- Nótaí na nEagarthóirí:Editors’ Notes
For writers of memoir, the simplest of objects can open deep wells of recollection—an experience that happens to Patricia Byrne as she looks out on the nowdisused site of a dairy plant in her adopted city of Limerick. Struck by the memory of the once-familiar milk bottles, Byrne’s thinks back on the German writer Heinrich Böll’s visit to Limerick in the years after World War II, and the dreary color palate of the Irish provincial city that he described, in which the white of the milk seemed a welcome relief. Böll’s observations and Byne’s experience intertwine on multiple levels; decades later, she would spend a week in Boll’s cottage in Mayo, now a writer’s retreat, and like Böll, the portrait of Limerick City that she gives us deftly balances flashes of color against a backdrop of gray. Patricia Byrne’s is the author of The Veiled Woman of Achill (2012), about the real-life model for Synge’s Playboy. Her web site is https://patriciabyrnewrites.com/.
The American Indian leader Geronimo remains an iconic figure today. His cult has an Irish-language manifestation in the fictional memoirs of Geronimo, by An Tíogar Daonna (1966), by Annraoi Ó Liatháin. Dr. Pádraig Ó Siadhail examines how earlier Irish-language writers portrayed North American indigenous peoples, and notes an emphasis on mixed-blood characters in three novels from the 1920s and 1930s; their negative portrayal mirrored popular American culture and also bespoke concerns about the corruption of allegedly pure Gaelic blood-lines. By the 1950s, though, Irish-language writers were far more sympathetic to Native Americans; a key text is the well-known memoir, Rotha Mór an tSaoil (1959; translated as The Hard Road to Klondike, 1962) by Micí Mac Gabhann, the first work that clearly linked Irish and Native American experiences as colonized peoples. A widely published scholar of Irish-language literature, Padraig Ó Siadhail’s 2010 article in New Hibernia Review on folklorist James Mooney won the Roger McHugh Award for the year’s outstanding essay. [End Page 5]
When Jane Clarke’s first collection, The River, was released by Bloodaxe Books in 2015, critics were immediately impressed by the qualities of calmness and poise in her lines—qualities well displayed in the suite of seven new poems presented here. There is a sort of cleanness in her voice that deftly renders a moment and an image in such a way that the thing described opens up all of its compressed levels of meaning. We hear this in “Sika Whistle,” in which a deer’s call evokes a mythic combat between mountain stags; in “When Winter Comes,” her evocation of a blacksmith’s forge almost sacramentally elevates the glowing metals. Jane Clarke’s rural origins in County Roscommon continue to inform her poetry, as in the “Birthing the Lamb,” a careful portrait of the marvelous in country life. Jane Clarke’s web site is http://www.janeclarkepoetry.ie/.
The writings of Hannah Lynch (1859–1904)—a onetime officer of the Ladies Land League, literary critic, and a writer of short stories and satirical sketches—has gathered overdue attention in recent years, not least because of the scholarship of Dr. Kathryn Laing, who has written on Lynch in such places as English Literature in Transition and in the 2011 volume Irish Women Writers: New Critical Perspectives. In this issue, Laing calls our attention to two early pieces by Lynch, “A Dublin Literary Coterie Sketched by a Non-Pretentious Observer” from 1888, and a short story “My Friend Arcanieva” in 1895. Two celebrated literary cliques, Katherine Tynan’s Whitehall salon and the Charles Oldham’s Contemporary Club (an institution frequented by Yeats) were the precise targets of these satires. In these pieces, Laing writes. “Lynch exposes snobbery, parochialism, insular self-regard, and in particular, the marginalization of women, as features of these nascent Revivalist gatherings.” As such, Lynch’s satires compel us to revisit the received narratives of the early Irish Literary Revival.
Two decades before Laing poked fun at Dublin’s literary insularity, the provincialism of the Irish West was coming under attack...