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Patrimoine/Cultural Heritage in France and Ireland


Edited By Eamon Maher and Eugene O'Brien

This collection of essays explores the concept of patrimoine, a French word used to denote cultural heritage, traditional customs and practices – the Gaelic equivalent is dúchas – and the extent to which it impacts on France and Ireland. Borrowing from disciplines as varied as sociology, cultural theory, literature, marketing, theology, history, musicology and business, the contributors to the volume unearth interesting manifestations of how patrimoine resonates across cultural divides and bestows uniqueness and specificity on countries and societies, sometimes in a subliminal manner.

Issues covered include debt as heritage, Guinness as a cultural icon of «Irishness», faith-based tourism, the Huguenot heritage in Ireland, Irish musical inheritances since Independence, Skellig Michael and the commodification of Irish culture.

With a Foreword by His Excellency M. Stéphane Crouzat, French Ambassador to Ireland, this collection breaks new ground in assessing the close links between France and Ireland, links that will become all the more important in light of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

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1 Metanoia and Reflexive Thinking: Towards a Deconstruction of Patrimoine/Cultural Heritage (Eugene O’Brien)


Eugene O’Brien

1 Metanoia and Reflexive Thinking: Towards a Deconstruction of Patrimoine/Cultural Heritage

Heritage, inheritance, patrimony, dúchas – all of these are terms that are used to describe the largely unwritten but strongly ideologically felt notions that we have of our socio-historical cultural community. In this, the decade of commemorations, the modalities of how these notions are passed on and how we, as citizens of Ireland, are interpellated as people who share an Irish patrimony or sense of cultural heritage. This chapter will offer a theoretical examination of how such notions are created, and will then suggest that perhaps the best method of commemorating the past is to break with the past, in order to set out new parameters for the future.

Initially, the question must be posed as to what is the epistemological status of patrimony. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following meaning – an estate or property belonging by ancient rite to an institution or corporation. It suggests that the term is especially suited to use in an ecclesiastical context: ‘the ancient estate or endowment of a church or religious body’, and makes the point that this is especially true of territory held by the Pope. In a broader sense, the following meanings are offered:

Property inherited from one’s father or passed down from one’s ancestors; an inheritance.

Something abstract which is inherited or handed down, and which is deemed to be valuable.1

The etymology is...

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