- Editors’ Notes Nótaí na nEagarthóirí
The familiar Irish word dúchas, with which Liam Carson opens his short memoir of a life and family entwined with the Irish language, is often inadequately translated as "heritage," though in its full depth of meaning it suggests something far more pervasive. Translation can only go so far, as Carson notes of his own embrace of Irish: "There comes a point when one must stop translating constantly, and begin to hear and see the words as existing in their own territory, not existing as an annex to English." Raised bilingually in Belfast, Carson jettisoned much of his Irish in late adolescence. In maturity, shaken by both the "Troubles" that inevitably touched his family and by the losses of middle age, Carson returned to the language where--like his father and mother before him--he finds tearmann,or sanctuary, in Irish itself. Liam Carson is director of the IMRAM Irish Language Literature Festival in Dublin, and he welcomes queries at email@example.com .
An ongoing reappraisal of Ireland in the postwar years in such books as Brian Fallon's The Age of Innocence (1998) and Terence Brown's Ireland A Social and Cultural History, 1922 to the Present (1981) has put paid to the idea that this was a time of stagnation. Far from it; the years that saw the First Programme for Economic Development rank among the most transformative in the nation's history. Here, Dr. B. Mairéad Pratschke calls our attention to an extraordinary window on this defining historic moment: the monthly, and later, weekly films of the Amharc Éireann series produced by Gael Linn. These short Irish-lan-guage documentaries were staples in Irish cinemas from 1956 to 1964.Though only moderately successful in spurring the wider use of Gaeilge, the series effectively chart the ambiguities of the era, as it depicts both a needful embrace of industry and internationalism (still refracted through the nationalist past) and, sometimes, a bittersweet admission of lost ways and places. Mairéad Pratschke has presented her research on these films at conferences in Canada, Britain and the United States. [End Page 5]
Gerard Smyth, born in 1951 and now a journalist with the Irish Times, began publishing poetry with New Writers' Press while still in his teens. His devotion to his art has since yielded five collections, the most recent of which is A New Tenancy, issued by Dedalus Press in 2004.In this issue's Filíocht Nua feature are poems that bear witness to Smyth's gift for writing lines of invigorating simplicity. Here, too, we find that Smyth presents us with images and scenes that bespeak the human need for connection to places and to the stories of places. We encounter far-ranging leaps of empathy, ranging from imagined affinities with the builders of Newgrange, to Chopin's wish that his heart be kept in Warsaw, to ancestral sites in Ireland and family gatherings in the New World, and to a haunted vision of Auschwitz and its "museum of last things / where nothing is forgotten."
The task of nation-building that faced the Cumann na nGaedheal government in 1922 loomed on many levels, among them the creation of an administrative infrastructure, the garnering of international recognition, and the setting aside of political wounds. The imagination itself was also an arena in which nation-building needed to be undertaken, and as Dr. Mike Cronin shows, the Tailteann Games of 1924 were central to that project. Here, he considers the ambitious arts competition of these games, which displayed not only impressive works by individual talents, but also a broader effort on the part of Irish artists to define "a national style." Notably, the Irish Arts and Crafts movement staked a claim on that style in the games, though its contribution would be obscured in later decades. While the Tailteann Games' financial return and public participation disappointed some, Cronin finds that they were nonetheless "a major confi-dence-building measure for the custodians of the Free State." Mike Cronin has authored many books and articles on twentieth-century Ireland, among them Sport and Nationalism in Ireland (1999).
The pedigree of violence in Northern...