Abstract

Abstract:

This article highlights how the Insular iconography of the thirty-first International Eucharistic Congress, 21–6 June 1932, which recast Ireland as an insula sanctorum, plays a significant role in framing the iconography of Finnegans Wake. The cultural ideology informing the congress, centred on the fifteenth centenary of Patrick's mission to Ireland (give or take a year or even a generation in reality). In contradistinction to Joyce's consistent vision of early medieval Ireland, the saints outflanked the sages at this 'internatural convention' (FW 128.27), which defined the Insular period as the wellspring of fifteen hundred years of evangelizing piety, represented by a ministerial chalice with a triskelion superimposed on 'the cross of Cong' (FW 399.280): the official seal of the congress. The Solemn Pontifical Mass of 26 June 1932 emphasized Ireland's unbroken covenant with her early medieval past, as one third of the population of the state, a paradisal host of 'a million souls' (Irish Press, 27 June 1932) descended on the 'fifteen acres' (FW 135.31) in the Phoenix Park. This most contested of imperial spaces, where Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker felt all too comfortable 'throughout his excellency long vicefreegal existence' (FW 3.30–1), was finally reclaimed as holy ground. Much of the population did believe that 'We have seen the Island of Saint and Scholar reborn in our midst' (Drogheda Independent, 2 July 1932). However, the idea that the glories of early medieval Ireland are reanimated in Saorstát Éireann as 'Saint Scholarland' (FW 135.19) is subjected to unremitting scrutiny by Joyce in his parodic recollections of the congress.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2009-4507
Print ISSN
2009-1850
Pages
pp. 44-64
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-28
Open Access
No
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