This book focuses on the drama and poetry published since 1990. It also reflects upon related forms of creative work in this period, including film and the visual and performing arts. The book discusses some of the most topical issues which have emerged in Irish theatre since 1990. It traces the significance of the home in the poetry of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Vona Groarke. The book also focuses on the reconfigurations of identity, and the complex intersections of nationality, gender and race in contemporary Ireland. It shows how Roddy Doyle's return to the repressed gives articulation to those left behind by globalisation. The book then examines the ways in which post-Agreement Northern fiction negotiates its bitter legacies. It also examines how the activity of creating art in a time of violence brings about an anxiety regarding the artist's role, and how it calls into question the ability to re-present atrocity. The book further explores the consideration of politics and ethics in Irish drama since 1990. It talks about the swirling abundance of themes and trends in contemporary Irish fiction and autobiography. The book shows that writing in the Irish Republic and in the North has begun to accommodate an increasing diversity of voices which address themselves not only to issues preoccupying their local audiences, but also to wider geopolitical concerns.
Anne Enright and postnationalism in
the contemporary Irish novel
Anne Enright has been hailed as one of the most exciting contemporary Irish writers, praised for her lyrical, evocative language and her
original style. Her collection of stories, The Portable Virgin (1991), was
shortlisted for the Irish Times/Aer Lingus IrishLiterature Prize and won
the Rooney Prize in 1991, her first novel, The Wig My Father Wore
(1995), met with widespread critical acclaim and her subsequent
novels, What Are
Flying high? Culture, criticism,
theory since 1990
Lucy McDiarmid begins her review of The Cambridge History of IrishLiterature by reflecting on the upholstery of Aer Lingus seats, which
features quotations from James Connolly, Yeats, Shaw, and lines from
the sixteenth-century anonymous Gaelic lament for Kilcash. The quotations on the seats knit together the recurrent dynamics of Irish culture and society that have been interwoven since the twelfth century:
tradition and modernity, arrival
New generation Northern Irish poets (Sinéad Morrissey and Nick Laird)
Neither here nor there:
new generation Northern Irish poets
(Sinéad Morrissey and Nick Laird)1
‘Skies change, not cares for those who cross the sea’2
Confirmation that a new generation of talented poets is beginning to
re-shape the face of Irish and Northern Irishliterature can be found in
two recent anthologies: Selima Guinness’s The New Irish Poets (2004)
and John Brown’s Magnetic North: The Emerging Poets (2005).3
Amongst the defining characteristics of the new poetry, according to
Irish writing in very distinct parts of Europe.
As well as from Ireland, contributors have been drawn from the Czech
Republic, France, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, the UK and USA, which
in itself reflects the strong and sustained international interest in and
popularity of Irishliterature.
The period covered by the book, 1990–2007, has witnessed
significant developments within Irish culture and society, which have
shaped and transformed the writing and reading of identity, sexuality,
history and gender. In order to set this remarkable, transformational
time into some
Unearthing the truth in Patrick O’Keeffe’s The Hill Road
Vivian Valvano Lynch
order.aspx (accessed 13 December 2006).
Buried secrets abound in Irishliterature and, for that matter, Irish history. In his parleying with secret pasts, O’Keeffe is undoubtedly indebted
to Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark (1996; New York: Knopf, 1997),
discussed earlier in this volume by Stephen Regan. See also below, endnote 14.
Patrick O’Keeffe, The Hill Road (2005; New York: Penguin, 2006),
p. 96. Subsequent references will be cited parenthetically in the text.
Brian Friel, Dancing at Lughnasa (London
Writing home in recent Irish memoirs and autobiographies (John McGahern’s Memoir, Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People, Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark and John Walsh’s The Falling Angels)
Irish authors, but place and time are figured
with a new intensity and self-consciousness in recent Irish migrant or
second-generation autobiographies, which have increasingly become a
special category or sub-genre in the study of modern Irishliterature.
Fiction and autobiography
John McGahern’s starkly titled Memoir (2005) opens with a vivid
account of the lanes and fields of Co. Leitrim, where he walked as a
boy in the 1930s and 1940s, and where he returned to live in the 1970s.
Despite its poor soil, that
–2000’, in The
Cambridge History of IrishLiterature, ed. Margaret Kelleher and Philip
O’Leary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 349.
Ciaran Carson, The Irish For No (Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 1987), p. 31.
Micheal O’Siadhail, from Tremolo, in Globe (Tarset: Bloodaxe Books,
Quoted in Jerzy Jarniewicz, The Bottomless Centre. The Uses of History
in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, hódo University Press, 2002), p. 173.
Diana von Finck, ‘A.R. Ammons’s Poetics of Chaos’, in Freedom and
Form: Essays in Contemporary American Poetry, ed. Esther Giger and
A more acclaimed feature of Irish drama and one of its most marketable features is the lyric-narrative. One of the greatest challenges in Irish drama from 1990 to 2006 has been how to produce theatre that can deal with or respond to contemporary conditions. The fallout of the triumphalist materialism of the 1990s, coupled with loosening bonds between nation and identity, continue to present a challenge for the new playwrights of the 1990s. Playfully renovating performance conventions, Improbable Frequency also humorously unravels the conventions of the history play, so beloved of Irish playwrights. Martine Pelletier's contribution addresses the phenomenon of immigration and some of the attempts by Irish playwrights and practitioners to stage it. Pelletier's portrayal of Ireland through a reading of several plays as a place which is 'reluctantly coming to terms with its multicultural character' concludes with a discussion of Brian Friel's play, The Home Place.
Foregrounding the body and performance in plays by Gina Moxley, Emma Donoghue and Marina Carr
Foregrounding female corporeality in drama provides a medium through which creative ambiguity can be achieved, made possible by the duality that the body is a sign of both social positionality and cultural experience associated with the symbolic. In contemporary Irish drama, the renaissance of the monologue signals a self-conscious move towards heightening the performative element in the exploration of the self, according to revised perspectives on identity. The chapter discusses the staging of women characters in three plays, Danti Dan by Gina Moxley, Emma Donoghue's Ladies and Gentlemen and By the Bog of Cats by Marina Carr. Work by writers like Carr suddenly reached both national and international stages. The Moxley and Donoghue plays were first performed at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin by Rough Magic and Glasshouse Productions respectively, while Carr's had its premiere at the Abbey during the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1998.