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Bryan Fanning

contemporary English verse to produce an authentic piece of Gaelic literature rooted in the society he came from: His language – that is its principal glory – is also a complete break with literary Irish. It is the spoken Irish of Clare … What Merriman aimed at was something that had never been guessed at in Gaelic Ireland; a perfectly proportioned work of art on a contemporary subject, with every detail subordinated to the central theme.33 Yet Merriman, ‘the intellectual Protestant’ and schoolteacher-farmer who somehow ‘knew as much about Lawrence and Gide as he knew of

in Irish adventures in nation-building
Bryan Fanning

perspectives, subordinated a pre-Enlightenment Gaelic Ireland to an imported modernity. In its crudest form the conflict was one between isolationists who sought to protect Ireland’s authentic culture, however understood, from outside contamination and their intellectual opponents. The politics of cultural nationalism since the death of O’Connell had presented the Gaelic revival as a cultural restoration. But Tierney on one side and O’Faoláin on the other acknowledged that what had been attempted was a ‘fake’ restoration, a reconstruction based on an idealised

in Irish adventures in nation-building