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Memory Ireland

Volume 1: History and Modernity

edited by Oona Frawley

Publication Year: 2011

Despite the ease with which scholars have used the term "memory" in recent decades, its definition remains enigmatic. Does cultural memory rely on the memories of individuals, or does it take shape beyond the borders of the individual mind? Cultural memory has garnered particular attention within Irish studies. With its trauma-filled history and sizable global diaspora, Ireland presents an ideal subject for work in this vein. What do stereotypes of Irish memory—as extensive, unforgiving, begrudging, but also blank on particular, usually traumatic, subjects—reveal about the ways in which cultural remembrance works in contemporary Irish culture and in Irish diasporic culture? How do icons of Irishness—from the harp to the cottage, from the Celtic cross to a figure like James Joyce—function in cultural memory? This collection seeks to address these questions as it maps a landscape of cultural memory in Ireland through theoretical, historical, literary, and cultural explorations by top scholars in the field of Irish studies. In a series that will ultimately include four volumes, the sixteen essays in this first volume explore remembrance and forgetting throughout history, from early modern Ireland to contemporary multicultural Ireland. Among the many subjects addressed: Guy Beiner disentangles "collective" from "folk" memory in "Remembering and Forgetting the Irish Rebellion of 1798," and Anne Dolan looks at local memory of the civil war in "Embodying the Memory of War and Civil War." The volume concludes with Alan Titley’s "The Great Forgetting," a compelling argument for viewing modern Irish culture as an artifact of the Europeanization of Ireland and for bringing into focus the urgent need for further, wide-ranging Irishlanguage scholarship.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Colleagues and friends from several universities have been instrumental in encouraging me to bring Memory Ireland to fruition. This project grew out of work on Edmund Spenser and Irish cultural memory that I began while a research fellow at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast. ...

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pp. ix-xii

Guy Beiner is senior lecturer in history at Ben-Gurion University, Israel. He was a Government of Ireland Scholar at University College Dublin, Government of Ireland Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, and Irish Studies NEH Fellow at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of ...

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pp. xiii-xxiv

The field of “memory studies” has been growing steadily in recent decades, fueled by multidisciplinary interest in the ways in which a variety of social groups remember. Among humanities-based scholars, those with a stake in this area include sociologists, historians, literary critics, art historians, ...

Introduction to Theories of Memory

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1. Memory and History

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pp. 3-17

Paradoxically, despite the fact that contemporary society is commonly conceptualized as “terminally ill with amnesia” (Huyssen 1995, 1), memory has established itself as a major discourse; interest in memory in the last thirty years has been unprecedented. This interest accounts for the discovery of ethnic ...

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2. Toward a Theory of Cultural Memory in an Irish Postcolonial Context

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pp. 18-34

While terms like “memory,” “cultural memory,” and their variants frequently occur in the discourses of Irish literature, culture, and history, “memory” has remained largely undefined, addressed laterally. That the field of Irish studies has thus far failed adequately to define memory is hardly surprising ...

Remembrance and Forgetting in Early and Premodern Irish Culture

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3. “the memorye of their noble ancestors”: Collective Memory in Early Modern Ireland

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pp. 37-51

The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature defines “Anglo-Irish Chronicles” as “the body of political writings about Ireland written in English during the Tudor and Stuart periods and primarily concerned with justifications for the expropriation of the country by the English Crown, its administration by Crown agents, ...

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4. The Harp as a Palimpsest of Cultural Memory

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pp. 52-65

The harp image encompasses distinct and sometimes conflicting iconographical histories and cultural “memories” that influenced the complex formation of Irish identity. Long recognized as an iconic site of Irish identity, the harp is also a palimpsest of cultural memory. The origins of the harp icon’s meanings ...

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5. Modes of Memory: Remembering and Forgetting the Irish Rebellion of 1798

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pp. 66-82

Ninety-Eight” is a quintessential Irish lieu de mémoire. The Great Rebellion of 1798, which was the bloodiest outburst of violence in late-modern Irish history and inflicted lingering traumas, stands out in the commemorative culture of modern Ireland as a landmark that cast long shadows. ...

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6. Women and the Survival of Archaeological Monuments in Nineteenth-Century Ireland

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pp. 83-98

In the 1840s, while famine and disease gnawed at the lives of large sections of Ireland’s poor, Irish antiquarians increasingly turned their attention to the study of prehistoric and other archaeological remains. Inspired by the visit of the Danish antiquarian Worsaae and his account of the development of ...

Modernity, History, and Memory

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7. Memory, Modernity, and the Sacred

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pp. 101-114

The current proliferation of analyses dealing with memory does not signal a temporary fascination or a provisional critical turn. The sustained interest in multiple aspects of memory, remembrance, and various forms of amnesia is the product of the psychological, sociocultural, and historical denominators ...

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8. “In a Landlord’s Garden”: Synge and Parnell

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pp. 115-128

It is curious that the subject of “Synge and Parnell” has received very little critical attention, despite the many compelling reasons for throwing these two giants of Irish culture and politics into relief. Among these one could list the shared experience of being prominently unconventional Anglo-Irish gentlemen ...

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9. Embodying the Memory of War and Civil War

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pp. 129-141

The elderly father of Lieutenant Cecil Gutherie came up with a postal order for £1 that he could not really afford. He sent it to Mullane and waited to receive the leggings and boots that he was promised; the leggings and the boots that would confirm that a body in a bog in Cork was the son he had lost almost five years before. ...

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10. De Valera’s Historical Memory

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pp. 142-156

Eamon de Valera is the most important political figure of twentieth-century Ireland. His political career is unprecedented in terms of a longevity unlikely to be exceeded by any future Irish politician. The only surviving commandant in the Easter Rising of 1916, he was still active in public life as president ...

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11. Coming Clean? Remembering the Magdalen Laundries

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pp. 157-171

On 11 May 1999 the Irish taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, convened a press conference at which he delivered a public apology to the children who had been abused while in the care of the state: “On behalf of the State and of all the citizens of the State, the Government wishes to make a sincere and long overdue apology ...

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12. Producing Memory: A History of Commemoration and the Abbey Theatre

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pp. 172-183

Radical changes to Irish society at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries helped shape notions of Irishness in the century to come. The emergence of the Celtic Revival at the end of the nineteenth century encouraged the foundation of numerous community-led societies such as the Gaelic League ...

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13. Remembering to Forget: Queer Memory and the New Ireland

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pp. 184-194

Mainstream public memory is traditionally understood as an intentional recollection of quantifiable facts of the historical past that then constitute collective identity. Because of its suppressed nature, queer memory is flimsier: while mainstream public memory is solidly supported institutionally ...

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14. 9/11, the War on Terror, and the Irish Language

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pp. 195-206

The Fourth of July in 2002 was anything but another routine celebration of Independence Day in the United States of America. Nine months earlier on 11 September, Al Qaeda operatives had rammed a passenger jet plane into the north tower of New York’s World Trade Center at 8:45 A.M. and a second airplane ...

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15. Multiculturalization and Irish National Memory

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pp. 207-218

Irish cultural memory was, until recently, a monolithic entity, constituted of exclusively “Irish” experiences such as the Famine, the war of independence, emigration, and the symbiotic relationship of church and state, while its lieux de mémoire consisted of the churches and shrines that dotted the Irish landscape ...

Afterword: Language, History, and Memory

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16. The Great Forgetting

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pp. 221-230

Some time in the early 1930s, the great Irish folklorist Séamus Ó Duilearga, or James Delargy, was investigating the spoken Irish of northwest Clare. He was interested in old sayings, or prayers, or words, or whatever he could find. Although Irish was still the language of the older generation, ...

Works Cited

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pp. 231-256


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pp. 257-269

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651505
E-ISBN-10: 0815651503
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632504
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632509

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 1 black and white illustration
Publication Year: 2011

Volume Title: History and Modernity

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ireland -- Social conditions.
  • Ireland -- Historiography.
  • Collective memory -- Ireland.
  • Ireland -- Study and teaching (Higher).
  • Memory -- Social aspects -- Ireland.
  • Ireland -- Civilization.
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