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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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3 ‘We did not choose this patrimony’: Irish Musical Inheritances since Independence (Harry White)


Harry White

3 ‘We did not choose this patrimony’: Irish Musical Inheritances since Independence

Introduction: Strategic Silences

‘We did not choose this patrimony, sir / And are dismayed by the inheritance. / The more so since you died intestate’. Aidan Mathews’ ‘Answer’ to W. B. Yeats, published in his 1977 collection, Windfalls, surfaced from the sunken stores of memory when I first sat down to think about this topic.1 In truth, the word ‘patrimony’ in that poem seemed like a tiny salute or nod in the right direction, and I hope it may be so. I have long admired Mathews’ poetry and his superb short stories, and I once compared his quandaries as a writer to those of the German composer, Robert Schumann, in a piece published thirteen years ago. I won’t rehearse those quandaries (or the comparison itself here), except to remark that my essay appeared in a collection entitled The UCD Aesthetic, edited by my former colleague, Tony Roche.2 The UCD Aesthetic sounded like a contradiction in terms to me back then, and it does still. However, I was taken nevertheless by the seam of Irish writers whose work Roche and his contributors surveyed in that book: they include Newman, Hopkins, Joyce, Austin Clarke, Denis Devlin, Tony Cronin, John McGahern, Joseph O’Connor, Emma Donoghue and←57 | 58→ Conor McPherson as well as Mathews and several others. I was impressed by the prominence of poetry, fiction and drama in the afterlives of writers...

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