- Nótaí na nEagarthóirí:Editors’ Notes
Since 1833, John Kavanagh’s pub, aka Gravediggers, has stood across from Glas-nevin Cemetery. In a genial recollection of his days as a graduate student doing folklore research in Ireland, Jeffrey Tolbert adds his own account to the pub’s nearly two centuries of stories. More than a decade ago, Tolbert found himself living nearby, and for a time, even aspired to make the pub the subject of his scholarly research. “I did my best to maintain the guise of an academic,” he recalls with some bemusememt. “I passed out business cards and made contacts. For various reasons, though, in this place, ethnography simply didn’t come together. Instead, I became another patron in the pub, albeit an awkward, hopelessly American patron.” In the end, Tolbert finds, it was the lived-in quality of the pub, its daily rhythms and its personal associations, that made it truly a place. Jeffrey Tolbert is the co-editor of The Folkloresque: Reframing Folklore in a Popular Culture World (2015).
Few readers would suspect that there is any Irish element, let alone a carefully cultivated one, in the pulp fiction character of Conan the Barbarian—perhaps because Conan is so frequently linked to the film character played by Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger. Dr. Christopher Dowd, the author of The Construction of Irish Identity in American Literature (2010), recounts here how Conan’s creator Robert E. Howard not only cast his character with recognizably Irish traits, but was also himself a lifelong Hibernophile. Born and raised in a remote Texas town with no connections to an Irish community in his family or social circle, Howard nonetheless styled himself (and his literary creation) as a latter-day Celt, and he devoured all things Irish in literature and popular culture. His reading was eclectic and undiscerning, but it was potent all the same: Howard, in the words of a friend, “willed himself to be an Irishman.” This act of ethnic autogenesis, Dowd argues, presents an intriguing exception to the usual accounts of ethnic self-awareness—and invites us to include Howard in the canon of Irish-American writers. [End Page 5]
Now living in North Carolina, Adrian Rice was born just north of Belfast, and in this issue’s “Filíocht Nua / New Poetry” section he reflects on his childhood in poems drawn from a longer autobiographical sequence, “The Eleventh Hour.” Though the full sequence does not shrink from the violence and class-consciousness of his place of origin, the selection here is of poems that reach back to a childhood that, invoked now, seems happy and almost mystical. The poems record a distinct sense of place, filled with names; though loss seeps into the work, we come away with a sense of wholeness, with the poem itself imparting a final comment on the significance of the experience. In part, this is a function of form: these narrative poems are rendered in eleven-syllable lines of nearly perfect rhyme. Adrian Rice’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry Ireland Review and The Honest Ulsterman; his most recent collection, Hickory Station, appeared earlier this year.
Contemporary Ireland has become a globalized society, and in recent times saw a level of in-migration unimaginable in previous decades; by 2006, an estimated 10 percent of the Republic’s population was foreign-born. One visible (and to many in the host society, frequently less-than-welcome) group within this new demographic is that of refugees and asylum-seekers, some of whom were victims of torture in their home countries. It was among these marginalized newcomers that choreographer John Scott began the dance workshops that would eventuate in Fall and Recover, a moving contemporary dance work that premiered in Dublin in 2004 and has since toured internationally. Dr. Matthew Spangler examines the history, context, and aims of the performance and its successor pieces, as well as the controversies that have attended it. In rejecting the traditional pigeonholes of Irish identity, he writes, these productions and the artists “challenge and expand well-worn hallmarks of Irish cultural identity, making representations of Ireland both more accurate as well as progressive.” Matthew Spangler’s articles...