The poor survival rate of primary sources for the history of Irish women in the
early modern period is mitigated by the sophistication with which extant sources
are now being analysed. When re-examined without reference to the demands of the
traditional historical grand narrative, when each text itself is permitted to
guide its own interrogation, previously undervalued texts are revealed to be
insightful of individual existential experience. The memoir of
eighteenth-century Dorothea Herbert, hitherto much ignored due to the authors
mental illness, is becoming increasingly respected not just for its historic
evidential value but for the revelations it contains of a distressed individuals
use of literature to manage her circumstances. The interpretive tools deployed
on such a text by different research specialisms necessarily lead to divergent
conclusions; this in turn may lead to creative re-imagining of history although
they cannot all equally reflect what was likely to have been the lived reality
of the original author.
This book focuses on the drama and poetry published since 1990. It also reflects upon related forms of creative work in this period, including film and the visual and performing arts. The book discusses some of the most topical issues which have emerged in Irish theatre since 1990. It traces the significance of the home in the poetry of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Vona Groarke. The book also focuses on the reconfigurations of identity, and the complex intersections of nationality, gender and race in contemporary Ireland. It shows how Roddy Doyle's return to the repressed gives articulation to those left behind by globalisation. The book then examines the ways in which post-Agreement Northern fiction negotiates its bitter legacies. It also examines how the activity of creating art in a time of violence brings about an anxiety regarding the artist's role, and how it calls into question the ability to re-present atrocity. The book further explores the consideration of politics and ethics in Irish drama since 1990. It talks about the swirling abundance of themes and trends in contemporary Irish fiction and autobiography. The book shows that writing in the Irish Republic and in the North has begun to accommodate an increasing diversity of voices which address themselves not only to issues preoccupying their local audiences, but also to wider geopolitical concerns.
Unconventionality and queerness in Katherine Everett’s life writing
first published in 1949 and was reprinted in 1950 with a few small changes. All references are to the 1950 edition unless otherwise noted. For readings of Everett’s memoir that place her in a predominantly Anglo-Irish context, see Elizabeth Grubgeld, Anglo-IrishAutobiography: Class, Gender, and the Forms of Narrative (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004); Johannes Wally, Selected Twentieth Century Anglo-IrishAutobiographies: Theory and Patterns of Self-Representation (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2004).
2 Laura Doan, ‘Topsy-turvydom: gender
subjectivity it is an exemplary Irish autobiographical text, the boynarrator’s quest for enlightenment being emblematic of a ceaseless
struggle for mastery over a mutinous, possibly fictive, history. This
struggle engenders in turn chronic feelings of homelessness and homesickness, interlinked themes which resonate through much recent Irishautobiography, the profusion of which led one acclaimed memoirist,
Nuala O’Faolain, to assert that ‘Ireland, at the end of the twentieth
Fiction and autobiography
Writing home in recent Irish memoirs and autobiographies (John McGahern’s Memoir, Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People, Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark and John Walsh’s The Falling Angels)
Irishautobiography, however, the intense relationship between
the psychology of the self and the politics of nationhood has been rendered through an especially powerful and experimental preoccupation
with place and time. One of the unusual and distinctive features of recent
autobiographical writing has been its tendency to highlight its own spatial and temporal complexities as a way of denoting the problematic
nature of identity. A strong commitment to the co-ordinates of place
and time might well be expected in nationalist memoirs and autobiographical writings by
–94 and pp. 217–34.
Liam Harte, ‘Autobiography and the Irish Cultural Moment’, in Liam Harte
(ed.), Modern IrishAutobiography: self, nation and society (Basingstoke:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 5–6.
O’Faolain, Are You Somebody?, pp. 25–6.
Ibid., p. 21.
Ibid., p.47. ‘Chroidhe dhil’ is a Gaelic expression meaning ‘Beloved heart’.
O’Faolain is referring to a letter, written by her father in the early years of their
marriage, in which he addresses her mother with this phrase; ‘for years I could
not read this letter: ‘Beloved Heart’ when they ended so badly!’. O
-Ireland 44: 1 & 2 (spring/summer 2009),
8 Dougherty, ‘Nuala O’Faolain’, p. 60.
9 Breda Gray, ‘Breaking the silence: emigration, gender, and the making
of Irish cultural memory’, in Modern IrishAutobiography: Self, Nation and Society, ed. Liam Harte (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 115.
10 Liam Harte, ‘Introduction: autobiography and the Irish cultural
moment’, in Modern IrishAutobiography, p. 2. Writing on the abundance of Irish memoirs in the late twentieth century, Denis Sampson
argues that ‘the recovery and articulation of childhood serves a
’Faolain, Are you somebody?, pp. 63, 64.
89 O’Faolain, Are you somebody?, p. 33.
90 O’Faolain, Are you somebody?, p. 108.
91 O’Faolain, Are you somebody?, p. 65.
92 O’Faolain, Are you somebody?, p. 125.
93 O’Faolain, Are you somebody?, p. 124.
94 O’Faolain, Are you somebody?, pp. 198–9.
95 Taura S. Napier, ‘Pilgrimage to the self: autobiographies of twentieth-century Irish women’, in Liam Harte (ed.), Modern Irishautobiography: self, nation and society (London: Palgrave Macmillan,
2007), p. 85.
96 See Jill Franks’s exploration of the theme of the return to
IrishAutobiography, p. 70.
133 NLI, Pamphlet P1389. Bishop Edward Thomas, Pastoral Letter to
the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Limerick, For Quinquagesima
134 Earner-Byrne, ‘“Should I take myself and family”’, p. 78.