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The Islandman

Lucchitti, Irene

The Islandman

The Hidden Life of Tomás O’Crohan

Series: Reimagining Ireland - Volume 3

Year of Publication: 2009

Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2009. 232 pp.
ISBN 978-3-03911-837-3 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.340 kg, 0.750 lbs

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Book synopsis

This book concerns Tomás O’Crohan of the Blasket Islands and offers a radical reinterpretation of this iconic Irish figure and his place in Gaelic literature. It examines the politics of Irish culture that turned O’Crohan into «The Islandman» and harnessed his texts to the national political project, presenting him as an instinctual, natural hero and a naïve, almost unwilling writer, and his texts as artefacts of unselfconscious, unmediated linguistic and ethnographic authenticity. The author demonstrates that such misleading claims, never properly scrutinised before this study, have been to the detriment of the author’s literary reputation and that they have obscured the deeply personal and highly idiosyncratic purpose and nature of his writing.
At the core of the book is a recognition that what O’Crohan wrote was not primarily a history, nor an ethnography, but an autobiography. The book demonstrates that the conventional reading of the texts, which privileges O’Crohan’s fisherman identity, has hidden from view the writer protagonist inscribed in the texts, subordinating his identity as a writer to his identity as a peasant. The author shows O’Crohan to have been a literary pioneer who negotiated the journey from oral tradition into literature as well as a modern, self-aware man of letters engaging deliberately and artistically with questions of mortality.


Contents: Wild Things and Western Men: Impressions of the People, Culture and Language of the Blaskets – Oral Tradition and Literacy on the Blasket Islands – The Gaeltacht and Revival – Cultural Production and Translation in the Blaskets – The Personal Voice of Tomás O’Crohan – Tomás O’Crohan and Autobiography – Echoes of Voices Still.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

The Author: Irene Lucchitti is a specialist in early twentieth-century Irish literature and culture, with expertise in life-writing and translation studies. She has an abiding interest in the writers of the Blasket Islands. She studied the Irish language at the University of Sydney, and completed her Ph.D. in the English Literatures Program at the University of Wollongong, where she is now an Honorary Fellow. She has published numerous articles on the Blasket writers and is currently engaged in research into the work of Peig Sayers.


Reimagining Ireland. Vol. 3
Edited by Eamon Maher