- Nótaí na nEagarthóirí: Editors’ Notes
On many levels, in-betweeness is a condition that permeates Irish life and thought. Perhaps the nearness of the border to poet Mary O’Donnell’s childhood in the drumlin country of County Monaghan was a geographic reminder of that familiar, liminal state, for dividedness runs throughout the memoir that she shares with us to open this issue. Now settled in County Kildare, in O’Donnell’s portrayal of a weekend spent with her ninety-year-old mother in the family home, she finds herself amid other murky boundaries: a grown woman, but still a child to her mother, a devoted caregiver but sometimes a reluctant one, and an adult for whom time and distance have potentiated both the pull of home and her insistence on claiming her own life elsewhere. Mary O’Donnell is the author of eleven books of poetry and fiction; her most recent poetry collection is Those April Fevers (2015). Her website is http://www.maryodonnell.com/index.php.
In scores of articles and in such books as Synge and Modern Irish Drama (2013) and Brian Friel: Theatre and Politics (2011), Dr. Anthony Roche has established himself as one of the foremost scholars of Irish drama. Starting from the critical commonplace that the 1916 Rising was conceived of and staged as an act of theater, Roche examines that imaginative connection as it showed itself in the life and activities of Thomas MacDonagh, one of the executed signatories of the Proclamation. For the actor, director, and playwright MacDonagh, he writes, “drama and revolution went hand in hand.” In both his theater and in the revolution to which he committed, Roche concludes in admiration, MacDonagh always looked to and worked for the future. He was an early and outspoken feminist, broadminded on matters of religious tolerance, and dreamed of an Ireland that embraced European culture. Anthony Roche is currently working on a study of Chekhov’s drama in Ireland—a story in which MacDonagh also plays a part, as the producer of Ireland’s first Chekhov plays in 1915. [End Page 5]
Novelist and playwright Lucy Caldwell (b. 1981) has already gained considerable recognition for her body of work, including the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2011, the year in which her second novel, The Meeting Point appeared. Dr. Kelli Maloy examines this very contemporary novel—the story of the Armstrongs, a Northern Irish missionary family in Bahrain, set at the time of the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent Iraq war—and finds that by refracting Irishness through the lens of Bahraini citizens, Caldwell delivers powerful critiques of the North’s sectarianism and the unprogressive political and social realities of the Republic. When the Armstrong family returns to a “normal” Ireland at the novel’s end, notes Maloy, their security is tenuous, and their opportunity to embrace a true world citizenship has been missed. Kelli Maloy focuses her research on contemporary Irish women’s literature; she has published articles, interviews, and reviews in Études Irlandaises, ANQ, the Irish Literary Supplement, and elsewhere.
In the suite of new poems from Bill Tinley in our “Filiocht Nua—New Poetry” section, we repeatedly encounter the pull of the past and the impulse to return— as well as good humor, as in the ironic “After the Apocalypse.” Tinley is drawn too, to images of stasis, which we find in “The Pumpkin Tenement,” where the speaker visits a farm outbuilding where “The door gives on unoiled hinges / Into the chalk air of plaster; / An undisturbed indoor dusk hangs / In cobwebs from every rafter.” In the villanelle “Uneaten Bread,” a love poem to his wife, and in “The Comfort of Rain,” we meet a poet attuned to the quality that provided the title of his 2001 collection from New Island Books: Grace. Now living and working in Maynooth, Bill Tinley won the 1996 Patrick Kavanagh Award, and a Cecil Day Lewis Award in 2014.
Though their songs sometimes share melodies, the nationalist verses of Thomas Moore and Thomas Davis nonetheless differ in significant ways. Those divergences often show in the authors’ construction of gender. Building on Leith Davis’s influential 2006 study Music, Postcolonialism, and...