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New Crops, Old Fields

Reimagining Irish Folklore


Edited By Conor Caldwell and Eamon Byers

From our homes to our houses of government, from our schoolyards to our stadia, from our galleries to our gable walls, folklore is not only preserved but continues to be reimagined in all aspects of everyday life in Ireland. In the twenty-first century, the traditions of Irish folklore are engaged in a constant process of regeneration, where the old and the new, the oral, the textual and the visual intermingle. However, while the «first life» of Irish folklore has amassed a vast literature, what has attracted less attention is its «second life»: the variety of ways in which traditions have been reused and recycled in other contexts by politicians, poets, visual artists, sportsmen, tourism officers, museum curators, writers and musicians.

This volume is concerned with those moments of cultural creation that occupy the space between the «first life» and «second life» of folklore and, in particular, the ways in which folk traditions are reinvented. Featuring essays from both authorities in the field and emerging voices, this interdisciplinary collection demonstrates the rich diversity of folk culture, as a practice and as an area of study, in contemporary Ireland.

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8 From Page to Stage and Beyond: (Re)imagining Cré na Cille (Eilís Ní Dhúill)


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8   From Page to Stage and Beyond: (Re)imagining Cré na Cille

Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s novel Cré na Cille (1949), with its roots in the oral tradition and depicting a time, a place, a people and a way of being, continues to succeed in crossing the borders of literary and artistic genres. The film adaptation, broadcast on the Irish language television channel TG4 in 2006 and the primary focus of this paper, brings Ó Cadhain’s depiction of his fictitious graveyard community in the Connemara Gaeltacht to a contemporary audience.1 Since its inception in 1996, TG4 has become an outlet through which the new, the old, the oral, the textual and the visual are brought together to offer a new lease of life to cultural practices of traditionally Irish-speaking communities. Aspects of Irish folklore presented and (re)imagined on TG4 offer a new way of understanding Gaelic community and culture. This paper examines the film adaptation of Ó Cadhain’s novel Cré na Cille produced in 2006 by ROSG, a Connemara-based independent production company. In studying the production and interpretation of Cré na Cille as presented in film form, I hope to arrive at a new and deeper understanding of the collaborative nature of cultural acquisition and transmission and the role of the traditional art of storytelling in that practice. ROSG’s film adaptation presents a complex and multi-faceted interpretation of Ó Cadhain’s text. In an effort better to understand this interpretation,...

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