upon two quarrels. The 17th century and its events provide the focus for the most politically charged folk festivals for both Protestants and Catholics alike. The restored English rule in Ireland reflected very little tolerance to any groups outside the Established Anglican Church. has entered the Catholic pantheon of heroes withstanding oppression. on both sides of the river. and the consequent domination of the world by the French monarchy 8 . the siege of Derry is commemorated by the ‘Apprentice Boys March’ 9 . Anglican intolerance refused political equality. The presence. the year that also witnessed the renaming of Derry to Londonderry (a victory has to be enunciated in different ways). op. at the same time. a Presbyterian culture in Ulster (socially dominant in Antrim and Down. but also the struggle of Britain and her European allies to prevent a Jacobite restoration in England. and preserving close links with Scotland). but not well represented elsewhere. A group of apprentice boys closed the gates of Derry against the wish of its governor and resisted James II’s siege until William’s troops arrived. to Presbyterians as well. and Patrick Sarsfield. In August and December. and the Catholic majority to be found in all the four provinces. ultimately merging the Gaelic and the ‘Old English’ cultures through its sense of a common Catholicism 10 .Trevelyan. halting the economical development of a country which was now freezing into a three-fold cultural pattern that was to persist throughout the next century: a Protestant land-owning Ascendancy in the East (smallest in number. The decisive battle was fought at the Boyne on the 12 July 1690. With equal intensity of recollection. as the moment when the brave and gallant defenders of Ireland were eventually defeated. The defeated Catholic forces retreated to Limerick which. cit.

a movement calling itself “The Volunteers”. in spite of the opposition of the Protestant Ascendancy. The ‘memories of ‘98’ became a heirloom of hatred. Yet. the initiative was not Catholic and Gaelic. led largely by landlords. a much more radical political society was formed in Dublin and Belfast with members of the newly-expanding Protestant urban middle-class. cherished in every cottage. This society of “The United Irishmen” sought to forge an alliance with leaders of the Catholic community in order to demand the widening of the franchise and to put an end to the political and civil disabilities of the Presbyterians and Catholics. prepared to defend the country against a French invasion. It was an act which also listed the support of the Catholic population who was hoping now for an improvement of their condition. which claimed to be non-sectarian and rationalist under the influence of French political thought. The rebellion of 1798 also led the British government conclude that a union of Ireland with Britain was a necessity. In 1798 the ’United Irishmen’ rose in revolt. the “Orange Order”. with the result that the gulf between the North and the South was enlarged. It also brought the Industrial Revolution to the North of Ireland. the American Independence War and the French Revolution. an exclusively Protestant society which was formalised with quasi-Masonic ritual in 1797 when lodges were formed. in 1795 the landlords placed themselves at the head of a “Church and King” society. In 1791. as the only method of permanently restoring order and justice. on condition that the English government abolished all Ireland’s commercial disabilities and granted the formal independence of its Parliament from British control. in effect only the Anglican interest was represented at Westminster as Irish Catholic MPs were not admitted. entering an alliance with the French forces with the aim of concerting a French invasion with an Irish insurrection. while the economic backwater of the South was left 6 . and the balance of power shifted within the Ascendancy in favour of the industrially-expanding North. as it operated underground. the Act of Union abolished the parliament in Dublin and secured the incorporation of Ireland within the British State. and sectarian hostility led to atrocious reprisals being taken against the insurrectionists and the native population. The Union had the result of bringing the complexity of Irish society and politics into the heart of Westminster. led by Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmett. and eventually republican.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature At the end of the 18th century Ireland was affected by the two great revolutions that are part of the world history. and renewed by successive generations of nationalists. and also provided the outlet for Irish immigration to England. in the first instance. but Protestant and Liberal. hoping to unite the religions of Ireland in arms against England’s domination and establish a United Independent Ireland (in the fashion of The United States of America). Suppressed in 1794. the Society’s demands grew more radical. In 1800. which stirred up once again the factions involved. In reaction against ‘The United Irishmen’ society. But even if the act provided for Irish representation in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The rebellion was put down by the British and the Orange Order loyalists.

and the labourers also survived as an important segment of the population. when the issue of the long-term future of AngloIrish relations came again to the fore. At the same time this event made possible for the Irish tenant farmers to consolidate and extend landholdings after the Famine. inspired by the ‘advanced’ nationalism of the Italian nationalistic movement of Mazzini. forming the basis of a very powerful pressure group in the years to come. By the mid-1860s. By 1847 large numbers of small farmers were obliged to emigrate to the United States of America. “Fenians” was the alternative. due to their contrasting experiences. social and cultural accommodations in the South. founded in 1858. transmitting family wealth from generation to generation through a set of practices termed “familism” 11 . popular name for the Irish Republican Brotherhood. the execution of some of its leaders in Manchester 12 helped the publicity of the Fenian cause within Catholic opinion. Daniel O’Connor. including the imposition and perpetuation of strict codes of behaviour between men and women. By contrast. they ceased to exert the same degree of influence that they had wielded before the Famine. was decimated by starvation and disease. A final outcome of the union was that the old animosities between the Anglican and Presbyterian Protestants died out in the North in an environment of industrialisation and revived Catholicism. general endorsement of celibacy outside marriage and postponement of marriage in farmer’s families until the chosen heir was allowed by the father to take possession of the farm. which was not reversed in subsequent decades. led the Fenians start bombing activity in the Autumn of 1865. forcing the British government to pass the Bill in 1828. the most numerous class at the time which also defined the characteristics of the people-nation. the Catholic South of small farming and labouring classes. This sudden drop in population. the Great Potato Famine that struck Ireland in 1846 enhanced once again the division between the Catholic and Protestant cultures. a social tragedy that had its greatest impact on the Catholic poor. “Familism” consisted of a number of procedures used to control access to marriage. also led to a complex series of economic. Its intention of establishing an Irish republic by force. While the North of the country was mostly spared by the failure of the potato crops (the main element of popular diet was oats). rose to fight for the Catholic emancipation. a distinct culture emerged in the later 19th century. a period of comparative political tranquillity ended abruptly with the advent of “Fenianism”.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature in the hands of the Catholic urban and rural middle-class. It was from the ranks of the latter one that the charismatic leader. either by emigration or by death. while by 1851 statistics showed that Ireland had lost one quarter of its population. heavily dependent upon the potato. in the north more sexual permissiveness was allowed in rural society. 12 The so-called “Manchester Martyrs” 11 7 . Towards the middle of the 19th century. and even if the movement ultimately failed. As a result. As the numbers of the landless labourers and their families drastically declined. a secret revolutionary organisation. the culture of the Irish tenant farmers (marked by late marriage and strict sexual taboos).

Being founded in 1879 under the name of “The Irish Land League” by a Fenian. being concerned in the beginning with a campaign . and reprisals. This led to a complete reversal of the Irish opinion which turned its sympathies from the Irish parliamentary party and. refusing to send its members to occupy their places at Westminster. in a wave of national anger. for the government made the mistake of shooting the rebels. or the ‘troubles’ as the people euphemistically called it. with both sides illegally armed and the drilling of the Ulster Volunteers in the North answered by similar demonstrations in the south. such as the Gaelic League 13 and later. Meanwhile. It was a struggle characterised by guerrilla warfare. and of arresting and executing people who had no involvement in the rising. raids on police barracks. even the seriously injured ones. the shooting-up and burning-up of towns. and planned assassinations on the one side. ambushes. after the fall of Parnell’s parliamentary. the Orange Order opposition to an independent and united Ireland intensified and before the outbreak of the First World War Ireland was on the brinks of a civil war. When the war broke out. in 1908. the United Irish League. The outcome was the Easter rebellion of resist landlord seizure of tenants’ land for non-payment of rents. which won the general elections in 1918. followed by the signing of a treaty five months later that conceded dominion status to the twenty counties that formed the Irish Free State. The national demand for self-government proved so deeply implanted in the mind of the Irish that it survived not only the fall and death of Parnell. while the six Protestant 13 an organisation founded in 1893 to promote the restoration of the Irish language. dominating the British politics until the beginning of the First World War. while the Fenian linked organisation. most Ulster Volunteers and Irish National Volunteers joined the British army. its followers reunited within a new shell organisation. one by one. The outcome of this measure was the Anglo-Irish war from early 1919 to July 1921. Eventually public opinion in America and in Britain demanded a truce. it was taken over by Charles Stewart Parnell who used its cause as platform to become the leader of a group of Irish MPs pressing for the Home Rule bill for Ireland. disapproving of Irish support for England. executions and terrorising on the other. It was not so much the rebellion of the Easter week that completed the change in the attitude of the Irish people generally as its aftermath. which was arranged in July 1921.the man and the question which had first given it power -. a party that united a number of smaller groups to campaign for Irish independence. In reaction to this growing nationalism. but the subsequent removal of the land grievance . decided that a new insurrection was to take place in Ireland before the end of the war. the Irish Republican Brotherhood. the Sinn Fein. gave its approval to Sinn Fein. and the political landscape was further complicated by the emergence of other groups struggling for hegemony. The victorious Sinn Fein pledged itself to the Irish republic and proceeded to put into operation a policy of passive resistance to continued British rule. 8 .in the wake of the agrarian crisis of 1879 . even if conscription was not applied in Ireland. Michael Davitt.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature In the 1880s a first nationalist party emerged.

the enforcement of law and order and the drawing of electoral boundaries. cit. schools. a complex and subtle system of relationships came into existence in which both sides were taking great pains to avoid causing offence. soccer and rugby were appropriate games. Eire’s neutrality in the Second World War was the final proof of how far the paths of the two Irish governments had diverged 15 . while for the other Gaelic football and hurling were national sports. Mercier Press. with a Home Rule Parliament of their own. North and South. Nationalists continued to complain of discrimination in the distribution of houses and jobs. Events in the rest of Ireland during these years also helped to keep alive old issues in the north. 16 idem 14 9 . There were occasions when nationalist demonstrations were broken up by the police. In Northern Ireland. the new Irish constitution of 1937. pp 307-310. The act of 1920 had set up a state in which about one third of the population was bitterly hostile. enabling thus the unionists to appropriate loyalty and good citizenship to themselves and identify Catholicism with hostility to the state. 14 Northern Ireland had been brought into existence. but important social and economic changes occurred as well. The old issues survived into the post-war age as well. More than this. Due to the general benefits brought by the implantation of the British Welfare State in Northern Ireland. but its future was far from assured. Some took part in an attempt to overthrow it by force. In the Republic change was above all economic and social. Unionists retorted that Catholics were disloyal to the state and used occasional royal visits to reaffirm their loyalty to Britain. 16 Yet. A new government brought along the shift from conservatism to innovation. others adopted an attitude of non-cooperation. Northern Ireland. an articulate middle-class had risen within the Catholic community. in The Course of Irish History.McCracken. From Parnell to Pearse (1891-1921). the 1960s were years of change for both communities. and the policy of raising the partition question on every possible occasion heartened the nationalists but confirmed the unionists in their resolve that Ulster’s position within the United Kingdom and the Empire must remain unchanged. For one community. the cultures of the two communities were also divergent. with a minimum of social contact established between them: each had its own churches. 15 J. more prepared than its predecessors to acquiesce in the constitutional status quo. a legacy from the days of Fenianism.L. 1994. in The Course of Irish History. provided Catholics Donald McCartney. 1921-66. attempted ‘offensive’ operations to overthrow partition. newspapers and forms of recreation. paving the way for the expansion of education and beginning the erosion of the rural political and cultural domination. The dismantling of the Anglo-Irish Treaty after 1932.. A new campaign of violence was carried on from 1956 to 1962. From time to time.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature counties of Ulster remained within the British Union. pp 316-322. op. IRA. In mixed rural areas. change was most obviously political.

Irish/Scot or AngloIrish. freedom and true religion. the holding without trial of suspected terrorists J. This body. as the sharp divergence between unionist and nationalist aspirations has remained. planter and Gael as that between oppressor and oppressed. Protestant history celebrates 17th century events as those which allowed the defence of civilisation. reorganised as the Provisional IRA and reverted to nationalist military traditions and with the first IRA victims the government lost control of its own Army who turned against nationalists. Catholic/Protestant. Northern Ireland is still an extremely parochial place where matters of life and death have forced people to fall back on their own resources and close ranks. Northern Ireland has remained a place where history and its versions play a central role in shaping the attitudes of the two groups involved in this intricate drama. as well as the establishment of a Protestant Ascendancy. A year later disorder had reached such a height with Protestant mobs launching savage attacks on Catholic areas of west Belfast that the Northern Irish government was obliged to request the British government to send in troops to restore order. pp342-347 passim. as each community has its different interpretation of more remote or more recent events that would legitimate its claims. A sign of the new mood of the catholic community was the growth of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. while for rhetorical purposes the more recent history (from the 1920s onwards) is employed as a catalogue of grievances against the Catholics who have failed to accept the will of the majority and subverted the state using violent means. 19 the 1985 Anglo-Irish treaty. But the crisis deepened as in the 1970s IRA appeared on the scene of battle.H.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature received a fair deal within it. the 1994 peace-process 17 18 10 . From 1972 to the present day all attempts to deal with the “Troubles” in Ireland 19 have offered only momentary respite from the embittered clash between the two communities. Republican/Unionist. op. did not challenge the existence of the Northern Ireland state. unlike previous organisations. On the other hand. in The Course of Irish History. From August 1968. founded in 1967.cit. marches and demonstrations in support of this objective were held in various towns. so that in 1972 the British government decided to suspend the Northern Ireland government and introduce direct rule from Westminster 18 . Nationalist history classically portrays an opposition between Britain and Ireland. entitling the Irish to a catalogue of grievances whose rhetorical force derives from the reciprocity principle: their moral advantage against the putative descendants of oppressors.. and where conflict is still based on an atavistic claim to territory on both sides. but the police and the Protestant right wing saw this development as a new attempt to undermine the state so that successive demonstrations were broken up by police and harassed by Protestant extremists. 1966-82. a place where identity has always been conceived in antithetical pairs. Ireland.White. the central events of this historical narrative being the successive invasions of Ireland in the 16th and 17th century. undertaken with great ferocity. The politics of internment 17 which was subsequently applied only helped to increase the level of violence. but demanded merely the ending of abuses within it.

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To this it adds a folk history, feelings handed down from generation to generation, always pointing to “the goodness of us” versus “the badness of them”, which is culturally ingrained and genetically transmitted, plus a personal history for everybody has his own memories of fathers and ancestors who have been cast as martyrs in this drama. As recent events have demonstrated, the peace-process proved to be only a fragile mutual cease-fire, the two communities continuing to step on each other’s feet persistently. The only hope for a true lasting peace would be for the reason of living to triumph over the law of the dead.


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Irish Literature

CHAPTER 1 – Conquests:
After the death of the famous High King Brian Boru in 1014, Ireland was at almost constant civil war for two centuries. The various families which ruled Ireland's four provinces were constantly fighting with one another for control of all of Ireland. At that time Ireland was like a federal kingdom, with five provinces (Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connaught along with Meath, which was the seat of the High King) each ruled by kings who were all supposed to be loyal to the High King of Ireland.


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Irish Literature


The Norman Invasion
1152 1155 1166 1169 1171 1199 1366 Dermot Mac Murrough, King of Leinster, abducts O’Rourke’s wife, Dervorgilla The Pope gives Ireland by papal Bull to Henry II Rory O’Conor and o’Rourke attack Dermot, forcing him to take refuge in Aquitaine. A Norman army, led by Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke (Strongbow) lands in Ireland. Following Dermot’s death, Strongbow assumes the office of King of Leinster On John’s ascension to the English throne, the second phase of the Norman conquest is innitiated. The Statutes of Kilkenny acknowledge the Irish Revival of the 14th c.

In the mid-1100's, two competing Irish Kings, Dermot MacMurrough of Leinster and Rory O’Connor of Connacht, feuded over the high kingship of Ireland. Upon O’Connor’s victory, MacMurrough was sent into exile. He sought aid from Henry II, King of England, and invited the Anglo-Norman Earl of Pembroke, subsequently known as Strongbow, to invade part of Ireland and help him subdue his rival. Strongbow conquered much of the east, including Waterford, Wexford, and Dublin. Henry II wanted to insure that his lords did not set up an independent, rival kingdom in Ireland; hence Henry subsequently claimed the conquered lands as English domains. When O’Connor formally submitted to Henry in 1175 (thereby becoming the last High King in Irish history), the English conquest of Ireland (and the first holding in the future British Empire) had begun. During the next two centuries English occupation in Ireland consolidated itself, and the English married and mingled with the "native" Irish to form the Old Anglo-Irish or Old English, the elite ruling class who constituted the great earldoms of the 14th century. Though English by descent, this class soon considered itself Irish, so much so that an anxiety arose among the English about the "gaelicization" of the AngloIrish, resulting in the passage of the Statutes of Kilkenny in 1366.


Norman Cultural Influences

o Within the Pale feudal estates are evolved. Gradually English civil government established in Ireland: exchequer, chancery, courts of justice, division into counties, parliament (Anglo-Irish only). During this time the great Old English (Anglo-Norman) families—Fitzgerald, de Burgh, Butler— form their power, and the Old Irish Kings—O’Connor, O’Brien, and O’Neill—still retain much of their ancient kingdoms. o Southern varieties of English are introduced within the Pale. These mediaeval varieties of Hiberno-English become the language of commerce and administration, and still survive in rural Wexford and the north of Dublin.


Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature o After the plantations of the 16th and 17th century.3. is a chanson de geste.1. northern dialects of English and Inglis (dialect of the Scottish lowlands) are introduced in Ireland.3. the age of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. and made up of strophes of varying length linked by assonance . • 14 . followed by the latter’s subsequent marriage to Aoife. Chansons des geste: The Song of Dermot and the Earl Chansons de geste (Old French for "songs of heroic deeds“) are the epic poetry that appears at the dawn of French literature. forming the basis of modern Hiberno-English. 1. Anglo-Norman Literary Productions 1.the chansons de geste narrate legendary incidents (sometimes based on real events) in the history of France in the eighth and ninth centuries. nearly a hundred years before the emergence of the lyric poetry of the troubadours and the earliest verse romances. secretary to Dermot MacMurrough.apparently intended for oral performance by jongleurs . The Song records Dermot’s journey to enlist the Norman support for regaining his kingdom. and the victory of Strongbow. Dermot’s daughter. composed in the mid-thirteenth century. The earliest known examples date from the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. and assigned to Morice Regan. Composed in Old French. with emphasis on their combats against the Moors and Saracens. • The Song of Dermot and the Earl.

on condition that you be my helper so that I do not lose at all: you I shall acknowledge as sire and lord. vus ward e saut. the valiant king. Your liege man I shall become henceforth all the days of my life. that wilfully would he help him as soon as he should be able. But I should wish in these matters to crave licence of the English king.1200-25) Quant dermod. Here I assure you loyally that I shall assuredly come to you. Par deuant li rei engleis. Bien ebel deuant la gent: ‘Icil deu ke meint en haut Reis henri.’ Then the king promised him. before the English king. Que fet me hunte le men demeine!(…) (When Dermot. hearken unto me. very courteously he saluted him fairly and finely before his men: ‘May God who dwells on high guard and save you. in the presence of the barons of your empire.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature THE SONG OF DERMOT AND THE EARL (c. whence I was born. wherefore I cannot go from his territory without obtaining licence in this way. the powerful king of England. To you I come to make my claim. He had neither spouse nor wife. Al rei henri par deuant Esteit uenus a cele fiez. Of Ireland I was born a lord. good sire.(…) (The earl at this time was a bachelor. Mult le salue curteisement. Si entent del rei dermot Que sa fille doner lui uolt Par si que od lui uenist E sa terre lui conquist. but wrongfully my own people have cast me out of my kingdom. the king turned straight towards Wales and never ceased journeying there until he came to St. in Ireland a king. David’s) 15 . in the presence of your barons and lords. li reis vaillant. for he is the lord of my landed estate. When he hears from King Dermot that he was willing to give him his daughter on condition that he would come with him and subdue his land for him. King Henry. Femme naueit ne mullier. the earl replies before his men: ‘Rich king.) Li quens al hort iert bacheler. noble King Henry. before King Henry had come at this time. When they had concluded this accord.’ The king assured the earl that he would give him his daughter when he would come to his aid to Ireland with his barons. and give you also heart and courage and will to avenge my shame and my misfortune that my own people have brought upon me! Hear. of what country. E vu donge ensement Quer e curage e talent Ma hunte uenger e ma peine.

• • Modern treatments of Dermot and Dervorgilla’s story: • Augusta Gregory. known as Strongbow. She is famously known as the "Helen of Ireland" as her abduction from her husband Tigernán Ua Ruairc by Diarmait Mac Murchada in 1152 played some part in bringing the AngloNormans to Irish shores.B. and on Dervorgilla!” • 16 . The Dreaming of the Bones (1919): A rebel soldier who has taken part in the Easter Rising flees to Corcomroe Abbey. king of Meath. Unlike many other women. where he encounters the ghosts of Dermot and Dervorgilla. The soldier refuses. she is mentioned no less than five times in contemporary annals: her abduction by Diarmait in 1152 (Annals of Clonmacnoise). her retirement to Mellifont in 1186 (Annals of Ulster. who beg him to absolve them of their guilt. self-denial and good works. But the news of the casual slaughter of the Irish by the Normans prove that her acts of charity are but a futile attempt to allay her sense of guilt. although this is a role that has often been greatly exaggerated and often misinterpreted. and 60 ounces of gold during the consecration ceremony in 1157 (Annals of the Four Masters).Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Historical characters: • Diarmait Mac Murchada (also known as Diarmait na nGall. (1108-1193) was a daughter of Murchad Ua Maeleachlainn. De Clare was a Cambro-Norman lord notable for beginning the Norman conquest of Ireland. Annals of the Four Masters). Dervorgilla (1907): 20 years after the events. her donation to the Cistercian abbey of Mellifont of altar cloths. was the son of Gilbert de Clare. anglicized as Dermot MacMurrough (died 1 May 1171) is often considered to have been the most notorious traitor in Irish history. 2nd Earl of Pembroke (1130 – 20 April 1176). Richard de Clare. "Dermot of the Foreigners"). Annals of Loch Ce). 1st Earl of Pembroke and Isabel de Beaumont. spending her declining years in pray. and her death in Mellifont in 1193 (Annals of Ulster. a gold chalice. her completion of the Nuns' Church at Clonmacnoise in 1167 (Annals of the Four Masters). W. Yeats. Anglicised as Dervorgilla. renewing the curse: “My curse upon all that brought in the Gall Upon Dermot’s call. Dervorgilla has retired to the Abbey of Mellinfont. Derbforgaill .

The Land of Cokaygne is not an isolated poem. snack time. For what is there in paradise But grass and flowers and green rice? (…) In Cokayne there is food and drink Without care. 1340) Fur in see bi west Spayngne Is a lond ihote Cokaygne.3. Italy. poetry and performance. They were mainly clerical students at the universities of France. and supper. drink. that describes a comical paradise full of food. 17 . British Library. London. At dinner. þe met is trie. þo3 Paradis be miri and bri3t. Cokaygn is of fairir si3t. What is þer in Paradis Bot grasse and flure and grene ris? (…)I Cokaigne is met and drink Wiþvte care. anxiety and labor. its fictional and parodic otherworld belongs to a tradition of poems dealing with an imaginary paradise where leisure rules and food is readily available. Cokaygne is yet a fairer sight. and loose women. such as the failure of the crusades and financial abuses. þer nis lond vnd' heuen riche Of wel.2. The food is excellent. russin. satirical Latin poetry in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. • Classical: going back to Lucian's True History. hit iliche. The Land of Cockayne (c. how. a Greek work of the second century AD. and sopper. the drink is splendid. To none. Under God's heaven no other land Such wealth and goodness has in hand Though paradise be merry and bright.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 1. Germany. Goliardic poems: The Land of Cockayne • The Goliards were a group of clergy who wrote bibulous. of godnis. and swink. This poem survives in only one manuscript. expressing themselves through song. and England who protested the growing contradictions within the Church. Far in the sea to the west of Spain There is a land that we call Cokaygne. Probably compiled in Ireland in the early-mid 1300s. þe drink is clere. Harley MS 913.

a parody of the medieval vision and voyage tales. Influenced by goliardic satire. which invert the usual norms of religious life. which also mocks the conventions of heroic literature and the institutions of Church and State. an 'abbot of Cockaygne' who presides over drinking and gambling. 18 . Believed visited by Alexander the Great. Pieter Brugel the Elder. Goliardic: one Latin poem of the twelfth century (Carmina Burana 222) is spoken by an abbas Cucaniensis. though remote. The Land of Cockayne. and the descriptions of the two abbeys in Cockaygne.Ioana Mohor-Ivan • Irish Literature • Christian: descriptions of both Heaven and the garden of Eden (which was seen as a real. place on earth). the tale was composed in the 12th century. it often was placed far to the East. 1567 The fantastic descriptions of plenteous food may be compared to those in The Vision of MacConglinne.

They are a sort I dearly love . passionate and self-disciplined. All the blame they've ever had is undeserved. a history of Ireland from the creation of the world to the coming of the Normans in the twelfth century. • Geoffrey Keating (Seathrún Céitinn) (c. courtly love was a contradictory experience between erotic desire and spiritual attainment. in which women were held in high esteem. the 4th Earl of Desmond (1333-1398) was the first to adapt the courtly love tradition of the Norman French to the Irish. • • 19 . close to his birthplace. ." Gerald Fitzgerald. "a love at once illicit and morally elevating. human and transcendent. He draws on the older. the love of woman is exalted. In the poetry of courtly love. . Gerald's poem is a rebuttal of the fierce clerical misogyny that was prevalent in the Middle Ages: Woe to him who slanders women. humiliating and exalting. 1580-1644) was a renowned priest. • Courtly love was a medieval European conception of ennobling love which found its genesis in the ducal and princely courts in southern France at the end of the eleventh century. The Danta Gradha: O Woman Full of Wile The Danta Gradha is an Irish adaptation of the Courtly love poetry. . Scorning them is no right thing. In common with many of his educated Catholic contemporaries. Celtic tradition. It is thought that in his youth he studied at a bardic school in South Tipperary. Keating's most significant work.3. Foras Feasa ar Éirinn. His poem O Woman Full of Wile is one of the finest examples of the Irish Danta Gradha. he went abroad to pursue his philosophical and theological training as a priest. a redemptive force for both the lover and his beloved. was completed about 1634.3. poet. . In essence. prose-writer. of that I'm sure . Sweet their speech and neat their voices. and scholar.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 1.

Padraic Pearse 20 . Take thy mouth from my mouth. Every deed but the deed of the flesh And to lie in thy bed of sleep Would I do for thy love. O slender witch. Tho’ thou be sick for my love. Let our love be without act Forever.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature O WOMAN FULL OF WILE O woman full of wile. See how my hair is grey! See how my body is powerless! See how my blood hath ebbed! For what is thy desire? Do not think me besotted: Bend not again thy head. Thy lovely round white breast. Keep from me thy hand: I am not a man of the flesh. Graver the matter so. That draw the desire of eyes. Thy grey eye bright as dew. Let us not be skin to skin: From heat cometh will. O woman full of wile! Trans. ‘Tis thy curling ringleted hair.

The native Irish. Under Elizabeth’s rule. Such policies resulted in several rebellions in the late 16th century by great Irish and Anglo-Irish aristocratic families. leading to his policy of “surrender and regrant” 1558 Accession of Elizabeth I 1580 The Munster rebellion is crushed by the English 1586 Plantation of Munster 1588 Defeat of Spanish Armada 1595 Hugh O’Neill’s rebellion 1599 Essex in Ireland as Lord Deputy 1601 Battle of Kinsale 1607 Flight of the Earls 1608 James I’s accession. making the Anglican Church the "official" Irish Church (now called "the Church of Ireland"). and so the division between Irish and English became also a division between Catholic and Protestant. enforcing strict Anglican rule. and many of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy. the last of the native Irish aristocracy--fled the country for the continent. Queen of Scots (1542-1587) restored Catholicism. as Mary. Plantation of Ulster 1641 Irish rebellion 1649 Cromwell begins his Irish campaign after the King’s execution 1654 Cromwellian Plantation The Reformation and the declaration by Henry VIII in 1534 that England would no longer acknowledge the Catholic Church led to the establishing of the Church of England or Anglican Church. thereby making England a Protestant nation. Plantations 1509 Henry VIII succeeds to the throne of England 1534 The English Reformation 1551 Henry VIII is declared King of Ireland. refused to follow this split from Rome. and Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603) then restored Protestantism. This "Flight of the Earls" becomes a paradigm in Irish thought for the abandonment of the country by the very leaders who needed to save it.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature CHAPTER 2 – CONQUESTS: ENGLAND’S “OTHER”: INSCRIBING AND RE-INSCRIBING IRELAND’S STORY 2. This split created turmoil in both English and Irish politics throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. all of which were put down by the English. The Munster Plantation (colonised by English Anglicans in the second half of the 16th century) was followed at the beginning of the 17th century by the Ulster 21 .1. and suppressing the rights and privileges of Catholics. Finally in 1607 the Earls of Tyrone (Hugh O'Neill) and Tyrconnell (Rory O'Donnell). the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity were passed.

Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Plantation. Gradually these radical Protestants. These colonists came partly to escape England. where the official Anglican Church persecuted the more radical sects of Protestantism. when mainly Scottish Presbyterians flocked to the North of Ireland. along with native Irish Catholics and ruling British Anglicans. called "dissenters. 22 ." would present a third term in Anglo-Irish politics.

experience. • Produced in relation to the West. produced by scholars. English Narratives of Ireland 2. or novelists. one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other. and finally representing it or speaking on its behalf. the type of structure he builds. being represented as the Other to the civilised image of the West. poets. .Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 2. determined by this social context and contributing to its continuing existence. this location includes the kind of narrative voice he adopts. translated into his text.2. Colonial Discourse • Discourse (Michel Foucault): groupings of statements. travel writers. The Orient was thus produced as a repository of Western knowledge. literary and non-literary texts produced within the period and context of colonialism about the colonised society. the Orient was described in terms of the way it differed from it. containing the Other. themes. In Orientalism.2. Edward Said describes the discursive features of the 19thcentury body of knowledge on the Orient. not a society and culture functioning on its own terms: The Orient was almost an European invention . motifs that circulate in his text . Everyone who writes about the Orient must locate himself vis-à-vis the orient. • Colonial oppositions: The West Colonist Self Civilisation Modernity The Orient Colonised Other Barbarism Backwardness • • • 23 . utterances enacted within a social context. the kind of images. idea. Colonial discourse: language in which colonial thinking was expressed. .1. In addition the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image.all of which adds up to deliberate ways of addressing the reader. personality.

The use of the 3rd person singular reduces the colonised to a single specimen. with a short Narrative of the State of the Kingdom from 1169. Inventing Ireland. John Derricke: English engraver who accompanied Sir Henry Sidney on campaigns against Hugh O’Neill in the 1570s.2. They are labelled as “backward”. etc. These rulers began to control the developing debate. a place whose peoples were. . Barbarians Anglo-Irish Chronicles: a body of political writings about Ireland produced during the 16th and 17th centuries. Moryson became in 1600 secretary to Sir Charles Blount. . 2. Later an identity was proposed for the natives which cast them as foils to the occupiers. corrupt. Ireland was soon patented as not-England. Othering Ireland “If Ireland had never existed. lord-deputy of Ireland. 9) 2.e. .2.1. in various ways. existing on a different time-scale). In 1617 he published an account of his travels and of his experiences in Ireland.Ioana Mohor-Ivan  Discursive structures of colonial discourse: • • • • • • Irish Literature The colonised countries become objects of knowledge. Civilians vs. The use of ethno-graphic present freezes their society at the time of its observation. At the outset they had no justification other than superior force and cohesive organisation. • 24 . . p. • Fynes Moryson (1556-1630): English traveller and writer. “primitive” (i. and since it never existed in English eyes as anything more than a patch-work-quilt of warring fiefdoms. The colonised become stereotyped: the docile Hindu.Another part of the Itinerary was republished in 1735 with the title History of Ireland 1599-1603.” (Declan Kiberd.2. and it was to be their version of things which would enter universal history.2. commonly recycling prejudices and misconceptions that compared the Irish to other uncivilised races in different historical and geographical contexts. His detailed and skilfully composed woodcuts in The Image of Ireland with A Discovery of Woodkarne (1581) depict contemporary scenes in camp and battle. Vintage. the English would have invented it. 1996. weak. with illustrations of Irish plundering from an English standpoint. Negativity: idle. the very antitheses of their new rulers . the sneaky Arab. their leaders occupied the neighbouring island and called it Ireland. (where he had witnessed O'Neill's rebellion) in a voluminous work entitled An Itinerary. which were primarily concerned with justifications for the expropriation of the country by the English crown.

A View of the Present State of Ireland. Arthur Grey. In the early 1590s Spenser wrote a prose pamphlet titled. The text argued that Ireland would never be totally 'pacified' by the English until its indigenous language and customs had been destroyed. if necessary by violence.1612). Among his acquaintances in the area was the poet Walter Raleigh. also a fellow colonist. • 25 . From 1579 to 1580. probably in the service of the newly appointed lord deputy. a well-written account of the constitutional standing of Ireland.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature (The feast of an Irish nobleman – from Derricke’s Image) • Sir John Davies (1569-1626) English poet and lawyer. he served with the English forces during the rebellions in Munster. the pamphlet remained in manuscript form until its publication in print in the mid-seventeenth century. Davies was very much committed to reform not just in the law but in religious affairs too. After the defeat of the rebels he was awarded lands in County Cork. Davies became in 1603 attorney general in Ireland. In 1610 he wrote the Discoverie of the True Causes why Ireland was never entirely subdued (pub. Spenser went to Ireland in the 1570s . aiming to banish the catholic clergy from Ireland and for enforcing church attendances. Edmund Spenser (1552-1599): One of the most famous English Renaissance poets and Poet Laureate. Due to its inflammatory content. He also became heavily involved in government efforts to establish the plantation of Ulster.

yet not able long to continue therewithal. they spoke like ghosts crying out of their graves. They looked anatomies of death. (. we might be drawn from this that we have in hand. nor be slain by the soldier. creeping forth upon their hands. EUDOXUS: What hear I? And is it possible that an Englishman brought up naturally in such sweet civility as England affords could find such liking in that barbarous rudeness that he should forget his own nature and forgo his own nation? How may this be. or what. may be the cause hereof? IRENIUS: Surely nothing but the first evil ordinance and institution of that commonwealth. I pray you. Yet sure in all that war there perished not many by the sword. for notwithstanding that the same was a most rich and plentiful country. namely the handling of abuses in the customs of Ireland. ) IRENIUS: . EUDOXUS: The end I assure me will be very short and much sooner than can be in so great a trouble (as it seemeth) hoped for. and their cattle from running abroad by this hard restraint. such as will never be made dutiful and obedient. for their legs could not bear them. nor brought to labour or civil conversation. they did eat of the dead carrions. ‘yea and more malicious to the English that the very Irish themselves. yet ere one year and a half they were brought to so wonderful wretchedness. . they would quickly consume themselves and devour one another.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature From A VIEW ON THE PRESENT STATE OF IRELAND (1596) EUDOXUS: What is this that ye say of so many as remain English of them? Why are not they that were once English abiding English still? IRENIUS: No. that you would have thought they could have been able to stand long. But thereof now is here no fit place to speak. for that those which will afterwards remain without are stout and obstinate rebels. happy were they could find them. Although there should none of them fall by the sword. and being acquainted with spoil and outrages will ever after be ready for the like occasions. . for the most part of them are degenerated and grown almost Irish. Out of every corner of the woods and glens they came. and therefore needful to be cut off. The proof whereof I saw sufficiently ensampled in those late wars in Munster. And if they find a plot of water cress or shamrocks. lest by the occasion thereof offering matter of a long discourse. My reason is. so as there is no hope of their amendment or recovery. which they themselves had wrought. full of corn and cattle. yet thus being kept for manurance. having once tasted that licentious life. yea and one another soon after in so much as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of their graves. but all by the extremity of famine. . as that any stony heart would have rued the same. 26 . . that in short space there were none almost left and a most populous and plentiful country suddenly left void of man or beast. there they flocked as to a feast for the time.

The simianisation of the Irish was also informed by other discourses of the time that inscribed them as members of a second-order race in relation to the first-order English:  the discourse of anthropology was spawning. uncivilised’. Towards the end of the 19th century. showing constant disrespect for the English law.  debates on Darwinism placed the Irish closer to apes on the evolutionary ladder.Ioana Mohor-Ivan • English / Irish Polarities CIVILISATION PROTESTANTISM ORDER RESTRAINT REASON Irish Literature BARBARISM CATHOLICISM LAWLESSNESS VIOLENCE IRRATIONALITY This image of the ‘barbaric’. 27 .  scientific anthropology was advancing the idea that the Irish mind was ineluctably criminal. religious violence or political risings in Ireland made the issue of the Anglo-Irish relation come to the fore. a period marked by the intensification of nationalist rebellions in Ireland. the notion of the Irish as a race of covert blacks. the Victorian press and the iconographic productions of the time that consistently presented the ‘Simianised terrorist’ or the ‘quaint Paddy’ as stereotypes of the Irish person. at some of its wildest extremities. ‘inferior’ Irish was to stuck in the English mind and to be retorted to whenever civil unrest.

.. Archbishop of Canterbury. the General of our gracious Empress As in good time he may . notably the Earl of Essex's attempted suppression of revolts in Ireland. .2. Fluellen. Henry V Also known as The Cronicle History of Henry the fifth. boasting of having seen a great deal of the world when he has probably been no further from his own country than some English barracks and camp. . some wild screech or oath of Gaelic origin at every third word: he has an unsurpassable gift of ‘blarney’ and cadges for tips and free drinks.from Ireland coming. by way of Hibernian seasoning. the other the braggart (also partial to a ‘dhrop of the besht’) who is likely to be s soldier or ex-soldier. . it is a play by William Shakespeare (thought to date from 1599) based on the life of King Henry V of England. he is rosy-cheeked. His face is one of simian bestiality. massive and whiskey-loving. The play is connected to the English military ventures in Ireland that were important at the time of the play's writing.2. (Fitz-simons 1983: 94) He [the Stage Irishman] has an atrocious Irish brogue. with an expression of diabolical archness written all over it. prior to the foundation of the Irish Literary Theatre of 1898 tend to fall into one or other of two categories . the first stage Irishman reflected a desire to stigmatise the Irish as savages or anathemise them as traitors. since the Chorus directly refers to Essex's military triumphs in the fifth The Stage Irishman • • • A term for stereotypical Irish characters on the English-language stage from the 17th century. and Henry himself all being prime examples. . (Maurice Bourgeois. crafty. It deals with the events immediately before and after the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War. Later versions sought to provide amusement to English audiences by exaggerating the traits which differentiated the Irish from the English. . . . and never fails to utter. Bringing rebellion broachèd on his sword. in Styan 1991) William Shakespeare. Irishmen on the stage. .1. As a product of colonialism. his boisterousness and his pugnacy. 30-34) 28 . . .’ (V.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 2. How many would the peaceful city quit To welcome him! . q. The play can be seen as a glorification of nationalistic pride and conquest. . and (in all probability) inebriated buffoon who nonetheless has the gift of good humour and a nimble way with words. are his swagger. with the Chorus. His hair is of a fiery rea. the lazy. His main characteristics . blunders and bulls in speaking. makes perpetual jokes.2.

look you. The concavities of it is not sufficient. the trompet sound the retreat. in the way of argument.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature The Irish Captain Macmorris is considered to be the prototype for the Stage Irishman. I beseech you now. of the Roman disciplines. upon my particular knowledge of his directions. la. as I may pick occasion: that sall I. you must come presently to the mines. in the disciplines of the pristine wars of the Romans. so Crish save ma. as partly touching or concerning the disciplines of the war. ‘tish ill done . that is the point. MACMORRIS It is no time to discourse. and I sall quit you with gud my hand. FLUELLEN It is Captain Macmorris. and friendly communication? . a few disputations with you. GOWER How now. as in the world. and the Dukes . ‘tish ill done! FLUELLEN Captain Macmorris. FLUELLEN By Cheshu. look you. is digt himself four yard under the countermines. look you. gud captens. . I will verify as much in his beard. and partly for the satisfaction. he is an ass.partly to satisfy my opinion. I would have blowed up the town. will you voutsafe me. Captain Fluellen. JAMY I say gud-day. He has no more directions in the true disciplines of the wars. ACT III. is it not? GOWER I think it be. and the King. in an hour. if there is not better directions. of my mind. ‘tish ill done. for. look you. ‘tish ill done! The work ish give over. By Cheshu. I’faith. FLUELLEN To the mines? Tell you the Duke. gud feith. and the wars. for. Captain Jamy. Gower following GOWER Captain Fluellen. and my father’s soul. and the Scots captain. Enter Captain Macmorris and Captain Jamy GOWER Here ‘a comes. I thin ‘a will plow up all. GOWER The Duke of Gloucester. look you. it is not so good to come to the mines. the mines is not according to the disciplines of the war. FLUELLEN Good-e’en to your worship. JAMY It sall be vary is not 29 . FLUELLEN Captain Jamy is a marvellous falorous gentleman. good Captain James. By my hand I swear. Captain Macmorris. a very valiant gentleman. the work ish ill done: it is give over. you may discuss unto the Duke. By Cheshu. marry. and of great expedition and knowledge in th’auchient wars. have you quit the mines? Have the pioneers given o’er? MACMORRIS By touching the direction of the military discipline. to whom the order of the siege is given. that is certain. bath. HENRY V. look you. and the weather. SCENE 2 Enter Fluellen. than is a puppy-dog. the Roman wars. is altogether directed by an Irishman. The Duke of Goucester would speak with you. with him. he will maintain his arguments as well as any military man in the world. O. th’athversary. so Crish save me! The day is hot. look you. la.

ere theise eyes of mine take themselves to slomber. be Chrish. and there ish nothing done. JAMY Ah. the town is beseeched. so Chrish sa’ me. ‘tis shame for us all: so God sa’ me. (Exeunt) • English / Irish Polarities KING MASTER KNOWLEDGE RESTRAINT ENGLISH SUPERIORITY BUFOON SERVANT IGNORANCE BOASTFULNESS HIBERNO ENGLISH INFERIORITY 30 . I think.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature time to discourse. when there is more better opportunity to be required. if you take the matter otherwise than is meant. and in other particularities.and there is throats to be cut. and a knave. GOWER Gentlemen both. I will be so bold as to tell you. that’s a foul fault! (A parley is sounded) GOWER The town sounds a parley. peradventure I shall think you do not use me with that affability as in discretion you ought to use me. that is the breff and the long. by my hand . Captain Macmorris. la! JAMY By the mess. I know the disciplines of war. What ish my nation? Who talks of my nation? FLUELLEN Look you. FLUELLEN Captain Macmorris. Marry. and in the derivation of my birth. or ay’ll lig I’th’grund for it. look you. you will mistake each other. and there is an end. and the trumpet call us to the breach. under your correction. MACMORRIS I do not know you so good a man as myself. ‘tis shame to stand still. that sall I suerly do. both in the disciplines of war. and works to be done. look you. being as good a man as yourself. I will cut off your head. So Chrish save me. look you. and we talk. ay’ll de gud service. or go to death! And qy’ll pqy’t as valorously as I may. do nothing. ay. I wad full fain hear some question ‘tween you tway. and a rascal. and. and a bastard. FLUELLEN Captain Macmorris. it is shame. there is not many of your nation – MACMORRIS Of my nation? What ish my nation? Ish a villain.

• The Irish Trilogy (The Colleen Bawn.3. a United Irishmen rebel. Fanny. The Shaughraun) • The Colleen Bawn: The play is focused on the story of the beautiful but untutored country girl. farces (Forbidden Fruit). Dion Boucicault (1820-1890): playwright. The Comic Melodrama The comic melodrama transforms the stage Irishman into an intelligent and witty rustic who becomes an agent of mediation between Englishness and Irishness. colonel O’Grady. but is discovered there on the eve of her wedding to Shaun the Post. and producer. The Irish Melodrama In the 19th century. began his remarkable career in 1841 with the successful production of his own London Assurance and continued virtually unabated until his death in 1890. detective plays (Mercy Dodd or Presumptive Evidence). E. Re-writing Ireland’s Story A recurrent strategy of Anglo-Irish dramatists was to subvert the stereotype by enabling their Irish characters to defeat with comical aplomb the ruses of English tricksters who try to gull them. Arrah-na-Pogue. actor.2. The Shaughraun and Robert Emmet). American plays (The Octoroon). Arrah-na-Pogue: Beamish MacCoul.g. As a playwright.: George Farquhar (c. when Irish plays ( Arrah na Pogue.3. has returned from exile in France to organise an insurrection. Myles-naGoppaleen (Boucicault’s modified stage-Irishman) is an engaging rustic who foils the murder attempt and makes Cregan accept Eily as his bride.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 2. he embraced varied genres: historical romance (Louis XI). whom her gentleman lover (Cregan) wants to kill in order to avoid a misalliance. Beamish and his rival. Arrah-na-Pogue. He hides in the cottage of his foster-sister. domestic plays (Dot -an adaptation of Dicken's The Cricket in the Hearth-). 1677-1707): The Twin Rivals Thomas Sheridan (1719 –1788): The Brave Irishman Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816): The Rivals 2. To save his bride. rush to • 31 . Shaun takes the blame upon himself and is thus taken to Dublin to be sentenced to death by a court martial. He also wrote the acting version of Rip Van Winkle. Irish melodrama brought further changes to the cliché. Eily O’Connor. and also marry Fanny Power.

escape from Australia. the United Irishmen’s rebellion. Robert Ffolliott. and Protestant and Catholic. more importantly. 32 . loyalty and wit. Fenianism. ‘selfreliance’. attempting to construct an Irishness marked by such qualities as ‘manliness’. Conn the Shaughraun.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Dublin to save Shaun’s life and a benevolent Secretary of State settles their differences and grants Shaun a last-minute reprieve. and Molineaux marrying Robert’s sister. emerging as more than stereotypical drunken sots to take an active. economic and political conflicts of their world. Myles na Copaleen. Whitbread: Wolfe Tone (1898). ‘combativeness’. Conn the Shaughraun  Though they still wear some of the traditional traits of the dramatic type. English/Irish. and. The Ulster Hero (1903) Given the power of the heroic myth. a good-hearted wanderer. ethnic and social cleavages between themselves and the other ranks of nationalist Ireland. Endowed with bravery. the patriotism of the title characters transgresses any religious. rich and poor become one in their affection for their country and in pledging all their efforts against England. ‘antagonism’ towards the British rule. Shaun the Post. Plays:   D. Conn takes his place and is apparently killed.) In this. ‘patriotism’. with Conn turning well and alive. A pardon for the Fenians arrives in time to secure the happy ending. at times courageous part in the social. has helped an ex-Fenian rebel. Claire. intellectual and peasant. With the help of Harvey Duff. being cast as comic rustics who display a propensity for banter and blarney and still ‘put their lips to the jug’ with some regularity. • The Shaughraun: The play is a political melodrama in which Boucicault’s sympathetic version of the stage-Irishman has advanced to the title role. Robert is arrested by the English Captain Molineaux. it reverts to the myth of the national hero. traitor and police spy. W. Boucicault: Robert Emmett (1884) J. When Duff and the villain Kinchela stage an escape for the prisoner in order to shoot him on the run.  The Historical Melodrama It celebrates heroic events in the nationalist version of Irish history (e. they overcome all obstacles / adversaries and finally become agents of reconciliation between opposing parties: landlord/peasant.g. Boucicault’s Stage Irishmen are far removed from the extreme silhouette of the figure of ridicule.

because evil is entirely projected upon stage villains. SHAUGHRAUN COMEDY SERVANT BENIGN CLEVER WIT PEASANT LOYALTY MEDIATION RUSTIC PASTORAL HISTORICAL HERO TRAGEDY MASTER ALTRUISTIC INTELLIGENT ELOQUENCE ARISTOCRAT NATIONALISM INDEPENDENCE MARTIAL CIVILISATION 33 . highlighting thus the latter’s status as martyred victims of both tyranny from without and treachery from within. typically featuring native informers operating under the direction of reprehensible British officers.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Tensions between England and Ireland intensify. who. Their function is to account for the failure of the heroes’ enterprises solely in terms of someone else’s moral failings. in contradistinction to the comic melodrama. become increasingly politicised.

Like the Troubles themselves.) was born into a nationalist Irish Catholic family at Mossbawn. in a rural area thirty miles to the north-west of Belfast. His work is often set in rural Londonderry. 34 . we ‘deem’ or we ‘allow’ when we suppose and some cherished archaisms are correct Shakespearean. Contemporary Revisions of Historical Narratives a) Seamus Heaney: Traditions. is grass-roots stuff with us. for example. even works that on the surface appear to deal with something else. Nor to speak of the furled consonants of the lowlanders shuttling obstinately between bawn and mossland. beds us down into the British Isles. Seamus Heaney (1939 .2. We are to be proud of our Elizabethan English: ‘varsity’. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature TRADITIONS I Our guttural muse was bulled long ago by the alliterative tradition. sometimes even prehistory.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 2. her uvula grows vestigial. that ‘most sovereign mistress’.3. Heaney's work is deeply associated with the lessons of history. forgotten like the coccyx or a Brigid’s Cross yellowing in some outhouse while custom. Hints of sectarian violence can be found in many of his poems. the county of his childhood.

Ioana Mohor-Ivan III Irish Literature MacMorris. Given the persistence of this ambiguity in colonial writings. though so much later. 35 . re-constructing him in accordance to a post-colonial agenda. a recurring theme for Friel.’ said Bloom. the wandering Bloom replied. his grandparents were illiterate peasants from County Donegal whose first language was Irish. Friel helped found the Field Day Theatre Company which is committed to the search for "a middle ground between the country's entrenched positions" to help the Irish explore new identities for themselves. gallivanting round the Globe.): born in a Catholic family. Brian Friel attempts to dismantle traditional representations of the Ulster chieftain. Many of his plays are set in fictional Ballybeg. Vilified in Anglo-Irish chronicles as traitor and rebel. Making History employs intertextuality in order to question the mechanics of historical definition through which previous texts like Peter Lombard’s De Regno Hiberniae Commentarius (1632). as anatomies of death: ‘What ish my nation?’ And sensibly. Making History (1988) dramatizes the writing of Irish history as well as the historical events themselves before and after the Battle of Kinsale (1601). or Shakespeare’s Henry V that transformed him into a “stage Irishman” have fixed men and events in their “official” readings.’ b) Brian Friel: Making History Brian Friel (1929 . Donegal. Thus his own family exemplifies the divisions between traditional and modern Ulster and Ireland. the Anglo-Irish Chronicles who viewed him as an Irish barbarian. whinged to courtier and groundling who had heard of us as going very bare of learning. Though his father was a teacher. Brian Friel is one of Ireland's most prominent playwrights. Ireland. is another influence that features strongly in Friel's life and work. County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Earl of Tyrone. ‘Ireland. as wild as hares. This figure has accrued contradictory meanings from the late 16th-century onwards. In 1980. Its main hero is the historical persona of Hugh O'Neill. ‘a remote part of Donegal‘. ‘I was born here. in Omagh. which promoted O’Neill as the leader of a European counter-Reformation. he was construed as a mythic hero by the nationalist discourse. where he moved in 1969. the leader of the last Gaelic rebellion against the Tudor re-conquest of Ireland.

LOMBARD: Will I lie.15-16) O’NEILL: This is my last battle. I’m an old man. I start with your birth and your noble genealogy and I look briefly at those formative years when you were fostered with the O’Quinns and the O’Hagans and received your early education from the bards and the poets.your life -that it contains within it one ‘true’ interpretation just waiting to be mined.wait. the drunk. Hugh? O’NEILL: I need the truth. . LOMBARD: Battle? What battle? O’NEILL: That [book]. We then look at the years when you consolidated your position as the pre-eminent Gaelic ruler in the country. Peter. LOMBARD: What’s that? O’NEILL: I spent nine years in England with Leicester and Sidney. .I’m not pleading. 1989 LOMBARD: I don’t believe that a period of history . I have all the material here. . the statesman. FABER AND FABER. [. LOMBARD: What are you talking about? O’NEILL: That thing there. and that leads to those early intimations you must have had of an emerging nation state. But I’m telling you that I’m going to fight you on that and I’m going to win. the soured. ] LOMBARD: Hold on now -wait -wait.a given space of time . I’m not whingeing . That is a solemn a florid lie. bitter émigré . the lecher.that’s what you said yourself. I have no position.wait . That’s all that’s left.I’ll rewrite the whole thing in any way you want. Just tell me one thing.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature MAKING HISTORY . no money. the liar. And now we come to the first of the key events: that September when all the people of Ulster came together at the crowning stone at Tullyhogue outside life . Can I be fairer than that? . no power. Record the whole life .] (pp. I then move O’NEILL: England. LOMBARD: Your history? O’NEILL: Your history. [. ] LOMBARD: Let me explain what my outline is.or any detail in it . No. But I do believe that it may contain within it several possible narratives: the life of Hugh O’Neill can be told in many different ways. Peter. And those ways are determined by the needs and the demands and the expectations of different people and different eras.put it all in. LOMBARD: You did indeed. Peter. May I? Please? And if you object to it . Is this book some kind of a malign scheme? Am I doing something reprehensible? O’NEILL: you are going to embalm me in . The schemer. . the leader. . the patriot. What do they want to hear? How do they want it told? [. and the golden slipper is thrown over your head and 36 . .

That’s why the great O’Neill is here . O’NEILL: You’re not listening to me make it sound like a lap of honour. I then move on to that special relationship between yourself and Hugh O’Donnell. And suddenly the nation state was becoming a reality.hiding from the English. skulking round the countryside . and the True Bell of St Patrick peals out across the countryside! . O’NEILL: They routed us in less than an Rome. O’NEILL: The very next month I begged Elizabeth for pardon. [.] Those are the 37 . O’NEILL: And the six years after Kinsale . and you are proclaimed .here . LOMBARD: But an occasion of enormous symbolic importance for your people . the second key event: the Nine Years War between yourself and England culminating in the legendary battle of Kinsale and the crushing of the most magnificent Gaelic army ever assembled. And then when I could endure that humiliation no longer.I’ve named it ‘The Flight of the Earls’. We disgraced ourselves at Kinsale. hasn’t it? That tragic but magnificent exodus of the Gaelic aristocracy O’NEILL: Peter LOMBARD: When the leaders of the ancient civilisation took boat from Rathmullan that September evening and set sail for Europe O’NEILL: As we pulled out from Rathmullan the McSwineys stoned us from the shore! LOMBARD: Then their journey across Europe when every crowned head welcomed and fêted them. But the telling of it can still be a triumph. Here. . the uniting of the whole Ulster into one great dynasty that finally inspired all the Gaelic chieftains to come together under your leadership. Because we ran away. The O’Neill. O’NEILL: That was a political rest . [. LOMBARD: And again that’s not the point.six hundred and thirty continuous years of O’Neill hegemony.before the Flight of the Earls aren’t they going to be recorded? When I lived like a criminal. .that has to be said. Mountjoy routed us. LOMBARD: It may have been that. I ran away! If these were ‘my people’ then to hell with my people! The Flight of the Earls . from the Old English. and the white staff in placed in your right arm. In Rome. Isn’t that the point of Kinsale? LOMBARD: You lost a battle . LOMBARD: And then I come to my third and final key point. too. and I’m calling this section . . too. the patient forging of the links with Spain and Rome. And then the final coming to rest. Right. . .Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature fastened to your foot. O’NEILL: Kinsale was a disgrace. . We ran away like rats. but most assiduously hiding from my brother Gaels who couldn’t wait to strip me of every blade of grass I ever owned.I’m rather proud of the title . ] Now. We ran away just as we ran away at Kinsale. from the Upstarts. That has a ring to it. Peter. We were going to look after our own skins! That’s why we ‘took boat’ from Rathmullan.

.just what is your point. This isn’t the time for a critical assessment of your ‘ploys’ and your ‘disgraces’ and your ‘betrayal’ . And those stories are true stories.took the haphazard events in Christ’s life and shaped them into a story. Hugh. . . No. People think they want to know the ‘fact’. no. And your point .that’s the stuff of another history for another time. they think they believe in some sort of empirical truth. for heaven’s sake. Peter? [. I’m simply talking about making a pattern. . There us no way you can make unpalatable facts palatable. And we believe them. And that’s what this will be: the events of your life categorised and classified and then structured as you would structure any story.] LOMBARD: That’s exactly what my point is. And I’m offering them Hugh O’Neill as a national hero. So I’m offering Gaelic Ireland two things.we are talking about a colonised people on the brink of extinction. about lying. Ireland is reduced as it has never been reduced before . Now is the time for a heroic literature. into four complementary stories.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature facts. A hero and the story of a hero [. We call them gospel.](pp 63-67) 38 . but what they really want is a story. I’m not talking about falsifying. And that narrative will be as true and as objective as I can make it with the help of the Holy Spirit. And that cohesion will be a narrative that people will read and be satisfied by. Would it be profane to suggest that that was the method the Four Evangelists used? . Now is the time for a hero. don’t we? (He laughs suddenly and heartily) Would you look at that man! Why are you so miserable about? This of this [book]as an act of pietas. That’s what I’m doing with all this stuff offering a cohesion to that random catalogue of deliberate achievement and sheer accident that constitutes your life. I’m offering them this narrative that has the elements of myth.

1776 American Declaration of Independence 1789 Fall of Bastille. Protestant identitary tropes 39 . Each facet of the complex process linked to the development of a colonial identity is correspondingly expressed in the culture of the given group:  History: Nationalist vs. loyal to Britain. The siege of Derry (The Apprenticeboys March). retained links with Scotland. 1690 William III lands at Carrickfergus.) Largely deprived of leadership and religiously. 1690-91The siege of Limmerick (Patrick Sarsfield). Catholic majority: spread throughout the four provinces and including the Old English (via a common Catholicism. 1695 Penal Laws restrict Catholic rights. Colonial Identities   Cultural identity: a group sharing a relatively common way of life Colonial identity: a cultural identity shaped by the new environment of colonialism 1689 James II lands at Kinsale. 1800 Act of Union 1803 Rising of Robert Emmet 1829 Catholic Emancipation (Daniel O’Connell) 1845-49The Great Potato Famine Cultural groups:    Protestant Ascendancy: elite group. 1715 &1745 Jacobite risings in Scotland.1. 1795 Foundation of Orange Order. they have the least influence. landowners.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature CHAPTER 3 – COLONIALISM AND THE NATIONALIST IMAGINARY 3. Unionist versions  Literature: Nationalist vs. Ulster Presbyterians: politically and economically disabled. Battle of the Boyne (12 July). 1798 United Irishmen’s Rebellion helped by French troops (Wolfe Tone). 1791 United Irishmen founded in Belfast. Scots Presbyterians are also disabled. politically and economically disabled by the Penal Acts.

a sorrowful mother summoning her sons to protect and defend her homestead. a beautiful maiden queen in search for a redeemer for her occupied nation. in terms of gender. has not escaped being culturally cast as “other” and “female” in both colonial and countercolonial contexts. the colonized have attempted to “produce a reverse discourse of overdetermined masculity”[3]. in which the land becomes a “mother forced into penury by foreign invaders”[4]. and ultimately at the mercy of the masculine forces competing for domination over them”[2]. Banbha and Fodla). in the context of a colonized Ireland.2. the colonial project has often been metaphorically constructed as the attempt “of the male colonizer to subdue and penetrate the female territory of the colonized people”[1].Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 3.2. as in the popular tradition of Cailleach Beara (the Old Woman of Beara. each time with a new husband. “seductive. Very often. the western imagination has translated the conquered territories of India or Africa. into images of exotic women. the two main feminine figurations for Ireland were: the Spéar-bhean (literally meaning a ‘sky-woman’). where the Gaelic culture and the clan system were inevitably broken. The Spear-Bhean and the 18th century “aisling” Nevertheless. or with the landscape itself. at times. one of the great peninsulas of the South-West Irish coast). the divine race of Irish myth -. As such. Nationalist Literary Tropes: Woman as Nation If the colonial discourse is based on a binary model of thought predicated upon the basic opposition established between self and other. the Irish folklore rescripts the narrative of the legitimacy theme by turning the Old Woman of Beara into a shape-shifting hag who displays youthful loveliness to the rightful king. seducible. though placed in the paradoxical position of being at once Western and a colony. Babh and Macha). 3. a queen who supposedly lived seven lifetimes. native Irish poetry of grows increasingly political in character. Celtic Matriarchs Yet both figures claim their ancestry in the distant Gaelic tradition. Ireland. in the principal discourses of Irish nationalism. After the Williamite War and the enactment of the Penal Laws. 3. Starting with the mythic Danu – the mother goddess of the Tuatha de Danaan. with sexual potency. for example. If early Irish literary texts of the vision type present future kings of Ireland having their claims to the land legitimated through prophetic encounters with one such sovereignty goddess.2. In response to this colonial feminization. or as the Sean Bhean Bocht (the ‘Poor Old Woman). war and death (Mórrigan. though hiding its 40 . where Celtic mythology features a number of formidable divine matriarchs who stand.1. the nature and identity of the true king become problematic. some of the attributes of this archetypal female agency are further embodied across a range of goddesses associated with the sovereignty and prosperity of the land (Eriu. requiring her sons to fight the oppressors in order to restore her former possessions. as female personifications of Ireland.2.

And other tidings which. They burst into laughter. all lonely as she was News of the return of HIM to the place which is his by kingly descent. In the bondage of fetters they put me without much respite. her speech not more with age. lubberly clown. News of the destruction of the bands who expelled him.the way I came I know not That dwelling of dwellings. As she hears my voice she weeps through wounded pride. Through margins of a morass. Oh. The streams run down plenteously from her glowing cheeks. her blue eyes tinged with green. She is the Brightness of Brightness I saw upon a lonely path. trim.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature expectation of political deliverance “in what seemed like harmless love songs” [11] which rework the conventions of the Gaelic vision tale. 41 . And the maiden went off in a flash to the fairy mansion of Luachair. The ruddy and white appeared in her glowing cheeks. Which was fashioned at her creation in the world above. While to my maiden clung a clumsy. I will not put in my lays.a troop of wizards And a band of maidens. A tale of knowledge she told me. That robbed the earth of its brilliancy by their full sweeping. Melody of melody. She sends me with a guide for my safe conduct from the mansion. through sheer fear. Plaiting of plaiting in every hair of her yellow locks. Thus the eighteenthcentury aisling (vision) poem repeatedly looked outside the country for liberation and the true sovereign. How it will became her to be united to an awkward. with plaited locks. I rush in mad race running with a bounding heart. mockingly . folly of follies for me to go up close to her! By the captive I was bound fast a captive. An ornament brighter than glass on her swelling breast. through meads. While the fairest thrice over of all the Scotic race Was waiting to receive her as his beauteous bride. 1709) BRIGHTNESS MOST BRIGHT (GILE NA GILE) The brightness of Brightness I saw in a lonely path. in words the sincerest. through a barren moorland. I reach the strong mansion .” [12] • Aogan O Rathaille (c. who would only recover her happiness when a young liberator would come to her defence. evoking the former sovereignty goddess into the image of “a willing [and] defenceless spéirbhean [sic] or ‘sky-woman’. 1675-1729): Gile na Gile (Brightness Most Bright) (c. As I implored the Son of Mary of aid me. Crystal of crystal. I told her then. sorry churl. reared by wizard sorcery. she bounded from me.

in my bosom faints To think of you. . MY DARK ROSALEEN O my Dark Rosaleen. . Do not sigh. my saint of saints. Over hills and through dales Have I roamed for your sake. Red lightning lightened through my blood. All yesterday I sailed with sails On river and on lake. from the royal Pope Upon the ocean green. love! The heart . My life of life. My life. There’s wine . My Dark Rosaleen. . To see your bright face clouded so. My Dark Rosaleen! All day long in unrest To and fro do I move The very soul within my breast Is wasted for you. Like to the mournful moon. and identified both with the sovereignty of Ireland and with the Blessed Virgin. shall give you hope. . . at its highest flood I dashed across unseen. pain and woe. my saint of saints. My Dark Rosaleen! My own Rosaleen! Oh! There was lightning in my blood. a cluster of associations that will be carried over by subsequent invocations of Ireland under a female aspect [13]. my love. My Dark Rosaleen! My own Rosaleen! To hear your sweet and sad complaints. do not weep! The priests are on the ocean green. For there was lightning in my blood. Shall give you health. My Dark Rosaleen! Woe and pain. my Queen. And Spanish ale shall give you hope. and help. . Such associations inform James Clarence Mangan’s (1803-49) My Dark Rosaleen (1846). My Dark Rosaleen! My own Rosaleen! Shall glad your heart. The Erne . They march along the Deep.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature In a late eighteenth-century text composed by the blind poet Liam O hIfearnain this female persona of Ireland is specifically named Caitlin ni Uallachain (Cathleen ni Houlihan). and hope. 42 . Are my lot night and noon.

in your emerald bowers. Ere you shall fade. My Dark Rosaleen! Irish Literature 43 . ‘Tis you shall reign and reign alone. . ‘Tis you shall reign. My Dark Rosaleen! My fond Rosaleen! Would give me life and soul anew. . ere you can die. I could plough the high hills. . I could scale the blue air. My Dark Rosaleen! My fond Rosaleen! You’ll think of me through daylight’s hours. . beamy smile from you Would float like light between My toils and me. My Dark Rosaleen! My own Rosaleen! The Judgement Hour must first be nigh. ere you shall die. will I rear your throne Again in golden sheen. My Dark Rosaleen! Over dews. The earth shall rock beneath your tread. You’ll pray for me. I could kneel all night in prayer. Your holy delicate white hands Shall girdle me with steel. And gun-peal and slogan cry. my true. Oh. At home . shall reign alone. To heal your many ills! And one . Wake many a glen serene. My virgin flower. And flames wrap hill and wood. a soul anew. my own. . My Dark Rosaleen! O! the Erne shall run red With redundance of blood. From morning’s dawn till e’en. Ere you can fade. A second life. My Dark Rosaleen.Ioana Mohor-Ivan But yet . over sands Will I fly for your weal. My Dark Rosaleen! My own Rosaleen! ‘Tis you shall have the golden throne. . my flower of flowers. my flower of flowers.

‘twill take root there. No more St. And he asaid.and nineteenth-centuries blend the traditions of the Old Woman of Beara with those of the goddesses of war and death. and how does she stand?” She’s the most distressful country that iver yet was seen. and throw it on the sod. praise God. which stand for the darker side of the Celtic matriarch. Kali-like. Richard Kearney has suggested that the Sean Bhean Bocht has been turned into an emblem of Irish nationalism because it is closely linked to its sacrificial mythology in which the blood sacrifice of the heroes is needed to free and redeem Ireland. I’ll stick to wearin’ o’ the green. Patrick’s Day we’ll keep. And never fear. I wear in my caubeen. The “sean bhean bhocht” and the popular ballad In their turn. the popular ballads of the late eighteenth. For there’s a cruel law agin the wearin’ o’ the green! I met wid Napper Tandy. and.3. “How’s poor Ould Ireland. Their favourite trope becomes thus the Sean Bhean Bocht. But till that day. Let it remind us of the blood that Ireland has shed. tho’ under foot ‘tis trod! When law can stop the blades of grass from growing’ as they grow. Then pull the shamrock from your hat. at the same time in which these heroic sacrificial martyrs are rewarded by being “remembered for ever” [14]. his colour can’t be seen. An’ if the color we must wear is England’s cruel red.2. this nationalist sacrificial mythology can be further tied to pagan concepts of “seasonal rejuvenation” and the sacrificial aspects of Christianity in the Crucifixion and tradition of martyrdom [15]. THE WEARIN’ OF THE GREEN Oh. requires the sacrifice of successive generations of sons in the hope that the recurring heroic failures to eject the invader will finally prove successful. Moreover. 44 .Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 3. an idealised persona of the land who suffers historic wrongs. And when the leaves in summer-time their color dare not show. Then I will change the color. Paddy dear! an’ did ye hear the news that’s goin’ round? The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground. too. and he took me by the hand. For they’re hangin’ men and women there for wearin’ o’ the green.

She looks at Michael as she passes. sexual and pure) in order to create its dynamic tension. starts to bemoan that she has been set wandering by “too many strangers in the house. Bridget is standing at a table undoing a parcel. epitomizes this tradition. Cathleen Ni Houlihan William Butler Yeats’s Cathleen Ni Houlihan.B.e. YEATS CATHLEEN NI HOOLIHAN (1902) PERSONS IN THE PLAY: PETER GILLANE MICHAEL GILLANE (his son. Michael: There she is. in 1798. [.] I’d sooner a stranger not to come to the house the night before the wedding. the time of the historical French landing at Killala. W. It might be some poor woman heard we were making ready for the wedding. The play makes use of what Valente calls the double-woman trope (i.4. the play written in 1902. the play is set in the cottage of the Gillane family. Mesmerized by her words.2. and came to look for her share. Michael. . Located with naturalistic precision in 1798. as the son leaves. and. but she has her cloak over her face. Peter is sitting at one side of the fire. I wonder? Michael: I don’t think it’s one of the neighbours. Patrick at the other. constituting a mythic nexus for personifications of Ireland. Peter: I may as well put the money out of sight. ] Bridget: Do you see anything? Michael: I see an old woman coming up the path. Michael decides to forsake his family and bride in order to go off to fight in the brewing insurrection. . [. father! [An old woman passes the window slowly. the combination of the Spéar-bhean and the Sean Bhean Bocht who is both young and old. There’s no use leaving it out for every stranger to look at. the old woman offers no doubt as to what his fate will be. .Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 3. An old woman arrives who.” who took from her “four beautiful green fields”[17] and then tells of the sacrifices young men have made for her across the ages. . going to be married) PATRICK GILLANE (a lad of 12. Michael’s brother) BRIDGET GILLANE (Peter’s wife) DELIA CAHEL (engaged to Michael) THE POOR OLD WOMAN NEIGHBOURS Interior of a cottage close to Killala. taken for a beggar at first. Bridget: Maybe it’s the same woman Patrick saw a while ago. Bridget: Who is it. mother and bride. which signalled the beginning of the United Irishmen Rebellion. where the eldest son.] 45 . is about to be married the next day.

] Old Woman: God save all here! Peter: God save you kindly. Michael stands aside to make way for her. indeed. ma’am? Old Woman: I have not. Old Woman: That is true for you. You have plenty to do. They are coming to help me. [.] Bridget: What was it put you astray? Old Woman: Too many strangers in the house Bridget: Indeed you look as if you had had your share of trouble. [She gets up. With all the lovers that brought me their love. Michael: What way will you do that.] I must be going to meet my friends. the hope of putting the strangers out of my house. . Old Woman: You have good shelter here. It is not silver I want. [Michael watches her curiously from the door. Peter comes over to the table. I am not afraid. he must give me himself. ma’am? Old Woman: I have good friends that will help me. [. [. Old Woman: That is not that I want. . and it is long I am on the road since I first went wondering. there are few have travelled so far as myself Peter: it is a pity.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature [The old woman comes in. indeed. If they are put down to-day. Bridget: What was it put the trouble on you? Old Woman: My land was taken from me. Peter[offering the shilling]: Here is something for you. Old Woman: I have had trouble. and I must be there to welcome them. Michael: What hopes have you to hold to? Old Woman: The hope of getting my beautiful fields back again. they will get the upper-hand to-morrow. it is the girl coming into the house you have to welcome. . Peter: You are welcome to whatever shelter we have. It is seldom I have any rest. I never set out the bed for any. indeed. it is food and drink you have to bring to the house. . Peter: What is it you would be asking for? Old Woman: If anyone would give me help. They are gathering to help me now. Peter: Was it much land they took from you? Old Woman: My four beautiful green fields. Michael: Are you lonely going the roads. I must call the neighbours together to welcome them.] Peter: Have you travelled far to-day? Old Woman: I have travelled far. Michael: I will go with you Bridget: It is not her friends you have to go and welcome. he must give me all. Old Woman [warming her hands]: There’s a hard wind outside. Bridget: Sit down there by the fire and welcome. .] 46 . . Michael. for any person to have no place of their own. very far. ma’am? Old Woman: I have my thoughts and I have my hopes. Michael: Have you no man of your own.] Bridget[to the old woman]: Will you have a drink of milk? Old Woman: It is not food or drink that I want.

and there are some that call me Cathleen ny Hoolihan. . no.] Michael: I do not know what that song means. singing. [She sings. ] [Michael breaks away from Delia and goes towards the neighbours at the door. . I remember I heard it in a song. [. [Michael and the neighbours go out.][She goes out. Old Woman: Come over to me. The people shall hear them for ever. and she had the walk of a queen. I heard one on the wind this morning. . but tell me something I can do for you. THE END 47 . Peter: I think I knew someone of that name once.] Michael: Come. at all? Bridget: You did not tell us your name yet. No. I wonder? It must have been someone I knew when I was a boy. Old Woman [who is standing in the doorway]: They are wondering that there were songs made for me. . . there have been many songs made for me. we must follow her.] Peter [laying his hand on Patrick’s arm]: Did you see an old woman going down the path? Patrick: I did not.] They shall be remembered for ever. Who was it. ma’am.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Peter[to Bridget]: Who is she. They shall be alive for ever. . Her voice is heard outside.] [. Old Woman: Some call me The Poor Old Woman. do you think. we have no time to lose. They shall be speaking for ever. but I saw a young girl. Michael. [.

while Neary is a natonalist mystic who smashes his head against the buttocks of Cuchullain’s statue in Dublin. The trope is thus deconstructed in a series of texts that include James Joyce’s short-story “A Mother” (included in his Dubliners." [21]. Bailengangaire (1985)  48 . and 'quite exceptionally anthropoid for an Irish girl‘. 1905). “A Mother” (1905)  An inexperienced Dublin impresario named Mr. delaying the start of that evening’s entertainment. the Irish mistress of the title character of his novel Murphy (1938). This effectively re-inscribes the woman as devoid of agency”[23]. any feminine national icons. A burlesque novel which presents the story of an impecunious Irishman living in London. and the woman-nation equation has carried over into the post-colonial imagination. Holohan arranges with Mrs. Kearney for her daughter Kathleen to accompany on the piano the singers at a series of four concerts. or contemporary plays like Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) and Tom Murphy’s Bailengangaire (1985). As Fleming remarks. Finally. it focuses on Mommo. without ever ending it. Mary and Dolly. Moving between Ireland and England. where such traditional feminine figures of the nation have been reduced “to a metaphor for national identity and a powerful interpellative figure in the nationalist struggle for the state”[22]. who tries to recount to her granddaughters. but also for the writers who attempt to reproduce such symbolic figures of women in their work. Set in a rotting thatched cottage. Samuel Beckett’s Miss Counihan. with a bed placed centre stage. the insatiable Miss Counihan. the story of a long-ago laughing competition. won by her husband coincided with the death of the couple’s son. actually displace them outside history into the realm of myth. with the painful recognition that the laughing contest.3. Deconstructing the Woman-Nation trope While essentially a colonial by-product.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 3. “while seeming to empower women. the figure of Cathleen has "congealed into republican rhetoric. James Joyce. Mrs. When the first three concerts are sparsely attended. Murphy (1938)  Tom Murphy. the novel is caustically satirical at the expense of the Irish Free State: the astrologer Murphy consults is famous 'throughout civilised world and Irish Free State'. Samuel Beckett. the senile grandmother. Kearney refuses to let Kathleen play during the second half of the concert because she has not been paid the entire promised fee. Kearney demands payment for all the performances before the fourth show. Mrs. The smoldering rivalries between the two sisters act as a catalyst that force Mommo to finish her story. among the posse of Irish people who pursue the protagonist. No wonder then that Cathleen has become an extremely problematic symbol not only in contemporary Irish literary and cultural studies. his former mistress. is high-breasted and high-buttocked.

” 1767-1722: Lord Townsend establishes a resident Lord Lieutenant-ship in Ireland. had become firmly established as the great land-owning families throughout. The confidence of the Ascendancy was manifested towards the end of the 18th century by its adoption of a nationalist Irish. 249] flourishing among this class who increasingly felt that their fortunes were linked with those of their adoptive country.g. initiated largely due to British concern over the revolutions in France and America 1782-1800“Grattan's Parliament”: under leadership of Henry Grattan. and Dublin.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature CHAPTER 4 – PROTESTANT LITERARY TROPES: THE ‘BIG HOUSE’ THEME IN IRISH LITERATURE • 1704: The Sacramental Test Act. English trade laws restrict Irish export & trade industries. the authority “to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the kingdom and people of Ireland. 1782 “The Constitution of 1782”: a series of concessions to the Irish Parliament. The Protestant Ascendancy begins. during the 18th century. the Irish Parliament in Dublin (the only independent Parliament in any British colony in the entire empire). such as George Berkeley. combined with the crisis in America. The Protestant Ascendancy Protestant Ascendancy is a term used to refer to the Anglican (not radical Protestant) descendants of English colonists. and for the defense of. penal laws reduce Catholic landowners. the splendor of Georgian Dublin reaches its height • • • • • 4. 1720: The Declaratory Act gave to the British Parliament legislative jurisdiction over Irish affairs. the center of the Protestant power. a national volunteer army formed by. the formation of Henry Grattan’s Patriot Party in 1760). the Protestant Ascendancy. the Irish Parliament holds its greatest legislative independence. Jonathan Swift or Oliver Goldsmith. turned into a true capital. the eastern half of Ireland. Irish economic revival follows. As English and Anglo-Irish aristocracy settle in Ireland. leads to removal of most restrictions on Irish trade. as direct representative of Royal English power in Irish government 1778: First Protestant Volunteer Force forms. including repeal of Declaratory Act. making political office and membership in municipal corporations available only to those who receive communion according to the Church of Ireland (excluding both Roman Catholics and Protestant dissidents). though still exclusively Protestant. Their threat. political and economic power over the land. Among the achievements of this ruling class are: Trinity College established as their seat of learning. and were determined to sustain their social.1. came to stand for “a cast of Irish mind” [Foster. upon which they were 49 . Eighteenth-century Anglo-Irish intellectuals. who. identity. (e. particularly.

essayist 50 . playwright o Jonathan Swift (1667 –1745): satirist. poet. often making rents uncollectable. while another 2. 4.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature economically dependant. 1829: The eventual arrival of ‘Catholic emancipation’ (a relief act enabling Catholics to enter parliament. who identified them with what they saw as the continuing domination of Britain over Ireland. a feeling solidified by various resentments against their constitutional and career dependence upon England 20 .2. The popular perception of the Ascendancy became one of an absentee landlord shipping food to England while the population starved. many stately homes of the old landed class were burned down by the Irish Republican Army. 1845-9: The Great Famine (subsequent failures of the potato crop for three out of four years resulted in the death of as many as 1. 1918-1923: During the Anglo-Irish War and the subsequent Irish Civil War. and widespread emigration of the ruling class to the new centre of power in London. largely to the United States) magnified the festering sense of native grievance.000.abolished the Irish Parliament. the dominant pattern of Irish political life will show the gradual decline of the Protestant Ascendancy against the emboldening of the growing Catholic middle and lower classes. Many decent landlords genuinely cared for their tenants and felt responsible for their fate: that care was often returned with a 20 Prominent Ascendancy writers include: o Edmund Burke (1729-97): political philosopher o George Berkeley (1685-1753): empiricist o Oliver Goldsmith (?1730-74): novelist. At around the same time. A series of Land Acts allowed tenants to take ownership of the land.passed partly in response to a perception that the 1798 rebellion and the subsequent bloodshed had been provoked by the misrule of the Ascendancy .000.      Following the 1801 Act of Union. Ever since the time of Jonathan Swift there had been a pressure on the AngloIrish to throw in their lot with the natives…Over the century and a half which followed it became more and more clear that a strange reciprocity bound members of the ascendancy to those peasants with whom they shared the Irish predicament. 1880s-1900s: The ‘Land War’ saw a mass mobilisation of tenant farmers against the landlord class. the political power of the Ascendancy passed to a largely Catholic and middle class Irish nationalist movement. which led to the phenomenon of the absentee landlord. when England took direct control over the island. 1850-80: The emergence of secret and open societies such as the Tenant League or the Land League challenged the economic position of many landlords. belong to any corporation and hold higher offices in state) meant that the Ascendancy now faced competition from prosperous Catholics in parliament and the various professions.000 Irish from disease and starvation. Landmarks of Historical Decline  1801: The Act of Union . This was followed by economic decline in Ireland.000 had to emigrate. poet.

family continuities and apparently unlegislated harmony of environmental and human relationships” [5. While the Irish Big Houses are increasingly valued today for their architectural significance and have been recognized as an important part of Irish heritage. Goldsmith. 52]. the Anglo-Irish had to work up their own set of representations.1. with its serenity. 24] and.67) 4. when the Big House reached its heyday.3. and use of classical orders.3. which “provides the focus for a mythology of the social order which is one of the most established in national ideology . ix]. In so doing. they turned to the space of the Big House in order to provide themselves with their own myth of rootedness. according to Jacqueline Genet. made up of literary figures and intellectuals like Swift. invaded Ireland and helped thus the first wave of English colonizers to establish themselves in the area known as the Irish Pale. discipline and restraint. The first one.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature mixture of affection and awe. that 51 . and [plotting] its eventual disintegration and decomposition” [12. contain “the myth of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy” by offering “an explanation of that class. a whole new class of Anglo-Irish landlords vied to outdo one another in the building of lavish countryside estates and gardens designed in newly-popular Palladian style. Cutural Myth Feeling themselves entitled to candidate for the appellation of Irishness. by the eighteenth-century. totally oblivious to the harsh realities outside the demesne walls. characterized by grace. which. whose writings witnessed to similar elements of classicism. understated decorative elements. pointed to an idyll of social and political harmony where the affinity between paternalistic Protestant landlords and childlike Catholic peasants expressed itself in what John Corner and Sylvia Harvey term as its “aristocratic”. The “Big House”: from cultural construct to literary theme As a historical structure. 158]. they are also cultural constructs. investing it with the sense of a cultural continuum able to preserve the values of that eighteenth-century spiritual élite. when Richard of Clare. As the English military. 4. This mythical space became then the fictional frame within which the Anglo-Irish. the Big House made its appearance into the Irish landscape during the last decades of the twelfth century. The second one mythologised the “Big House” as an “Apollonian ideal of civilization and order” [6. its style and manners. the defensive aspects of the high-walled Anglo-Norman tower-houses were gradually lost [16. Others were negligent and some cruelly exploitative: but these attitudes served only to emphasize the kindness of the better sort…When the doom of the big house was sealed by the Land Acts. This myth was sustained by two aspects. known as Strongbow. Shaw was not the only commentator to wonder whether the lot of landless labourer would prove happier under peasant proprietors than it had under paternalistic landlords… (Kiberd:1996.that of the country house. administrative and political domination extended throughout the subsequent centuries. [setting] out its relations with its environment and culture. Burke or Berkeley.

forever Irish in England” [14. “it was not until it was on the verge of total disappearance that the Big House became a major theme in Irish literature. tried to invent an ideal self which could live “on the hyphen between ‘Anglo’ and ‘Irish’”[14. 368].Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature group labeled by Declan Kiberd as “a hyphenated people. built in 1672 by Richard Edgeworth. It had small windows. former members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. its economic. But the famines of the nineteenth-century and the subsequent Land Acts which conceded large parts of Anglo-Irish domains to the tenantry “spelled the end of the great estates and of the families who owned them” [16. [2. 116] Curiously enough. who felt that the new Ireland was unlikely to provide a satisfactory home for themselves or their offspring. as Guy Fehlman notices. The decline was even more dramatic in the first decades of the twentieth-century. forever English in Ireland. Until then. low wainscoted rooms and heavy cornices. thus recorded by Terence Brown in his historical account of the social changes undergone by postrevolutionary Ireland: The period 1911-26 saw indeed a striking decline of about one-third in the Protestant population of the south of Ireland as a whole which must be accounted for not only by the lamentable losses endured by Protestant Ireland in the Great War but by the large numbers of landed families. the inventor and father of Maria Edgeworth. social. The house was much enlarged and modernised after 1770 by Richard Lovell Edgeworth. 16]. civil servants and Protestant small farmers. Protestant professional men.) 52 . political and legal implications in Irish life had been too overwhelming to be transferred to fiction” [9. 367]. 27]. (Edgeworthstown House.

among other works whose fictional representations of this figurative space evoke elegiac nostalgia for the lost days of Ascendancy grandeur and spirit. or Joyce Cary’s Castle Corner (1938). is generally considered to inaugurate not only the conventions of the Big House fiction – summarized by Kersti Tarien Powell in terms of “the dilapidated house. the Land League. Literary Theme As setting. the irresponsible absentee landlords. and reflecting the anxieties and uncertainties of this Protestant landowning class in their decline. Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent. . referring to the big houses of the ascendancy. ANGLO-IRISH LITERATURE: term used to describe Irish writing in English.3. in Neill Corcoran’s opinion. 32]. Conventions: .the decaying house and declining gentry family. 53 . often absentee.the rise of a predatory middle class seeking to wrest power from landowners. and the rise of the (frequently militant. the demise of the Big House world. it has become a “significant sub-genre in Irish writing”[4. the Famine. from the early 19th century. and the growth of modern militant Irish nationalism. the rise and fall of the gentrified family. . through Catholic Emancipation. THE “BIG HOUSE”: A recurrent theme in Anglo-Irish Literature. which helps to distinguish this tradition from English literature and literature in Gaelic (applied mostly to Protestant Ascendancy writers). Primarily related to the Anglo-Irish novelistic tradition. published in 1800. theme or character.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 4.2. and therefore threatening) peasant class” [20.the improvident. 115] – but also to anticipate the social phenomenon related to the dramatic dislocation of the Ascendancy class. It appears mainly in the novel. Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September (1929). landlord. but also in poetry. the theme is present in Somerville and Ross’s The Big House at Inver (1925). drama and memoir. to the founding of the Irish State. the Big House resurfaces as a recurrent and popular motif in Irish literature to the extent that.

. time out of mind. To look at me. out of friendship for the family.afterward.) Sir Tallyhoo only never gave a gate upon it. My real name is Thady Quirk. I think it my duty to say a few words. by it. he fell down in a sort of fit. Having. but the heir who attended the funeral was against that. in the first place. seeing how large a stake depended upon it. they say. The family of the Rackrents is. upon whose estate. though come Holantide next I’ve had it these seven years. but I wash my hands of his doings. in the morning. On coming into the estate. I remember to hear them calling me ‘old Thady’ and now I’m come to “poor Thady”. gains possession of the estate by loans and litigation. as I never put my arms into the sleeves. From CASTLE RACKRENT Monday Morning. one of the most ancient in the kingdom. until Thady’s own son. (. .a rescue was apprehended from the mob. not a man could stand after supper but Sir Patrick himself. and was carried off: they sat it out. praised be Heaven! I and mine have lived rent-free. Never did any gentleman live and die more beloved in the country by rich and poor.3. . that he should. narrates the eccentricities and excesses of three generations of landowning Rackrents. voluntarily undertaken to publish the Memoirs of the Rackrent Family. you would hardly think “poor Thady” was the father of attorney Quirk. . upon one condition. though in the family I have always been known by no ther than “honest Thady” . and little 54 . I am proud to say. they are as good as new. take and bear the surname and arms of Rackrent. for the estate came straight into the family. But I ought to bless that day. landed estate. His funeral was such a one as was never known before or since in the country! (.) Sir Patrick died that night: just as the company rose to drink his health with three cheers. at last. but thought better of it afterwards. Jason. it holds on by a single button round my neck. which Sir Patrick O’Shaughlin at the time took sadly to heart.2. and having better than fifteen hundred a year. “Big House” Novels Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849): Castle Rackrent (1800) o Thady Quirk. when the body was seized for debt . to be sure. on inquiry. by act of parliament. Now it was that the world was to see what was in Sir Patrick. to find that it was all over with poor Sir Patrick. it being his maxim that a car was the best gate. the law must take its course. and were surprised. Poor gentleman! He lost a fine hunter and his life. true and loyal to the family. (. which is very handy. all in one day’s hunt.)But who’d have thought it? Just as all was going on right. . for I wear a long great coat winter and summer. deceased. through his own town they were passing. he is a high gentleman and never minds what poor Thady says.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 4. an old steward. looks down upon honest Thady. who could sit out the best man in Ireland. cloak fashion. concerning myself. for the fear of consequences. .1. and as I have lived so will I die. he gave the finest entertainment ever was heard of in the country. let alone the three kingdoms itself. in the time of Sir Murtagh. seeing that those villains who came to serve acted under the disguise of the law: so.

It was whispered (but none but the enemis of the family believe it). (…) He had the saving. wants to make her way up the social scale in the village of Lismoyle by marrying her pretty cousin Francie Fitzpatrick to Christopher Dysart. His fastidious dislike of doing a thing indifferently was probably a form of conceit: it brought about him a kind of deadlock. you might give me a cup o’tay first!” Charlotte had many tones of voice. but the moment the law was taken of him. not perhaps being aware that her own accent scarcely admitted of being strengthened. It was the same with everything else. marries the infatuated Lambert. his tentative essays in painting died an early death. refused to pay a shilling of the debts. and. that this was all a sham seizure to get quit of the debts. till I tell her to her face that I know her plots and her thricks? ‘Tis to say that to her I came here. Her plan fails on both fronts when Francie falls in love with a member of the garrison in town. when he jilts her. there was an end of honour to be sure. but for the honour of the house. Sommerville and Ross [Edith Somerville (1858-1949)and Violet Martin (1862-1915)]: The Real Charlotte (1894) • Charlotte. At the same time. in which he was countenanced by all the best gentlemen of property. and to tell her ‘twas she lent money to Peter Joyce that was grazing my farm. hearty voice which she felt accorded best with the theory of herself that she had built up in Lady Dysart’s mind. . and when she wished to be playful she affected a vigorous brogue. in the next place. and others of his acquaintance. son and heir of the local ascendancy family in Bruff Castle. “I’ll head a forlorn hope to the bottom of the lake for you.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature gain had the creditors for their pains. He had no confidence in anything about himself except his critical ability. they had the curses of the country: and Sir Murtagh Rackrent. the way he’s go bankrupt on me. the new heir. and he did not satisfy that. THE REAL CHARLOTTE “Well. according with the many facets of her character. on account of this affront to the body. which he had bound himself to pay in honour. This refinement of humour was probably wasted on Lady Dysart. she said. using prospects of property as the main enticement. Sir Murtagh alleging in all companies. and welcome. (…) Where’s Charlotte Mullen. and she’s to have my farm and my house that my grandfather built. and refused it to him secondly. or perhaps fatal power of seeing his own handiwork with as unflattering an eye as he saw other people’s. an intelligent but plain-looking middle-class Protestant of 40. that he all along meant to pay his father’s debts of honour. Charlotte tries to win the Dysart’s land agent Roddy Lambert for herself. First and foremost. in the bluff. thinking to even herself with the rest of the gentry . . your ladyship”. 55 .

she felt. to Gerald. She could not hope to explain that her youth seemed to her rather theatrical and that she was only young in that way because people expected it.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973): The Last September (1929) o Set in the Naylors’ big house. His intentions burned on the dark an almost invisible trail. in some ideal no-place. .were explanation possible to so courteous. by the time she was his age. For to explain this . ironical and unfriendly a listener . . . She could not conceive of her country emotionally . be disloyal to herself.awakening. She could not hope to assure him she was enjoying anything he had missed. from sleep or preoccupation . (…) He had seemed amazed at her being young when he wasn’t. he might well have been a murderer he seemed so inspired. (…) And she could not try to explain . how after every return . to an illusion both were called upon to maintain. locked in misery between Holyhead and Kingstown .as sometimes when she was seasick. . (…) It must be because of Ireland he was in such a hurry . .to be enclosed in a nonentity. THE LAST SEPTEMBER She shut her eyes and tried . She had never refused a role . even. perfect and clear as a bubble. that she was now convinced and anxious but intended to be quite certain. .would.she and those home surroundings further penetrated each other mutually in the discovery of a lack. . that she had once been happy. it explores their niece Lois Farquahar’s emotional and sexual awakening against the background of the Anglo-Irish War in 1920. 56 . Danielstown. .

poet. Found certainty upon the dreaming air. there that slow man. scholar. A dance-like glory that those walls begot. Back turned upon the brightness of the sun And all that sensuality of the shade A moment’s memory to that laurelled head. When nettles wave upon a shapeless mound And saplings root among the broken stone. Yeats (1865-1939) : Coole Park 1929. 57 . Coole Park and Ballylee 1931 COOLE PARK I meditate upon a swallow’s flight. There one that ruffled in a many pose For all his timid heart. A sycamore and lime-tree lost in night Although that western cloud is luminous. There Hyde before he had beaten into prose That noble blade the Muses buckled on. And yet a woman’s powerful character Could keep a Swallow to its first intent. That seemed to whirl upon a compass-point.3. and those Impetuous men. They came like swallows and like swallows went. traveller. Found pride established in humility. John Synge. take your stand When all those rooms and passages are gone. Shawe-Taylor and Hugh Lane. And dedicate . The intellectual sweetness of those lines That cut through time or cross it withershins. And half a dozen in formation there. Upon an aged woman and her house. Here.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 4. Thoughts long knitted into a single thought.2.2.B.eyes bent upon the ground. A scene well Set and excellent company. Great works constructed there in nature’s spite For scholars and for poets after us. Poetry W. That meditative man.

We were the last romantics . a last inheritor Where none has reigned that lacked a name and fame Or out of folly into folly came. Run underground.all that great glory spent Like some poor Arab tribesman and his tent.chose for theme Traditional sanctity and loveliness. A spot whereon the founders lived and died Seemed once more dear than life. a sound From somebody that toils from chair to chair. and there to finish up Spread to a lake and drop into a hole. Great rooms where travelled men and children found Content or joy. that high horse riderless. Sound of a stick upon the floor. rise in a rocky place In Coole demesne. it sails into the sight And in the morning’s gone.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature COOLE AND BALLYLEE Under my window-ledge the waters race Otters below and moor-hens on the top. 58 . Beloved books that famous hands have bound. And every bride’s ambition satisfied. And. So arrogantly pure. Old marble heads. like the soul. Another emblem there! That stormy white But seems a concentration on the sky. Or gardens rich in memory glorified Marriages. whatever most can bless The mind of man or elevate a rhyme. Whatever’s written in what poets name The book of the people. old pictures everywhere. ancestral trees. But all is changes. For Nature’s pulled her tragic buskin on And all rant’s a mirror of my mood: At sudden thunder of the mounting swan I turned about and looked where branches break The glittering reaches of the flooded lake. Run for a mile undimmed in Heaven’s face Then darkening through ‘dark’ Raftery’s ‘cellar’ drop. What’s water but the generated soul? Upon the border of that lake’s a wood Now all dry sticks under a wintry sun. no man knows why. And is so lovely that it sets to right What knowledge or its lack had set awry. alliances and families. a child might think It can be murdered with a spot of ink. And in a copse of beeches there I stood. Though mounted in that saddle Homer rode Where the swan drifts upon a darkening flood. Where fashion or mere fantasy decrees We shift about .

comfortable rooms described as “containing the vestigial of generations” [21. the house is attacked by the Irregulars for favouring the Free State government and burnt to the ground. while at home. eventually burning the house down.3. The ghost of the stablehand and his bride now re-enact the peddler’s conception.B. with its impressive Georgian architecture and large.2. whom the family attempted to defend against the Black and Tans. But. as the ghosts live through their passion and their suffering once more. which span the years 1918 and 1923. 139] and the beliefs that underpin St Leger Alcock’s quasi-feudal utopianism. To his horror the hoof-beats start again. and in an attempt to exorcise guilt and remorse. sent to fight in the Great War under the English flag. are both killed on the front. the individual members of the family as well as the house and the myths sustaining it are “besieged” by history: the two sons. Yeats: Purgatory (1938) o An old peddler and his 16-year-old son return to the ruined big house where the father was conceived. hating his father who had kept him ignorant and made him coarse.3. At the age of 16 the peddler. Betrayed from within. W. The old man relates how his mother married a drunken stable-hand who wasted her inheritance. the period which witnessed to the fall of the old order and the inevitable decline of the Big House in Irish life and culture.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 4. Drama Lennox Robbinson (1886-1958): The Big House (1926). 59 . turn against their Protestant neighbours. At the beginning of the play. (Killycregs in Twilight (1937) o The Big House offers four scenes from the recent life of a Big House family. he stabs his own son with the knife he used on his father. the villagers. the myths of the Ascendancy sustain both the appearance of the house. which makes him revel in the privileged position of Ballydonal as symbol of the Anglo-Irish culture in the community and in his own role as paterfamilias to the surrounding peasant villagers. the Alcocks of Ballydonal House in County Cork. through the course of the play. killed him on the night of the fire.

And he squandered everything she had. . being dead. Or came from London every spring To look at the may-blossom in the park.) OLD MAN. if upon themselves.) Listen to the hoof-beats! Listen. Looked at him and married him. they know at last The consequence of those transgressions Whether upon others or upon themselves. to kill a house Where great men grew up. OLD MAN. Great people lived and died in this house. Had loved the house. died. But now she knows it all. . and long ago Men that had fought at Aughrim and the Boyne. There is no help but in themselves And in the mercy of God. had loved all The intricate passages of the house. OLD MAN. because She died in giving birth to me. I have had enough! Talk to the jackdaws. if talk you must. Some that had gone on Government work To London or to India came home to die. . Upon others. Captains and Governors. colonels. But there are some That do not care what’s gone. Re-live Their transgressions. drink and women. BOY. . BOY. and that not once But many times. members of Parliament. (. She never knew the worst. what’s left: The souls in Purgatory that come back To habitations and familiar spots. ( . Magistrates.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature PURGATORY OLD MAN. married. Your wits are out again. They had loved the trees that he cut down To pay what he had lost at cards Or spent on horses. others may bring help. For when the consequence is at an end The dream must end. listen! 60 . I here declare a capital offence. But he killed the house. Stop! Sit there upon that stone. That is the house where I was born.

And if he touch he must beget And you must bear his murderer. (..) BOY.there -there . What if I killed you? You killed my grand-dad. . I cannot hear a sound. . And that I could not talk and see! You have been rummaging in the pack. How quickly it returns . Beat! Beat! This night is the anniversary Of my mother’s wedding night.] (. .) OLD MAN. That beast there would know nothing. . .Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature BOY.there[He stabs again and again.) 61 . . My father is riding from the public-house. But you are in the light because I finished all that consequence. A whiskey-bottle under his arm.) OLD MAN: Do not let him touch you! It is not true that drunken men cannot beget. OLD MAN.beat -! Her mind cannot hold up that dream. [He stabs the boy. the window is dark again.. Deaf! Both deaf! If I should throw A stick or a stone they would not hear. Begot and passed pollution on.. I killed that lad because had he grown up He would have struck a woman’s fancy. being nothing.] ( . .) Dear mother.. . (.. The window grows dark.. If I should kill a man under the window He would not even turn his head.beat . Or of the night wherein I was begotten. (. [A window is lit showing a young girl.] My father and my son on the same jack-knife! That finishes .) Hoof-beats! Dear God. And that’s proof my wits are out. ( . Now I am young and you are old. And she must animate that dead night Not once but many times! ( . Because you were young and he was old. My bag of money between your fingers. Twice a murderer and all for nothing.) Come back! Come back! And so you thought to slip away.

Over the years. Stands there staring beyond at that black veil lips quivering to half-heard words. . who has oppressed his children in his need for absolute authority. he all but said of loved ones. Dying on. . Empty for the moment. Never but the one matter. Umbrellas round a grave. Streaming black canopies. District Justice O’Donnell. Move on to other matters. . is aware of the decline and is the only one to experience a sense of loss. The dead and gone. That place beneath. . Beyond that black beyond. . So stands there facing blank wall. Rain bubbling in the black mud. To other matters. . . (…) Grey light. Rain pelting. . Eamon. .): Aristocrats (1979) o Friel’s play permutes a Catholic family into a big house setting. . Gone. . Whose? Fade. Ghost graves. The wedding of the youngest daughter Claire to a small local greengrocer coincides with the death of the patriarch of the family. Brian Friel (1929 . The dying and the going. Seen from above. Ghost nights. . (…) Thirty thousand nights of ghosts beyond. as the play moves slowly and lyrically towards an extended scene of Chekhovian leavetaking where the members of the family say goodbye to each other and to their past. Years of nights. he all but said which loved one? . Down one after another. now “dead and gone”. Treating of other matters. . Pictures of . . in order to chronicle its disintegration at a reunion in Ballybeg Hall. . . Black ditch beneath.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Samuel Beckett (1906-1989): A Piece of Monologue (1979) o The lonely speaker’s memories recall familiar pictures of the Protestant Ascendancy. Try to move on. A PIECE OF MONOLOGUE Covered with pictures once. Gone. Torn to shreds and scattered. . married into the family. No more no less. . Coffin out of frame. . he all but said ghost loved ones. Ghost light. Ghost rooms. Which . Ghost . . 62 . Waiting on the rip words.

variously seen as Romantic Golden Age or peasant community has been discursively used to signify the nation. the native representational range for Irishness has mainly nurtured on the pastoral. it attempts a failed insurrection in 1867. leading to his split with catholic clergy and condemnation by British public. soon to become the Home Rule League.  5. 1870 the Home Government Association. a splinter group from O'Connell's repeal association. THE PASTORAL MODE:  Archetypal human response to the countryside. is founded by Isaac Butt 1875 Charles Stewart Parnell enters parliament. the Gaelic league is founded by Douglas Hyde • • • • • 5. or as rural simplicity and morality to be contrasted to the present urban existence. a secret insurrectionary group. he soon assumes leadership of the Home Rule League from Butt 1886 the first Home Rule bill is defeated in parliament 1889 Parnell is named co-respondent in O’Shea divorce petition.2. attempt a failed insurrection 1858 the Irish Republican Brotherhood.e. expressed in legends. under the leadership of James Stephens. If the Anglophone view has invariably constructed the Irish identity as the negative term of the basic opposition established between barbarism and civilisation.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature CHAPTER 5 – THE PASTORAL IN IRISH LITERATURE 5. Irish independence is translated in terms of the country’s distinctive cultural inheritance (i. viewed either as a mythic Golden Age. POLITICAL NATIONALISM • • 1848 the Young Irelanders.1. Celtic). CULTURAL NATIONALISM: main premises   The essential. Language bears the gifts of the past into the present and supplies a living link with a racial spirituality. spiritual life of a people subsists in its culture. 1893 the second Home Rule bill is defeated in parliament. literature and songs.  63 . is formed out of the Fenian Movement. and rural Ireland.3.

Matthew Arnold and the Celtic Revival. containing "Balder Dead. the Englishman’s work sets out to provide a list of attributes pertaining to the Celtic race. 23 Quoted from J. Kelleher. Essays in Criticism. On Translating Homer (1861 and 1862). Indeed. bravery in defeat.V. 197. Cairns and S. 22 Quoted from D. 210. God and the Bible (1875)." Merope (1858). having ineffectualness and selfwill for its defect 23 . is just hat the Celt has least turn for . 46-47.2. "Dover Beach. containing "Thyrsis. consequently. paying thus the Celtic world the first valuable compliment it had received from an English source in several hundred years 21 . in Perspectives in Criticism. had advanced the notion of the Celt as the producer of civility and culture within the mutually interdependent Indo-European family of races. emerging in the second half of the 19th century. He also wrote some works on the state of education in mainland Europe.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 5." "The Weary Titan. 2nd Series (1855). 1971. pp. op. as in material civilisation he has been ineffectual. so has the Celt been ineffectual in politics 24 . indifference to fact.." "Rugby Chapel. .4. CELTICISM: Cultural discourse on the Irish identity. Matthew Arnold developed this view in the context of British cultural imperialism. influenced by Matthew Arnold’s lectures collected and published as On the Study of Celtic Literature (1876) 5. it lacks the capacity for political self-government: the skillful and resolute application of means to ends which is needed both to make progress in material civilisation and also to form powerful states. Richards. power." and "The Scholar Gypsy. Literature and Dogma (1873). New Poems (1867)." in prose.4. Last Essays on Church and Religion (1877)." "A Southern Night. Poems (1853). edited by Harry Levin. 24 Ibid. On the Study of Celtic Literature (1867). p. because. . Irish Essays (1882)." and his masterpiece. sensitivity to verbal and musical magic. Kelleher. and Discourses in America (1885). 2nd Series (1888).4.1. but his intention is far from being that of outlining these virtues as the basis of a separate Celtic culture and. Matthew Arnold (1822 – 1888): poet and cultural critic. Careful to put a politically independent future for the Celts beyond the bounds of possibility. drawing on contemporary philological discourses. Arnold argues that it is not in the outward and visible world of material life that the Celtic genius of Wales and Ireland can at this day hope to count for much 22 . Culture and Anarchy (1869). 21 64 .   5. Essays in Celtic Literature (1868). emphasising the qualities of melancholy. which.. On the Study of Celtic Literature (1876) is influenced by the thesis propounded by Ernest Renan in his Poésie des Races Celtique. His principal writings are:  in poetry." Poems. op. Chicago. containing "Sohrab and Rustum. John V. other-worldliness. cit. Mixed Essays (1879). cit. p.

cit.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Arnold’s aim is ultimately that of getting his fellow Englishmen accept that an invigorated British culture may stem only of the blending of the positive aspects of Saxon common sense and steadfastness 25 with Celtic the needs of the “masculine” Saxons. . Richards.3 Celt / Saxon dichotomies: ENGLISH Saxon material reasoned realist objective scientific modern masculine IRISH Celt spiritual emotional idealist visionary mystic primitive feminine The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. p. 47. . p. London: Faber and Faber.. As Cairns and Richards note. and Spenser’s dichotomy between the English order and the Irish lawlessness was re-written as that between Saxon pragmatism and Celtic spirituality: 5. op. and the Celt is peculiarly disposed to feel the spell of the feminine idiosyncrasy 28 . we may use German faithfulness to Nature to give us science and to free us from insolence and self-will. the importance of Arnold’s study resides with the fact that the critic managed to produce a context for the cultural incorporation of the Celts which flattered them into accepting a subsidiary position for themselves vis-àvis the English 27 . 48. 1985. Oxford: Oxford U. have something feminine in them. 26 Quoted from D. Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature. we may use the Celtic quickness of perception to give us delicacy and to free us from hardness and Philistinism 26 . 29 Consequently.P.. the recognition of the values of their cultural products being a ‘healing measure’ in Anglo-Irish relations on the cultural plane. one major outcome of the English critic’s study was that of introducing the ‘Celtic’ idea as a differentiating fact between Ireland and England. 25 65 . its nervous exaltation. 49. 28 Ibid.. 27 Ibid. edited by Robert Welch. p.4. p. According to Seamus Deane. 1996. 29 Seamus Deane. managing to give this word a political resonance it has not yet entirely lost. the centrality of the Celts within the British culture was guaranteed through this resort to the categories of sexuality . due to the fact that the sensibility of the Celtic nature. which would provide the only antidote to what he calls the Philistinism of modern economic society: . 21. it was accepted that the Celtic spirit was utterly different from the Saxon one. Cairns and S. More than this.

. These social changes found a counterpart in the distinct culture which this class evolved in response to these novel social and economic factors. antagonistic to the Anglo-Saxon. . general endorsement of celibacy outside marriage and postponement of marriage in farmers’ families until the chosen heir was allowed by the father to take possession of the farm [ .. seen as masculine. Cairns and Richards note: . and. cit. were spared in the main by the failure of the potato crops. a social tragedy that had its greatest impact on the Catholic poor. while by 1851 statistics showed that Ireland had lost one quarter of its population. Cairns and S.1. pressure on them to observe strict chastity and not. Consequently the Gaeltacht people of the rural west were turned into the ideal of Irishness. Cambridge U..5. during the latter half of the 19th century. By 1847 large numbers of small farmers were obliged to emigrate to the United States. Cambridge. While the northern rural areas. warrior-like. . this Gaelic idea of Irishness soon came to fuse with the other important discourse shaping rural Ireland. becoming endowed with every virtue known to Gaelic civilisation. the Famine enhanced once more the differences between the Irish Catholic south and the mainly Scots Presbyterian north. Richards. According to Hugh Kearney (The British Isles: A History of Four Nations. warrior-like.P. 1989). social and cultural accommodations with the new circumstances brought by the simplification of rural social relations. who became the most numerous class in the land. namely familism 30 . antagonistic to the Anglo-Saxon. ]the spread of matchmaking as a preliminary to marriage. pressure on ‘surplus’ sons and daughters to emigrate. o Institutions like the Gaelic Athletic Association (founded in 1884 as a powerful rural network emphasising physical training). due to their contrasting experiences. caused by the decline in number and importance of the landless labourers. FAMILISM: The Great Potato Famine which had struck Ireland in 1846. were the main element of popular diet was oats. the Irish countryside underwent a complex series of economic. 5.5. and the rise in prominence of the tenant farmers. marked by a series of practices and procedures. 30 31 66 . and. o On the other hand. the southern ones of small farming and labouring classes. including the imposition and perpetuation of strict codes of behaviour between men and women. heavily dependant on the potato.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 5. op. extend and transmit family holdings from generation to generation. were decimated by starvation and disease. had led to a sudden drop in population among the rural Catholic class 31 . which the tenant-farmers used in order to consolidate. or the Gaelic League (established nine years later and mainly dedicated to the revival of the Gaelic language) promoted a definition of Irishness based on the Gael. Chapters 3 and 4. either by emigration or by death. . collectively termed familism. a number of procedures to control access to marriage. “GAEL”-ICISM: o Cultural discourse emerging in opposition to Celtism o Promoted by the members of the Gaelic League o Irish identity based on the “Gael”: masculine. Among these practices. consequently. as a consequence. See D.

35 Declan Kiberd. cit. GAEL / SAXON DICHOTOMIES: IRISH Gael Irish language Brehon law Gaelic football Catholic moral manly rural ENGLISH Saxon English language* English law* soccer* Protestant corrupt effeminate urban D. 32 The codes of belief and behaviour upon which familism rested. . Inventing Ireland. such as the assumed spirituality and anti-materialism of the Irish.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature through following their own desires. but any valued cultural possessions of the English were shown to have their Gaelic equivalents 35 . and unquestioned patriarchal authority 33 . 1996. Foster. shows how this definition of Irishness mainly aimed at projecting the country as not-England. 42-43. hence the merging of the two provided the additional marks of identity to the Gaelic Irishness. In this view. 151.2. 1989. . * These categories are presented in Kiberd’s study as instances of “national parallelism” 32 33 67 . . the rural definition of Irishness deployed linguistic. Thus. Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation. Richards.5. Modern Ireland: 1600-1972. but also as a code for anti-Englishness 34 . religious and moral categories not only as criteria of national identity. p. anything English could not be but a corrupting influence on the Gaelic mentality. where anything English was ipso facto not for the Irish [.. ]. 34 R. particularly the regulation of sexuality. F. . 5.. to risk the transmission of the farm under unfavourable circumstances through a mésalliance . London: Penguin Books. Declan Kiberd in his study of modern Irish literature and culture. 449. p. while retaining what were perceived as positive characteristics of Celticism. p. were also discursively controlled by Catholicism. 60. London: Vintage. Ibid. pp. op. Cairns and S.

5.6. which served as the stage for many new Irish writers and playwrights of the time. dramatist. Yeats (1865-1939) Poet. as distinct from English culture. B. Main representatives: 5.6. The movement also encouraged the creation of works written in the spirit of Irish culture. After the establishment of the Irish Free State. They have the spade over which man has leant from the beginning. in part. as distinct from English culture. becoming thus the primary driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival – a movement which stimulated new appreciation of traditional Irish literature. who have steeped everything in the heart: to whom everything is a symbol. mystic and public figure. W. encouraging the creation of works written in the spirit of Irish culture. pain and death has cropped up unchanged for centuries. Introduction to “Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry”(1888) These folk-tales are full of simplicity and musical occurences. which is prose and a ‘parvenue’. for they are the literature of a class for whom every incident in the old rut of birth. love.Yeats was also co-founder of the Abbey Theatre. 68 . THE IRISH LITERARY REVIVAL o The Irish Literary Revival stimulated new appreciation of traditional Irish literature. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923 for what the Nobel Committee described as "his always inspired poetry. another great symbol of the literary revival.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 5.1. Yeats was appointed to the first Irish Senate Seanad Éireann in 1922 and re-appointed in 1925.6. Yeats was born to an Anglo-Irish Protestant family. which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation". which served as the stage for many new Irish writers and playwrights of the time.1. o It was influenced by both celticism and gaelicism. The people of the cities have the machine. but turned into a committed Irish nationalist.1. This was. due to the political need for an individual Irish identity. An important symbol of the literary revival became the Abbey Theatre.

Douglas Hyde (1860-1949) (Irish: Dubhghlas de hÍde) Hyde was an Anglo-Irish scholar of the Irish language and founder of the Gaelic League. We hope to find in Ireland an uncorrupted and imaginative audience. 5. Her home at Coole Park. He also served as the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945.3.6.6. He also wrote one-act plays in the Irish language which were staged by the Irish Literary Theatre and then by the Abbey. The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland. County Galway served as an important meeting place for the leading Revival figures and her early work as a member of the board of the Abbey was at least as important for the theatre's development as her creative writings were. which whatever be their degree of excellence. will be written with a high ambition. and wrote numerous short works for both companies.1. We sill show that Ireland is not the home of buffoonery and easy sentiment. 5. and without which no new movement in art or literature can succeed. she co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre.1. and that freedom of expression which is not found in the theatre in England. and so to build up a Celtic and Irish school of dramatic literature. literature and even in dress. 69 . However. as it has been represented.2. She also produced a number of books of retellings of stories from Irish mythology. Lady Gregory is mainly remembered for her driving force of the Irish Literary Revival. Isabella Augusta. and believe that our desire to bring upon the stage the deeper thoughts and emotions of Ireland will ensure for us a tolerant welcome. Lady Gregory (1852-1932): With William Butler Yeats and others. trained to listen by its passion for oratory. argued that Ireland should follow her own traditions in language.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature from Manifesto for the establishing of the Irish Literary Theatre (1897) We propose to have performed in the spring of every year certain Celtic and Irish plays. but the home of an ancient idealism. His famous pamphlet.

nevertheless protesting as a matter of sentiment that they hate the country which at every hand’s turn they rush to imitate. with Rory O’Moore. everything that is English. that connected it with the Christianisers of Europe.(…. music. then the school of Europe and the torch of learning. cut off from the past. and even to some extent with the men of ’98. the sword of the Norman. we mean it.) I shall endeavour to show that this failure of the Irish people in recent times has been largely brought about by the race diverging during this century from the right path. the wile of the Saxon were unable to perform. and hastening to adopt. It has lost all that they had . that the Ireland of today is the descendant of the Ireland of the seventh century. and is. that connected it with Brian Boru and the heroes of Clontarf. but rather to show the folly of neglecting what is Irish. I should also like to call attention to the illogical position of men who drop their language to speak English. still going on. it finds itself deprived and striped of its Celtic characteristics. I shall attempt to show that with the bulk of the people this change took place quite recently..language.) What we must endeavour to never forget is this. in fact. of men who read English books.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature from THE NECESSITY FOR DE-ANGLICISING IRELAND (1892) When we speak of ‘The necessity for De-Anglicising the Irish Nation’. simply because it is English. and just at the moment when the Celtic race is presumably about to largely recover possession of its own country. yet scarcely in touch with the present.) What the battleaxe of the Dane. pell-mell. and indiscriminately. (. . . much more recently than most people imagine. genius and ideas. . traditions. not as a protest against imitating what is best in the English people. It has lost since the beginning of this century almost all that connected it with the era of Cuchullain and of Ossian. of men who translate their euphonious Irish names in English monosyllables. we have accomplished ourselves. for that would be absurd. We have at last broken the continuity of Irish life. 70 . . and know nothing about Gaelic literature. and ceasing to be Irish without becoming English. with the Wild Geese.(. with the O’Neills and O’Donnells.

When Bartley’s body is returned. Maurya. poet. however. Synge's writings are mainly concerned with the world of the Irish-speaking peasants of rural Ireland (Gaeltacht) and with what he saw as the essential paganism of their world view. Once she is gone. prose writer. from the tinkers to the clergy. who has lost her husband and five of her six fishermen sons to the sea. and where a country loses its humour. a form of cancer that was untreatable at the time and died just weeks short of his 38th birthday. and they live in ‘the last cottage at the head of a long glen in County Wicklow’. as Baudelaire’s mind was morbid. and collector of folklore. Michael Dara. Riders to the Sea (1904): a one-act play which tells of an old woman. from the Preface to “The Tinker’s Wedding”: Of the things which nourish the imagination humour is one of the most needful. 71 . Michael is hatching plans for Dan’s legacy and Nora’s thoughts are taking on an unexpected dark complexion. while Dan and Michael compliment each other over whiskey. but then she leaves the Tramp alone in order to call to a young neighbouring sheep farmer.7. the old woman transcends her agony by accepting her loss. J.M.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 5. I do not think that these country people.1. 5. and it is dangerous to limit or destroy it. have still a life. 5. Baudelaire calls laughter the greatest sign of the Satanic element in man. as the people in every country have been laughed at in their own comedies. and who earnestly begs the last – Bartley – not to undertake a treacherous crossing to sell a pig on the mainland. Synge (1871 – 1909) Dramatist. He shares his suspicions and his schemes with the Tramp and assumes his sham death-pose before Nora and Michael enter. as some towns in Ireland are doing.1. dripping in a sailcloth.2. soothing her with fine words to win her over to a life on the road. a sheep farmer many years her elder. Dan shams his death because he suspects Nora to be ‘a bad wife’. there will be morbidity of mind.7. They leave together. when the old man rises up and banishes his wife from the house.1. The Tramp takes up her cause. Synge was a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival and was one of the cofounders of the Abbey Theatre.7. In the Shadow of the Glen (1902): Nora Burke is married to Dan.1. Although he came from a middle-class Protestant background. 7. the whole people. He suffered from Hodgkin's disease. Dan Burke sits up. who have so much humour themselves. and a view of life that are rich and genial and humorous. A passing Tramp begs shelter from the wet night and the woman lets him in. Plays: 5. In the greater part of Ireland. will mind being laughed at without malice.

(CATHLEEN stops her wheel with a sudden movement. oil-skins.NORA (a younger daughter). then wipes her hands. the way she won’t know of them at all. with nets. and come in before we’d done. Herself does say prayers half through the night. MAURYA comes from the inner room. Nora. if she’s able.) Shall I open it now? CATHLEEN: Maybe she’d wake up on us. for she’ll be getting her death.) It’s a long time we’ll be. ‘with no son living. BARTLEY (her son).) CATHLEEN (spinning the wheel rapidly): What is it you have? NORA: The young priest is after bringing them. and puts it down in the pot-oven by the fire.) CATHLEEN (looking out anxiously): Did you ask him would he stop Bartley going this day with the horses to the Galway fair? NORA: ‘I won’t stop him. CATHLEEN goes up a few steps and hides the bundle in the turf-loft. a young girl. ‘If it’s Michael’s they are’ says he. (Cottage kitchen. CATHLEEN: How would they be Michael’s.’ CATHLEEN: Is the sea bad by the white rocks.) 72 . ‘you can tell herself he’s got a clean burial by the grace of God.’ says he. God help us. ‘but let you not be afraid. finishes kneading cake. CATHLEEN: Give me the ladder. There’s a great roaring in the west. and leans out to listen. a girl of about twenty. (She goes ever to the table with the bundle. Cathleen. CATHLEEN (her daughter). She’ll be coming in a minute.’ says he. and if they’re not his. and begins to spin at the wheel. An island off the West of Ireland.MEN and WOMEN. ‘with crying and lamenting. (NORA comes in softly. NORA (goes to the inner door and listens): She’s moving about on the bed.(They put the ladder against the gable of the chimney. Nora? NORA: Middling bad. and the two of us crying.) NORA (in a low voice): Where is she? CATHLEEN: She’s lying down. and it’s worse it’ll be getting when the tide’s turned to the wind.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature RIDERS TO THE SEA CHARACTERS: MAURYA (an old woman). let no one say a word about them.’(The door which NORA half closed is blown open by a gust of wind. some time herself will be looking by the sea. (Coming to the table. It’s a shirt and a plain stocking were got off a drowned man in Donegal. spinning wheel. and takes a bundle from under her shawl. SCENE. etc.) NORA: We’re to find out if it’s Michael’s they are. and I’ll put them up in the turf-loft. some new boards standing by the wall. puts her head in at the door. and may be sleeping. How would he go the length of that way to the far north? NORA: The young priest says he’s known the like of it. Nora. and the Almighty God won’t leave her destitute. God help her.’ says he. and maybe when the tide turns she’ll be going down to see would he be floating from the east.

(NORA picks up the turf and puts it round the pot-oven.. were lost in the great wind. . and Shawn. for his body is after being found in the far north. and in by that door. I was sitting here with Bartley.with fine clothes on him. and I could say nothing. for I won’t live after them. and he’s got a clean burial by the grace of God. but they’re gone now the lot of them. Bartley came first on the red mare. NORA: Didn’t the young priest say the Almighty God wouldn’t leave her destitute with no son living? MAURYA (in a low voice. the girls start as if they heard something through the door that is half open behind them. and carried up the two of them on the one plank. though it was a hard birth I had with every one of them and they coming to the world . . as if to hide something from her eyes.) The Son of God spare us. He went by quickly.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature MARYA (looking up at CATHLEEN and speaking querulously): Isn’t it turf enough you have for this day and evening? CATHLEEN: There’s a cake baking at the fire for a short space (throwing down the turf) and Bartley will want it when the tide turns if he goes to Connemara. . . and ‘the blessing of God on you. Cathleen? Did you hear a noise in the north-east? CATHLEEN (in a whisper): There’s some one after crying out by the seashore. (She puts up her hands. but clearly): It’s little the like of him knows of the sea . There was Patch after was drowned out of a curagh that turned over. It wasn’t Michael you seen.’ but something choked the words in my throat. and I tried to say ‘God speed you. and his own father again. lying on my two knees. .) NORA (in a whisper): Did you hear that. and new shoes on his feet.(She pauses for a moment. MAURYA (continues without hearing anything): There was Sheamus and his father. and I stood there saying a prayer to myself. and let you call in Eamon and make me a good coffin out of the white boards. and not a stick or sign was seen of them when the sun went up.. I looked up the. . at the grey pony. It’s destroyed. Nora! CATHLEEN: What is it you seen.) (. MAURYA: I seen Michael himself.’ says he. Bartley will be lost now.six fine men. and he riding and galloping.and some of them were found and some of them were not found.. surely. and I crying. and 73 . Then Bartley came along. were lost in a dark night. I’ve had a husband. and he a baby.) MAURYA: I went down to the spring well.. CATHLEEN (begins to keen): It’s destroyed we are from this day. and there was Michael upon it . CATHLEEN (speaking softly): You did not. and he riding on the red mare with the grey pony behind him. There were Stephen. mother. MAURYA (a little defiantly): I’m after seeing him this day.. and found after in the Bay of Gregory of the Golden Mouth. and six sons in this house . and a husband’s father.

two blind beggars have been led to believe that they are beautiful by the lies of the townsfolk. it’s hard set his own mother would be to say what man was it. . and there were men coming after them. . laid on a plank. NORA looks out. God rest his soul. MAURYA stands up slowly and takes them in her hands. 74 .1. and four women coming in. crossing themselves on the threshold. and must hire themselves out for manual labour to survive. for when a man is nine days in the sea. and not saying a word. (She pauses again with her hand stretched out towards the door. when in fact they are old and ugly. CATHLEEN: It is Michael.4.and leaving a track to the door.7. and they holding a thing in the half of a red sail.7. Blindness descends on them once was a dry day. (Two younger WOMEN come in and pull out the table. and he was washed out . CATHLEEN (in a whisper to the women who have come in): Is it Bartley it is? ONE OF THE WOMEN: It is surely. Molly. The Well of the Saints ( 1905): Martin and Mary Doul. but she viciously rejects him. for they’re after sending us a bit of his clothes from the far north. A saint restores their sight with water drawn from a well in a ‘place across a bit of the sea. having ‘seen’ the ill-will of those around them. with a bit of sail over it.1. (She reaches out and hands MAURYA the clothes that belonged to Michael. and lay it on the table.) MAURYA (half in a dream. where there is an island’. Then men carry in the body of Bartley. and when he is found there how could he be here in this place? MAURYA: There does be a power of young men floating round in the sea. and water dripping out of it . and they crossing themselves.) CATHLEEN (to the women.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature I seen two women. God spare him. and what way would they know if it was Michael they had. and three women. decided to embrace a life on the roads. and Timmy sends him away.) NORA: They’re carrying a thing among them and there’s water dripping out of it and leaving a track by the big stones. Nora . Martin goes to work for Timmy the smith and tries to seduce his betrothed. They are now able-bodied.3. I looked out then. or Michael. and kneeling down in front of the stage with red petticoats over their heads. . 5. The couple refuse the cure this time. or what is it at all? CATHLEEN: Michael is after being found in the far north. the saint goes to restore their sight a second time. and the wind blowing. or another man like him. to CATHLEEN): Is it Patch. . It opens softly and old women begin to come in. as they are doing so): What way was he drowned? ONE OF THE WOMEN: The grey pony knocked him into the sea. The Tinker’s Wedding (1906) 5.

I just riz the loy and let fall the edge of it on the ridge of his skull. Mayo village and wins the hearts of the local women by boasting that he has killed his father. the servile son. and never a day’s work but drawing a cork an odd time. still a great deal more that is behind it is perfectly serious when looked at in a certain light. and Pegeen Mike is left to lament her loss of ‘the only playboy of the western world’. a pathetic. for doing the like of that. or rinsing out a shiny tumbler for a decent man. His prowess at the local sports confirms him in the role of a hero and as fitting mate for Pegeen Mike. . . disdainful of the gullible Mayo peasants. then. a widower who owns the country pub where Christy stays. several sides to ‘The Playboy’. has been transformed into a figure of power and dignity by this rite of passage. Escaping from their clutches. . Pegeen [with blank amazement]: Is it killed your father? Christie [subsiding] With the help of God I did. and never let a grunt or groan from him at all. Tuesday was a week. despite his offer to ‘slay his da’ a second time. but although parts of it are. Glory be to God! Michael [with great respect] That was a hanging crime. the way I couldn’t put up with him at all. and I stalking around. Christy. FROM THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD (1907) . not a play with a ‘purpose’ in the modern sense of the world.5. 1) Christie [twisting round on her with a sharp cry of horror]: Don’t strike me. . . . Shawn Keogh. . . and he getting old and crusty. Christy woos Pegeen Mike away from her cousin. in place of my old dogs and cats. and the two leave the stage. Irish Literature The Playboy of the Western World (1907): it tells how Christy Mahon arrives in a Co. 2) Christie: . [He takes the 75 . the community turn upon their hero. You should have had good reasons for doing the like of that.] Christie: I did not.Well. or wiping a glass. Christie [in a very reasonable tone]: He was a dirty man. it may be hinted. Jimmy: Oh. There are. he tames his father.Ioana Mohor-Ivan 5. and that the Holy Immaculate Mother may intercede for his soul. Pegeen: And you shot him dead? [. The play was condemned by nationalists as a travesty of western Irish life which evoked a peasantry of alcoholics and ineffectual fantasists rather than a people ready to assume the responsibilities of self-government. When the supposedly murdered father enters the scene. mister honey. and he went down at my feet like an empty sack. priest-fearing peasant. by his fine talk and athletic feats.1. I killed my poor father.7. this’d be a fine place to be my whole life talking out with swearing Christians. daughter of Michael James (Flaherty). God forgive him. smoking my pipe and drinking my fill. or are meant to be extravagant comedy. surely. Philly [retreating with Jimmy]: There’s a daring fellow.

.] 3) Christie [impressively]: With that sun came out between the cloud and the hill. and I gave a lep to the east. but what’s a squabble in your back yard. the way I’ll go romancing through a romping lifetime from this hour to the dawning of the Judgement Day. for you’ve turned me a likely gaffer in the end of all. and I after doing it this time in the face of all? Pegeen: I’ll say. And won’t there be crying out in Mayo the day I’ll stretch upon the rope. Deirdre (1910) 76 . with his mighty talk. if I’ve had to face the gallows. laid him stretched out. then sits down in front of it and begins washing his face]. [He raises the chicken bone to his Adam’s apple.’ says he. and the blow of a loy. I was handsome. ‘God have mercy on your soul. .[.]If I can wring a neck among you. surely! 4) Christie [to Pegeen]: And what is it you’ll say to me. Susan: That’s a grand story. Christie [flattered and confident. for. raising the loy. and I hit a blow on the ridge of his skull. the way I’ll have a soft lovely skin on me and won’t be the like of the clumsy young fellows do be ploughing all times in the earth and dung. would twist a squint across an angel’s brow. God bless you! You’re the lad. a strange man is a marvel. [.1. lifting a scythe. I tell you.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature looking-glass from the wall and puts it on the back of a chair.7. Didn’t I know rightly. I’ll have a royal judgement looking on the trembling jury in the courts of law.] Girls [together]: Well.6. and he split to the knob of his gullet. That’s your kind. Honor: He tells it lovely. I’ll have a gay march down. [His voice rising and growing stronger]. is it? Then let the lot of you be wary. and it shining green on my face. . and I’ll be growing fine from this day. [. and they rhyming songs and ballads on the terror of my fate? 5) Christie: Ten thousand blessings upon all that’s here. .] Christie: You’re blowing for to torture me. though it was the divil’s own mirror we had beyond. waving bone]: He gave a drive with the scythe. . ‘Or on your own. with ladies in their silks and satins snivelling in their lacy kerchiefs. . have taught me that there’s a gap between a gallous story and a dirty deed. 5. Then I turned around with back to the north. you’re a marvel! Oh. and shed the blood of some of you before I die.’ says I.

Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 5. The Land embodied a theme of intimate and recognisable social significance in its real setting. o A play focusing on peasant characters. It was this latter version of the peasant play which became the popular genre of the Irish theatre after the Independence. shame and poverty. set at the end of the Land Wars. while the relatively dull and unenterprising Sally Cosgar and Cornelius Duras remained behind to marry and succeed their parents. dealt with the generational conflicts between Murtagh Cosgar and his son. untouched by modern forms of life. conflicts between fathers and sons. and though love was presented as a disruptive force. the traditional subjects and style of the peasant play remained in the limelight of the Abbey stage helped by successive playwrights like George Shiels. a metaphor for progress which is set into violent contrast to the traditional notions of law and order based on colonialist conditions marked by the Irish tolerance for lawlessness and contempt for the informer. Colum’s Broken Soil (1903). While the pastoral idyll became the focus of satire in plays such as Denis Johnston’s The Moon in the Yellow River (1931). Mat left behind the land for which his father had fought so hard to keep intact. driving Mairie into a loveless marriage in order to save her family. an instinctive artist and wanderer brings his daughters endless worry. emigration. or John B Keane. Shiel’s The Rugged Path (1940) introduced the audience into a peasant cottage setting provided with electric light and a radio. Bryan MacMahon. The Land (1905). Theatre as a means for the selfexpression of a rural society had followed the social changes underwent by the class representing it.8. C. Murray changed the peasant play’s focus on the seamy side of the farmers’ lives: agrarian disputes. Where Synge exploited the image of the Irish tramp as a symbol of imagination and freedom. THE PEASANT PLAY: o A dramatic subgenre established during the 20th century on the Abbey stage. the peasants had been discovered as a kind of primordial rural society.) Rural Ireland started to display gloomier contours once Padraic Colum. depicting their lives. Con Hourican. o Characteristic features: peasant cottage setting. Like the previous play. in the beginning of the dramatic movement. Tom Coffey. John Murphy. the fight for landownership. Lennox Robinson and T. Moreover. Mat. habits and ownership of lands. Pressed by the ambitious school-teacher Ellen Douras to seek his fortune by emigrating to America such as all of his elder brothers had attempted. habits and customs in a manner true to life. The members of the Tansey family become the microcosm within which the play explores the two contrasting 77 . over the value of the old rural way of life. If. the unhappiness of matches made to conform to the dictates of familism. it raised the question of the worth of the fields won after the Land War in the changing conditions of the countryside where the fittest chose emigration. as landowners and citizens of an independent nation they could no longer play this role. it was not improper. revised as The Fiddler’s House (1907) showed his audiences the real cost involved in having one in the family. peasant life themes (rural marriage.

The Field (1965) treats a similar theme like that of Shiel’s The Rugged Path. While the older generation are afraid to accuse them partly because of their fear of retribution and partly because of the old prejudice against informing. “Economic Development 1958-1985” in Kieran A. But. having left fifteen years ago for America. but for the values of rural existence and even the flaw in his character. 78 . The play’s nostalgic stance towards rurality as an embodiment of what T. in The Field the villagers do not inform. The play. helping thus Curly learn the lesson and remain by the farm. John Murphy’s The Country Boy (1959) picked up the thread of the story from where The Land had left it by focussing on the figure of the returned emigrant. Cork and Dublin: Mercier. 1986. is finally revealed as a virtue: it is the test of Curly’s resolution. the homecomer who.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature attitudes related to rural violence. Where Colum’s play looked at the causes leading to the rural exodus. and the picture of the rural world is harsh and joyless. Whitaker calls a sort of Paradise Lost 36 ensures the happy ending whereby exposure to his forsaken roots in the country prompt Eddie undergo a recognition crises with a purging effect that enables him to reconcile with his situation and admit its truth in front of his family. with the action being set in motion by a dispute over land and money. 10. justice is not done. Kennedy (ed. Ireland in Transition. one of the characters protests against the political establishment for their neglect of this human tragedy. Murphy’s The Country Boy treats emigration as an individual and not a social problem. making a strong case for the joys of sex and the evil of its suppression. the younger ones decide to give evidence against the Dolis. Keane’s Many Young Men of Twenty (1961) is an angry response to the same phenomenon which reached some of its highest rates at the end of the fifties. for he must prove mature and self-willed enough not to be afraid of his father’s anger before he can take over the farm. In other plays like The Year of the Hiker (1963) and Big Maggie (1969) Keane addressed the theme of the sexual repression with deep roots in the cultural and religious definitions of rurality.K. Nevertheless. 36 T. set in a country pub where the emigrants gather for a last drink before their departure. the voice of an unyielding past is obstinate in his intention not to turn over the control of the farm to his son. the old Maher does not stand for the abuse of patriarchy. unlike in Shield where the farmers eventually testify against the murderer. the simple rural virtues of the native place are set in contrast to the flimsiness of Eddie’s and Julia’s make-believe: the first trying to hide his story of failure under an air of snobbery and a trunk filled with the American homecomer’s symbols of prosperity. Moreover. Whitaker. embarking thus on the “rugged path” of change and confrontation. his contrariness. exemplified by the wild Dolises from the mountains who terrorise the local farmers and kill an old man for two pounds. the latter disguising her lower-class origin and proletarian status under the mask of the tourist. followed by “The Bull” McCabe’s murder of his rival and his terrorising of his neighbours against informing. always comparing Ireland to America in a condescending manner. returns home for a vacation with his American wife Julia to find his younger brother Curly planning to emigrate for much the same reasons like his own: their father. having left his parents’ farm and established himself in a non-farming society could be contrasted to the peasants.).K. Eddie Maher. p.

and a bitter alcoholic father) collapses. It tells the story of Francis 'Francie' Brady. a schoolboy who retreats into a violent fantasy world as his troubled home life (with a suicidal mother. 5.9. He has also written a children's book (The Adventures of Shay Mouse) and several radio plays broadcast by the RTÉ and the BBC Radio 4.1.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 5. His novels include The Butcher Boy (1992) and Breakfast onPluto (1998). frequently abused both verbally and physically by the husband. both shortlisted for the Booker Prize.  79 . Becoming obsessed with the sanctimonious Mrs. The Butcher Boy (1992)  Written in a hybrid of first-person narrative and stream of consciousness.1. and adapted into films by the Irish director Neil Jordan.) Patrick McCabe is a writer of mostly dark and violent novels of contemporary. often small-town. with the butcher’s bolt gun he has taken from the abattoir where he works.9.1. Patrick McCabe (1950 . the novel is set in a small town in Ireland in the late 1950s. THE BLACK PASTORAL ‘Black pastoral’: works which self-consciously invert the earlier idealizations of life in the west of Ireland by presenting it as brutal and unidyllic (Nicholas Grene) 5. with little punctuation and no separation of dialogue and thought. Nudgent who once claimed that the Brady family were ‘a bunch of pigs’. Ireland.9. Francie eventually kills her.

they institute legal. 1919-1921 “Anglo-Irish War”: armed conflict between British forces and Irish Nationalists 1921 The Anglo-Irish treaty establishes two self-governing areas. begins guerilla warfare campaign against British soldiers. most Irish police resign. Fermanagh. the Irish Republican Army forms. led by James Connolly. when World War I begins. In response. replaced by British recruits referred to as “the Black and Tans. and Tyrone) and Southern Ireland (called the Irish Free State) 1922-23 Civil War in Irish Free State between supporters of the treaty (“Nationals” or “Free State” troops). De Valera takes over presidency of Sinn Fein from Griffith. and the Irish Free State begins its rule. Political context: • • 1905 Sinn Fein ("ourselves alone"). led by Griffith and Michael Collins. bitter. Down. 1916 The Easter Rising: Catholic insurgents seize central areas of Dublin. and cruel on all sides. In Northern Ireland. the Ulster Volunteers (Protestant military force) and then the Irish Volunteers (Catholic military force--soon to become the Irish Republican Army) form. led by de Valera (“Irregulars”). Londonderry. but Connolly had managed to connect the plight of urban workers with that of the rural tenants in opposition to British rule. to increasing public and international outrage. political. fighting lasts for one week before insurgents are forced to surrender. establishes new provisional government. is formed by Arthur Griffith 1912-1913 The Home Rule bill is passed in the House of Commons. stage a series of effective strikes in the cities. and proclaim a provisional government. and opposition. Northern Ireland (the six counties of Antrim. 1918 Sinn Fein wins the parliamentary elections. covert. Armagh. the Protestant majority succeeds in suppressing the armed rebellions of the Catholic minority. • • • • • • • 80 .” The fighting is fierce.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature CHAPTER 6 – THE CITY IN IRISH LITERATURE 6. Armed struggle ends in 1923.1. the strikes are violently put down. A bitter hatred and pattern of violence is established in the North that remains to this day. 1913 The labor movement. and police restrictions assuring Protestant control of virtually every level of government. Civil War seems imminent. all but one of the leaders (Eamon de Valera) are executed. a radical nationalist group. and both Nationalists and Unionists agree to suspend the conflict.

Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature (The Declaration of Independence drafted by Patrick Pearse in 1916) 81 .

THE “ALIEN” CITY Belfast Unionist Industry Protestant Materialist Entrepreneurial Decadent English THE “HEROIC” CITY Dublin Nationalist Revolution Catholic Idealist Sacrificial Moral Irish 82 . an oppositional “un-Irishness” became crystallised in the materialist. may be seen as an attempt to fix the two categories of rural versus urban Ireland into a taxonomic relationship assigning priority to the countryside over the city.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 6. On the one hand. the only large industrial centre in the island and the home of a large ScotsIrish Presbyterian minority stern in displaying its Unionist sense of identity. stamped in public memory as an exemplar of heroic nationalism associated with the 1916 Easter Rising. metonymically represented through the same space of the city. the northern Belfast. the antithesis was internalised in the opposing stances towards the two different political territories. as it was concocted both at the political and cultural level at the end of the 19th century.2. modern. became fatally marked off as Ireland’s “Other”. was perceived as intrinsic to Irishness. republican Dublin. While rural Ireland was discursively used to represent the national essence. industrialist and party-biased values of England and the city alike. Perceptions of the urban space: The definition of “Irishness”. On the other hand. With independence and the division of the country at the birth of the state.

too.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 6. 83 . too. has been changed in his turn. Or lingered awhile and said Polite meaningless words. Transformed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. young and beautiful. So daring and sweet his thought. And thought before I had done Of a mocking take or a gibe To please a companion Around the fire at the club Being certain that they and I But lived where motley is worn: All changed. changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.1. She rode to harriers? This man had kept a school. Her nights in argument Until her voice grew shrill. So sensitive his nature seemed. I have passed with a nod of the head Or polite meaningless words. He might have won fame in the end. The “heroic city” 6. Yeats’s Easter 1916. vainglorious lout. He.3.3. has resigned his part In the casual comedy. He had done most bitter wrong To some who are near my heart. This other his helper and friend Was coming into his force.B. I HAVE met them at close of day Coming with vivid faces From counter or desk among grey Eighteenth-century houses. This other man I had dreamed A drunken. That woman’s days were spent In ignorant good-will. He. And rode our winged horse. W. Yet I number him in the song. What voice more sweet than hers When.

The rider. Too long a sacrifice Can make a stone of the heart. Are changed. What is it but nightfall? No. And a horse plashes within it. We know their dream. The horse that comes from the road. O when may it suffice? That is Heaven’s part. And what if excess of love Bewildered them till they died? I write it out in a verse MacDonagh and MacBride And Connolly and Pearse Now and in time to be. enough To know they dreamed and are dead. changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. Wherever green is worn. Was it needless death after all? For England may keep faith For all that is done and said. A shadow of cloud on the stream Changes minute by minute. And hens to moor-cocks call.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Hearts with one purpose alone Through summer and winter seem Enchanted to a stone To trouble the living stream. 84 . no. not night but death. the birds that range From cloud to tumbling cloud. Minute by minute they change. A horse-hoof slides on the brim. The long-legged moor-hens dive. our part To murmur name upon name. As a mother names her child When sleep at last has come On limbs that had run wild. Minute by minute they live: The stone’s in the midst of all.

unimportant people will be shown struggling to steer the course of their lives through the chaotic and violent background of the national struggle. trying to jump off. but also unnecessary because Minnie is killed by mistake. Minnie removes it. Post-Revolutionary Revisionism Playwrights like Sean O’Casey. though they too are responsible for their fate: due to their own pettiness. In their place. and. cowardice. planted by the real gunman. but mostly by allowing themselves to be governed by illusion. Hero-worshipping has proved a dangerous illusion: Minnie has died for a shadow. the 1919-21 War of Independence and the Civil War of 1922-23) with the aim of revising cherished loci of the republican tradition. 137) aimed at redrawing the nationalist map of the “heroic” Dublin.3. Denis Johnston and Brendan Behan engaged in “a postrevolutionary theatrical revisionism” (Grene: 2002. so Donal Davoren accepts the persona of a gunman in hiding in order to secure her admiration. but is herself arrested by the Black and Tans. On his stage such heroes will no longer hold the lime-light. With the one notable exception provided by O’Casey’s Dublin trilogy (staged at the Abbey).3. 231). or vanity. selfishness. especially its much revered myth of the hero-martyr. such plays were also to find alternative venues of production.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 6. provided by the small art-house theatres of Dublin. Once he becomes a “shadow” of a gunman the engine of the play is set in motion: Minnie falls in love with an imaginary hero and not a real person. but. 6. Trying to save her hero’s life when a suitcase full of bombs. o In The Shadow of A Gunman Minnie Powell is attracted to the idea of a ‘gunman’. the hero of the nationalist myth. Most of these characters will be eventually drawn into the maelstrom and crushed by the impersonal forces of international hatred (Edwards: 1979. by contrary. she is shot in the confusion. emphasising thus their imaginary status. 85 . Moreover.2. her death was not only pointless. which makes her sacrifice futile. and killed when trying to escape. The Dublin Trilogy o The Shadow of A Gunman (1923) o Juno and the Paycock (1924) o The Plough and the Stars (1926) O’Casey’s Dublin trilogy engages with the episodes of recent nationalist history (the 1916 Easter Rising. and lets herself be governed by an illusion which will eventually destroy her.1. the ordinary. Minnie has glorified the gun and the gun finally kills her. they will be either peripheral to the action or cast as mere shadows. when the lorry taking her away for questioning is ambushed by the IRA. are discovered in Davoren’s room.2. Sean O’Casey (1880-1964). Once shadows are believed in they are no longer insubstantial but acquire an ominous physicality which will prove fatal for the dreamer.

an’ the rattle of machine guns. Davoren: I remember the time when you yourself believed in nothing but the gun. who. their De Profundis is ‘The Soldier’s Son’. Seumas: Ay. is silhouetted outside the window of the public house where most of his tenement dwellers are gathered. their Hail Marys and Paternosters are burstin’ bombs burstin’ bombs. The country is gone mad. The voice preaches the sanctity of hate and the redemption of bloodshed. Johnny. . . Mary. the promise of new life in her unborn grandchild. Nevertheless. where were you when me darlin’ son was riddled with bullets? Sacred Heart o’ Jesus.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Seumas: I wish to God it was all over. an’ give us Thine own eternal love! o In The Plough and the Stars the shadow is the Speaker. will be forced to leave the home. In the same way in which the material expectations aroused by the will be contrasted to the family’s being irrevocably reduced into debt and poverty. as well as by her morally-outraged father. when there wasn’t a gun in the country. 83).an’ it’s all for ‘the glory o’ God an’ the honour o’ Ireland’. left pregnant and deserted by her lover. take away our hearts o’ stone. maker of heaven an’ earth . have pity on us all! Blessed Virgin. will be executed by his former comrades. with the imagined rise and real fall of the Boyles paralleling the disparity between revolutionary ideal and embittering actuality. in the second act. bringin’ you into the world to carry you to your craddle. despite Johnny’s death. while Juno’s departure at the end of the play may be seen to carry with it. in fact. But this legacy is also a metaphor for the newly won national sovereignty (Innes: 1990. I believe in the gun almighty. 101). their Mass is a burnin’ building’. Mother o’ God. Juno: . left to face the terrible reality that. “th’ whole whorl’s … in a terr … ible state of … chassis” (O’Casey: 1985. What was the pain I suffered. I’ve a different opinion now when there’s nothin’ but guns in the country o In Juno and the Paycock The Boyles also believe in a shadow: the legacy which they are to inherit is actually an illusion. an’ their Creed is. arising from the misinterpretation of a relative’s will. the son crippled by a bullet during the Easter Rising. Instead of counting their beads now they’re countin’ bullets. petrol is their holy water. nationalist idealism will be juxtaposed against the fate of the Boyles’ children: Johnny. to the pains I’ll suffer carryin’ you out o’ the world to bring you to you grave! Mother o’ God. the words being culled by O’Casey from a 86 . and give us hearts o’ flesh! Take away this murdherin’ hate. no such emblematic hope will be afforded to Jack Boyle.

When war comes to Ireland she must welcome it as she would welcome the Angel of God! CAPT.3.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature number of Pearse’s actual writings. its voluptuous vision of death turns into terrifying actuality. metonymically rendered through the urban experience of his contemporary Dublin. Heroism has come back to the earth. and the nation that regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood. mundane activities. . LANGDON [catching up the Tri-colour]. the play aims to juxtapose the complexities and complacencies of the Irish Free State. Denis Johnston (1901-1984) • • • • • • • • • The Old Lady Says 'No!' (1929) The Moon in the Yellow River (1931) A Bride for the Unicorn (1933) Storm Song (1934) Blind Man's Buff (1936) (with Ernst Toller) The Golden Cuckoo (1939) The Dreaming Dust (1940) A Fourth for Bridge (1948) The Scythe and the Sunset (1958) The same gap between illusion and reality lies at the centre of Denis Johnston’s The Old Lady Says ‘No!’. but once believed in. .2. which. following its rejection by the Abbey. concretise the dialectic between vibrant life and the ‘heroic death’ preached by the Speaker. . and of the by-standers like Bessie Burgess and Nora’s unborn child exhibit the distance between the emotive rhetoric of nationalism and what it leads to in terms of its human cost. the voice is insubstantial for the existence of the pub-denizens. As shadow.There are many things more horrible that bloodshed and slavery is one of them! . The real deaths which occur onstage. VOICE: Bloodshed is a cleansing and sanctifying thing. Using an expressionistic technique of collage. . engaged in comical. . but first produced in 1929 at the Gate Theatre. . BRENNAN [catching up The Plough and the Stars] Imprisonment for th’ independence of Ireland! LIEUT. Brennan and Langan. Wounds for th’ Independence of Ireland! CLITHEROE: Death for th’ Independence of Ireland! THE THREE [together]: So help us God! 6. The old heart of the earth needed to be warmed with the red wine of the battlefields. rousing words is juxtaposed the informal life of the pub. against the revolutionary imaginings of a Robert Emmet. a play written in 1926. The play begins thus as a sentimental re-creation of Ireland’s heroic past – with a playlet staging Robert Emmet’s unsuccessful rising of 1803 and his love for Sarah 87 . nevertheless. Against these awesome.2. both of the warriors like Clitheroe.

Flinging away his sword. a two-fold shadow facing a de-glorified society achieved with so much human blood. instead of delivering the famous historical speech from the dock. a Gaelicspeaking English aristocrat and also a convert to Irish nationalism. The new I. It saves everything but blood. 124).R. But. . 150). once a Republican sanctuary.He had every class of comfort until one day he discovered he was an Irishman. The song which celebrates Michael Collins sums up the political dilemma entailed in the split between the Laughing Boy’s ideal of a free Ireland and the reality of the partially fulfilled republican project. now a brothel.2. 6. questioning his identity and threatening him. gets hold of a revolver which goes off and a young man whom he has shot apparently dies interminably. a former IRA member who runs the place.”(Behan: 1962. 421). Let my epitaph be written” (Johnston: 1988. Johnston’s image of the mythical heromartyr is emblematically that of a somnambulist and an actor. As Pat. is written in the context of the renewed IRA border campaigns in the 1950s. 14-5) The absurdity of this situation sets the note for Behan’s mockery of the Irish political fanaticism. The other death Emmet has to confront in the play is the historical gratuitous slaughter of Lord Kilwarden for which the bitter figure of Grattan blames the hero’s followers. and struggling to give coherence to the bewildering scenes he encounters. before lying down in his previous state of concussion. Grattan accuses Emmet of prolonging the cult of bloodshed endemic in Irish history: “Oh. remained one for years . ‘Emmet’. Emmet comes to see that he is but a playactor. Emmet is forced to face the unintended violent consequences of his romantic ideals. The Hostage (1958) Richard's Cork Leg (1972) Brendan Behan’s The Hostage. revised and enabling alternatives. At one point the crowd becomes menacing. he adds: “There now. significantly.3. And blood is the cheapest thing the good god has made” (Johnston: 1988. The Hostage is set in an old house. it is an easy thing to draw a sword and raise a barricade.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature Curran. questioning the revolution for what its history did to make Irish politics a muddle. the legacy of which materialised in the obstinate movement to continue “the quixotic struggle for Ireland’s total liberation from English control” (Murray: 2000. But the actor in the play is knocked out and has a nightmare about being the real Emmet wandering round 1920s Dublin. and.A campaign is seen as part of Monsewer’s lunacy which makes him plan “battles fought long ago 88 . towards the end of the play. he “forgives the strumpet city Dublin. . excited.3.. says: “He was born an Englishman. Brendan Behan (Breandán Ó Beacháin) (1923 . metonymy for Ireland” (Murray: 2000. it saves waiting. which is owned by Monsewer.1964) • • • The Quare Fellow (1954) An Giall (1958). 375). free to rebel and repudiate the tradition of violence that history has assigned to him. As with the ‘murder’ of the young man. performed in 1958 as An Giall at the Pike Theatre. It saves working. This is a recognition that words can alter the shape of history and a plea to abandon traditional pieties in favour of new.

but his death comes accidentally. Leslie." They conduct a guerilla war against the Ulster police (Royal Ulster Constabulary). bombs erupt in Omagh. Catholics. 1970-71 The I. and the British army.4. Provisional I.R. culminating in death of Bobby Sands after a 66-day strike. 1979 Provisional I.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature against enemies long since dead” (Behan: 1962.1.R. 108) 6. killing 29 and injuring hundreds more . extremists of both sides (Unionist and Republican) intensify fighting in August. as Minnie was probably shot by the Auxiliaries. Three months after the Agreement is ratified.R. kill 5 and injure 80 in Christmas bombing in London. Nobody meant to kill him. and the Irish Republic. the Irish servant-girl. and Behan leaves the question open to any of the two alternatives: “It’s no one’s fault. 1969 Great Britain pushes for reform in Northern Ireland. being shot in the confusion of a police raid. kills 19 and wounds 130 in Belfast bombings on 21 July (Bloody Friday). nobody knows who has killed Leslie: probably the IRA. setting up provisions for cease-fire and joint government of Northern Ireland among Protestants. 1998 Easter Agreement signed on April 10. resumes activities with renewed vigor.A. the Ulster volunteer army (UVA). and assassinate Lord Mountbatten in the Republic. Political Context • • 1968 Riots in Londonderry in October between Catholics demanding increased civil rights and Protestants seeking to maintain their political superiority.A. and government transferred directly to London.A. Northern Ireland. and British troops are deployed to restore order.4. kill 18 British soldiers in Co. at the end of the play. Leslie’s fate seems sealed. 1985 The Anglo-Irish agreement is signed between Great Britain and Eire in effort to work out Northern Ireland conflict. • • • • • • • 89 . As in Minnie’s case. while he also engineers a scheme to get hold of a British hostage in order to forestall the execution of an IRA man in Belfast. 1981 Series of hunger strikes in Maze prison by Catholic prisoners to protest living conditions.A. firmly establishing itself in the Catholic districts of Londonderry and Belfast and titling itself the "Provisional I.”(Behan: 1962. the Northern Ireland constitution is suspended. 1983 Provisional I. since the IRA youth has been hanged.A. but in both cases the odds speak also for the other side. Nevertheless.R. 6). Down.the single greatest loss of life since "the troubles" began. gradually gets the affection of its occupiers and develops a romantic relationship with Teresa. The “Troubles” and the Northern City 6. 1972 British soldiers kill 13 Catholic civilians on 30 January (Bloody Sunday) in Londonderry. the English soldier who ends up in the brothel.R.

As such. developing into what D. an insoluble conflict emerged once the sense of difference translated now “on one side into a sense of superiority and on the other into a sense of grievance” (Murray: 2000. IRA martyr) 90 . Maxwell considers to represent a subgenre of modern Irish drama (Maxwell: 1990). (Belfast murals: Ulster Freedom Fighters and the Red Hand of Ulster vs. S. Johnston or Behan as one dramatic option through which the present turmoil may be artistically framed.2. both Protestant and Catholic playwrights often find a common ground in aligning themselves to the postrevolutionary theatrical revisionism of O’Casey. With the actuality of violence. This inevitably led to a revival of Irish nationalism in ways which harked back to the early decades of the century in its persistent belief in the unfinished nature of the Irish revolution. Bobby Sands.4. Staging the Troubles Since 1970 dozens of plays dealing with various aspects of the troubles in Ulster have been written.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 6. 187).

and Michael represent a cross-section of the Catholic population of Derry. . [ . three demonstrators take refuge in the Mayor’s Parlour in Derry’s Guildhall. . Lily. . Come down and pay me for the six weeks you owe me.1. The Freedom of the City (1973) Although set in 1979. And when I look back there’s Johnny the Tumbler standing there with his fists in the air and him shouting. When an unauthorised civil-rights march is dispersed by CS gas. Parallel to this. And I’m just after telling him ‘The streets is ours and nobody’s going to move us’ when I turn round and Jesus. 1972.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature 6. . ] I was at the back of the crowd. is shouting up from the road. And that’s what we must show them . . Dr 91 . . the play recalls Bloody Sunday in Derry. . And above us Dickie Devine’s groping under the bed for his trombone and he doesn’t know that Annie pawned it on Wednesday for the wanes’ bus fares and he’s going to beat the tar out of her when she tells him.] a decent know the window cleaner . and they’ll come to respect what we’re campaigning for. the milkman.2.that we’re responsible and respectable.4. In opposition to the abstract and inflexible figures which represent the official world. . Brian Friel. Mary and Joseph there’s this big Saracen right behind me. like O’Casey humble innocents. And down the passage aul Andy Boyle’s lying in bed because he has no coat. ‘I know you’re there. disciplined.’ And the chairman’s sitting at the fire. In the public world outside. who. [. [. I took to my heels. MICHAEL: It was a good. are caught in the crossfire of powerful partisan forces. a tribunal examines the events and exonerates the security forces. LILY: At this minute Mickey Teague. beside wee Johnny Duffy . a sociologist. lectures the audience directly on the subculture of poverty. as confused. while intermittent scenes provide brief comment on the influence of the media and the clergy. like a wee thin saint with his finger in his mouth and the comics up to his nose and hoping to God I’ll remember to bring him home five fags. responsible march.and I’m telling him what the speakers is saying ‘cos he hears hardly anything now since he fell off the ladder last time. ‘The streets is ours and nobody’s going to move us. Skinner. Of course.Johnny the Tumbler . And below us Celia Cunningham’s about half-full now and crying about the sweepstake ticket she bought and lost when she was fifteen. a decent town to bring up your children in. and the ensuing Widgery Report that exonerated the British soldiers of guilt. frightened but also high-spirited human beings. In another strand. Friel turns to the naturalist mode to delineate his central trio in fundamentally humanistic terms.] fair play. and when they try to leave the building with hands above their heads they are shot dead by British soldiers. rumour and romantic nationalism inflate the trio into armed terrorists and freedom fighters. a decent place to live. lily Doherty. .

.the majority . LILY: And in the silence before my body disintegrated in a purple convulsion. even a small unimportant happening been isolated. Isn’t that stupid? You and him [Michael] and everybody else marching and protesting about sensible things like politics and stuff and me in the middle of you all. . and became aware that there were hundreds. . Because you know your children are caught in the same morass. . . LILY: . not because I was dying. an event. SKINNER: .stirring in our sleep. and you heard each other. thousands.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature that no matter what our religion is. And then the Guildhall Square exploded and I knew a terrible mistake had been made. and that to match their seriousness would demand a total dedication. a solemnity as formal as’s for him I go all the civil rights marches. Isn’t that the stupidest thing you ever heard? MICHAEL: I knew they weren’t going to shoot. and assessed and articulated. . . I thought I glimpsed a tiny truth: that life had eluded me because never once in my forty-three years had an experience. It’s about us . Shooting belonged to a totally different order of things. SKINNER: And as we stood on the Guildhall steps. Because you exist on a state subsistence that’s about enough to keep you alive but too small to fire your guts. It has nothing to do with doctors and accountants and teachers and dignity and boy scout honour.the poor . two thoughts raced through my mind: how seriously they took us and how unpardonably casual we were about them. That’s all it’s all about. Lilly. marching for Declan. but that this terrible mistake be recognized and acknowledged. no matter what our politics is. . 92 . we have the same chances and the same opportunities as the next fella. and in a vague groping way you were outraged.Because you live with eleven kids and a sick husband in two rooms that aren’t fit for animals. Because for the first time in your life you grumbled and someone else grumbled and someone else. millions of us all over the world. And I became very agitated.

Ioana Mohor-Ivan

Irish Literature

6.4.3. Writing the “Troubles” Bernard MacLaverty (1942-)
Novelist and short-story writer, Bernard MacLaverty was born and lived in Belfast until 1975 when he moved to Scotland, where, for some years, he became writer-inresidence at the University of Aberdeen. He has published extensively and has also adapted his fiction for other media (radio, television, cinema.) Published works:          Secrets & Other Stories (1977) Lamb (1980) A Time to Dance & Other Stories (1982) Cal (1983) The Great Profundo & Other Stories (1987) Walking the Dog & Other Stories (1994) Grace Notes (1997) The Anatomy School (2001) Matters of Life & Death & Other Stories (2006)

Cal (1983) focuses on the psychological torment and political victimhood of Cal
McCluskey, a young working-class Catholic living in a Protestant housing estate in Northern Ireland during the “Troubles”. He is drawn into the Provisional IRA by Crilly, a former school friend, who pressurises him into being the getaway driver in the assassination of Robert Morton, a reserve policeman in the mainly Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary. Cal’s feelings of guilt and self-loathing which stem from this event are intensified by his romantic attraction to Morton’s Catholic widow, Marcella, with whom he develops a doomed relationship. Unable to confess his crime to Marcella or extricate himself from the clutches of Crilly and the local IRA commander, Skeffington, Cal broods relentlessly on his shame and abjection. His torment deepens when he and his father are burned out of their home by Loyalist paramilitaries, after which Cal moves to an abandoned cottage on the Morton farm, where he is employed as a labourer. Here his tortured affair with Marcella develops in secret, though any hope of them building a new life together is soon shattered when Cal sees Crilly planting a bomb in the library where Marcella works. The novel’s climax is swift and sudden. After Crilly and Skeffington are apprehended by the police, Cal informs the authorities about the bomb and then returns to Marcella to await passively his own arrest on Christmas Eve. MacLaverty adapted Cal for the screen in 1984. The film starred Helen Mirren and John Lynch.


Ioana Mohor-Ivan

Irish Literature

Minimal Bibliography
Bradshaw, Brenna, Andrew Hadfield and Willy Maley (eds.), REPRESENTING IRELAND: LITERATURE AND THE ORIGINS OF CONFLICT, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993. Brady, Ciaran, Mary O’Dowd and Brian Walker (eds.), ULSTER: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, foreword by J. C. Beckett, London: B .T. Batsford, 1989. Brophy, James D. and Raymond J. Porter, CONTEMPORARY IRISH WRITING, Boston: Iona College Press, Twayne Publishers, 1983. Brown, Terence IRELAND’S LITERATURE, Mercier Press, 1992. Cairns, David and Shaun Richards, WRITING IRELAND: COLONIALISM, NATIONALISM AND CULTURE, Manchester, Manchester UP, 1988. Crotty, Patrick (ed.) MODERN IRISH POETRY. AN ANTHOLOGY, Lagan Press, 1993. Deane, Seamus, A SHORT HISTORY OF IRISH LITERATURE, London et al.: Hutchinson; Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1986. Deane, Seamus, CELTIC REVIVALS: ESSAYS IN MODERN IRISH LITERATURE, 1880-1980, London: Faber and Faber, 1985. Foster, John Wilson, COLONIAL CONSEQUENCES: ESSAYS IN LITERATURE AND CULTURE, Mullingar: The Lilliput Press, 1991. IRISH

Gibbons, Luke, TRANSFORMATIONS IN IRISH CULTURE, Cork: Cork University Press; Field Day, 1996. Grene, Nicholas, THE POLITICS OF IRISH DRAMA: PLAYS IN CONTEXT FROM BOUCICAULT TO FRIEL, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002. Kenneally, Michael (ed.), IRISH LITERATURE AND CULTURE, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1992 Kiberd, Declan INVENTING IRELAND: The Literature of the Modern Nation, Vintage, 1998. LANDMARKS OF IRISH DRAMA, Methuen, 1996. Mohor-Ivan, Ioana REPRESENTATIONS OF IRISHNESS: CULTURE, THEATRE AND BRIAN FRIEL’S REVISIONIST STAGE, EDP, 2004. Moody, T.W. (ed.) THE COURSE OF IRISH HISTORY, Mercier Press, 1994. NATIONALISM, COLONIALISM AND LITERATURE, with an introduction by Seamus Deane, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990. Vance, Norman, IRISH LITERATURE: A SOCIAL HISTORY, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990. Welch, Robert (ed.) THE OXFORD COMPANION TO IRISH LITERATURE, Oxford UP, 1996.


Ioana Mohor-Ivan

Irish Literature

ANNEX 1 INDIVIDUAL AUTHORS & TEXTS (Recommended for individual research)
1. “The Land of Cockayne” 2. Geoffrey Keating, “O Woman Full of Wile” 3. Edmund Spenser, “A View on the Present State of Ireland” 4. William Shakespeare, “Henry V” 5. Dion Boucicault, “The Irish Trilogy” (Arrah-na Pogue, The Colleen Bawn, the Shaughraun) 6. “The Quiet Man” (directed by Boris Ford) 7. Brian Friel, “Making History” 8. Seamus Heaney, “Traditions”, “Ocean’s Love to Ireland” 9. James Clarence Mangan, “My Dark Rosaleen” 10. W. B. Yeats, “Kathleen Ni Houlihan” 11. James Joyce, “A Mother” (from “The Dubliners”) 12. Samuel Beckett, “Murphy” 13. Dancing at Lughnasa (film or play) 14. Thomas Murphy, “Bailegangaire” 15. Maria Edgeworth, “Castle Rackrent” 16. Lennox Robinson, “Killycregs in Twilight” 17. W.B. Yeats, “Purgatory” 18. Jennifer Johnston, “How Many Miles to Babylon?”, “The Invisible Worm” (tranl. into Romanian as “Casa de vara”) 19. Elizabeth Bowen, “The Last September” 20. “The Last September” (film) 21. “The Real Charlotte” (BBC series) 22. “High Spirits” (film, directed by Neil Jordan) 23. J.M. Synge, “In the Shadow of the Glen”, “Riders to the Sea”, “The Well of the Saints”, “The Playboy of the Western World” 24. “The Field” (film)


directed by Neil Jordan) 27. “Cal” (film) 33. “Easter 1916” Irish Literature 28. Patrick McCabe. “The Butcher Boy” (film. Martin McDonagh. Juno and the Paycock. “The Dublin Trilogy” (In the Shadow of a Gunman. W. Sean O’Casey.Yeats. Bernard MacLaverty. “In Bruges” (film) 96 . The Plough and the Stars) 29. Denis Johnston. “The Butcher Boy” 26. “The Freedom of the City” 31. “Cal” 32.Ioana Mohor-Ivan 25. “The Old Lady Says ‘No’!” 30. Brian Friel.B.

as v." never as j." s with slender vowels (e." a (short)." never as in "church. g with broad vowels (a. like h. o. as in "threw." never as s." th. i). as in "car." d with broad vowels (a. as in "full. i). u)." u (short). u) is broad ch voiced. c with broad vowels (a. as in German "Ich. as in ale." never as z. u). s with broad vowels (a. t with slender vowels (e. u)." never as in "church." never as s." t with broad vowels (a. mh and bh intervocalic with broad vowels." g with slender vowels (e. u). u). as in "tin. i). í (long). as in "note." never as j. as in "done. as in "give. as in "king. o." d with slender vowels (e. o. u). as w. i). as in "go. ú (long). as in "aught." ch with broad vowels (a. as in German "Buch. o. mh and bh intervocalic with slender vowels. o. ch with slender vowels (e. as in "thy. gh with slender vowels (e. as s." i (short). i). ó (long). as in "hot. as in "feel. as in "pool. as in French "dieu. i)." o (short). as in it.Ioana Mohor-Ivan Irish Literature ANNEX 2 Pronunciation Guide á (long). as in "bet." é (long). i) is slender ch voiced. o. gh with broad vowels (a. as in "shine. o. e (short)." c with slender vowels (e." The remaining consonants are pronounced almost as in English 97 .

Williamite War begins.I. Direct Rule imposed in N. heads rebellion Flight of the Earls Plantation of Ulster Irish Catholic Rebellions Cromwellian campaigns and Plantation James II lands at Kinsale. 6000 BC c. Anglo-Irish Agreement IRA and Loyalist ceasefires 98 . Irish Citizen Army The Easter Rising Anglo-Irish War Irish Free State established. Battle of the Boyne Penal Laws restrict Catholic rights United Irishmen founded in Belfast Foundation of Orange Order United Irishmen’s Rebellion Act of Union Rising of Robert Emmet Catholic Emancipation (Daniel O’Connell) First year of the Great Famine Young Ireland Rising Irish Republican Brotherhood founded Fenian Rebellion. Civil War begins De Valera’s Constitution Irish Free State declares itself a republic Beginning of the “Troubles” “Bloody Sunday” in Derry. Earl of Tyrone. Parnell elected leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party Gael League founded Opening season of the Irish Literary Theatre Ulster Volunteers. 400 BC 432 AD 795 1006 1169 1541 1586 1595-1601 1607 1609 1641-1646 1649-1654 1689 1690 1695 1791 1795 1798 1800 1803 1829 1845 1848 1858 1867 1879 1800 1893 1899 1913 1916 1919-1921 1922 1937 1948 1968 1972 1985 1994 probable date of first human settlements in Ireland possible date of arrival of Celts traditional date of the beginning of St Patrick’s mission first raids of Viking invasion Brian Boraime recognised as high king Norman invasion begins Declaration Act.Ioana Mohor-Ivan ANNEX 3 Irish Literature Brief Chronology of Historical Events c. Irish Volunteers. Manchester Martyrs Michael Davitt founds the Land League. Henry VIII is declared King of Ireland Plantation of Munster Hugh O’Neill.