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PORTRAYING THE IRISH PALATINES: AN EXAMPLE OF ALTERITY DISCOURSE WERNER HUBER while touring Ireland in 1842, the proliWc German travel writer Johann Georg Kohl used to introduce himself to his fellow travelers in the following manner: Gentlemen allow me to inform you before we set oV, that I come from Germany , where the people, as you all know, eat nothing but sour-kraut and black bread; that I am travelling in Ireland without any other object in view than to become acquainted with this country, and to see everything that is interesting and remarkable in it.1 Despite his protestations to the contrary, Kohl is here already deeply entangled in the web of stereotypes and the problems of a discourse of self and other which beset travel writing in general begin to appear. Kohl and the stereotypical sauerkraut will recur in the course of this article, whose proper subject is the Irish Palatines.2 As an ethnic group in an alien Irish environment, the Palatines have provided material for cultural stereotyping right down to the present. Their example has great potential for an exploration of the mechanisms of what in postcolonial discourse is called “alterity ” and “othering.”3 PORTRAYING THE IRISH PALATINES: AN EXAMPLE OF ALTERITY DISCOURSE 173 1 J. G. Kohl, Reisen in Irland (Dresden and Leipzig: Arnold, 1843) I, 395–96; as quoted in translation by Constantia Maxwell, The Stranger in Ireland, From the Reign of Elizabeth to the Great Famine (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1979), p. 295. 2 A shorter version of this paper was originally read at the joint symposium of the American Conference for Irish Studies and the Canadian Association for Irish Studies, University College Galway, July 5–10, 1992. 3 See, for example, Alterity, Identity, Image: Selves and Others in Society and Scholarship, ed. Raymond Corbey and Joep Leerssen (Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi, 1991); and Bill Ashcroft, Gareth GriYths, and Helen TiYn, The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures (London: Routledge, 1989). The Palatines have been described as “the last of the signiWcant immigrations into Ireland.”4 At Wrst sight, it may seem that their contribution to Irish culture has not been very signiWcant and that they left very few traces behind.5 Such family names as Switzer, Bovenizer, Teskey, Delmege, Shire, Sparling, and Ruttle point to Palatine origins. Flann O’Brien, it is said, once had plans for a comic opera entitled “The Palatine’s Daughter.”6 This probably goes back to the best-known piece of Palatine tradition in the Irish popular imagination, the famous song, “Iníon an Phailitínigh”: Is má thréigeann tú an tAifreann do gheobhaidh tú mé le pósadh Gheobhaidh tú ór is airgead is talamh gan aon chíos liom . . . Is cailín deas ag taisteal leat más mian leat Pailitíneach.7 PORTRAYING THE IRISH PALATINES: AN EXAMPLE OF ALTERITY DISCOURSE 174 4 Patrick J. O’Connor, People Who Make Places: The Story of the Irish Palatines (Newcastle West: Oireacht na Mumhan, 1989), p. 9. Two further monographs on the Palatines have been published recently: Rüdiger Renzing, Pfälzer in Irland: Studien zur Geschichte deutscher Auswandererkolonien des frühen 18. Jahrhunderts (Kaiserslautern: Institut für pfälzxische Geschichte und Volkskunde, 1989); and Henry Z. Jones, Jr., The Palatine Families of Ireland, 2nd ed. (Camden, ME: Picton Press, 1990). 5 In 1989, the Irish Palatine Association was founded, which publishes its own newsletter and, more importantly, maintains a heritage center at Rathkeale, County Limerick. 6 Anthony Cronin, No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O’Brien (London: Grafton, 1989), p. 205. 7 For diVerent versions and translations see Bolg an tSoláthair, ed. and comp. Fionán Mac Coluim (Dublin: Gaelic League, 1904), pp. 9–10; P. J. McCall, Irish Fireside Songs (Dublin: Gill, 1911), pp. 64–65; An tAth. Pádruig Breathach, Ár gCeól Féinig (Dublin: Browne and Nolan, [1920]), pp. 116–17; D. J. O’Sullivan, “Inghean an Phalaitingh,” Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society , 18 (1921), 24–26; Tadhg Ó Conchubhair, Racaireacht Ghrinn na Tuaithe (Dublin: Browne and Nolan [1924]), pp. 125–27; The Palatine’s Daughter, translated from the Irish by...


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