Monday, February 28, 2011



As the 20th century dawned and proceeded its way to the bloodiest wars in history the precarious position of the Gaelic tongue , the extreme economic deprivation and social rigidity were overcome by such writers as Mairtin ODireain, Sean o Riordain and O Cadhain in prose mostly but some poetry.

The play made a new stage appearance in Ireland as did a plethora of lyrical verse.

The early period of Revolution was dominated by the folksinger of revolutionary , rebel songs and verse and the overpowering factors of the Great War and the resulting death and dispondency.

A certain introspection runs through the older more established Rising period writers such as Mairtin O Cadhains volumes of short stories and of gaelteacht life of the 20's.

And of course the most famous writer of this early period James Joyce with his intimate discription of Dublin life.

The connection with America and its overwhelming prosperty and the continental cosmopolitanizm worked to include little farming Ireland into the mainstream of literary life.

Joyce was born in Febraury 1882 ,one of 10 children of RathGar Dublin.
He was educated by the Jesuits and was able to attend University College at Dublin.

He left for Paris in 1902 but returned to Ireland when his mother died where the novel Ulysses was formulated and set.
His writing and poetry offered in 1907 with the short story collection 'The Dubliners' was not published for a fear of the Irish publishers of libel suits and by 1912 Joyce was well done with his native land.

'Dubliners' was published with the outbreak of the Graet War in 1914.
He and Nora Barnacle, his unmarried wife, lived out the war in Zurick Switzerland with their 2 small children George and Lucia.

In 1918 Joyce's only play, The Exiles was published and staged at Munich Germany but was unsuccessful.

He wrote an autoBiography in novel form,
'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'in 1916 and was happily upheld as an writer by both Ezra Pound and W B Yeats who were able to get him some funding assistance through the Royal Literay Fund.

Joyce had serious glacoma and long periods of near blindness but he was able to work on his novels and indeed he was the major sourse of the Irish novel development.

Some of Ulysses, which deal with a day, one day ,June 16, 1904, of his characters in Dublin.
The main one, Buch Mulligan developed from his University friendship with Oliver St John Gogarty was published by an American woman, Sylvia Beach after the work was serialized in the 'Little Review' in 1918.
Ms Beach having a bookstore in Paris called Shakespere and Company and the novel was published on James Joyces 40th birthday Febraury 2 1922.

However the book was censored in the liberal United States and the united Kingdom thus Joyce and his family never achieved financal success from its publication.

He kept on with his creative work however and in 1939 provided
'Finnians Wake ' again on the fringes of W W 2, an even more devistating era filled with even more horrific conflict than the
Great War of the 'Dubliners' in 1914.

With the Nazi panzer offensive and the fall of France, Joyce and his than wife Nora, whom he married in 1931 moved back to Zurick where he died on 13 January 1941 at 59 years of age.
Just 20 days before his 60th birthday.

In this early period of the 20's, a line of magazines appeared and begin with the Gaelic Journal in 1882 which provided a great outlet for Irish creative writing as well as social economic and political connections.

'An Cliadheamh Soluis' published stories of Conaire and Pearse.

The 1948
published regular essays of Daniel Corkery and Mairtin OCadhain and many exerts from books and poetty appeared in the magazine
Both published in the 40's War Years.

Throughout the early 20th century the new idea of a novel took hold and Eamonn Mac Giolla Iasachtas wrote.
which appeared in 1929 followed by,
a novel of West Kerry

AR DROMA MOR, written in the 30s by Seosamh mac Grainna dealing with pre Rising 1916 in the Donegal Gaelteacht was never published till 1970.

Seamus O Neill wrote a novel of middle class Dublin 'TONN TUILE' in the 40s and Marie Mhac an tSaoi chosing the themes of love, friendship and sex in her poetry explores the femine view of life and its moods.
She is distraught, impetious self indulgent, in her poem of illicit loves.
'Ceathrointe Mhaire Ni Ogain' explores the psycology and moral dilemmas of sex without sanction.
She does however lead the way for the second 50 years of Irish female writers which has developed and continues this day in fields of novels, short storys, plays, radio/television , journalism and music.
As Women work to lend their incite and talent to all the creative fields in both English and Irish.

With the Rising came the development of the autobiography.

MO SCEAL FIEN 1917, BY Antathair Peadar O Laoire.

The Blasket Islands producing:

AN OILEANACH, Thoms o Criomhtain 1929
PEIG by Peig Sayers 1936.

Biographys play an important contibution to Irish literary collections in the second half of the 20th century.
They, in effect, continue the work the old Court Bards and Shanachie folklore which develope the personalities and lives of prominent members of the race.

The play again makes an appearance on stage in such productions of the THEPEACOCK
and other Irish language works which srove to compete with the better known English adeptations of Shaw, Casey,Synge and others.

The Church seemingly takes little or no interest in the restoration of the Irish drama or literary developments through its ever present schools even though it contibuted mightily ,if innocently, to the demis of the language through its absortion of the old Gaelic nobilty into continetal Latin as a prefered learning tool.

The Church owes Ireland its language and its customs and traditions as they found them and as they remained until and even after the Great Hunger.

Film has made a good impact for English with an Irish Brogue from inciteful productions from the Irish Film Bord and such American productions as Hells Kitchens Michael Collins.

None of the great history the many confrontations with invaders or the many Irish characters from princes to priests have as yet been touched by the media of drama or film documentary.

Science remains out of the scope of Irish literature outside of Eogain o Tuairisc poem AIFREANN NA MARBH on the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima written in the 50s.

Music has born fruit for the Irish in both languages and in economic advances with many outstanding works and artist being presented from both Ireland ,Scotland ,the UK and the US producing outstanding musical groups.
Public television has prsented many artists from Ireland on its programs as does the Irish state run television programs.

The pubs catering to the Irish toursit trade as well as their own prosperous technocrats, offer a continious stream of live music presentations both lyrical and orchestrial in addition to the street preformers who simply set up their music on the corner and pitch of a popular street and soon attract a surrounding crowd of admirers and listeners.

A great body of radio and telifis work has been compiled in Ireland in both English with Brogue and Channel 4 Irish language Gaelteach colloquial Irish as spoken.
The cainte de duine.

The internet provides a plethora of newsheets, blogs, opinions and historical disertations as the Irish have proven themselvs to be computer literate for those who have the time to pursue this medium of communication.

Many web sites of history, both modern, medieval, tribal and mythological exist as well as sets of idioms, languages phrases and tourist training go on for the benefit of everyone in or out of the Irish countryside..
In the modern developed world of the second half of the 20th century Ireland has kept pace with the rest of the world in most of its improvemnts.
It subsequently has a highly educated young work force quite capable of maintaining a work presence and a road presence and a social presence.

Its commitment to its own past history however has lapsed in the young whose lives are diverted by a modern life style of technology, travel and trivia.

Youth expects the past, its foundation, to be there hidden away in the archievs of the Natianal Library and the Universities in case they need it sometime in the future.
Like Americanas, they see no need to understand their history or their language or their beliefs as relevant to their modern thought and life style.

However Ireland itself maintains these stuffy archives and provides through its National Library system local county librarys open to the public on a free use basis where materials and social networks can be accessed.

Its sponsorship of the 'Bealtaine Festival' funded by the Arts Counsil Chamhaire Ealaion, using the skills and opportunites of old people to steer the past foreruner of the future into local national and international connections to enrich the culture.

The program is begining to get parish organizations, and generations building self esteem, social contact, and well being throughout the nation in understanding itself.

The program 'Bealtaine Festival' takes part of the old May Bealtain fair and cross quarterday notation by the nation of the beginning of Spring .
And in a modern sense revives one of the old fairs and gives it meaning which the one surving quarterday remaing, Halloween ,the end of summer, has lost to ghoasts, goblins and foolishness.

Events and programs are held throught the contry at various county librarys highlighting such events as a national film tour, storytelling, creative writing ,photography re-emersion essays, painting ,the dansa, theater, music and coral groups.

Exibitions and international links to such groups as The Welsh Festival, Angus Gold of Scotland, Cologne in France. Bildung und Kulture [IBK] in Germany and other more far afield agencys making use of the free time only seniors and preschoolers enjoy.
From 4 to 50 the great thinkers and doers of the world.

This just one of the many cultural and operative agencys dealing with the Irish Heritage, one of the oldest national entities of Europe remaining intact.

From the sacred caldron and the cooking pot and the Stone of Destiny Lia Fail, to the mystical maiden of ancient Erinn, through the supressions and opressions and desperations of centuries, this Ireland remains characteristicly a hidden Ireland.
Sheltered from the storm by its ring of coastal mountains.

A birds nest within itself. Fledgling its seabird wings from time to time but always returning to its secluded nest within, where Charles Lindburg in 1927 opened his window on his single engine Spirit of St Louis and called out to turf diggers below,

'Which way is Ireland?'


Judi Donnelly
copyright 28 February 2011

sourse: Gaelic Literature Surveyed, Aod de Blacam, Barne /Noble Books, 1929

Ulysses, By James Joyce,The Modern Library Edition, Random House Inc. 1914-1961 by Lucia and George Joyce

Bealtaine Festival, Arts Counsil/National Library of Ireland, ,2010

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