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Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory

Transitions and Transformations


Edited By Marguerite Corporaal, Christopher Cusack and Ruud van den Beuken

Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory presents the latest research from Irish studies scholars across a variety of disciplines, including history, literature, theatre, photography and folklore, and generates new and challenging insights into the dynamics of cultural remembrance in Irish society. Featuring contributions by leading researchers in the field such as Guy Beiner, Graham Dawson and Emilie Pine, this collection demonstrates how the examination of Irish cultural legacies can illuminate our understanding of processes of identity formation, heritage policies, canonization, musealization and the transgenerational and transcultural inflections of the past. Investigating topics such as trauma, contested politics and commemorative practices, and exploring recent theoretical developments, the volume offers an interdisciplinary overview of the recent cross-fertilization between memory studies and Irish studies.
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3 The Easter Rising 1916: Photography and Remembrance (Gail Baylis)


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3 The Easter Rising 1916: Photography and Remembrance

The Rising was conceived and implemented by a minority within a minority of Irish radical politics who did not hold a popular mandate. Originally planned as an all-Ireland affair it quickly dwindled into a Dublin-based insurrection that was quashed by British military forces within a week. However, in terms of collective memory it became a mythic event and one positioned as foretelling the creation of the Irish State. In order to understand this transformation, it is necessary to recognize that the Rising was a highly mediated affair: indeed, it has been claimed that it ‘was a media event as much as a military operation’.1 This chapter aims to elucidate the role of photography in the immediate aftermath of the insurrection in order to point to the emergence of modes of remembrance that were only made possible through the repositioning of photographs. It focuses on portrait photographs of the executed leaders that appeared within weeks of the events of Easter Week (1916) and considers their significance in creating a mediated context of remembrance. The coverage of the insurrection was modern in that it employed modern technologies of media and also in that these technologies created externalized remembrance, a key feature of modern memory.2 It was ‘the convergence of photography within ← 57 | 58 → new communication network in the late nineteenth century that enabled its transformation into the dominant visual technology of modernity’3 and, additionally, the...

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