- Nótaí na nEagarthóirí:Editors’ Notes
For four decades, the writer, photographer, and filmmaker Bob Quinn has been at the center of cinema in the Irish language, and such films as Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoire (1975) and Poitín (1977) stand as milestones in that genre’s history. We begin this issue with an extract from Quinn’s latest work-in- progress, an autobiography. “Conamara Revolution” opens in 1970, as Quinn— unemployed, jaded with his work in television, and with no clear sense of his plans—arrives as nearly a stranger to the Gaeltacht region that would become his home. He soon found that a life on the dole is one of unceasing improvisation. Further, he found that, despite the lip service paid to Gaeltacht culture, the inhabitants of his new home endured continual defamation and neglect from the Irish establishment. Drawn to the enthusiasm and contrarianism of the local activist Seosamh Ó Cuaig and Gluaiseacht Chearta Sibhialta na Gaeltachta, the Gaeltacht Civil Rights Movement, Quinn went on to found Cinegael. He is a member of Aosdána, the Irish academy of artists.
In the early twentieth century, the most popular Irish “story paper” was Ireland’s Own, which reached tens of thousands of mainly young lower- to middle-class men each week. Dr. Stephanie Rains considers the many self-help products— many of them dubious in the extreme—advertised in its pages during the period of the Home Rule Crisis of 1912. Dubious or not, such products as Dr. McLaughlin’s Electro-Vigour Belt spoke to deeply rooted anxieties of status, agency, and masculine identity among young Irish men (and some women). Though many men aspired to clerical work, Rains charts the ways in which the emblematic figure of the clerk was discussed and represented in early-twentieth-century Ireland—often, as a man whose physical and moral fiber had failed. Joyce’s story “Counterparts” from Dubliners, in which the central character Farrington is a weak and frustrated legal clerk, clearly registers the perceived puniness of the type. A widely published scholar of popular culture and mass media, Stephanie Rains is the author of The Irish American in Popular Culture, 1945–2000 (2007) and of Commodity Culture and Social Class in Dublin, 1850–1916 (2010). [End Page 5]
Across five books of poetry—ranging from Permanent Wave (1996) to Cross-Talk (2009)—Siobhán Campbell (b. 1962) has steadily posed questions about our received perceptions. In the suite of earthy new poems presented here, for instance, Campbell raises a skeptical eyebrow regarding the Irish pastoral, as she warns us to “beware of a creeping nostalgia. / Nothing grows resentment better than an acre of stones.” And in “About Cows,” Campbell concludes that, “Apparently rural but worldly wise, / cows know that loss is our only measure.” She asks similar questions of peoples and histories, in poems like “Colonial Drift” and “Photos of the Islanders”—poems that quietly critique any nostalgic view of the world, of how it came to be what it is. A native of Dublin now teaching in London, Siobhán Campbell is engaged in several ongoing projects involving creative writing and combat veterans. Her forthcoming collection, from which these poems are taken, is That Other Island.
That Ireland underwent modernization is indisputable: but whether the nation needed to embrace the particular form of modernity that it did is far from settled. In the quarter century or so after the civil war, Dr. Mark Quigley reminds us, different visions of modernization jostled and competed with each to other to define the shape of a new Ireland. Sean O’Faolain’s provocative interrogation of Irish society in the pages of the Bell magazine stands as a key intellectual underpinning to modern Ireland—but as Quigley shows, his thought was by no means static. Sketching the outlines of an alternative intellectual history of the 1930s and ’40s, Quigley explores how O’Faolain and other intellectuals considered many futures other than multinational capitalism. Although O’Faolain’s earlier thinking on nationalism, capitalism, and tradition was much more leftist than his writings of the Cold War era, his earlier ideas appear to have been consciously shunted aside in order to present the existing...