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Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory

Transitions and Transformations


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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10 Perpetual Stagnation and Transformation: Ballyturk and The Walworth Farce as Memorial (Re)Inscription (Nelson Barre)


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10 Perpetual Stagnation and Transformation: Ballyturk and The Walworth Farce as Memorial (Re)Inscription

Enda Walsh’s plays often hinge upon the repetition of a single event which requires the characters to enact a sort of memorial process of re-membering the past, that is to say a physical reconstruction. Characters in his plays choose to embody versions of the past to confront notions of truth within a necessarily subjective process of memorialization. In her introduction to Memory Ireland, Oona Frawley claims: ‘memory seems to be something that we need to make concrete, that we need to realize in the world […] memory has been transformed over and over again from an ether, an energy, into a tangibility that we want to see’.1 To frame memory in this way introduces two issues in performance: the claim that there is no single version of the past that is considered truth, and that memory is under constant transformation. Emilie Pine similarly argues that ‘Cultural artefacts, such as photographs, are useful ways of illuminating history, yet they are only ever representations, versions of the actual event […] cultural representations do not always tell the ‘truth’ they appear to tell’.2 For Pine, historical memorialization is synonymous with appropriation of the past through physical performance. Even seemingly static objects can be framed so that they speak to a particular experience or view. That is to say, memory relies on archives that constantly revise narratives of the past based on present...

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